Friday, June 5, 2009

Grade Inflation and Medical School Admission

As a former pre-med MIT alum, I'd like to share my perspective on the topic of grade inflation. When I was a student at MIT, I knew many people who were pre-med. Your GPA is a very important factor when you apply for medical school admission. Students used to argue whether a GPA of 3.6 from MIT was better than a GPA of 4.0 from a non-so-competitive university. What if you had a 4.0 from a university that was known for grade inflation?

At MIT, students taking science courses were graded on a distribution curve. Within the class, a fixed percentage would get an A, then another fixed percentage would get a B, and so forth. If you weren't one of the top students, you weren't going to get an A. This was very frustrating for many of my peers who used to be at the top of their high school class. At MIT, they were competing against other students who were also in the top of their class. As a result, many pre-med students had less-than-stellar GPAs when they graduated. Most of them did fine with medical school admission because they did well on the MCAT.

Should college courses be graded on a curve that results in some fixed distribution of grades? Or, should all the students receive an A if they score above 90 points? Some may argue that professors may make exams too easy so that all the students score well. Others may say that it's not fair to penalize bright students who are competing against students who may be super-bright.

To learn more about college/university grade inflation, take a look at this source: http://gradeinflation.com/
I don't know about the accuracy or reliability of the data that is presented, but it should be an interesting conversation piece.

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