Should You Re-Take That Prerequisite?

You’re likely reading this post because you have a C or two or, if you’re unlucky, maybe more. Or you might have all B’s in your prerequisites and are thus unhappy with your prerequisite GPA. But there is no easy answer as to whether or not you should re-take a prerequisite. Even listening to the sage advice of your advisor could still leave you feeling unsure because it’s costly re-taking a class and it delays your getting into PT school. Well, I’ll spend time discussing what you should do if you find yourself in one or a few of the scenarios I am about to list.

Now keep in mind the best thing to do if you still can’t come to your own conclusion is to contact the school(s) you are applying to for an opinion. Students have, after all, gotten into schools with a GPA of less than a 3.0 because they stood out in some other way. These are mostly students whose GPA wouldn’t have been much improved by retaking classes or students who have retaken these courses before but still struggle getting that grade.

  1. That niggling C. If you’re like me, a C may be absolutely unacceptable. You want everything in your application to look flawless, and that includes your prerequisite grades. At one point, I had to consider the what-if scenario of getting a C in physics. At the same time, it was a massive stomachache of a thought thinking about having to retake that nightmare. So I decided to ask some pre-PT and PT students. I asked if my cGPA and pGPA were already fine and a C in physics didn’t affect it much, would I need to re-take it? The answer was a resounding no. Now, they told me, if it had been any of my biology classes, especially anatomy, I probably should, but because it was physics I needn’t worry. If you have multiple C’s though and haven’t re-taken yet, you’ll probably have to re-take a few. If you’ve already re-taken and still can’t quite get there, just go on ahead and submit your application. Just make sure you are very strong in all other areas of your application. For example, you’ll absolutely have to have a high GRE, something I only had to worry about receiving the minimum of.
  2. All the B’s. I was doing just fine with my prerequisites, but out of curiosity, I asked what would happen if a student were to get all B’s in their prerequisites. Should they consider re-taking any? The answer was also a resounding no, especially if you had to really fight for those B’s. You don’t want to risk re-taking a prerequisite and doing worse. Some schools take the better grade, but some will average the two. If you need to bring up your GPA, just take some easy classes where the risk of doing poorly in them is low. Another bit of advice is just taking more upper level science courses.
  3. cGPA meets the mark but pGPA doesn’t. You have a 3.4 GPA, but a mix of B’s and C’s in your prerequisites. You meet the minimum for all the schools you want to apply to, but regardless, it’s understood your pGPA needs to be there as well. Everything else in your application looks great, but it’s your dang prerequisite grades. You should re-take classes you didn’t do so well in. You should also be very selective about what schools you’re applying to, applying only to ones who take your best grades.
  4. pGPA meets the mark but cGPA doesn’t. Obviously you don’t need to re-take any prerequisite courses unless doing so will up your cGPA. What you’ll need to do instead is take more classes. I’ve read it’s beneficial to tack on another minor or, as stated above, do more upper level science courses.
  5. Community college. Some wonder if they should re-take their courses at a community college. I would do it only because it’s cheaper. I took most of my prerequisites at two of them for that very reason. However, taking them because you think they might be easier isn’t a good reason because that isn’t necessarily true. Plenty of students where I first went still failed anatomy, after all. It’s true class sizes are smaller so teachers can sometimes devote individualized attention to each student. But for me, that was only true in my physics and chemistry courses. All my other classes were about the size of a high school class, if not larger, and apparently one anatomy class had a single lecture with over 200 students.

Now I want to end this post with more hope for those who still feel a little hopeless. I ended last fall 2019 with an A in physics. When I told my psychiatrist this during one of my appointments, she admitted to me she received a B in the first one and a C in the second. Like me, she said, she hated physics and only put in enough effort to get the grades she needed.

When she went to her interview for medical school she told the interviewer that if she needed to re-take physics, they better let her know so she can turn right around and leave because she wasn’t going to do it. The interviewer told her she had nothing to worry about.

You might have to explain any C’s you didn’t fix, but my psychiatrist clearly conveyed that the reason she even got that C is because she didn’t feel anything for that class and recognized it was unnecessary to be a doctor. If you’re not afraid to be bold, go for it. Otherwise, you’ll need to weave a convincing story.

Next post will detail the interview for PT school.