How to Ace Dreaded Pre-reqs and Hard Science Courses Before you Apply to Therapy Grad School

Felicia Stephens
December 30, 2017

If you have ever stepped into a classroom or lab, I think we can both agree -- some courses ain’t no joke! Some courses like chemistry, physics, trigonometry, and histology are just not fun to take. But you, my friend, are a passionate student that wants to do the best you can in even the most difficult courses. I can tell because you will keep reading.

Here are 5 tips to Ace those courses that you would avoid if you could, but you have to them take to get into PT, OT, and SLP school.

1. Set your mind to make an A from day one

I have found that it is a wise move to aim for the bull’s eye in the beginning of the game rather than aiming for an average score just to get by. If your targeted goal is an A, you will likely hit your mark or just slightly below it. Who knows? You may even hit higher with bonus points! In order to be a strong competitor in the applicant pools, it is best for you to have a high science and pre-requisite (pre-req) GPA.

2. Know your weak subjects

It is wise to know your weak subjects and areas. You may already know that you struggle in subjects like chemistry and physics. These subjects are unfortunately unavoidable in most cases of applying to an allied health graduate program. Your smart play will be to seek assistance with tutoring and seek assistance and guidance from your professors. You should never be too proud to ask for help. Acknowledging that you need help is a sign of wisdom.

3. Know your strong subjects

Make sure you kill it in your best subjects from the very beginning! If you are knowledgeable in biology and anatomy make sure you shine brightly in these areas. You can couple easier courses with your harder courses to help balance your course load. But don’t get overconfident and feel that you do not have to spend any time on the material in your easier courses.

4. Be in the Right Place at the Right Time with the Right People

  • Take your tough courses in the summer at a more accelerated pace.
  • Take tough courses with a lesser volume of other courses.
  • Take tough courses with other easy courses.
  • Take tough courses with another smart study buddy.
  • Try to avoid tough courses during stressful or busy quarters/semesters.
  • Take tough courses from professors with great reputations and reviews.

5. Study the course syllabus

The first week of that hard class, you need to take the syllabus and make a plan to do well on each quiz, test, paper, project, lab, and presentation. Keep track of your grades each week so that you will have a strategy for each assignment. You can also prioritize better when you consistently track and monitor your progress using your course syllabus. Planning with your course syllabus will make your more efficient and ready.

Let’s recap and learn more….

Aim for an A. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Time things well. Use syllabus as a game changer.

Cumulative GPA: refers to the overall GPA. Cumulative GPAs appear on each student semester grade report and on the permanent academic record (transcript). Science GPA refers to the average of all of your required science courses to enter a graduate program. Pre-req GPA is the average of all of the course (science, math, writing, psychology, etc) required by a graduate program for admission.

Science and Pre-req GPAs are not the ultimate deciding factor by which admissions committees make their decisions; however, it is a key measure that they evaluate to determine your chances of succeeding in their program. Your science GPA will likely be more heavily weighted than your cumulative GPA. Many college admission guides will stress that excellent grades are not absolutely necessary to “get in”. They are only half correct in my opinion. The truth is that many schools are starting to eliminate interviews. The only picture or image that many of these schools will see of you (in some cases) is on paper or an electronic documentation. The better you look statistically, the better you look as a prospective student to them. But on the other hand, there are many components that can help you look good as an applicant that don’t involve your grades and GPA.

It is easy to bring your GPA down, but much more difficult to raise it back up again. Also, pause and understand that I do not want you to read this post and think that because you have already gotten started with school and do not have a competitive GPA. I don't want you to stop reading this and find another career goal. There are many ways to enhance your application, and apply with a lower GPA. If you just so happen to have gotten off to a rough start in your coursework and you want to be as competitive as possible you will need to kick it into the highest gear possible to achieve top grades. I have known many students who have taken an extra semester or quarter to take or re-take certain prerequisite courses to increase their GPAs. These students understood it may take extra time, effort and sacrifice to give themselves a better chance against the competition.

Would you like to know how I can help you in your process? Click here for a free consultation.