COVID-19 Guidance for Pre-Health Students

Spring 2020 Grading and Aspiring Health Professions Students

As part of UMBC’s COVID-19 response, the University implemented a series of Academic and Enrollment policy changes for Spring 2020 courses. Included among these policies is the ability to change the grading method for Spring 2020 courses from letter grading (A, B, C, D, F) to Pass/Fail grading. In addition, exceptions have been made to allow students to apply courses with Pass/Fail grading toward degree requirements.

However, students who were completing the prerequisite coursework for Health Professional Schools should be aware that there has not been a consensus among Health Professions programs in any career area (Medical, Dental, Optometry, Podiatry, or Veterinary) regarding the acceptance of Pass/Fail grades in place of letter grades for prerequisite coursework.

With that in mind, the advisors in the PreMedical and PreDental Advising Office strongly encouraged aspiring Health Professions students to keep the grading method for any Spring 2020 courses that are Professional School prerequisites set to letter grading (A, B, C, D, F), so that students may effectively use this coursework toward the requirements at any institution to which they might apply in the future.

We also recommended that students think carefully before making a final decision to change their grading method for Spring 2020 courses that aren’t explicitly prerequisites for Professional School. Every course is valuable for students who wish to demonstrate the breadth of their academic strengths and their intellectual curiosity.

Students who are nearer to (or already participating in) the application process for Professional School may wish to look more specifically at the information available from the Admissions Office of each of the schools to which they plan to apply to fully understand the consequences of choosing Pass/Fail grading. You can follow this link to additional COVID-19 resources and information, broken out by career area.

If you believed that changing your grading method to P/F might be the best course of action under your personal circumstances, we hope you to considered the following:

  • Courses that are taken as P/F and receive grades of “Pass” are not factored into your GPA calculations – not in UMBC semester and Cumulative GPAs, nor in Science or Overall GPAs for professional schools. This will place greater emphasis on the courses that have been taken with letter grading.
  • Changing courses to P/F grading may also affect your eligibility to receive UMBC academic distinctions or honors, including (but not limited to) Spring 2020 President’s List/Dean’s List recognition, and Latin Honors awarded at the time of degree completion (e.g., Summa cum laude). Courses with P/F grading are not included in the evaluation process for these honors and distinctions.
  • For applicants who choose to take some prerequisites as P/F, greater emphasis may be placed on their performance on standardized tests like the MCAT, DAT, OAT, or GRE. Consider your own strengths and/or weaknesses when it comes to standardized testing.
  • In an interview or personal statement, you may be asked to speak to your decision to conceal your grade – a basic metric of your performance – by changing your grading method to P/F. In addition, changing your grading method to P/F may eliminate your ability to use your performance in your Spring 2020 courses as evidence of your perseverance, resilience, and grit in the face of challenging (and rapidly changing) circumstances.

In the end, there was no one-size-fits-all solution, and the decision to change grading method was ultimately up to the student. The advisors in the PreMedical and PreDental Advising Office are available to help you consider your options in light of your own academic and personal circumstances.