So you made a few mistakes as an undergraduate and your GPA is not looking too great. No problem, it happens to the best of us.
How many C’s are acceptable for getting into med school? Well, there isn’t really a set limit. There is a lot that factors into your acceptance into medical school so we can’t say for certain how many C’s you can get and still get in.
In this article, we will cover how C’s impact your application, how many C’s students have gotten away with in the past, and what you need to do if you have accrued a couple of C’s yourself.
Will One C Hurt Me For Medical School?
As pre-med students, the importance of getting a good GPA for med school is drilled into our brains. Therefore, it’s only natural to get concerned if we mess up and receive a C.
Does getting a C take the possibility of becoming a physician away from you? Absolutely not.
Does getting a C hurt you? Yes, technically it does. But I promise you it doesn’t hurt as much as you think.
Especially if you only have one C. If you received this C early on during your premed years, you can easily make up for it by improving your grades and demonstrating that you learned from your mistake.
If you received this C later on, it might raise some eyebrows. But if the rest of your application is great, it can easily be overlooked. People make mistakes, it’s ok. Having a logical explanation for one bad grade will be sufficient.
Will med schools take a C?
Yes, med schools will accept C’s.
The majority of med schools will not accept grades of C- or lower for the prerequisite classes. If you were to receive a C- or lower, you would need to retake the class unless you are targeting one of those schools that will accept a C-.
Can You Get Into Med School With 4 Or More C’s?
Let’s address the premed student who has gotten a lot of C’s. We are talking 4 or more C’s.
I won’t lie to you, getting 4 or more C’s as an undergrad will make getting into medical school significantly more difficult. You will have to fight an uphill battle.
But the good news is that you can definitely still get into medical school with 4 or more C’s. How do I know? Well, there are plenty of students who have gotten in with these kinds of stats including yours truly.
I personally got into med school with 6 Cs and 1 D. Don’t believe me? Here are screenshots of my transcript to prove it.
I’m not saying it was easy to recover from this. It was very difficult. I had to work my butt off the second half of my college years. I also engaged in lots of high-quality extracurriculars like scribing, shadowing, and volunteering. I even attended a post-bacc program.
Further Reading: Can you get into med school with an F or W on your transcript?
After all that hard work, I improved my med school application enough so that I was able to be accepted into med school. I overcame a pretty bad GPA despite people telling me I had no chance of getting in.
I am just one example. There are also plenty of other students who have gotten into medical school with multiple of C’s.
Should I Retake a Class I Got a C In?
No, you should not take a class you got a C in. For every med school out there, a C is a passing grade and you will qualify for the pre-requisite requirement.
You have a very limited amount of time as an undergrad and there are far better ways to impress medical schools than retaking a class you got a C in.
For example, you can take an upper-level biology or chemistry class. Getting an A in these classes will be impressive and demonstrate to medical schools that you can handle a more challenging workload.
Read our guide about everything to consider when retaking a class for more information on this topic!
Is It Better To Withdraw From a Course Or Get Another C?
This is a very tricky question to answer. Because on the one hand, taking a W instead of a C will be better for your GPA. However, W’s are seen by medical schools and they are generally frowned upon.
Multiple W’s looks bad because it tells med schools that you give up early when things get tough.
But what if the workload is too great and staying in that class is pulling all your other grades down? This is problematic. You will either have to quickly figure out how to become more efficient at studying (We wrote a great premed study guide that can help with that) or accept the W in order to save the rest of your classes.
One or 2 W’s is not the end of the world. If you already have multiple, you want to avoid more W’s like the plague.
In my opinion, getting a C is better than getting a W. If this is your first W and keeping the class is hurting your entire semester, it’s okay to drop.
Finally, if you are within the grace period of withdrawing without a W, then go for it.
Med schools won’t know you withdrew in this case so no harm done. However, you also want to be careful with this option because you only have a limited amount of semesters in college. If you are already short on hours, you will end up falling even farther behind.
What is the lowest GPA you can have and still get into med school?
Most med schools set a cap at a 3.0 GPA. This means you won’t even be considered if your GPA is lower than that. That being said, getting in with a 3.0 GPA would require insanely impressive extracurriculars.
Not impossible, it’s been done before.
If you are below a 3.0, you will have to do some sort of post-bacc program to bring that GPA up. Even if you are below a 3.5 you should consider a post-bacc because getting in is significantly easier with a higher GPA.
What You Should Do If You Have Multiple C’s On Your Premed Transcript
Now that you know you CAN get into med school with multiple C’s, let’s discuss what you need to do in order to offset the bad grades.
An Upward Trend Will Help You
The first step is setting up a STRONG upward trend with your GPA. What does this mean? Simply put, this means making sure the last 4 or so semesters of your undergrad are full of A’s with difficult courses.
Basically, this is telling med schools that even though you struggled early on, you were able to improve your studying abilities in order to become a successful student.
The transition from high school into college is challenging. Med schools understand this and that’s why they are willing to overlook some bad grades if you show strong improvement.
But I will emphasize the importance of getting good grades AND taking difficult classes. It’s not very helpful to have a strong improvement in your grades by taking notoriously easy classes. You want to prove to admissions committee members that you can handle a really tough workload and be successful.
Your MCAT Score Can Make Up For A Lower GPA
The next obvious way to offset some C’s is to do really well on the MCAT.
The MCAT is a standardized test. So doing well on the MCAT means that you were able to do better than most students on one of the most challenging exams.
We have a lot of great material for helping you crush the MCAT. Check out the one-month guide I personally used to improve my score by over 10 points!
Put More Effort Into Extracurriculars
If your GPA is suffering, some great extracurriculars can make up for it. As some of you may know, I’m a big fan of scribing. That’s what I did and I think it gave me more exposure to clinical work than I could get anywhere else.
But scribing does lack direct patient care. Another popular option is to work as a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistance). Read this article comparing being a medical scribe with being a CNA.
When you start down the rabbit hole of asking forums if you can get into medical school with a few C’s, you may end up with a lot of discouraging responses. There are a lot of students out there who will tell you C’s will ruin your application.
This is simply not true.
Students get into med school all the time with C’s on their transcript. In fact, students get in with D’s and F’s. I’m a great example of this.
The last thing you want to do is lose hope and do nothing. Instead, take a deep breath and understand that you are going to be okay.
Yesterday is in the past and today you have the option to turn things around. Focus on improving starting now and stick to it! If you continue to work hard as a premed, you will eventually get into medical school.