For students who have a lower than average GPA that is typically accepted for PA school (2.95-3.1) I often get asked if students should take new upper level science coursework or retake older classes. In this video, I will break down the question “Should I Retake Classes to improve my GPA for PA School?”, but it is also very applicant dependent.
Table of Contents
Should I Retake Classes to Improve My GPA for PA School?
Many aspiring Physician Assistant (PA) students find themselves facing a common dilemma: should they retake classes to improve their GPA for PA school? This question arises particularly for those who did not perform well in their prerequisites or have a lower GPA than what is considered competitive. In this article, we will explore the various factors to consider when making this decision and provide guidance on how to approach it effectively.
Understanding the GPA Requirements for PA School
To determine whether retaking classes is necessary, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of the GPA requirements for PA school. Currently, the average GPA for accepted applicants to PA programs is around 3.5-3.6, both overall and in science-related courses. While some programs may consider different GPA criteria, most place importance on overall and science GPAs.
Assessing Your GPA Situation
If you find yourself with a lower than average GPA, such as a 3.1, 3.2, or even a 3.3, and you aspire to improve your GPA for PA school, it is essential to evaluate your options. However, before making any decisions, it is highly recommended to engage in a one-on-one conversation with an experienced advisor to devise a personalized strategy and plan.
Retaking Prerequisites with Lower Grades
If you have completed your prerequisites and earned a B- or higher in all of them, retaking those courses may not be necessary. Most PA programs require a B- or better in all prerequisites. However, if you have received a C or below in any of the prerequisites, it is advisable to retake those courses. Although retaking them may not significantly improve your overall GPA, it will demonstrate to the admissions committee your ability to conquer the subject matter successfully.
Considering Further Steps to Improve my GPA for PA school
Suppose you have already retaken your prerequisites but still find that your GPA is not where you want it to be. In that case, you may need to explore additional options to incrementally raise your GPA. One possibility is to enroll in upper-level science courses, but it is important to consider the diminishing impact of additional credits on your GPA. If you are close to your desired GPA, taking a few extra science courses might be beneficial. However, if you have a GPA significantly below your target, pursuing a post-baccalaureate certificate program or a one-year master’s degree could be a more effective approach.
The Benefits of a Master’s Program
Opting for a master’s degree in a science-related field can prove advantageous for PA school applicants with lower GPAs. Completing a formal master’s program showcases your ability to handle graduate-level coursework and can incrementally raise both your overall and science GPAs. Some programs may even consider using your master’s grades or GPA as a replacement for undergraduate GPA. However, it is crucial to have an individualized plan and consult with an advisor to identify suitable master’s programs for your specific goals.
Reapplying and Applying with a Lower GPA
If you have already applied to PA programs and were unsuccessful, it is still worth considering reapplying with a lower GPA. Many programs have minimum GPA requirements, and even with a 3.2 GPA, you meet the criteria for most programs. It is important to remember that each applicant’s situation is unique, and even if your GPA is slightly lower, a strong overall application, including extensive patient care hours, shadowing experiences, and volunteering, can make you a competitive candidate.
GPA’s Significance and Overcoming Challenges
Although GPA plays a significant role in the PA school admissions process, it does not solely determine your chances of acceptance. Admissions committees consider various factors when evaluating applicants. Nevertheless, a solid academic standing is crucial, as it reassures schools that you possess the necessary skills and resilience to succeed in their program. If you have encountered challenges earlier in your college career or had an off-year, demonstrating improvement and an upward trend can showcase your determination and ability to bounce back.
Deciding whether to retake classes to improve your GPA for PA school is a complex decision that depends on your unique circumstances. It is vital to consult with an experienced advisor who can provide personalized guidance tailored to your situation. Remember, GPA is an important factor, but it is not the sole determinant of your admission chances. With careful planning, consideration of other application components, and dedication to personal growth, you can still pursue a rewarding career as a PA.
Also read: Patient Care vs Healthcare Experience Explained
I’m Michele Neskey, aka The Posh PA. Welcome to my YouTube channel! My mission is to provide personalized guidance, education, and motivation to build confidence and promote wellness for aspiring physician assistants and beyond.
Having been a PA for 17+ years and helped hundreds of students gain acceptance into PA school, I understand the admissions process. I know what they are looking for, and I can help you tailor every component to make you shine, giving you the BEST chance of getting accepted to a program. But it doesn’t end there. I create personalized plans for PA students and practicing PAs including test-taking strategy for the PANCE, contract negotiations, and tools to overcome and prevent provider burnout.
My goal is to get you into a physician assistant (PA) school & survive the rigorous program, help you prevent burnout as a practicing PA, and help you take care of yourself so you can be the best version of YOU for your patients, family, and most importantly YOU!