Academic Record and GPA
How Does My Academic Record Impact Dental School Admission?
Dental schools review your undergraduate transcript and the grades you have earned in your courses as a way to measure academic competencies that you have gained. Admissions committees look at your undergraduate transcript for indications of whether you will have the intellectual abilities, stability, consistency, and self-discipline to survive and succeed in the demanding dental school curriculum. Grades are considered to be a reliable predictor of how you would perform in dental school.
Dental schools generally expect grades of A and B in your undergraduate coursework. The IU School of Dentistry suggests a benchmark of 3.3 or above in order to have a reasonably good chance for admission. This translates to a B+ average.
If you find that you are earning C’s in your science courses, it can be an indication that you are not making progress in developing the level of competency in the sciences that dental schools expect. Grades of D and F are an even more serious indication that a student is just not demonstrating the extremely high level of competency required in the sciences for dental school. Simply passing predental science coursework with grades of C and D, or failing these courses, is just not acceptable to dental schools and should be taken as a serious sign that your academic performance and career goals are not in sync.
Quick Transcript Self-Evaluation
A quick way to do a simple self-evaluation is to look at your transcript. Would you place trust in a dentist who had your current transcript?
Numbers and Trends
Your undergraduate GPA is one of the primary ways in which dental schools will make an initial evaluation of your candidacy for admission. What is a competitive GPA for admission to dental school?
In 2015, the average cumulative GPA of the entering class at IU School of Dentistry was a 3.65. To put it another way, this would mean on average earning grades in the B+ to A- range. The average science GPA for the 2015 entering class was a 3.48. This equates to above a B+ average in science courses.
The IU School of Dentistry provides an overall GPA and science GPA of 3.3 as a suggested minimum benchmark for students seeking admission. This translates into a B+ average in coursework.
How Will My GPA Be Calculated by Dental Schools?
Applicants apply to dental schools through a centralized application service called “AADSAS” (Associated American Dental Schools Application Service). This application service has its own method for calculating your GPA. The AADSAS application service calculates standardized GPA’s for all applicants, so they more easily can be compared, regardless of the grading system used at the college or university the applicant attended.
When you apply to dental school you will type information onto the application from the transcripts of all colleges and universities you have attended, including the title of each course, number of credit hours, and the grade earned for each course. Each course will be classified according to the subject matter of the course. This information will be used to calculate an overall cumulative GPA for you, as well as a science GPA, and other types of GPA’s.
Many students ask about whether they should retake courses and how this might affect their GPA when they apply to dental schools. The AADSAS application does not use grade replacement for repeated courses when calculating your GPA; both the original course grade and the repeated course grade will be used in AADSAS GPA calculations. What this means is that grade replacement policies that may apply at your undergraduate college or university – such as the “Extended-X policy” at Indiana University – are irrelevant to the way that AADSAS will calculate your GPA for your dental school application. If you plan to apply to dental schools and you are considering repeating a course, you should be aware that both the original grade earned in the course, as well as the grade earned when you repeated it, will be used in calculating your GPA’s on your AADSAS application. For example, the effect on your overall GPA of retaking a 5-credit hour course and earning an A in it is the same effect as if you took a different 5-credit hour course and earned an A in it.
How Will My Science GPA Be Calculated?
Besides a cumulative GPA, the AADSAS centralized application system calculates special science GPA’s for all applicants. Your science GPA will be considered especially important when you apply to dental school.
AADSAS calculates a special “BCP” GPA that is considered especially important for dental school admission. The “BCP” GPA calculation includes all coursework classified on the AADSAS application as biology, chemistry, or physics courses. AADSAS provides a chart in the application instructions that explains how coursework in different subject areas should be classified, since courses are not always classified the way one would expect according to the name of the department at Indiana University that offers the course. Remember that AADSAS does not use grade replacement for repeated courses when calculating GPA’s, so both the original course grade and the repeated course grade will be used in AADSAS GPA calculations.
In 2015, the average BCP GPA of students admitted to IU School of Dentistry was 3.48. This translates into grades in science courses that are on average above the B+ level.
WARNING: Allowing your cumulative GPA to slip below 3.0 at any stage can pose a risk to your admission to ANY graduate program in the future. Almost all graduate-level programs, of whatever kind, expect a GPA well above 3.0. If you want to pursue graduate-level study in the future, make sure you maintain a GPA that is at least above 3.0, even if it means that you must stop taking any further prehealth coursework to ensure that you can earn solid grades and graduate with a GPA that you can present with pride on employment and graduate school applications. Graduating with a stronger GPA (3.0+) is far more important for keeping your future employment and educational options open than continuing on a path that involves taking more challenging courses that may drag your GPA down and cut your options off in the future.
How Can I Forecast My Future GPA?
Having clear, realistic projected GPA information is important. For examples of some useful GPA calculators, including some that will help you discover what future grades you would need to achieve a given "Target GPA," click here.
Understanding the Process of Raising a GPA
If your GPA is below the suggested benchmarks above, you may wonder if it’s still possible to recover and rehabilitate your GPA. Early intervention is critical. To learn more, go to Understanding the Process of Raising Your GPA.
What if I Continue to Struggle in My Science Coursework?
If you find that you continue to struggle academically from semester to semester, it's important to evaluate and take action. Go to What if I Continue to Struggle in My Science Coursework.
The Health Professions and Prelaw Center has developed a self-assessment questionnaire to help you more clearly identify your interests, skills, and values. Click HERE to open the survey in your word processing program. (Important: In Word for Windows, if the drop down menus in the questionnaire do not work, click the "Enable Editing" button toward the top of the window.)