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Due to the re-weighting of assessments in the midst of COVID-19, some schools have provided students the option to make their courses pass/fail. Does anyone have any information/opinion on how that will affect admissions in the following cycles? 

Also, hope everyone is staying safe and healthy! <3

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The long and short is no one knows and it will be months before we'll have any sort of answer. The UofT has indicated that schools are talking to each other about this, so we may see a more unified response, or we may see each school go a little bit of a different direction (as is the norm). No. One. Knows. 

My personal (guess) is that at least some schools will simply drop this semester's grades, for everyone, out of equity. Think about what grades are supposed to represent; the ability to handle academic material while also engaging in ECs over an extended period of time. COVID-19 ruins the assessment purpose of this, while online exams are hard to check for cheating.  I'm at an institution with a stubborn admin who refuses to move towards P/F and I wrote a Google Form midterm last week. A Google Form! I can imagine there was cheating on that, so is it really fair to take online assessment or modified assessments (which at my school at least, are often following a "Take the highest grade item to makeup the missing %", inflating marks...) to compare students? I would say no. 

The combined effects of the increased potential for cheating, disruption to learning environments, and overall flux mean this semester isn't a great one for gauging anything. Add in divergent responses between institutions and you have a tough time doing anything that's fair. Are you going to disqualify all the students from schools with mandatory P/F? Of course not. What about optional P/F, before or after grades? We'll see what happens, and I'm sure some people with a worse first semester who were on track for a better 2nd semester may be negatively impacted, but I don't think schools are going to be as negative towards P/F courses in this semester. 

 

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29 minutes ago, MedicineLCS said:

The long and short is no one knows and it will be months before we'll have any sort of answer. The UofT has indicated that schools are talking to each other about this, so we may see a more unified response, or we may see each school go a little bit of a different direction (as is the norm). No. One. Knows. 

My personal (guess) is that at least some schools will simply drop this semester's grades, for everyone, out of equity. Think about what grades are supposed to represent; the ability to handle academic material while also engaging in ECs over an extended period of time. COVID-19 ruins the assessment purpose of this, while online exams are hard to check for cheating.  I'm at an institution with a stubborn admin who refuses to move towards P/F and I wrote a Google Form midterm last week. A Google Form! I can imagine there was cheating on that, so is it really fair to take online assessment or modified assessments (which at my school at least, are often following a "Take the highest grade item to makeup the missing %", inflating marks...) to compare students? I would say no. 

The combined effects of the increased potential for cheating, disruption to learning environments, and overall flux mean this semester isn't a great one for gauging anything. Add in divergent responses between institutions and you have a tough time doing anything that's fair. Are you going to disqualify all the students from schools with mandatory P/F? Of course not. What about optional P/F, before or after grades? We'll see what happens, and I'm sure some people with a worse first semester who were on track for a better 2nd semester may be negatively impacted, but I don't think schools are going to be as negative towards P/F courses in this semester. 

 

I'm so glad to hear that the med schools are all communicating! 

A Google Form exam?!?! Wow I'm so sorry you had to deal with admin on that. From my own experience, my institution has given professors more freedom to choose how to assess their own courses. There is so much heterogeneity with some of my professors implementing take-home exams while others have dropped their final and re-weighted everything. I think that dropping this semester's grades might be the best option to account for this heterogeneity. 

I guess we will see what they decide! Unfortunately, this has been giving me a lot of anxiety and thanks for a detailed analysis!

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43 minutes ago, pwguy said:

I am a little bit worried. I didn't do too well early in undergrad and this year was going to help my GPA. But now it is just pass/fail

Oh no :( I'm so sorry that this is happening to you.

I sincerely hope admissions committee will be more understanding (which I generally think they are given the virtual interviews that they are conducting). 

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Personally I think it would be really unfair to just terminate this semester from admission, especially for the people who are doing a 5th year to raise their grades. Everyone spent a lot of time and money on courses this semester. I think that if you have grades, they will use them and if it's P/F they won't. Or maybe the entire admissions system will be revamped for the upcoming cycle. Hard to say though, we will just have to wait and see...

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11 hours ago, Premedstudent0307 said:

Personally I think it would be really unfair to just terminate this semester from admission, especially for the people who are doing a 5th year to raise their grades. Everyone spent a lot of time and money on courses this semester. I think that if you have grades, they will use them and if it's P/F they won't. Or maybe the entire admissions system will be revamped for the upcoming cycle. Hard to say though, we will just have to wait and see...

That's a good point. It seems more and more like no matter the solution, someone is going to be receiving the short end of the stick :( Sigh the waiting is the worse part...

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On 3/29/2020 at 2:22 PM, MedicineLCS said:

My personal (guess) is that at least some schools will simply drop this semester's grades, for everyone, out of equity. 

That would be unfair to students who did well prior to covid19 and are still doing well after covid19. Im still balancing school work with 2 jobs (one from home, the other essential) so I would MASSIVELY CHEESED. 

 

On 3/29/2020 at 2:22 PM, MedicineLCS said:

while online exams are hard to check for cheating. 

Well...there are online schools out there like Athatbasca where you can do a degree completely online. 

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46 minutes ago, IloveMemes said:

Well...there are online schools out there like Athatbasca where you can do a degree completely online. 

To be fair to Athabasca, computer exams are either done in person (in an invigilation centre) or through ProctorU, which allows them to invigilate remotely. Most schools do not have the resources or infrastructure set up to do online exams. Even people taking Athabasca courses right now are being penalized. I can't write my stats final because it's a written final, and they haven't made any alternative plans available yet.

I think most schools are going to more or less ignore this semester. Some people are going to cheat to get good grades. Some people's grades are going to suffer, because their current situation is not conducive to learning (having kids at home, no access to library resources, stressed about finances, etc...). Others will do fine.

Some schools impose P/F. Others make it an option before you see your final grades. Others make it an option after you see your final grades. Depending on your professor, some are going to be able to properly transition online and your learning won't be affected. Other professors will simply make your standing grade your final grade and call it a day. Others might make the course harder because they are expecting cheating. 

Admissions won't be able to account for all these variables to make it completely fair for all students. They will also be unable to make it a case by case basis because they won't have time. A 60% can get you a pass in my school. Will they penalize the student with a pass/fail, since it could be 60%? It could also be an 85%, but the student took the P because they didn't want it to bring their GPA down. 

On 3/29/2020 at 12:22 PM, MedicineLCS said:

Think about what grades are supposed to represent; the ability to handle academic material while also engaging in ECs over an extended period of time.

I second this thought. This is not a normal semester by any accounts, and is definitely not representative of what students are actually capable of. The simplest way would be to more or less disregard this semester.

What I am curious about is how schools that look at prereqs, like UOttawa, are going to do. Can you compare a student who took Organic Chemistry last year and got an B+, and a student taking it this year and got a pass? 

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