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David Geffen School of Medicine raises admission standards, incites controversy

The David Geffen School of Medicine is raising its math and science GPA and MCAT cutoff scores to 3.4 and 512, respectively. Many students said they are worried this will negatively affect the school’s diversity. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Shelby Dunagan

Jan. 17, 2019 11:17 p.m.

The medical school is raising admission standards for next year’s applicants.

The David Geffen School of Medicine is raising its math and science GPA and MCAT cutoff scores to 3.4 and 512, respectively, according to a policy proposal released by school of medicine faculty and students. Many students said they are worried this will negatively affect the school’s diversity.

Calvin Lau, a second-year medical student, said he had no problem with the increased standards, as long as admissions gave each applicant a fair chance to get into the school.

“I think test scores and GPA are very much tied to things that a lot of students do not have a lot of control over, like their background,” Lau said. “And I think if you just take people with the highest test scores you’ll get a very homogeneous class.”

Reijiani Relova, a premedical and fourth-year biology student, said the changing admissions standards is intimidating considering the already competitive nature of medical school applications.

“All through college, being (premedical) has already been an uphill battle to keep your GPA a minimum of at least 3.6 to even be competitive at mid-tier schools,” Relova said.

Clarence Braddock, the vice dean for education and chief medical education officer, said in an email statement the admissions office recognizes students from disadvantaged backgrounds may have lacked various opportunities throughout their educational career, which can negatively affect performance on standardized tests and grade point average.

Braddock added the school of medicine receives more than 14,000 applications for 175 spots. The school’s application review considers socioeconomic or educational disadvantages.

Over 300 students, faculty and alumni expressed concerns about the admissions changes at a town hall Dec. 4.

Attendees formulated a policy proposal in opposition to the changes, which will affect the entering class of 2019. The proposal argued increasing MCAT and GPA thresholds prioritize efficiency over holistic review.

The proposal states these changes would systematically prevent applicants of lower socio-economic status from making it past the primary screening process. It cites research which shows standardized tests are not objective ways of analyzing a student’s knowledge.

Relova said while a more rigorous admissions standard could be appealing to administrators, she thinks the new standard will discourage students from applying in the first place.

“I can understand why this would sound appealing to (the school of medicine), but I think it will bar so many students from even considering applying,” Relova said.

Contributing reports from Kate Nucci, Daily Bruin staff

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Shelby Dunagan
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