At the end of the day, GPA isn’t the most important thing in the world. When you look at the list of billionaires (who made their fortune, not who inherited it), you’ll see that most of them have not even earned a University degree, and some actually dropped out of high school.
Having said that, GPA still plays an important role in admission process at Medical Schools, PA Schools, and sometimes also at Pharmacy Schools. Because the people who are responsible for considering your application are academics (not doctors, pharmacists, or businessmen, who learned by experience that results in school matter a little in a real world).
For teachers and academics, school and theory is everything, and low GPA immediately suggests that you are not as competent as students who have a high GPA. This is what makes the question tricky, and your situation difficult, especially when you try to get a to a college with low GPA.
Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to this question. Most of them refer to college applications, but you will find on our list also two answers for job seekers, because it’s not unheard of to get this question also in a job interview. Enjoy!
* Special Tip: Do not forget to check also our article about PA school interviews.
7 sample answers to: “Does your academic record accurately reflect your capabilities?” question
- More than my capabilities, it reflects my motivation in each semester. Just like many other teenagers, I had my personality crisis, when I wasn’t sure whether I really wanted to pursue career in medicine, or was just following the dream of my parents. This obviously impacted my motivation a lot, and it reflected in bad grades. Let me break my grades by semester (you break it down in a simple way that illustrates how one or two bad semesters impacted the overall score). As you can see, once I got over my crisis and ensured that I wanted to work as a healthcare professional, my motivation improved and my grades followed. I’d say that my grades from the last two semesters reflect my capabilities accurately.
- No, they definitely do not reflect them accurately. I was very naive when starting my studies, and I also struggled with money. I thought I could have two part time jobs, and still manage the workload at the University. But I was wrong, and it took me a long time until I accepted that I had to give up on one of my jobs. Long enough to have a negative impact on my grades in the first semester. I barely passed it. But look, we learn the most from our mistakes. I learned to give my studies the first priority, and the grades improved a lot since then.
- That’s really hard to tell, because as you can see on the following website (you cite some source) average GPA on my school is much lower than the national average. It doesn’t mean that the students were worse. It means that the teachers had higher expectations, and they were probably also more strict in their evaluation of the students. At least that’s how I interpret the results, and I can assure you that I definitely feel ready to study at the med school, and to eventually earn my degree.
- I’d say that they reflect more the perception the teachers had of my capabilities, than they do reflect my real capabilities. Let me explain. I was always a creative and innovative person, and I never liked to memorize things word to word. With some verbal and written exams, I simply presented my opinions, or even the right answers, in a rather unorthodox way, and not every teacher liked that. It explains the low grades I got from some courses. If you value creative and critical thinking at your university, I believe I should get a chance to prove them, at least in a face to face interview. But if a number like GPA, that never tells the entire story about the student, is the decisive factor for you, than all that remains for me is to wish you good luck…
- They don’t. They reflect the fact that I didn’t try hard enough, that I did less than my fellow students. I can admit it, I struggled with motivation, and I wasn’t mature enough to understand the impact lower GPA could have on my plans to study at a PA School. But it makes no sense to lament over it right now. People can change, and I believe that I matured over the last year, and changed my study habits. I believe to be ready to succeed and earn my degree, and hope you’ll give me a chance to prove my skills in an interview.
- They do not reflect my capabilities in the actual job. They just reflect my capabilities in all the theoretical subjects we had at school, which, as you for sure know with many years of experience, have very little to do with the reality of working in a legal office. School is one thing, job another. That’s how I see it, and I always preferred to study outside of school, to focus on improving my communication skills and argumentation, things that really matter in court. At least this is my personal philosophy, though I am sure not everyone will agree with it.
- I do not give a damn about my academic record. Just look at the successful people in business, philosophy, philanthropy, the successful managers and salesmen. I’ve read enough success stories to know that how you fared at school does not determine how you’d fare in life. In my opinion, the academic system we have in place right now kills creativity in young people. That’s why I have never tried particularly hard, at least not when we talk about traditional education. I wanted to get a degree, because I knew I’d struggle to get any interview invitations from good companies, if I didn’t have a degree, if I applied for jobs with just a high school diploma. And so I earned it, but I didn’t really care much whether I pass with 2.5 or 4.5…
If you write your answer on an application form, try to get at least the interview
When applying for a spot at a med school or pharmacy school, your immediate goal isn’t to secure a place in the study program. The first goal is to secure an interview invitation. Once you already interview with the members of the admission committee, you can convince them of your abilities, regardless of your GPA.
Check sample answers no. 4 and no. 5 as a great example. Students explain their point, but at the same time they suggest that only in an interview can the admission committee realistically consider their capabilities. GPA is just a number, that, at the end of the day, it never tells the entire story.
* Special Tip: This isn’t the only difficult question you will face in your interview. You will face questions about prioritization, dealing with pressure, dealing with ambiguity, and other tricky scenarios that happen in the workplace, or at school. If you want to make sure that you stand out with your answers and outclass your competitors, have a look at our Interview Success Package. Up to 10 premium answers to 31 tricky scenario based questions (+ more) will make your life much easier in the interviews. Thank you for checking it out!
Do not be afraid to be honest
Life isn’t always a walk in a park. You might have your share of problems during your studies. Perhaps you experienced a setback in a relationship, your first big love left you. Or your parents were divorcing, or you were seriously sick, or you had an identity crisis, or whatever.
All these things necessarily had an impact on your study results–just like they’d have on any other one. Now, it is not guaranteed that an empathetic person will read your application. But if such a person does read it, and perhaps they experienced something similar in their life, and can envision your situation, they may as well give you a green light, and at least invite you for an interview.
At the end of the day, you have nothing to lose. Because if you just blankly claimed that your academic results did not reflect your capabilities, without offering any additional explanation to the readers, they would have no reason to proceed further with your application. Check sample answers no. 1, no. 2, and also no. 5 for a good example.
Applying for jobs, you can always say that academic results do not matter–because that’s how it really is
If you asked 100 professionals (from any field) how important were their academic results (or even the things they learned at school) in the real practice of the job, at least 90 of them would tell you that they weren’t particularly important.
Because that’s how it is. You study law for 6 years, learning so much stuff word to work, while you can find anything you need in 10 seconds with a simple Google search… You study theory of economics, management, financial analysis, HR, just to see that when you finally get a job in a big corporation, and a nice monthly paycheck, you actually aren’t using anything from school. They enroll you in their training program, and assign you a few simple tasks you’ll do each day…
And even when you work as a PA, you’ll see that the only part of studies that really mattered was the residency (or the direct practice).
Therefor when you get this question in a job interview, you can always play down the importance of academic results. Check sample answers no. 6 and no. 7 as a good example.
Ready to answer this one? I hope so! Check also 7 sample answers to other tricky interview questions:
- Why did you choose this course?
- What makes you stand out from the rest?
- What does diversity mean to you?