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Thread: Pass/Fail Course

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    Pass/Fail Course

    Sponsored Ad:
    My institution offers a pass/fail option for certain classes in undergraduate studies. Will applying this option on irrelevant courses (like Unorthodox Music or How Macaroni and Cheese Shape Contemporary American Culture) in anyway affect graduate admission?

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    Can anyone help on this, please?

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    Fus Ro Dah mathemagician's Avatar
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    No, it won't matter.

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    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage Catrina's Avatar
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    At least at my school, pass/fail courses aren't used in GPA calculations. If the class is easy, it may be worth it to take it for a grade in order to raise your GPA.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Catrina View Post
    At least at my school, pass/fail courses aren't used in GPA calculations. If the class is easy, it may be worth it to take it for a grade in order to raise your GPA.
    I'm pretty sure irrelevant courses get ignored when adcoms recalculate your GPA for their purposes, based on whatever standards they've set. The advice from our Honors College is that taking easy courses for good grades in order to raise your GPA is transparent to adcoms and not smiled upon. I think B's in hard courses look better than A's in basket weaving. Anyway, I don't think pass/fail is a bad signal on courses no one's paying attention to anyway. It seems like people take the option relatively commonly, so I don't think it'll say "lazy" or something like that. That's all conjecture based on the little tidbits I have though. I've never taken a pass/fail and don't know anyone who has and has applied . . . .

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    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage
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    My impression of pass/fail is that it is extremely frowned upon, and may be treated as equivalent to a C. At the very least, this is what happens across the board in law school admissions.

    (To me, it also signals being a little obsessed with your GPA..which looks worse than just getting a bad grade - "the guy probably made some careless mistakes in the final and got a B/C".)

    However, it is also true that most adcoms in economics only look at courses from several areas, and that many of your grades are pretty meaningless.

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    I need advice on pass failing and thought I would hijack this rather than start a new thread.

    I'm a senior currently in stochastic processes and I'm fairly certain I'm going to be getting an A-. The impact on my gpa would be minimal, but I'm tempted to pass fail because I think I'm right on the border line for graduation honors (3.96 at a small school with lots of grade inflation). I have a very strong math background in general (A's in real analysis I,II, A+ in abstract algebra, etc). I don't need stochastic processes for my major but I took it because I know finance grad schools like to see it.

    Would it be crazy to pass fail it to increase my chances of honors? I'm not applying for at least another year so they would actually show up on my application. I realize the marginal impact on my application is tiny either way but I'm having a tough time deciding

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    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage Catrina's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by econneophyte View Post
    I need advice on pass failing and thought I would hijack this rather than start a new thread.

    I'm a senior currently in stochastic processes and I'm fairly certain I'm going to be getting an A-. The impact on my gpa would be minimal, but I'm tempted to pass fail because I think I'm right on the border line for graduation honors (3.96 at a small school with lots of grade inflation). I have a very strong math background in general (A's in real analysis I,II, A+ in abstract algebra, etc). I don't need stochastic processes for my major but I took it because I know finance grad schools like to see it.

    Would it be crazy to pass fail it to increase my chances of honors? I'm not applying for at least another year so they would actually show up on my application. I realize the marginal impact on my application is tiny either way but I'm having a tough time deciding
    Yes, you would be absolutely crazy to do that. Taking it pass/fail looks like a C. Just don't worry about the graduation honors and take the A- if you have to, because it will look better on the application than the alternative
    Last edited by Catrina; 10-26-2012 at 03:42 AM.
    Attending Rice University

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    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage
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    Grad schools don't care about Latin honors because there are very different standards for honors across universities. At some colleges you need to be in the top 0.5% in GPA to get a summa; at the other extreme, up to top 10%. The level of grade inflation in various disciplines also differ, to the extent where comparing across universities is meaningless. Some humanities majors have ridiculous grade inflation, so in some humanities-dominated colleges you'll be seeing hundreds of humanities students with 3.9+ every year, making it impossible for almost any science student to get a Latin honor. And those students aren't usually the brightest in their disciplines either - grading at humanities courses is so subjective and arbitrary that being able to consistently get an A reflects an ability to find and choose easy-grading professors more than anything else (this applies to economics as well, to a smaller extent). To sum it up, it's a silly system and it doesn't matter.

    Whatever information they need about your academic preparation, they can get from looking at your transcript and your letters.

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    Quote Originally Posted by econneophyte View Post
    I need advice on pass failing and thought I would hijack this rather than start a new thread.

    I'm a senior currently in stochastic processes and I'm fairly certain I'm going to be getting an A-. The impact on my gpa would be minimal, but I'm tempted to pass fail because I think I'm right on the border line for graduation honors (3.96 at a small school with lots of grade inflation). I have a very strong math background in general (A's in real analysis I,II, A+ in abstract algebra, etc). I don't need stochastic processes for my major but I took it because I know finance grad schools like to see it.

    Would it be crazy to pass fail it to increase my chances of honors? I'm not applying for at least another year so they would actually show up on my application. I realize the marginal impact on my application is tiny either way but I'm having a tough time deciding
    I agree with the above posters. While I don't know if the adcom's default is to impute a C in the place of pass/fail, it doesn't look great especially for a math class that they want to see. One way to help your credibility if you do take a class pass/fail is to take a more advanced class later on and crush it. Given that you're a senior however, that option is off the table.
    Attending: Notre Dame

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