It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I didn’t particularly care for my undergraduate experience. While I think I received a good education and met some great people, the extremely competitive environment bred a cutthroat attitude among the students. Because most courses were graded on a curve, other students had to perform poorly in order for you to do well. A certain amount of healthy competition is fine, but the survival-of-the-fittest atmosphere at my university went above and beyond.
When I started medical school, I thought this kind of pettiness was behind me. And for the most part, it is. Everyone is working toward the same goal, and while your class rank is certainly important when applying for residencies, letter grades and GPA aren’t nearly as worrisome. Regardless of how well everyone does, the valedictorian and the person with the lowest class rank will both still become doctors.
One of the grading policies that helped relax the students and give us a small cushion when we didn’t do as well on an exam as we’d like was the decision to drop test questions that performed poorly. At least two or three times on every test, a question would unintentionally be worded badly, contain a typo, or simply have more than one correct answer. These questions were either double-keyed or dropped, giving credit to students who got them right. As long as you were a decent guesser, you could usually count on an extra point or two on every exam.
However, today we were informed that, due to student complaints, professors would no longer be dropping questions with credit but rather removing the question from the exam entirely. So instead of an extra point or two, a poorly worded question makes it easier to do badly by lowering the total number of questions on the exam. Granted, we’re dealing with very small point values and the change isn’t likely to affect most grades or overall GPAs. But I cannot fathom why a fellow student would complain about a policy like this. The only possible benefit it could serve would be to raise his or her class rank a few points at the expense of the rest of the class.
If I had a choice between a doctor who performed well academically vs. one who barely made it through school, I’d obviously choose the one who got all A’s. But if those A’s come at the expense of common decency, I’d start looking for a third option.