Impact of Field of Study, College and Year on Calculation of Cumulative Grade Point Average
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A consistent finding from many reviews is that undergraduate Grade Point Average (uGPA) is a key predictor of academic success in medical school. Curiously, while uGPA has established predictive validity, little is known about its reliability. For a variety of reasons, medical schools use different weighting schemas to combine years of study. Additional concerns relate to the equivalence of grades obtained from different fields of study and institutions, with little hard data to guide conclusions. At the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine Class of 2007 at McMaster University, every undergraduate grade of 2,138 applicants, along with field of study and post-secondary educational institution, was analyzed. Individual grades were aggregated into an overall uGPA using published algorithms from several medical school, and correlated with a non-weighted sum. Correlations of the different schemas with equal weights ranged from 0.973 to 0.990. The extent of the difference between fields of study was small, accounting for only 1.5% of the variance. However, differences among 16 Ontario universities were larger, and accounted for 9.3% of the variance. The results of this study suggest that all weighting schemas are virtually equivalent, making any formulation reasonable. Differences by field of study are small, but do not show any bias against non-science students. Differences by institution are larger, amounting to a range in average score from 78.7 to 84.6; however it is not clear whether this reflects candidate ability or institutional policy, so attempts to correct for institution may be difficult.
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