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How Bad is Orgo/Bio Together?

MDreamsMDreams Registered User Posts: 55 Junior Member
edited July 2012 in Northwestern University
I've heard that taking both at the same time would be extremely difficult for me during my sophomore year (I'm going to be a premed). So my sister, who went there, suggested that I take Bio during the summer after freshman year and Orgo alone during sophomore year. Do you think this would look weak to medical schools?
Post edited by MDreams on
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Replies to: How Bad is Orgo/Bio Together?

  • wefregegefgwefregegefg Registered User Posts: 25 New Member
    Ok, well, I was hoping someone else would write something, but i guess I will. I just took orgo and bio together, 210 sequences, as a sophomore

    It was really hard, the hardest thing ive ever done in my life
    I got
    Gen Chem (Last yr, but if you do well here, then thats a good sign): AAA
    Orgo: A, A-, A-
    Bio: A, A-, B
    If you did well in gen chem, thats a good sign
    Med schools want to see you handle 2 science classes at once
    At the same time, you're playing with fire by taking these classes together. A lot of my friends, got manhandled by these classes, it is EXTREMELY TOUGH. I lived in the library, think 12 hour study days, every day, for 30 weeks, competing against kids who are taking the class alone as while underloading, and everything is on a curve scaled to a B-, B. so half the class doesnt do hot. Smart people drop out of premed taking these classes. People cry because their grades aren't what they're supposed to be. Parents worry. These classes make or break you and getting a C-, D+ is a very real possibility.

    Its still doable. You just have to bring your A game.
    Taking it over the summer looks weak for medical schools, they arent stupid. but do it if you can't handle the heat.

    If youre a bio major, you have to take it at the same time, i think.
    Despite the scariness, I suggest you take it at the same time, and there is a really good reason why. I was in the same position as you at this time. Scared as balls, don't know if you can handle it. Here's the deal, the more scared you are the better you're gonna do. You need to take the classes like you're going to war. Plus, being so busy with classes will help you. Weirdly, I think I would have gotten worse grades if i had taken orgo and bio alone, because a lot of kids who do, dont use the extra time to study, but use the extra time to waste time, and then you get sucked into wasting time.


    Feel free to ask more questions
  • CentralFCCentralFC Registered User Posts: 412 Member
    What's the major difference when comparing O-Chem to Gen-Chem?

    What is Gen-Chem like in terms of rigor/expectations/grading?

    How difficult are the labs and subsequent write ups?

    What is the bio like and could you comment on the testing schedules between it and O-Chem?

    How difficult is it to earn an A?

    What are your typical days like (studying, sleep, etc)?
  • wildbuckwildbuck Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
    I would disagree with the post above. I graduated from NU in 2010 and I just finished my first year of medical school, so I have some background on this. I took the courses separately, doing the biology sequence over my sophomore year and then the orgo sequence that following summer. (This is actually out of order as orgo is a prerequisite for biology, but no professor or advisor ever caught it and I managed fine.) I knew quite a few people who also took them separately and were successful in getting into med school. I've never sat on an admissions committee, but from my interviews and other interactions I had while applying, the way in which you complete the science course requirements seems to matter very little. It certainly speaks well if you can take them both concurrently and do well (as the poster above did), but it's not necessary.

    On a related note, there were some kids that I met who took orgo or bio at another institution. Some took these courses at other prestigious universities, while others took them at nearby schools (e.g., Loyola, DePaul) that offered easier curves (based on what I've heard). I don't know their admissions results, but I have heard that this can be viewed in a negative light. If anyone else with more background can speak to this, take their word over mine because my experience is limited. Still, based on conversations I've had with the pre-med advisor at NU, this practice does seem to be frowned upon.

    In any case, these courses are tough. I would imagine that some things have changed since I took them (2008-9), but I'd guess that the difficulty level is still high. There really isn't a reason to make it any tougher on yourself. Do the best you can, and try to keep a level head. Good luck!
  • wefregegefgwefregegefg Registered User Posts: 25 New Member
    What's the major difference when comparing O-Chem to Gen-Chem?
    They are totally different in a lot of ways, though in both, the only way to do well is to do a TON of practice problems. That is the key to success. Gchem is a lot of math based problems, that test you r math abilities as well as knowledge of chemistry. OChem is a lot of memorizing a large volume of material, and knowing it really really well and on a fundamental level. OChem also has synthesis problems, which are hard to describe, but they are tricky, they reminded me of writing proofs for geometry if you ever did that. OChem requires no math, but you really have to know your stuff well and do a lot of practice problems. Also, if you have professor c---dens, im sorry to say this, but how well you do depends slightly on how many old tests you can get your hands on. Take it with professor T, trust me. Though, this is not the only factor, because a lot of people think old tests are going to get them an A, but you ststill have to know the material really well.

    What is Gen-Chem like in terms of rigor/expectations/grading?
    I thought it was pretty hard (i might have overkilled it). A lot of people say its easy, but I had never taken AP Chem, or any rigorous chem class. A lot of the kids who thought it was so easy in the beginning got manhandled so DO NOT underestimate it. It killed a lot of people. Honestly, if you're premed, you have no choice, just take the class and study hard, theres no point in trying to figure out if you're gonna do well, which i know you're doing. Just know that gen chem is nowhere close to as hard as ochem/bio at the same time so its a bad sign if you don't pull of As in that. But if you didnt do well, its fine, just step your game up!!

    How difficult are the labs and subsequent write ups?
    Not that bad. they take a lot of time tjme. The more effort you put in the better grade you will get. Try to pick a nice T.A but it doesnt matter since its all scaled in the end. Focus more on the tests, they matter a ton.

    What is the bio like and could you comment on the testing schedules between it and O-Chem?
    Bio is not the AP Bio you have done in school, so don't think that its gonna be a piece of cake at all. Bio is harder than gen chem by far and almost as hard as orgo, or you could argue its harder (everyone I know who took both does worse in bio because its so hard to know you're gonna get an A, whereas in orgo, if you're on your game, you know you;ll do well. But getting on your game in orgo is hard too). The labs for bio are tough and annoying. They alternate test weeks so you won't have a bio and orgo exam in the same week. Bio is tough. The tests are all hard, you have to memorize more than you've ever been used to, A LOT of memorization, and its not easy. Then genetics is extremely tricky, one of the professors has THE HARDEST TESTS you will ever take. I can't write how tricky they were. He was notorious. you'll know who im talking about when you take it.

    How difficult is it to earn an A?
    Its extremely hard. Really really hard What did you expect. Its northwestern, you're a premed(i can tell). its gonna be harder than anything you're used to. But its doable too. Its not impossible at all. You literally literally have to give it your all.

    What are your typical days like (studying, sleep, etc)?
    With bio and orgo:
    I would wake up at 945am, run to class, which is at 10 (have class and lunch until 2pm but it depends on your schedule), At 2 pm go to the library, study until 7pm. Eat dinner quickly go back to the library, study until 2-4am, shower, sleep.
    Some days, class would end at 10am so i would go to the library with the extra time (10am-7pm, and then after too)
    I studied on Fridays/Saturdays and Sundays all day, by waking up at 9 am and literally studying all day. You have to turn your friends down a lot when they want to have fun. it sucks.
    The first 2 weeks of school are a little slower, but don't be fooled, you have to go hard from day one, because it picks up quickly.
    Sometimes, (like 8 times a quarter) you have to all nighter to study everything before a test. All nightering is miserable. I had to do it more since i took 4 classes instead of underloading 3, like a lot of kids. But I underloaded my winter quatarter, it was not that much better.
    During finals week, sometimes you have to do 3-4 days with about 12 hours of sleep, studying every moment you could.
    A lot of kids don't do anything besides study if you take bio and orgo, but i was on a sports team at well, so it was kind of really crazy.

    And don't think that your "natural intelligence" is going to help you. Everyone here is really smart, and the kids who think they are smarter and have to study less ALWAYS study less and then do badly, and you can never fall behind, unless you actually are a genius. Thats a big mistake people make.

    Winter quarter is the hardest.

    Ok, well, just to add in so i don't sound arrogant or anything. Im not writing this to make orgo and bio sound like the scariest thing in the world. Im just trying to give you an accurate perspective on what it takes to do well here. I have friends who struggled to do well in these classes, and when you can;t perform well, it becomes really depressing, its better to go crazy and do well, than be sad and do bad, My friends never did what i tried to tell them to do, so i hope i save you and whoever else from that fate. I could only pull of A-'s barely. Its really hard. I think you both deserve to know the truth. I hope I don't come across the wrong way. I remember before taking the class last year, I wanted to know all this stuff that I'm writing down, so I guess I'm trying to do you all a favor But here;s my advice on how to do well:

    Be really studious during the first 2 weeks of every quarter, because it picks up quickly, and if you aren't then youll fall behind fast.

    For orgo/chem: you need to do a lot of practice problems, and write down everything you do

    For bio: literally know everything. Its simple to study, but its a ton.

    Anyways, I hope I didnt scare you all too much. Its doable, and maybe you guys will find it easier (DONT GET TOO CONFIDENT!!!). Its A LOT ALOT ALOT easier pulling off a B or B+, getting the A or A- is really hard though. And remember, if you survive this, then you are literally set to get to medical school, I think the average acceptance rate is like 80% from here. So good luck both of you. Try to have fun to keep your sanity, don't be lame on dillo day! Wow, that was a lot of writing. i hope it wasn't disorganized. I hope I covered every question you have, but feel free to ask more, I am glad to share. If you're scared, if you really really want to do well, you'll be fine! If I could (kind of) do it, you can too!!
  • wefregegefgwefregegefg Registered User Posts: 25 New Member
    oh yeah, sorry i didnt see the response above. yeah, taking them separately is fine too! i didnt mean to say you're doomed if you don't take them at the same time.

    So jealous wildbuck,congrats on med school, haha!!
  • CentralFCCentralFC Registered User Posts: 412 Member
    Thanks a lot. That was more informative and personal than most.

    How do you deal with the lack of sleep? Does it become natural after a certain amount of time?
  • MDreamsMDreams Registered User Posts: 55 Junior Member
    yeah that was super helpful thanks man.

    and yes. im scared ****less. my sister did pre-dent at NU and got C's in Orgo and B-'s in Bio. she has to do a post-back somewhere. so im gonna have to work my ass off... and im kinda excited for the challenge haha

    also would you recommend to not join a frat?
  • wefregegefgwefregegefg Registered User Posts: 25 New Member
    How do you deal with the lack of sleep? Does it become natural after a certain amount of time?
    Umm, well, this is an interesting question. When I took Gen Chem, I was awful with sleeping since i wanted to study a lot and have a lot of fun at night, so I stayed up until like 10am sometimes hangning out with friends and studying. I was very sleep deprived and drank a lot of energy drinks. (This is really funny since if one of my friends read this post, they would know who I am immediately haha).. So when I took gen chem, i basically did not get a healthy amount of sleep at all. This is a very bad thing, they don't lie when they say your immune system goes down. I got sick all the time. It was pretty bad. So don;t go that insane.

    Last year (orgo/bio), i would typically get around 6-7 hours of sleep to maintain that schedule, which isn't that much. To be honest, I struggled with sleep, I kind of got sleepy a lot when I studied, but what I started realizing is that its nice to take short naps (5-20 mins, usually 5) twice a day. I don't think you should base your study schedule so closely to what i did though, because a lot of my friends called me a freak because of my schedule, and it wasnt really that healthy. One of my friends, who did better than me, and probably has a more rational sleep schedule, would sleep early and wake up earlier because she couldn't handle the lack of sleep. I just couldn't bring myself to study so early. (she still got ~7hrs) But some days, when you’re really sleep depived after a lot of nights studying, you just take a nap in the middle of the day.

    Lesson: you should probably not follow my example here.

    .

    Also, all nightering can be tough, i drank a lot of energy drinks to stay awake, and usually after you all nighter you want to sleep at least two hours during the day. When i all nightered, i would sleep for 45 minutes, before a test, but that can be really really risky and scary haha. A lot of people don’t stay up like that, but I think it can be really really helpful when you want to get a good grade.



    also would you recommend to not join a frat?
    I don’t know if I can help answer this q. I never partied, or joined one, so I don’t know what its like time commitment wise. But I think that you should probably definitely join one, because it will help you have a social life, and you’ll be sad if you don’t have anything in college besides studying. Plus, I’ve found that when you are more busy with other non-school related activities, it helps you focus more when you actually have to study, whereas, if you only have studying for a long period of time, you tend to space things out more and be less efficient, so I’d probably join a frat if I were you.
  • latepartylateparty Registered User Posts: 316 Member
    Friends of my student (an undergrad at NU) are pre-med/Bio people and NU is very challenging. I know undergrads at other easier universities - I think the semester system makes it much easier...and NU's quarter system is super stressful (my student is in another challenging major)
    I suggest NOT joining a frat.
    This schools works best for those who are super organized - live near your classes (NU is larger than it seems, can be timeconsuming to get around, some dorms are far from some types/subjects of classes)
    Good luck! We are pulling for some nice NU undergrads in this course of study and hope it works out for them...I sure hope they get "credit" on their med school apps for the hard grading they experience at this university!
  • slapbetcommslapbetcomm Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
    what classes do premeds tend to take besides premed classes? is it wise to take humanties type classes with lots of reading with that kind of workload?
  • Wildcat2016Wildcat2016 Registered User Posts: 138 Junior Member
    To snowball off this thread instead of making another one:
    1. Is taking only 3 classes seen as "weak"? I am currently doing a summer program which gives me credit which means it is very possible for me to only take 3 when taking Orgo/Bio.
    2. Given the fact that studying obviously comes first, how did you manage EC's around your 12+ hour study days?
  • GA2012MOMGA2012MOM Registered User Posts: 5,440 Senior Member
    How do you deal with the lack of sleep? Does it become natural after a certain amount of time?

    I just skimmed through all these very long posts above, but I have a couple of thoughts. If you are thinking of going to medschool, taking 2 science UG courses in the same semester is the norm. And to the person who was doing some crazy amounts of study hours, to the OP, there is NO reason to study that much on a consistant basis. I don't know of any medschool student that had to study that many hours as Wefreg is saying! If you have to study that much in UG, you won't make it through medschool. Learn to study smart, not to study long. Regarding the summer classes, bad idea all the way around. 2/3 of all medschool applicants every year don't get into even one school. "Dinging" your application with any perceived weakness will be a strike against you. Taking prereqs during the summer is a definite ding. For more premed questions, visit this thread.
    http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/pre-med-topics/9848-general-premed-advice.html
  • wefregegefgwefregegefg Registered User Posts: 25 New Member
    "I don't know of any medschool student that had to study that many hours as Wefreg is saying! If you have to study that much in UG, you won't make it through medschool."

    Thanks, GA2012MOM, for implying that I won't make it through medical school.

    I was just detailing my personal experience taking bio and orgo together and trying to get A's in both classes, while being on a sports team. Read the CTECs if you don't believe me and ask your friends how they were, these classes are really hard and take a lot of hours if you want to do well. But, remind me again GA2012MOM what makes you so qualified to talk about how it is studying for these classes?

    what classes do premeds tend to take besides premed classes? is it wise to take humanties type classes with lots of reading with that kind of workload?
    yeah, its great to take reading type classes with bio and orgo. It gives you something new to do, instead of science and they are usually more interesting, and a different type of studying. Plus, those classes are so easy compared to the science ones, that you'll probably get an A (ive only gotten As in them).

    1. Is taking only 3 classes seen as "weak"? I am currently doing a summer program which gives me credit which means it is very possible for me to only take 3 when taking Orgo/Bio.
    hope not, i did it for one quarter, i would definitely not do it for a full year. talk to the premed advisor. Though, I will say that taking an easy fourth class is not all that difficult compared to taking three classes, it doesn't take too much time most of the time.

    2. Given the fact that studying obviously comes first, how did you manage EC's around your 12+ hour study days?
    Its only some days that you have to go all out like that. But, you make ways and force youself to stop studying. Plus, its good to give yourself a break from studying, because if you don't do any ECs, you'll space your studying out more and be inefficient.
  • GA2012MOMGA2012MOM Registered User Posts: 5,440 Senior Member
    But, remind me again GA2012MOM what makes you so qualified to talk about how it is studying for these classes?

    I based my response on asking my daughter who will be starting med school in a few weeks. She doesn't know a single person, premed or not, who studied the number of hours you stated you do. As for pulling all nighters, she pulled exactly one in 4 years.
    Thanks, GA2012MOM, for implying that I won't make it through medical school.

    Given that there is exponentially more work in med school than in UG, my point was I don't know how you will find the time to do the work.
  • wildbuckwildbuck Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
    I think it's important to appreciate that there are different ways to approach studying and that various methods can lead to success for different people. Everyone learns material in their own way, and the idea that there is one smart way to study has not been true in my experience. There are definitely ways to be efficient, but outright shortcuts are harder to come by. I never studied quite that much when I was in undergrad, but I know that others did and performed very well (probably better than me) on exams.

    Also, I disagree with the assertion that med school is exponentially more difficult than undergrad. Most medical schools operate on some type of pass/fail system and do not grade upon a curve, as is the case at NU. This removes a great deal of the stress that was present during college and it greatly simplifies your study routine. Once you've taken a few med school exams, it's much easier to predict what types of things will appear on exams and in what context. Our exams (and I believe at most med schools, but I could be wrong) are also multiple choice, which means memorization is more important in most cases than conceptualizing material and applying it in free-response/critical thinking type questions. In contrast, in a course like orgo, you may have a single exam comprised of three or four free response questions that use the material covered in lecture as a jumping off point. For me, that was always a much more difficult exam to pass. There is a lot of material to know in med school, but there was also a lot to know for many of my college exams. If you do well at Northwestern in the premedical curriculum, you'll likely be fine in med school. It's a bit condescending to say otherwise, particularly if you haven't experienced the pre-med program yourself. There's definitely a lot to be learned from friends/relatives who have gone through it, but that doesn't equate to succeeding in it yourself.

    I also agree that taking courses outside the sciences is a great idea. Those courses tend to be much easier to do well in and they often provide much better/more engaged instructors than you'll encounter in the introductory science courses. My favorite courses at Northwestern were all outside the sciences (granted, I'm not really a huge science person to begin with).
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