What is LizzyM: A score that combines your GPA with your MCAT score.
LizzyM score was a conception of the Student Doctor Network forum (by a user who sat on an admission committee) used by medical school applicants to gauge their level of academic competitiveness.
It takes into account an applicant’s undergraduate cumulative GPA multiplied by 10, and adds their MCAT score (based on the old scoring rubric), so
LizzyM = GPA *10 + Old MCAT
In this post I will go over the assumptions that it makes, what I like about it, as well as its limitations.
There are two main assumptions. The first is that medical schools will accept candidates who are relatively close to GPA/MCAT values of their previous matriculant pool. For the most part, this holds true, as going back we don’t see much fluctuation in the median GPA and MCAT of matriculants. With the exception of newer medical schools that have higher statistical volatility, the value remains relatively stable for most established medical schools.
The second assumption is that admission committees place an equal value on MCAT and GPA. This brings back the age old debate regarding whether a school places more value on GPA vs MCAT. GPA is arguably a better predictor of work ethic and longitudinal success, whereas the MCAT is supposedly a better gauge for critical thinking skills and raw intellectual horsepower. I won’t get into this. The best answer I can provide is that it really depends on the school and the type of students they’re trying to attract. Some might put higher emphasis on one over the other. The more important piece that you should consider is balance. A candidate with has both a good GPA and MCAT will be more appealing than an excellent GPA and a lackluster MCAT, or vice versa. More details on this later.
Pros / Why I like it
What I like about LizzyM is its versatility and ease of use. Out of the entire 184 medical schools to choose from, there is no better way to initially narrow down your search range than to filter based on LM scores.
MSAR is useful because it gives you the 10 – 90 percentile ranges, but calculating where you lie within that range can be very time consuming when you’re researching up to 50 schools. Not to mention, it can also get a bit convoluted when say, your GPA is above the median but your MCAT is below the median for a certain school.
Therefore, it can hard to tell right off the bat where you sit in terms of competitiveness. LizzyM solves its problem because it boils the two components of GPA and MCAT into a single number, which makes your life easier during your initial screening out a school list. With a LM of 68, you can efficiently filter out all schools that fall within the 65-71 LM range, and then do your due diligence for each school from there on out.
Cons / Limitations
-It takes into account MCAT and GPA, which is a strong predictor of medical school success, but by no means is it infallible. Applicants with an extremely high LizzyM but who lack any sort of clinical experience will still get rejected by a majority of medical schools. This is an obvious factor, but nonetheless important to mention. Therefore, LizzyM is a great tool for initial school list building, but it is not a bulletproof predictor for your success within the application cycle.
-LizzyM does not account for trends. This is a big one. If you retook the MCAT 4 times, or had a downward trend in your GPA during your latter college years, those are factors that a medical school will take into account when assessing your applications. Trends and repeat scores/grades will hold some weight against the actual numbers themselves. LizzyM may give you a nice easy number to compare with schools, but it hides all the behind the scenes action of how you got those numbers.
-All GPAs are not created equal. Just because you have a high cumulative GPA does not mean that you have a high science GPA, which is weighted more. Also, take a look at the news in recent years and you’ll see that some undergraduate institutions have come under fire for grade inflation (imagine Oprah, but everyone gets As). Such validates the point that you should use LizzyM as an initial marker, not as an end-all-be-all.
-Extremes. What if you got a rockstar MCAT score paired with a lackluster GPA? Or what if your GPA is in a school’s 90th percentile but your MCAT is in their 10th? This is a problem that stumps many applicants, who may wonder how their unbalanced academic statistics will be seen by admission committees. The truth is that it’s hard to tell. I did come across an interesting post on SDN that I’ll include below (why reinvent the wheel), which discounts your total LizzyM score by any large gaps in statistics. However, I’d advise you to take this with a heavy spoonful of salt.
Your standard LizzyM score PLUS
-3.0 if cGPA <3.0
-2.0 if cGPA <3.2
-1.0 if cGPA <3.4
-0.5 if cGPA <3.6
+0 if cGPA > or = 3.6
+1.0 if cGPA > or = 3.8
+1.5 if cGPA > or = 3.95
Thus, 3.8 cGPA with 35 = 75
AND 3.6 cGPA with 37 = 74
AND 3.3 cGPA with 40 = 73
(Previously these would have all yielded identical scores)
You should also adjust for outliers (low side only) in MCAT scoring:
-4 if MCAT <27 (if you’re here…you should be retaking)
-3 if MCAT <28
-2 if MCAT <29
-1 if MCAT <30
Thus, 4.0 cGPA with 26 = 64.5 (includes MCAT & GPA adjustments)
AND 3.8 cGPA with 28 = 66.0 (includes MCAT & GPA adjustments)
AND 3.6 cGPA with 30 = 67.0 (includes MCAT & GPA adjustments)
AND 3.4 cGPA with 32 = 66.5 (includes MCAT & GPA adjustments)
This brings me to conclusion:
On one hand, you have people in the application process who for whatever reason disregard stats more than they should. Maybe they’re applying to all reach schools and are overly optimistic, or maybe they fall under the misconception that ‘stats don’t matter because I’m very holistic’. The truth is that stats do matter. When a school receives upwards of 8000 applications every year, they need some type of algorithmic selection criteria that will reduce their pool down, very similar to how you would screen schools and select out which ones to apply to.
On the other spectrum, you have people who over obsess about stats. While I agree for every school, there is a baseline benchmark that must be met to prove a student’s worth (and to keep their averages afloat), trying to ascertain the value weight that every individual school places on each respective stat is a fool’s errand. You’re better off spending that time working on your extracurriculars and making your application better. Remember that balance is key. The saying goes, stats will get you to the door, but ECs will get you through the door.