Grading medical students, pass-fail or letter grades?

Medical schools have traditionally used letter grades for their students, but to decrease the competitive atmosphere between these prospective doctors, some of gone with a simple pass-fail system.

Does it matter?

A recent study suggests the answer is no. When comparing two groups, one who was graded “A-F” and the other pass-fail, there was no difference in absolute test scores, as well as no discrepancy in board scores or getting into competitive residency programs.

Additionally, those who were in the pass-fail system were less prone to anxiety and depression, which as we know, disproportionally afflicts medical students.

At Boston University, we had a pass-fail-honors system, which I think is a nice compromise between the two grading systems.

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