Saturday, March 8, 2014

CASPA and Applying to PA School

CASPA and Applying to PA School
Updated: 05/26/2016
Huge thanks to Lorenzo Santos (pre-PA student) for his help in updating this blog post!

In 2011, the average age of first-time applicants in CASPA programs was 26.1. The average undergraduate GPA was 3.49 and the average undergraduate science GPA was 3.43. The average non-science GPA was 3.56. The majority of applicants reported health care experience in the following categories: other work experience (mean = 4,264), patient contact experience (mean = 3,350), and other health care experience (mean = 1,830). More applicants reported health care experience from research (mean = 1,140) than health care shadowing (mean = 141) or community service (mean = 710).

Update to CASPA 3.0 Platform: Before beginning the 2015 application cycle, CASPA updated their interface in order to better streamline the application process. The application is now broken up into 4 main sections: Personal Information, Academic History, Supporting Information, and Program Materials. Funny story but last year, when  I was applying to PA school, CASPA actually crashed because of so many applicants trying to access the website. To ironically add icing on the cake, it was also my birthday that same day (happy birthday to me). This proves that the PA profession is rapidly growing and becoming more competitive year after year. Therefore it best to prepare early in advance before the big day.

Here is what the new interface looks like:
What was great about the new interface was the progress bars that notified your percentage of completion. CASPA will not allow you to submit your application without completing every required section. In addition, it also kept you up-to-date with your selected school deadlines since not all programs have the same deadlines. Something I also stress is to have your email notifications turned on so that CASPA can send you confirmation emails notifying when rec letter writers updated their evaluation of you, when HQ receives academic transcript(s), and when your entire application was verified. Though it was a convenient feature, it is still imperative to be on top your application from start to finish. Leave no “stone” unturned.

1) Personal Information:

  • Biographical Information
  • Contact Information
    • Make sure that your contact information is up to date since this is how CASPA and your selected programs will contact you.
  • Citizenship Information
  • Ethnicity and Race
  • Family Information

2) Academic History
  • High School(s) Attended
  • College(s) Attended (input ALL institutions you received college credit from)
    • Every school must send in a transcript with a Transcript Request Form for every school!
    • 1.png
  • Transcript Entry
    • Dual credit classes taken in high school, study abroad classes, etc.
    • Coursework
      • Request unofficial transcripts from the schools you attended to help you fill out this section.
      • List every class you took, EXACTLY as it appears on your transcripts.
      • +/- grades apply
      • Section for planned coursework as well
        • This is where you place any remaining pre-reqs.
    • If you have pending prerequisite courses while applying to CASPA, remember to include this in a “In Progress”. This lets CASPA and your programs know that you will be updating these grades as soon as they are available.
      • Make sure that the programs you potentially  apply to allow pending hours therefore it won’t affect you when it comes to getting interviews.
    • Note: In this picture, the one course I was pending was my microbiology lab (BIO 226L). Once I received a grade I uploaded this both on my CASPA application as well as notified the programs I was applying to.
  • Standardized Tests
    • Input your GRE scores, TOEFL, and MCAT
      • Note: You will need to send an OFFICIAL transcript report to every school.
        • You are allowed to send your scores to 4 institution for free at your testing site. Any additional school requires a $20 fee.
          • Scores can be accessed on the ETS website

3) Supporting Information
  • Evaluations
    • Minimum of 3 needed and maximum of 5 allowed. Make sure they spell the PA title correctly and tie in your experience with them to the qualities of what makes a good PA.
    • You will input their contact information (name and email) and CASPA will send them a link to create and account and have access their applicant evaluation page.
      • CASPA will notify you when they have submitted their evaluation.
  • Experiences
    • ANY and EVERY documented hours of service are placed here.
    • Categories (5):
      • Patient care
        • Experience where you are DIRECTLY responsible for a patient’s health progress.
          • Ex. Working on a patient as an active EMT, PCT, NA, MA, pharm tech, scribe, medical missions, etc.
      • Healthcare
        • Experience where you are working in a healthcare setting but not directly involved in a patient’s health (communication, touching, etc.)
          • Ex. Filling prescriptions, performing clerical work, delivering patient food, cleaning patient rooms, etc.
      • Shadowing
        • Experience of observing a healthcare professional.
          • Ex. Doctor, PA, NP, nurse, pharmacist, PT, OT, etc.
      • Work
        • Paid experience that does not pertain to any health-related field(s).
          • Ex. Mentoring, tutoring, work-study, etc.
      • Volunteer
        • Experience of community service outside the health field.
      • Research
        • Research work performed OUTSIDE of receiving credit necessary for degree completion.
      • Note: CASPA will require a position, employer name, supervisor name, contact phone number, start-end date, frequency hours, and description of duties performed (600 characters).
        • Duties can be in paragraph or bullet form. DO NOT repeat categories. You may split up hours if your duties requires tasks that fall in more than 1 category.
  • Achievements
    • Any awards, honors or titles that recognize/acknowledges an achievement earned.
      • Ex. University Honors, recognition awards, officer titles, committee/event leader, TAPA/AAPA membership, etc.
  • Certifications
    • Credible certification with documented proof of passing an examination.
      • Ex. MA, EMT, CNA, pharm tech, CPR, First-Aid, phlebotomy, BCLS, etc.
      • Note: Do NOT give yourself a title if you did not receive certification for it/ have an expired membership.
  • “Essay” (AKA Personal Statement)
    • Prompt: “Please explain why you are interested in becoming a physician assistant”
    • 5000 character limit
    • Please note that once you enter your personal statement, you CANNOT go back and edit it. Make sure that all editions are made on a separate document before transferring.
4) Program Materials
  • This section is intended to inform all applicants on PA program information such as a school’s mission statement, required prerequisite courses, contact information, etc.
    • Some programs may even include their supplemental application or even allow you to “claim” your prerequisite courses.

Keeping Track of Your Application
There is a “Monitor your progress” tab located at the top of the CASPA homepage. This is where you can keep track of your application once you submit your primary application.
  • “Received” means that CASPA has received and processed your application
  • “Materials Received” means that CASPA has received your outside requirements such as academic transcripts (with the transcript request forms), your rec letter evaluations, and your application fee.
  • “Verified” means that CASPA has confirmed that your application is completed and will then be sent to your selected programs.
    • Note: Applicants take roughly 1-3 weeks before becoming verified given the large pool of applicants submitted their applicants at the same time. Therefore it is IMPORTANT to submit yours early and get evaluated early.

Updating Your Application
  • After submitting your primary application, CASPA allows you to update your application for any new grades, experiences, evaluations, achievements, and certifications. However you can only add in NEW information and cannot edit previously entered ones.
  • You must first access your the section you wish to update and there will be a section that says “Add new (blank)”, once you update this, you need to go back to the CASPA homepage and click the blue button on top of the screen that says “Update my application”. This will then send in any newly added information to the school you are applying to.

When to begin CASPA:
CASPA traditionally opens around mid-April. It is best to get a head start on your application and prepare documents containing your health care hours, volunteer hours, work experience, and shadowing hours before applying. You’ll also want to secure your letters of recommendation and at least have a draft of your narrative done.

Below you’ll find all of the information you’ll see on the CASPA including a detailed description of each part. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll try to answer the question as best I can. For the most part, if you get stuck, you’ll need to contact your individual programs you are applying to for answers. As a last resort, try CASPA.
  • Applicant Information
    • Contact Information
    • Personal Data
      • Certifications
        • Highest Degree Earned To Date
        • Check if you have any professional certifications, e.g. BCLS for healthcare providers, EMT
        • Check if you have any professional registrations, e.g. TAPA Member, AAPA member, PAFT member
  • Additional Information
    • Additional Information
      • Have you ever matriculated in or attended any PA education program? If you answered Yes, please provide an explanation. Have you ever been disciplined for academic performance or conduct violations (e.g. academic probation, dismissal, suspension, disqualification, etc.) by any college or school? If you answered Yes, please provide a brief explanation.
      • Have you ever been convicted of a misdemeanor? Most PA program require background checks as a condition of acceptance pending satisfactory results. Failure to disclose prior convictions may have serious consequences.
      • Have you ever had any certification, registration, license or clinical privileges revoked, suspended or in any way restricted by any institution, state or locality?
      • Have you ever had any US military experience?
      • Authorization: Check box to authorize CASPA to release information (including admissions status) to pre-professional health advisors to assist those advisors in counseling future applicants.
      • How did you first hear about the PA profession/PA education?
      • What was the most influential factor in bringing you to the PA profession/PA education?
    • Health Related Training
      • In this section you list any CURRENT professional certifications ONLY.
        • Type, e.g. Basic Cardiac Life Support for Health Care Providers, EMT-Basic
        • Organization issuing certification, e.g. American Heart Association
        • Attendance From and To Dates, e.g. The time span which it took you to earn the certification. The dates can be the same for one day CPR courses or if you just took an exam. Not referring to dates which the certification is valid itself.
        • Certificate, e.g. If you received a certificate at end of course training/exam.
    • Narrative- see my posting about narratives, here, for details.
    • Work and Volunteer Experience - If you feel lost here, visit my blog posting about HCE and it might clear some things up a bit.
      • Patient Care Experience
        • Experiences where you are directly responsible for a patient’s care
        • Ex. Prescribing medication, performing procedures, directing a course of treatment, working on patients as an active EMT, etc.
        • Ex. Phlebotomist, PCT, MA, nurse, tech, etc.
          • “Duties Section” - This is where you’ll have to talk about what you did. You can do this ahead of time. Keep your job descriptions and use them to type out a list or use bullet points. Both are acceptable.
      • Other Healthcare Experience
        • Any healthcare experience where you are not directly responsible for a patient’s care
        • Ex. Filling prescriptions, performing clerical work, delivering food, cleaning patient rooms, working as a “candy-striper” or hospital volunteer, etc.
        • Ex. Pharmacy tech, clerk, volunteer
      • Healthcare Shadowing
        • Time spent officially following and observing a health professional at work
        • Make sure you keep names and contact numbers for people you work for and the number of hours you’ve shadowed
      • Research
        • Research projects done IN ADDITION to classroom work; should NOT appear as credit on a school transcript
        • Make sure to keep supervising PI’s names and phone numbers and keep a log of the number of hours you worked for them
      • Community Service
        • Medical or non-medical, but done outside of the healthcare field
        • Ex. Science fair judge, AIDS Walk, diabetes awareness, blood drive,  tutoring, etc.
        • Extracurriculars, e.g. Run Club
      • Other Work Experience
        • Non-medical work experience (paid)
        • Ex. retail or restaurant jobs, summer camp counselor, however you might want to sort out what work you show on your CASPA. For instance, if you have 15-20 years of experience to show, you might only want to show more recent work, or work that might have more meaning. Admission committees will pass quickly over your CASPA and you don’t want them to breeze over your work experience because you have so much listed. Quantity doesn’t necessitate quality.
      • Awards, Honors & Leadership - college or post-college ONLY
        • Research Publications
        • Research Presentations/Conferences
        • Scholarships
        • Leadership Positions
        • Grants
        • Awards (including need based)
  • Academic History
    • Tests - Here you can self report your standardized test scores because some schools require that you self-report. Failure to self-report can lead to automatic rejection at some schools. You should read the directions about what to do about sending scores to CASPA here. CASPA must verify each score you report. In addition, you’ll have to send scores to the schools that require your scores.
      • Most recent GRE Scores
      • Most recent MCAT Scores
      • Most recent TOEFL Scores
    • Institutions Attended
      • Institutions Attended - This is where you’ll list each school you have any history of college coursework at; even if that school work was done in high school. You’ll need to keep track of dates (e.g. May 2007 - August 2010) of when you attended each. This area is where you’ll print what’s called a “Transcript Request Form.” These will be sent in later on with your transcripts to CASPA so that CASPA can enter your grades a lot easier.
      • College Degrees
        • Degrees Awarded vs. No Degree Planned - You still have to list a school here, even if no degree was planned
    • Coursework
      • This is where you’ll have to add “new terms” for each semester you took courses. In the end, your “CASPA transcript” should match all of your hard copy transcripts down to the name. Any courses that haven’t occurred yet when you plan to submit can still go into CASPA, but they’ll be considered “Planned/In Progress.” You can find more instructions on what to classify each course as subject wise here. You can use an unofficial transcript to fill in coursework, but be advised that if any discrepancies are found between your unofficial and your official transcript, it could delay verification of your CASPA later on.
  • Reference Forms
    • This is where you add who you want to fill out your maximum of 3 letters of reference. You’ll need their title (Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr.), name, occupation, and you’ll be asked to waive your right to view the letter. It is to my understanding that if you choose not to waive your right (meaning you want to see the letter before it has been submitted), then your chances of being accepted are decreased. PA schools want to know that whatever your reference wrote in your letter had no influence from you.
    • First - don’t make the mistake of just listing who you want to be your references without asking FIRST! What happens when you list them is that an email gets automatically sent after you list them. Make sure you ask them first in person and then place them on the CASPA reference list. To delete a reference, go to the Reference Forums on the main page and there will be a red “X” next to their name where you can delete them.
  • My Programs
    • This is where you’ll choose what programs to apply to. It will show the program name, the state, their CASPA deadline, it will ask you whether you have previously applied, and it will tell you if you need to complete a supplemental application for each.
    • The fee schedule starts at $175 for one program and goes up $45 per program after that. Make sure you choose only the programs you would be happiest at. It can get expensive quick!

GPA Calculation:
CASPA automatically performs the following steps when calculating GPAs. This process is NOT done manually. To have GPA calculation done on your application, you must have submitted all updated transcripts to CASPA, you must have e-submitted your application, paid your fees, and at least 2 of 3 letters of reference must have been received. CASPA breaks down GPAs into undergraduate, post baccalaureate, graduate, and cumulative GPAs. Be advised that professional coursework, i.e. graduate coursework is not calculated into overall GPA calculations - read it here. In case you were wondering, +/- totally does count. Only A/A+ are the same - 4.0. Quarter hours count as 0.667 of a semester hour.
  1. Multiply the grade value of the course by semester hours for that course. The product of this multiplication will be the "Quality Points." Ex: If you receive a grade of 4.0 (A) in a 3 credit course, the calculation is 4X3=12 "Quality Points"
  2. Divide the cumulative "Quality Points" by the cumulative attempted hours. Ex: If you have have the following grades in a semester: 4.0, 3.0, 2.0, 4.0 and 3.0 for 5 courses that are all 3 credit hour courses, the "quality points" received will be 16X3=48, and the GPA calculation will be 48 (quality points) /15 (attempted hours) =3.2
You can also read this on CASPA’s FAQ, here. This site will also answer your questions like - what classes/subjects are included in my science GPA? There are a few GPA calculators out there, like this one at Berkeley.

Another student (GeneValgene), on posted a helpful excel file and instructions to calculate your GPA based on what you have entered into CASPA.
Here's how to use the spreadsheet:
  • Login to CASPA
  • In your coursework on CASPA, copy out your classes, and paste them into Columns B-H of the 'Courses' sheet in the excel workbook. You will need to copy and paste semester by semester.
  • Correctly fill in Column A of the 'Courses' sheet with the appropriate grade level (e.g. Fresh, Soph, Junior, etc.).
  • Correctly fill in Column J of the 'Courses' sheet with either Semester or Quarter
  • Press the Calculate GPA button.

Some important notes:
  • Make sure you are using either Internet Explorer 8 or higher, Opera, or Google Chrome as a web browser (FireFox does not work). If you do not want to cut and paste, you can always fill in the information manually.
  • Make sure macros are enabled when it prompts you for permission. The spreadsheet will not work if your security settings are too high, or if you do not enable macros.
  • If you use a Mac, you might need to unprotect the sheet with a password if it asks for one: AAAAAAAABBBt
  • GPA calculations are not automatic. You must press the update or calculate button each time you enter any new information.

E-submission and CASPA mailings:
Your application is considered “complete” when CASPA has received all current transcripts for courses not “in progress,” your payment, and at least 2 of the 3 letters of reference. Once complete, your application may be sent into the verification queue. See below. E-submission is when you submit all of this information to CASPA.

Anything e-submitted in June and before by my own definition is considered “early.” CASPA mailings occur in late June. This means they send out submitted applications one by one to school. Be advised that although CASPA does not mail the applications until late June, schools are still allowed to download electronic copies at their own will. It won’t make much of a difference if you turn everything in right at the end of April versus mid-May. However, the later you wait into the summer months, the less your chances become of obtaining earlier interviews and the more competitive it becomes for spots. All schools will advise you to submit your applications as early as possible. Keep in mind that some schools will have to receive and process your application before sending you a login/password to complete their supplemental application, further delaying the process.

CASPA Verification:
By CASPA’s definition, verification of applications can take 4-6 weeks, even with CASPA verifying on the weekends. Don’t worry though, they’ll keep you updated by posting where they are in applications. They say something like, “currently verifying applications submitted XX-XX-2014.”
For this reason, it is important to submit your application at least a month in advance prior to your school’s deadline dates. CASPA does not call your workplaces to verify employment or health care experience. It is up to your individual programs to do this at their own will, and some programs will. These types of things are done on an honor system. Imagine if you lied and put a false number of hours for HCE or work to make yourself more competitive and then you were questioned during you interview why you did such a thing. Could you imagine the guilt?  CASPA will verify your transcripts with what you input manually into the website. They’ll calculate your GPAs based on this data.

In addition, you also will want to make sure all of your schools received all of your materials (transcripts, supplemental applications, resume, photos, etc.). Never assume they have received them unless you receive receipt of confirmation.   

Fee Waiver:
CASPA offers fee waivers for folks who have financial hardship and are worth $175 each. They cover the initial application fee and allow you to apply to one school only. If you wish to apply to more schools you must pay the $45 per school. You must apply with appropriate documentation, including your Federal Income Tax Return Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ, unless you are claimed by your parents/guardians, then you’ll submit theirs instead. You have 10 business days from time you are notified of approval to use your waiver. More information can be found here.

Pass/Fail Grades:
Schools are picky about what courses they accept and from what schools they will accept them from. If you graduate from an online school and have transcripts with pass/fail grades, you might have trouble with PA programs and CASPA, especially if the courses are for prerequisites. PA programs will not accept pass/fail grades for coursework in prerequisites.

My GPA is less than 3.0 (total or science). What can I do?
To improve your GPA, you can retake classes for which you received a low grade. Note that CASPA will calculate your GPA based on the original grade and the new grade.

I have completed post‐professional (doctoral) coursework. Are these courses included in my GPA?
No, CASPA does not include post‐graduate coursework in its calculations. See the above for information regarding GPA calculations for undergraduate and graduate coursework.

If my GPA from graduate‐level coursework is above a 3.0 but my undergraduate GPA is less than 3.0 (total or science), can you use my graduate GPA instead of my undergraduate GPA for admissions decisions?
An applicants’ cumulative college performance is considered in the GPA calculations by CASPA.

Is there a time limit on prerequisite courses?
It is strongly recommended that all prerequisite science courses have been taken within the last 10 years, especially for those applicants who have only been in clinical practice for a short time. For non‐science prerequisite courses, there is no time limit.

Do PA programs accept community college courses for prerequisites?
Most of the time, yes, if the college is regionally accredited.
Science prerequisites must be at the level of science majors and include a hands‐on laboratory.
Contact individual programs for specific coursework.

Do PA programs accept online courses for prerequisites?
Most of the time, yes, for non‐science courses if taken through a regionally accredited college or university.
Online science courses will usually be evaluated on a case‐by‐case basis but usually must have an on‐campus laboratory component to be considered. Again, contact individual PA programs for specific coursework.

Do PA programs accept pass/fail credit for prerequisite coursework?
Most PA programs do not accept pass/fail credit for any prerequisite science course when taken at an undergraduate level. Occasionally, graduate level prerequisite science courses will be considered on a case‐by‐case basis.
Non‐science prerequisite courses will often be evaluated on a case‐by‐case basis. Contact individual PA programs for specific coursework.

Do I have to have completed 2,000 hours of patient care experience before I apply?
No, but it is strongly recommended that you have at least 2,000 hours of hands-on patient care experience completed before you apply to increase your chances of applying to more PA programs and to make yourself more competitive.

Click here to view the TOP TEN CASPA ERRORS!

CASPA Mobile App: CASPA released a mobile app that allows you to check the status of your transcripts, references, test scores, payments, and GPA.

CASPA Tutorials: Bestoor from recently posted tutorials on YouTube for CASPA. Check them out here and here.



  1. Thanks for your blog! I am a PA school hopeful and was wondering if you had any insight on retaking pre-requisite classes. I am in a position where I would like to improve my pre-req gpa to make my application more competitive, however retaking a couple classes doesn't seem to make a significant improvement. Have you heard of schools recommending this or taking that into extra consideration when reviewing applicants gpa?

    1. Hi Linsday,

      In addition to the required pre-requisites, schools often have pre-requisites that are "recommended" or suggested. You might consider taking some of those classes in addition to the courses you need to retake to not only replace the grades you had, but also to show schools that you can handle a rigorous science course load. It also shows that you are going above and beyond the expectations of the program. In the long run, pre-requisite GPA is not all about one or two classes. Ideally, you can take numerous science courses (especially while enrolled in a post-baccalaureate program) to boost your undergraduate science GPA. This seems to be the case you are in. I have links about this on my page, feel free to locate them via the search bar. Good luck to you!

    2. Follow this tool my gpa=2.75. So, Which school should I apply to?

  2. Hi Paul,

    Based on your experiences do you think it is possible for someone with a "not so competitive" GPA (3.1) to get into PA school? I am almost done with my pre reqs (2 more classes) and I will be applying next Fall for the 2016 entering class. I know that even if I take more classes (which is nearly impossible with my schedule) I can raise my GPA but not significantly enough to reach a 3.4 nor 3.5. I am a strong candidate in other areas such as my 4+ years of direct patient to patient contact as well as certifications, licenses and degrees in healthcare, and I plan on taking the GRE in the Spring and scoring as high as possible. But my GPA is haunting me and I am afraid that no school will overlook that and consider all my other strong points. Any advice Paul? I mean, do you know of any other students in my situation that were accepted into PA school with a mediocre GPA (minimum required)? Please help.


    1. Hi Julie,

      Don't be discouraged. A GPA above a 3.0 may not be as competitive, but you might still be able to get in with great GRE scores at some schools. Definitely check the schools you plan to apply to for their minimum GPA requirements to make sure that you meet the requirement. Most are 3.0 or higher. You would need to show the programs you are applying to that you have strong grades in the upper level science coursework and pre-reqs, but that doesn't mean that if you didn't do well in one or two courses your chances are obliterated. If that is still not the case, then you might need to consider doing a post-baccalaureate program or masters program.
      You can read my blog post here:

      It sounds like you have a strong health care background - I would stop focusing as much in that area. People who apply to PA school often think that they have to juggle all of their eggs at one time - health care, academics, volunteering. In reality, schools just want to see that you did them and did well at them. If you need to take time off of working so much to do better in school, then you might consider doing that.

  3. Hi Paul-

    Thank you for all your information!! I have a quick BS degree was completed over 10 years ago therefore I have no choice but to retake all my pre-reqs because they do not count if over 10 years old. My old pre-req grades were not that good, but I just re-took all 6 and ended up with all A's...yay!!

    My question is....I graduated with my BS degree with a 3.0 overall. I ended up completing a graduate degree with a 3.5 and then now my pre-reqs with a 4.0... I have everything else needed, volunteer work, experience of over 1000 hours and shadowing over 40 hours.

    Will they take into account the fact that I completed a graduate degree and also pre-reqs both recently within 5 years that have gone above the requirements?

    I am just nervous with the CASPA calculation that I might get bumped down for scores that are over 10 years old and are no where near where I am today.

    Any advice would be MUCH APPRECIATED :)

    1. To be completely honest, I am not 100% sure about your situation. You might ask this question on I would like to think they would consider your application holistically, but again, I am not an admissions committee. Even if they do combine your GPAs, I'm sure with those 4.0 grades, it will balance out somehow. Awesome job! By the looks of it, it shows the committee you can handle challenging science coursework! Great work! I think you will be fine applying to PA school. It would be best to talk to CASPA about this issue or better yet, your individual programs you area applying to?

      Thanks for reading, I'm sorry I couldn't help more!

  4. Sorry, forgot to mention one more grad program was not science related...I am sure this makes a difference???????????

  5. Greetings sir , I am from INDIA . i finished my DOCTOR of Pharmacy . i would like to enroll for PA program . we dont get our academics rated with credits . how can we fill caspa form as they are asking for credits .

    1. Hello venkat, I'm not exactly sure because I don't know how your hours convert to our credit system. You might need to contact CASPA to find out. That would be your best bet.

  6. Hi Paul,

    Thanks for all the very valuable information about CASPA. I will certainly use this as a resource when applying. I have been searching the internet for an answer to the following question. How many people applied to PA programs last year, and how many of those people got accepted? I know individual schools list their acceptance rate, however do you have any idea what the overall acceptance rate is for last year for the entire nation as a whole? Thanks!

    1. Hi Anonymous, please check out the newest blog post for that information! Thanks

  7. Hi Paul,

    Your blog has been very helpful to me as I am aspiring to be a P.A. Most of my clinical hours are from volunteering as an EMT for a fire department which is informal in the case that the firehouse does not keep track of my hours, but is there a proper way to document these hours? Also, after graduation I would plan to attend P.A school directly after so when is the best time to begin filling out my CAPSA and when to submit it?

    Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      There is no official way to document your clinical hours, however, I really like this form created by the University of Findlay College of Health Professions.

      You might not use the form, but instead, create your own similar form to keep track of the same information.
      CASPA does not open until April, so I would begin filling it out the April before the year you plan to attend PA school, if that makes sense. Submitting it is tricky, you'll want to ensure enough time that your application is quality, but also submitting early gives you a greater chance of acceptance. I have an article that talks all about CASPA.

  8. I got my B.S. in business in 2003 and only had a 2.69. Recently in the last few years I have taken all my science classes needed at least eight of them. the gpa of those are now 3.7 to 3.8. I have taken classes mostly A's of classes I took for work like in real estate but only say four or five unrelated courses to my PA. My question is I realize I need to increase my gpa and wanted to know whether I should retake some classes i got a C in say maybe Stats or English etc. Or should I take other classes whatever they may be to increase my grades. I heard CASPA average a retaken class.Also I am guessing that retaking a business class that was a "C" probably would not help as much. Does CASPA look at your bachelors and science classes or do they look at everything even say real estate or say a college needs classes A-F do they look at those only which are usually your science classes and say stats and English and maybe genetics or something. Thank you for your help

    1. I believe that CASPA considers all coursework, but you have to realize that schools look at all courses as well. They will look at your science GPA and your non-science GPA and then your overall GPA. Even if you keep taking non-science courses and improve your non-science GPA, it will be reflected on your application. PA programs care less about those courses. They want to know that you can handle a science intensive graduate level PA program. Taking those courses won't really help your application. If you performed poorly in english, that's not really a course that is an admission "requirement" for all PA schools. You need to go to the PA program you want to apply to and see what courses they require and improve the grades for those courses they require. The usually list extra science or "recommended" courses on their sites as well, and those are often courses you can take to improve your science GPA. Examples are like pharmacology, cell biology, human sexuality, immunology, medical terminology, spanish and biochemistry, genetics etc. I would recommend retaking the statistics.

      Example from UT Southwestern:

      Good luck!

  9. Paul,

    I wanted to pose a situation because it seems that even some advisers are weary of offering up a clear answer: I came from a family that was not offered much in the way of student aid because of the earnings my parents had the year prior to my application to colleges. Unfortunately, the year that I went, this was changed, requiring me to work. I had to drive 45 minutes both ways to school for my first semester, going full time, while working full time. Because of my initial lack of knowledge regarding college policy, I decided not to go to class but did not drop out of the classes and so they went onto my transcript as F's (rookie mistake).

    After the first semester, I started performing much better in classes but decided not to take science classes due to the overwhelming load that it was while I was younger and working. I transferred to a community college and graduated with an honor's associates of science. I graduated with a 3.83 total GPA from the community college.

    All the while, I was working as a medical receptionist, then medical assistant, then medical biller/coder, moved into administration, operations, and finally CEO (working on care plans and procedures with PA's and Doctors). Upon receipt of my new title as a CEO, I moved back to the school that I performed poorly at and replaced the chemistry grade with an A- and then took the second semester of chemistry, also receiving an A- (the science classes at that institution are well-known for how difficult they are). I figured, since I would be attending that school I would take more science pre-requisites and also took Anatomy and Physiology, both finishing with high A's. I took biostatistics as well, receiving an A.

    Currently I am finishing a B.S. in psychology and have a 4.0 GPA at the institution I am attending. I have followed my wife to the institution where she is currently attending graduate school.

    Sorry for the long-winded, short version, but I am wondering what my current chances could be concerning application to PA school.

    Thank you for your time in reading this, I appreciate it!

    1. Cjsparks,

      The same thing happened to me. I didn't drop classes on time for which I NEVER attended, not even on day one and yet they gave me 3 F's and it is now weighing on my GPA. I graduated with my Bachelors already which a high 3.3 GPA which didn't include those F's. With those F's which CASPA WILL calculate my GPA drops dramatically to a 3.1 and my chances are limited for PA school because of that institutions ridiculous policy at the time (8 years ago).

    2. Juleidy,

      Thank you for your response, I appreciate hearing of your story. Did you apply to multiple PA programs or just one? There are some that are surprisingly picky and others that are very relaxed, depending upon your personal attributes and story (not always the case). CASPA includes F's, understandably, to even the playing field; omitting other institutional policies on grade replacements, revisions, etc.

    3. Cj,

      You're welcome. I have not applied yet as I am still in the process of completing my last pre-reqs. I am taking Microbiology this semester and then Genetics next semester. In August I will be applying to 3 PA schools here in Miami. Nova, Barry and Keiser University. I also have to take the GRE this spring so I need to buy a book to study for that. I pray that I get accepted despite my GPA issue =/ it has me worried because my dream is to become a PA.

    4. Hi CJ,

      In your situation, it seems like your grades are still pretty sharp even with a semester of F's, although I can't say for sure. Have you tried inputting all of your coursework into CASPA to see what your science and non-science GPA would be?

      PA programs look at your application holistically and they will inquire about your GPA "mistakes" in your interview. You can use your additional essays, usually in secondary apps. to talk about mistakes you have made in the past and how you would fix them in the future. We wouldn't be human if we didn't make mistakes. CASPA does include all grades, but they do so because they have to level the playing field somehow for everyone. They realize that it may not be fair to everyone and that not everyone's circumstances are taken into consideration, but that's what the interview and essays are for.

      Let me point out one PA program and I'm sure there are more like this: UT Pan American PA Program.

      They calculate your GPA and then your last 30 hours of your GPA. That way, they can tell how you did at the end. They say it is a better predictor of how you will perform in graduate school because they realize that you may make mistakes at the beginning, but at the end is when you really start to shine and show how well you can perform. That was very true for me. I wish more schools looked at this. Anyhow, don't give up. If going to PA school is your dream - then there will be a school out there that is the right fit for you, such as this program! I'm sure there are other programs like this one out there.

    5. CJ,

      According to Paul's reply, I suggest you double check your GPA and make sure you include those F's in your calculation. What happened to me is that the University I attended for my Associate and Bachelor's degree never cared for nor requested the transcripts from the college who gave me those F's, so all along I thought my GPA was a 3.3 because I graduated with my Bachelor's with a 3.34 on my transcripts. I just recently realized that CASPA will be calculating those F's so in reality my GPA is a lot lower. Unfortunately for me I came to find out the same year I am applying to PA school and also when I only have 2 pre-reqs to complete. Had I known this sooner I would've tried to take more classes to improve my GPA and also fight the school who assigned F's for courses I never attended. So coming from a person who didn't know any better (me), I wanted to advise you of my situation so that it doesn't happen to you nor anyone else.

  10. Hello, I have a quick question for you. A lot of my health care experience is volunteer, (I have checked and it does count towards the prereq), should I list this under both the HCE and community service (volunteer) sections, since it is both?

    1. Generally, I think you can only count your experience once. You'll have to make that decision - where does it fit best (volunteer or HCE)? Do you have other volunteer work you can list? Most students I think would choose to list it under HCE.

  11. Hi Paul, I want to ask you few questions. I graduated with B.S. in Psychology in 2012 with GPA of 3.2 and am currently studying for the GRE. I took MCAT few years back but scored sub par. Should I even put that in the application if I am planning to take the GRE? and when is the best time to take the GRE? I have done extensive clinical hours here and there since high school and also have some evaluation letters from where I worked/volunteered. I, too, live in Texas and would like to have some suggestions as to where you would recommend to apply or if there is trends in admission. I am willing to go anywhere as long as there is a chance. I am planning to take Microbiology and A&P I, which I missed back in school, at a community college this upcoming summer.

    Thank you for your time and response in advance.

    1. You don't have to list your MCAT scores for PA school. If they aren't good - and you can call and ask schools what they consider good scores - you don't have to list them. Take the GRE and list those. I suggest taking the GRE with enough time to retake it before applying, if need be.

      I don't really have any recommendations for applying to schools. I did my own research on programs in places that I could see myself living in (California, Boston, and Texas). I suggest you do the same and find what schools fit you best.

  12. Dear Paul,
    Thank you so much for the info when I'm in most need!
    I graduate from a oversea college with a biology degree so I have all the prerequisite in that transcript. Do PA schools accept prerequisite taken outside US? Also I know many schools favor students from the local state. For international students, will nationality/visa status influence the school decision? Thank you in advance for your kindly help!



  13. hi,
    I was told that CASPA won't be requiring documentation of if a class was taken online or not is this true? and if so, the institution I attend said it wouldn't appear as an online course in my official transcript so how can PA schools really know?

    1. I believe that is true, but don't hold me to it. I would check with CASPA to be sure. In any case, I would never lie about taking a course in person when I took it online. Schools can always look it up. They can also tell that if you are an international applicant living in another country taking courses at "example" university, that it is probably online. Just be honest about it.

  14. Hi,

    I currently am working in pharmaceuticals and am curious as to whether or not I can list my work done at the company as research? For example, I work in Research & Development and often do research and analytical analysis on brand drug products to aid in the formulation of generic products. Could I list any of this research I do at work on my application, or should I just inquire about this in my work performance section?


    1. I think you are allowed to list it as research experience only if you are not paid for it and you don't receive any class/course credit for it. If you were paid, just talk about it in your work section and include it in the notes.

  15. I have received 2 SH credits from my military service that was transferred as 3 credit hours to my current university. I was wondering if the Caspa application and the Physicians assistant programs will accept these 3 transfer hours as part of my A&P credits?

    1. A&P credits are accepted on an individual basis, so you'd have to contact the PA programs you plan to apply to and see if they will accept your credits. I had a similar issue and the PA programs requested a copy of the syllabus for the course in order to see if it would count.

  16. Hi Paul.

    I have a few questions about my PA application. I am almost finished with my undergraduate degree and would like to apply for the 2016 entering class. I work as a pharmacy tech however I'm aware that it does not count as hours. I have a good GPA but I still need my volunteering hours. I was deciding to go out of the country for volunteering hours, does that count if it is not part of a program? And can I still apply without having my volunteering hours on the application?

    Thank You.

    1. I think your experience would count, if it was volunteer hours. Make sure you write a blurb about what you did while you were there for your CASPA application.

      You can most definitely still apply without volunteer experience, but keep in mind that most PA programs are looking for well-rounded students.

  17. Hello,

    I currently just graduated from college and I'm taking a gap year to work. Do you know if it is possible to record these future hours?

    Thank you.

    1. You cannot document "future" hours of experience on your CASPA application. You must have already completed these hours before you apply.

  18. Hi, Paul. I have a question. I am going to apply to 2016 entering class, but I was found violating the Code of Conduct (due to Plagiarism) by PharmCas last year? I have a GPA of 3.7, completed all my prerequisites, and have direct patient experience. I am in doubts what i should do. I cannot apply to pharmacy school because it is too expensive for me right now, so I am thinking about PA. Can I still apply? What are the chances to be admitted or to be denied?
    Thank You for your help!

    1. I don't think using PA school as a fall back plan is the best idea. If you want my honest opinion, I think you should re-evaluate your life first and decide whether you want to become a PA, nurse, dentist, physician, paramedic, etc. There are lots of medical professions out there, why are you choosing PA? This is a question you will be asked at interviews, so be ready to answer. I cannot speak as to your chances of being admitted and I don't think anyone out there can, unless they're an admissions officer and I think that's pretty hard to come by. I wish you well, but I really don't know what admissions would do in your situation.

  19. CASPA made an error on my application which caused it be verified two days past a deadline. Is there an appeal process?

    1. I'm actually not sure. I don't believe so, but I would contact CASPA as soon as possible.

  20. I was wondering what are my chances of getting into the program if I have an overall gpa of 3.6 but my science gpa is 3.1. I have held one leadership position in organizations for my four years of undergraduate and have done like 300hrs of community service. I have also shadow a doctor for about 1000 hrs and a pa for 200. I have not yet taken the GRE.

    1. offers pre-PA assessments, which can help you determine if you are on the right path (GPA, GRE scores, healthcare experience, etc.).

  21. I'm a undergrad student who only found comfort and answers in your posts! please dont ever stop!! upload morel inks and/or videos! youre honestly the best and i wish you the best in the future

    1. Thanks Eric! I appreciate you reading my blog and for your support. I plan to continue updating these posts with new links and hope to post new content soon.

  22. Hi, I was wondering where involvement in student organizations goes? I thought this was an important part of the application, but if it's not necessarily a leadership position, just a general member where would that come into the application? Other experiences maybe?

    1. Hi anonymous,

      I think it would be okay to list it under other experiences.

  23. Hi Paul! Thank you so much for this very helpful post! My question is if your CASPA-calculated GPA fell just below or did not meet the minimum requirements for a particular program, can these schools still review your application at all if you submitted to a program anyway?

    1. Hi anonymous,

      To my knowledge, there are no exceptions. Most programs use these cutoffs to pre-select their applicants (sort of like a pre-screening process). I would contact the programs you plan to apply to individually for more information regarding this matter. Good luck!

  24. Hi Paul,
    I need to complete my OChem preq and am conflicted when to take it. I can either try and take it now, while taking four other courses and be done by June 24th or I found a school where I can take it in a month and be done by July 22. Do you think submitting my application in July will make a big difference?

    1. I think taking time to complete your coursework and perform well is more important than submitting a month early. You'll be fine. If you are a competitive and well-rounded applicant, a month's time won't make much difference.

  25. Hi Paul!

    Love this blog, thank you for taking the time to put together valuable information.

    I'm planning on applying to my schools of choice this cycle, but most of my PCE is going to happen this summer. I'm looking at scribe, phlebotomy, and CNA work, but haven't nailed anything down yet (hopefully I will soon!) I know I just won't get thousands of hours of experience this summer, but here's what I do have. Tell me what you think.

    For about nine months, I spent 10-20 hours a week caring for a young girl with cerebral palsy. She would be in my direct care during this time, and I would administer medication, bathe her, dress her, put on her ankle braces, feed her, brush her teeth, etc. She wasn't communicative, and required prompting and encouragement to move and walk. Do you think this would count somewhat as patient care experience?

    I've also had "behind the scenes" experience in healthcare. I spent a summer internship working in a doctor's office. My main job that summer was converting all patient files to digital format, but I also called in scripts and assisted the physician in various ways (mostly keeping him organized).

    I'm a Wilderness First Responder and work as a trip leader for the outdoor program at my school. In a nutshell, I take students out into the wilderness and teach them kayaking, canoeing, climbing, mountain biking, backpacking, and other skills.

    My GPA is about a 3.6.

    I'm hoping to get more PCE this summer, but do you think at this point it would be wise to go ahead and apply this application cycle? I do want to try, but I understand I'm weakened by not getting true hospital/clinic patient care experience yet.

    Thank you for reading, I know this was a bit longwinded! And again, thank you immensely for your time and effort put into this blog.

  26. Hi Paul,

    I just have a quick question as a first-time applicant preparing to submit for the 2016-2017 cycle.

    If the application is considered “complete” when CASPA has received all current transcripts for courses not “in progress,” payment, and at least 2 of the 3 letters of reference, does that mean I can e-submit once those materials are complete and then while I wait the potentially 4-6 weeks for verification I can go back and complete all other aspects of the CASPA?

    Or should I complete the CASPA in its entirety prior to e-submitting?

    Also, if I decide to choose another school to apply to after I submitting my application for verification on CASPA can I do so?

    Thank you for your blog posts. The insight is very much appreciated.

  27. Hi Paul,

    Fantastic Blog! My name is Lorenzo and I'm current a senior neuro major at UT Austin (\m/). I am very grateful to announce that I will be joining UTSW's Class of 2018 PA program this May! Currently I serve as the Health Education Chair for UT's Pre-PA Society and had to give training on our CASPA workshop. However the year I applied (2014-2015) was the year they completely changed their interface. I have made a powerpoint on all the new updates and I am willing to share them with you if you are thinking about updating this CASPA section. Let me know. My email is

  28. Hi Paul ,

    I am an IMG graduate from India , i have finished all USMLE steps and currently trying for Residency . However i was considering PA as option incase i don't get into residency .

    I graduated medical school in 2004 from India , and wondering what are my probabilities of getting into PA. please let meknow your your opinion


  29. Hi Paul,

    I had a quick question about the prereq grades. Many of the schools are only requiring 1 Intro Biology or 1 General Chemistry even though most sequences are 2 courses. Will CASPA/PA schools allow me to choose the highest grade of the courses I took to meet these requirements or will it take the first one in the sequence? For example, if I took General Chemistry 1 and General Chemistry 2 and received a grade of a B+ and A, respectively, will I be able to use the grade of the A towards my prerequisite GPA or will it automatically choose the B+ because that was first in the sequence?

    Thank you,

  30. Hi Paul,

    My name is Cherry and I'm planning on applying to the PA programs this summer. Your blog is amazing, it answered several of my questions. I just wanted to get your opinion on evaluations (recommendations). Most of the school I'm looking into don't specifically state who they want the evaluations from. I plan on asking a professor, my research supervisor, and the head of my community service person since I've been heavily involved with for a couple years. I work as a rehab tech and was wondering if I should ask a PT I work with or a PA I shadowing for a couple days. Is there a specific area to request an evaluation for shadowing since they don't really know me or should I not bother with the PA at all? She is a graduate from one of the schools I'm applying to, but she said she'll write one if it says shadowing option in the application.

    Any ideas or advice?

    Thanks a ton!

  31. Hi Paul,

    I have a C in organic chemistry I and a B in organic chemistry II. When the application asks you to match the classes with the pre-reqs for the program, should I link organic chemistry II since I have B in that one which is the least requirement?


    Sidra Muntaha

  32. Hi Paul,

    My name is Tatiana and I am currently applying to PA programs for the 2017 cycle. I had a few questions about documenting my experiences on the application. I've listed 13 experiences so far ranging from health care, patient care, volunteer, and work experiences. I have other work experiences (I had a few jobs during my undergrad) that I have not listed but don't feel that they necessarily relate to my desire to be a PA. Do you think it's best to leave these out or just add them because they were all within the last 5 years? I was also curious whether I should have these experiences that I leave out on my resume instead which I can send to individual schools? Otherwise my resume will include many of the same experiences that I already listed on my CASPA app and that seems repetitive.

    Lastly, I was wondering whether I should include a sentence or two about how each of my experiences relates to my desire to be a PA? I have a good friend currently in medical school and he had recommended that to me but it doesn't seem like there's enough space to describe my duties and this as well.

    Thanks so much for your help! Your blog has been a great tool as I'm going through this process.


  33. Hey Paul!

    Thank you for all your posts first of all. So I took the GRE on May 17th and received a 157 (74th percentile) on verbal, a 4.5 (80th percentile)on the analytical writing section and a 151 (45th percentile :( ) on the quant section and I keep having nightmares/anxiety about my math score because it's not at least 50th percentile which is the minimum for a bunch of PA schools. My GPA is really good (3.86 Biology major), but I'm just really worried about my math score not being up to par. Do schools make exceptions for things like that?


    1. Hi Joanne,

      I think they look at your application holistically and they're not going to hold a few points on your math score against your entire application. If I were you I would just see what their previous applicant stats were like and see how you compare overall. Don't focus too much on a simple detail like that.

  34. Hey Paul!

    When reapplying, is it best to start a fresh application or carry the information from the previous year over and just adjust any new changes? Also, if you realize you made an error in the application from the previous cycle, would it be bad to adjust it in the newer application?

    Thanks for your help!

    Best regards,
    Aesha Desai

    1. If it were me I would keep the application and make adjustments as necessary. If you do make an adjustment, just mention what it was in your supplemental essays or interview and tell them why you made the error.

  35. HI, thank you for the support to us the pre-PA's! I have not start the application yet but Can I start an application and save the info to go back whenever until I finish completely?

    1. Yes! I believe so. The application (CASPA) has changed quite significantly since I applied. I'm sure you can find more information out from their website.

  36. Hello! Thank you for a great blog! I've been using this all through my pre-pa experience. In the CASPA app in the section that is called "Colleges Attended" there is a spot where we have to put start date and end date for that specific school. I have already submitted a few apps so that portion is locked now. The end date for one of my schools is off by a few months, I'm not sure how this happened. Will this effect my acceptance to programs because of the end month being off? The year is correct.

    1. That's sort've odd because I thought CASPA had to verify things like that before submission. I'm sure its fine. They should be looking at your transcript information anyway.

  37. Hello! Is it recommended to use their service for the coursework input or is it okay if we carefully fill it up? Also, if we already have our bachelors, is it okay if we fill out the coursework with the e print out unofficial transfers?

    1. I think its okay if you use CASPAs input service, but I don't think it offers any real advantage. I think you're perfectly fine doing it yourself.

      You should fill out CASPA using a copy of your official transcript, but not the one you are going to mail in (that copy should be a sealed copy).

  38. The CASPA website is not very specific on some of the science-related electives and requisites I took for my biology degree. I have taken Oral Presentation in Biological Sciences (basically speech for science majors), Biological Senior Seminar (required for graduation), Teaching apprenticeship (2 credit elective), "Problem-solving in organic chemistry" (basically a homework help class, 1 credit). Do you think the CASPA will consider these as science courses? I know that the AMCAS did not consider most of them.

    1. If AMCAS did not consider them science related electives, I would imagine CASPA would not either. I would consult caspa for clarification if you really need them to count, otherwise just don't count on them as science courses.

  39. I have a question regarding entering Volunteer Experience and Healthcare experience in CASPA as I am struggling a couple of distinctions.
    Volunteer Experience:
    If I have volunteered through an organization through a University for an example : Student Nutrition Association, would the organization be considered as Supervisor? If I volunteered at the Houston Food Bank, will that be the organization name or would I put Student Nutrition Association?

    As for healthcare experience, I am currently an Optometric Technician. I am not sure if this will count as patient care experience or if it will be safe to go as healthcare experience. I do pre-testing of patients before they see the doctor.

    Thank you

    1. I would put the Student Nutrition Association as the organization name (because you were volunteering with them) and in the description put the houston food bank as the details.

      I'm not sure if that counts as patient care experience either - I would ask the PA programs you plan to apply to, but if you're asking if it counts as direct patient care experience, my guess would be no. Most likely it will count as 'other' healthcare experience.

  40. Hey Paul, Great website!, So I just recieved my GPA's calculated from CASPA and i'm starting to wonder if I should pull out from the race, I was wondering If i can get some advice from you? So I have a very low CASPA undergradte science GPA a humiliating 2.4, which is almost entirely due to the fact that i had lupus ( still do) and i was in and out of school a lot, I made sure to mention this in my essay, then I went to grad school for a MS in pathology, took all grad level science classes and so my CASPA graduate science GPA is a 3.5. I have a lot patient care hours cuz i worked as a CNA for 5 years and now I've been working as a clinical reseacher in a VA hopstial. Got some research and publications too. So my question is should I be really worried? I know you can't predict my future but I just wanted a honest opinoin. Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Sonali,

      I know (we all know) from reports from CASPA that matriculants who typically get in have high science and overall GPAs. That doesn't mean that you can't get in with a lower GPA, it just means that its much more challenging. You have to have a stronger application in other areas - such as healthcare experience. Have you applied before? Have you asked for feedback on what areas you can improve on? Have you talked to a PA coach (Savannah Perry at I would start with those resources first and try to improve your application in all areas.

  41. Paul,
    Your advice so far seems to be great. Wondering if you have any advice as far as the personal statement goes? To try and sum up my college career I had 3 great years of straight A's and one bad year (Sophmore year) where I worked, volunteered, full time student and a family member was ill and my GPA dropped from a 3.8 to a 3.1 for one year. After adjusting my life to make sure I did better in school I transferred got a new job and went to a new university ill be graduating with a 3.8 and got an A in A&P which i previously failed. Besides that one year I feel my transcript are strong getting A's in hard courses such as Organic Chemistrys, General Chemistrys, A&P, Microbiology , Genetics and taking them all at the same time...will they overlook that one bad year with that one F? And also is this something I should bring up in the essay? Id like to explain to them my adversity and that I learned time management and my GPA sky rocketed after but do I waste room talking about my downfalls when I should be talking about my qualities that make me a good PA? Or is that something they'd want to hear that I did turn my failure into great success at the end?

    1. I would save a lot of what you mentioned for your interview and supplemental applications. (but keep it in mind because that's GREAT!)

      I would use your CASPA essay to talk about the reason for choosing the PA profession.

  42. Hi Paul,

    Thank you so much for this blog! I have a question about grades to courses which are graded as Pass-Fail. I received an "S" on my transcript for two courses. That "S" basically means I passed with a grade of B (3.00) or higher.

    Can I put down "S"as my grade for a course? Or should I put "Cr" for "Credits"?

    Thank you so much!

    1. Thanks for reaching out to me, but I don't feel well equip to answer that question. I would either email CASPA or the PA program you plan to apply to and ask to clarify in order to ensure you are recording your information correctly.

  43. Hi Paul,

    The above question from Anonymous was from me - Eliana. I wasn't sure how to publish it under my profile, but I think I have it right this time!

    Thanks again!

  44. Hi Paul,

    I am just going into by junior year of undergrad, and I had a really tough semester from my sophomore year. I got put on probation, I wanted to know how much this will effect me getting into PA program. My explanation is very legit on what happened. But I can also say that i still don't have a very strong GPA. What are my chances of not getting into PA program because of my probation?

    1. Hi anonymous,

      I can't say that I know what academic probation entails, but I can't imagine that its anything positive. Just a quick google search tells me that you have to have had some serious GPA shifts that will affect you application significantly and will be very challenging to recover from. I don't think anyone can tell you your exact 'chances' of getting into or not getting into a PA program, but I would meet with a health professions advisor as soon as you can to discuss your options.

  45. Hi!

    Your articles are truly very helpful and have given me clarity as I go through this process. As of this past May, I'm a college graduate majoring in behavioral sciences, which essentially translated to "pre-PA" (I was able to complete all of the prerequisites courses in undergrad, thankfully). When I started working my way towards gaining experience for PA school, I was misguided about the actual "definition" of direct patient care. So, I spent multiple summers volunteering within hospitals and shadowing doctors, not exactly the hands on experience I needed. As of last summer I got my EMT certification and am in the process of starting within a few weeks (I'm super excited about that). I have been told that even if I don't have the required number of hours essential to getting into my desired school, which I don't, I should submit my CASPA application to schools that interest me regardless, in order to get my foot in the door (since it's less likely to get in the first time around). And then apply again next year after gaining more hands on experience with a stronger resume, showing the schools how rapidly and efficiently I worked to amp up my application in such a short period of time and in turn showing my growth. Would you recommend rushing to get my application done and submitted right now even if I know I won't get in, just to get my name out there? Do you think this will truly enhance my chances of acceptance next year? Let me know what you think!

    1. In my personal opinion- no. I would not put my application in knowing that I would not be accepted. I think PA programs are just looking for more applicants and more $$. More applicants for their programs makes their numbers look better and when you apply, they're getting a cut of the fees you pay toward applying. I think you'd be wasting your time and money doing that when you could be putting your time elsewhere. Focus your time and energy on gaining healthcare experience. Build yourself up and accumulate those hours - learn all you can, stay motivated and never give up. You'll get to a point where you feel ready and you'll know your application is competitive and that's when you'll apply.

  46. I finished my associates in respiratory therapy with a 2.9 gpa
    am going for my bachelors and I plan on doing much better on my gpa for my bachelors . after my bachelors I plan on also doing my pre reqs for P.A school, my question is what gpa are they going to check and will my associates gpa be considered and will it hinder me from getting into P.A school

    1. I'm not sure. I've never been asked that before so I have never looked into it. I thought that CASPA looks at all grades, but its an entirely separate degree, so my thinking is that they would be calculated separately. I'd ask a PA program or two about that - and if you don't find out from them - just ask CASPA.

  47. Hi!
    I am planning on applying for the 2017-2018 cycle and I am currently picking the schools I want to apply to and ensuring I have all my prerequisites done. For the GPA calculated for each school, do they only use the grades for the required prerequisites? For example, if a school only required anatomy physiology statistics and psychology, would the GPA only be calculated from the grades received in these classes? Thank you!

    1. I believe CASPA calculates a science GPA using required prerequisite courses and they detail what courses are calculated into this number. You can check their site for that info. As for each individual program, they can usually calculate their own GPAs separate from that uniform calculation and I think they will receive both, but I'm not sure if they look at both. You should ask the program themselves to be sure.

  48. Hey Paul! I'm pre-PA right now studying biology. I'll be 29 y/o when I'm finished. When I was fresh out of high school I made mistakes and went to a few different universities before I got my head on straight. I'm currently holding a 3.7 GPA and almost all of my science courses are coming from this university. Do you think it will hurt me that I attended so many previous colleges (even though we are talking 5-8 years ago)?

  49. I will have a job soon and don't want to put it on CASPA since it will start in May and I plan on submitting my application in April. I won't have any hours accumulated since it is taking awhile for HR to process everything. Do you think the admissions committee will find out?

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  51. Hi Paul!

    Thank you so much for your detailed post on the application process of CASPA! I am currently trying to add in more science courses into my term to boost up my science GPA. I am planning on taking Basics of Cancer (BIO 118). I noticed that while checking the list of science-GPA classes on CASPA, there is no mentions of any cancer classes. Would you know if CASPA would still consider the BIO 118 class towards the science GPA since it is a biology class?

    Thank you so much a have a great day!

  52. Hi Paul,

    i just received my bachelors degree last Spring and graduated with a 2.7 gpa. i have over 3,000 hrs of PCE as an EMT-B and Physical Therapy Aid and over 3000 hrs of HCE, shadowed 2 PAs and currently increasing my hours in all areas and adding volunteering into the equation. i am also currently talking post-bacc classes. i haven't finished putting my transcript in CASPA yet so i have no idea what it will calculate as my cGPA and sGPA. Should i continue the year with these classes to at least reach a 3.0 or get out of the race. I am lost.
    Thank you .


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