1. Understand How Your GPA Will Be CalculatedDifferent universities have different grading systems and their own way of calculating GPA. Often, this is just a matter of matching percentage system or letter grade to a 4.0, 4.22, or other scale. Some universities, such as University of Toronto and University of British Columbia, drop the lowest grades of students who’ve taken a full course load which usually translates to 5 classes in Canada. This may be a cause of concern if you come from a system where students have fewer than 5 classes in a term but the admission commission is familiar with the varied grading systems and they normally have a workaround for this. These things don’t matter much if you’ve excelled in your academics and other aspects of your application are excellent. Your application will most likely have an “Academic Explanations” box where you can add information about any such discrepancies.
2. Study For CASPerCASPer (Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics) is an online test that’s developed by the researchers at McMaster University. It’s objective is to screen potential applicants for important personal and professional characteristics such as professionalism, ethics, communication, and empathy. The test presents the students with a hypothetical scenario and asks them what they would do in each case. The score is given based on how well their explanations match up with the ethics and sensitivities of an ideal physician. CASPer is currently used by six medical schools in Canada:
- McMaster University Medical School which since 2010
- University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine, since 2015
- Dalhousie University
- McGill University
- University of Alberta
- Universite de Montreal
3. Create Your Activities ListAll the top med schools in Canada require you to submit a list of your extracurricular activities with brief descriptions through their online application portal (except the schools in Ontario, which all use OMSAS) When listing your activities, choose the ones that best match with the CanMEDS character traits. (CanMEDS is an educational framework that describes the abilities physicians require to effectively meet the health care needs of the people they serve.) Some of these activities could be shadowing a physician, being part of a research project, volunteer work (in Canada or abroad)--activities that prove that you’re serious about the medical profession. You could also include activities from your daily life. Cared for someone at an old-age home? Helped a dyslexic student with their studies? Mention these activities as they show your human side and how you communicate with the society. If you like other activities such as rock-climbing, painting, playing an instrument, then highlight those as they help showcase you as a more holistic individual who’s able to interact and connect with people in the non-medical world.
4. Get The Best MCAT ScoresGreat scores on your Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) are not only a prerequisite but they can significantly strengthen your application. In fact, high MCAT scores can be one of the strongest, differentiating factors that you can have on your application, especially if you want to get into one of the top med schools in Canada. MCAT tests you for knowledge of physics, general chemistry, organic chemistry, biology, biochemistry, critical analysis and reasoning, psychology, and sociology. Take sufficient time preparing for this exam to ensure that you get as high a score as possible.
5. Apply To Multiple SchoolsYou may definitely have that one school that you really want to get into but shortlist a few schools and apply to all just to improve your odds. Each school will have its admission committee who you can reach out to if you have any questions or doubts. Make the most of that. If you still don’t get accepted in the school of your dreams, don’t fret. An MD is an MD irrespective of the school you graduate from.
ConclusionGreat academics and a brilliant resume aren’t enough to get into the top med schools of Canada. You’ll need to build a stellar application that makes you stand out in front of the other applicants. Along with strong academics, make sure you’ve nailed the following:
- Shared an impressive activities list
- Demonstrated your love for medicine in your personal statement
- Added that extra something to make yourself stand out
This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by RBC Ventures Inc. or its affiliates.
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