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Retake or Time to Call it Quits on Canadian Schools?

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Just a bit of background - I am an older non-traditional applicant, and have a Master's and tons of work/research experience. I've applied 3 times so far, but undergrad GPA really be cramping my style (cGPA of 3.63, 2-Year of ~3.81). I have considered the States, however was going to wait until I had exhausted every avenue trying to get into a Canadian school before putting serious effort towards applying. I retook the MCAT thinking that trying to improve my score was the last possible thing I could do to improve my chances at a Canadian acceptance before calling it quits on Canadian schools altogether...

1st MCAT, written in 2015: 127/126/130/129 - 512

Did loads more practice this time around

AAMC FL1: 131/128/131/130 - 520

AAMC FL2: 131/129/131/128 - 519

AAMC FL3: 132/129/130/132 - 523

I felt as though I got spanked on C/P but that the other sections were very similar to my FLs, and so I was feeling optimistic about my CARS and overall score. And yet...

Retake: 130/127/130/131 - 518

And so I'm under that damn 128/129 competitive cutoff for CARS for several Canadian schools. I honestly don't know what happened. I have so many mixed feelings about this, but mostly disappointment. I recognize this is a fairly good score and should be happy with it but I can't help but feel that for my purposes it just wasn't good enough...

I'm not sure I have another retake in me and I'm doubting it's worth it to try and bump CARS up by just one point. Think it's time to just forget about Canada and move international? I'm currently working on OMSAS and debating whether it's worth my time to complete an application for Western. I'd be happy to hear any advice you lovely people may have on possible next steps.

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It's a great score, but I can see why you would be disappointed with your CARS score, based on your great practice score. I feel for you as I had to rewrite my MCAT several times just to break above 128 for my CARS so I could interview at Western (this was before their recent changes).

You mentioned Western- have you looked at their Access Pathway application (https://www.schulich.uwo.ca/med_dent_admissions/medicine/access_pathway_applicants.html) which gives you flexibility on your MCAT score?

How is your GPA for Ottawa, Toronto? How are you with OOP schools? Based on your numbers and extracurricular experience, you would be receiving interviews at Queen's- have you?

 

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@Chels1267

1st year: 3.57

2nd year: 3.33 (FML)

3rd year: 3.72

4th year: 3.90

 

Master's (although no schools really care): 3.9ish, close to 4.0

 

@conbrio

It's honestly been pretty heartbreaking. I wasn't expecting it - I thought I was on track, and test day felt good too. 

I am quite privileged when it comes to my medical/socioeconomic/demographic background and don't think it would be justifiable for me to apply using the ACCESS pathway. I will take another look though and see if any of the criteria relate to my circumstances.

My GPA is what is holding me back from other schools I believe. Ottawa weighting does not work in my favour, and U of T weighting helps me marginally. As for out of province schools, I do not have prerequisites for some (UBC English credits), and haven't met cutoffs for others (U of Calgary CARS and GPA). I'm planning to submit to Dal and MUN next year, since I didn't have time to submit applications earlier this summer and would be doing so using my 1st MCAT scores, but with such limited spots for non-Maritimes students I'm not holding my breath.

My small hope for acceptance has always been Queen's based on the way they only use best 2 years and consider entire applications, but with such a black box surrounding their review process I have a difficult time gauging whether or not I'm competitive. I haven't received an interview from them after any of the three times I've applied.

 

Thanks to both of you for the replies :)

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@PopShoppe

I know how draining it must be to be in your position right now, I was there last year and it was tough. I know you probably don't want to hear it right now, but I would consider revisiting CARS again in the near future- judging from your practice scores you are in a great spot to score better with some practice and it does open up Western and a few OOP schools to you, which raises your chances significantly. 

For this cycle though:

Do you qualify for UofT's wGPA? Roughly estimating, it looks like you may have >3.7 wGPA, which UofT states is competitive for graduate applicants (side note: have you checked to see if being a graduate applicant helps you with other schools?). In addition, have you written the Academic Explanations Essay previously? It looks as though something happened in your 2nd year- if so, you can write about this in the Essay and they may give you special consideration.

Your 2-year GPA and MCAT are above Queen's historical cutoffs- these aren't holding you back. Have you had someone look at your ABS? Do you have activities related to teamwork, hobbies (e.g., sports), non-academia?

Sorry for all these questions, hope they're not being intrusive. 

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@conbrio

No worries about being intrusive, I know it helps to know more to give advice haha. I truly appreciate the help!

Yeah I hear what you're saying, and it's totally valid. I'll be spending the next little while weighing the pros and cons of retaking in January. The cost-benefit analysis I've been running in my head is trying to justify the benefit (scoring one measly point higher to unlock more schools, though there are no guarantees with a rewrite) for the costs involved (have to drop back hours at work again to study, about to sign a full-time contract & receive promotion that I'll have to maybe put on hold, possibility of doing worse on the exam overall, have exhausted my supply of study materials, etc.). It's part of the reason why I posted, to get some more information to help me make this decision.

I'm pretty sure I do qualify for U of Ts wGPA, and I think it sits around 3.73 - I took an internship during my Undergrad though so every time I've applied I've called to ensure my app gets considered using it - so far they said it has been. Unfortunately my Master's was course-based, so I'm not considered a graduate applicant. The only other schools that consider Master's in Canada, (UBC, Calgary, from what I can tell), I don't meet cutoffs for.

To be honest, I hadn't decided whether or not to pursue medicine seriously until 3rd year, which is probably why my 2nd year marks are so low. After trying to do well in first year because everything was new, I was content with simply aiming for low 80s in 2nd year while exploring different courses/career options. That and stats kicked my ass (was failing the course going into the final but managed to pull my mark up to a high 60). 3rd year was when I took more medicine-related courses and I knew I wanted to pursue it. I realized how much higher my GPA needed to be and then really grinded to get those marks. I don't know if that justifies putting into an Academic Explanations Essay haha.

I have done quite a bit of sports, clubs, team-based volunteer work and done some student council-type stuff, though I only put a ton of hours into a few specific activities which I really enjoyed doing, with the rest (like intramurals and some volunteering) only being <50 hours per activity. I think have about 15 ECs/Volunteer activities listed, without listing very small hobbies. I've had some friends who've been accepted review my ABS and essays every time I've applied, but maybe there's something there that isn't doing it for Queen's?

 

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@PopShoppe to quickly chime in - this year you will be considered a grad applicant at U of T! They've changed their admission requirements slightly so that if you have a course-based master's conferred at the time of application, you'll be in that pool. https://applymd.utoronto.ca/domestic-requirements --> you can check under the graduate tab 

As someone with similar stats and also a re-applicant, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for us :)

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US med schools are always an option you know. You have a really good MCAT score, so if you don't get in this year to Canadian, US is a good place to go. Tuition will pay off if you consider pursuing medicine and not do additional years applying after.

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On 9/12/2019 at 2:26 PM, Medase said:

US med schools are always an option you know. You have a really good MCAT score, so if you don't get in this year to Canadian, US is a good place to go. Tuition will pay off if you consider pursuing medicine and not do additional years applying after.

Thanks for the advice, I'm planning to do a mass application next cycle that includes applying to as many US schools as I meet the criteria for. I was mostly ruminating on whether it was worth it to give the MCAT another shot to bump up that CARS score by 1 point to be able to apply to more Canadian schools. As time goes on, the more I think that it's better to forget about doing another retake and just give up on those schools.

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A bunch of us schools will screen you out if you write the mcat more than 3 times and a lot of them don’t like it when you write the mcat 3 times so just be careful.  A lot of Canadians rewrite the mcat a bunch of times to get their cars score up but this screws them up for the states. Do not rewrite until your score expires.

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50 minutes ago, Tullius said:

Source?

They are right, but at the same time you have had strong scores 512 and 518. 

The US retake issue doesn't really apply to you. Since you retook and did much better. 

I wouldn't even retake a 3rd time tbh. A 518 is an excellent score, and it wont hold you back in the US. Its clear CARS is your weak point. I would not retake, and cut your losses in Canada and head south, because you've probably peaked for CARS. 

Do not go anywhere but USMD/USDO. You do not need to go anywhere else. Apply early and apply broadly and let the interview offers guide where you end up. 

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On 12/8/2019 at 2:25 PM, JohnGrisham said:

They are right, but at the same time you have had strong scores 512 and 518. 

The US retake issue doesn't really apply to you. Since you retook and did much better. 

I wouldn't even retake a 3rd time tbh. A 518 is an excellent score, and it wont hold you back in the US. Its clear CARS is your weak point. I would not retake, and cut your losses in Canada and head south, because you've probably peaked for CARS. 

Do not go anywhere but USMD/USDO. You do not need to go anywhere else. Apply early and apply broadly and let the interview offers guide where you end up. 

Thanks for your recommendation. A rewrite is looking less and less likely. That damn 1 point under in CARS is something I'll just have to live with...

Currently waiting to hear back from the few Canadian applications that I put in (was too late for American schools and some Canadian due to my rewrite). Will definitely have one more mass apply sesh and include as many USMD schools as I think I'll have a shot at. I agree, better to apply widely and have options to decide between than to have no options at all!

Again, thank you to all you lovely people who took the time to weigh in. I really appreciate your perspectives and advice.

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