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3 minutes ago, burneraccount909 said:

Diversity of thought is definitely something you want to bring into the profession and we both agree we need more of it. My argument is more about the question of how do you accurately compare program difficulty. To fairly compare all of the undergrad programs, you would need to know the difficulty of each professor, the difficulty of each specific class, and then the intelligence of the classmates you're competing with for each class. Take me for example, my cohort was significantly brighter than the other 2 co-op cohorts if you look at our 1st year average vs. theirs. The other cohorts also took classes with different professors, and we all took several electives where we had a pretty wide breadth of choice in what we took. You can't just say "oh, these two people both took MechE co-op at U of A so we'll raise their GPA's by X.X relative to everyone else" because the difficulty of achieving grades for me would have been fairly different than it would have been for anyone in another cohort, or even those in my same cohort who took different electives. And who gets to make that call on how much more difficult my degree was than someone else's? How do they do it? How can you compare a MechE undergrad with a bunch of physics-based, 60-page long report based labs and a 4 month Capstone project, to someone in a Music degree? 

It's an extremely complex problem, and while we both agree that steps need to be taken to fix it, I haven't heard of a solution yet that I don't see causing more problems than it fixes. I hope they do find one though, because it will only serve to make the profession better.

Actually, this is something universities and CEGEPs in QC have implemented for a lonnnng time... it brings its own issues, but it is somewhat achievable.

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Just now, petitmonstre111 said:

Actually, this is something universities and CEGEPs in QC have implemented for a lonnnng time... it brings its own issues, but it is somewhat achievable.

Ah I didn't know they did that (Western Canadian...) but I don't think it changes much about the point I was making. There are lots of issues with it IMO, and although it is partially achievable with a high level of administrative overhead, there would still be a massive amount of subjectivity in the process that would cause it's own set problems. Whether the problems caused are better or worse than the problems of the current system is another matter...

To add to this too, would this cause some degrees (Arts for example) to be basically obsolete as pre-med undergrads? If everyone from a hard science got a huge boost, wouldn't this work to eliminate diversity in the field by eliminating many applicants from these fields? I would imagine that a lot get in because of their high GPA's. Without that, how would these applicants compete with (now-boosted) science grads w/ research, and a lot of the time science-based work experience that meshes well with the field?

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11 minutes ago, burneraccount909 said:

Ah I didn't know they did that (Western Canadian...) but I don't think it changes much about the point I was making. There are lots of issues with it IMO, and although it is partially achievable with a high level of administrative overhead, there would still be a massive amount of subjectivity in the process that would cause it's own set problems. Whether the problems caused are better or worse than the problems of the current system is another matter...

To add to this too, would this cause some degrees (Arts for example) to be basically obsolete as pre-med undergrads? If everyone from a hard science got a huge boost, wouldn't this work to eliminate diversity in the field by eliminating many applicants from these fields? I would imagine that a lot get in because of their high GPA's. Without that, how would these applicants compete with (now-boosted) science grads w/ research, and a lot of the time science-based work experience that meshes well with the field?

I won't go too much into it, but if you are curious you can check out ULaval https://www.ulaval.ca/fileadmin/admission/table-des-etalons.pdf

Basically, the higher the CRU (which is the number shown across the table), the higher your "GPA". There are actually a variety of programs that would grant you a high enough CRU to apply to professional programs such as med, dent, etc. They're also moving towards having a cut off for the CRU, and then using casper and interview to select candidates. Bottom line is, they are actually doing something to address the shortcoming of their system. I personally feel like lots of universities in the rest of the country simply can't be bothered to change their admission process to make it more equitable (which I somewhat get lol they don't really have an incentive when they get thousands of qualified applicants anyway)

My point is, rather than telling OP that they should've known better, and navigated a broken system in a better way, we should really think of ways to make the entire system better, and advocate for changes.

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2 minutes ago, petitmonstre111 said:

I won't go too much into it, but if you are curious you can check out ULaval https://www.ulaval.ca/fileadmin/admission/table-des-etalons.pdf

Basically, the higher the CRU (which is the number shown across the table), the higher your "GPA". There are actually a variety of programs that would grant you a high enough CRU to apply to professional programs such as med, dent, etc. They're also moving towards having a cut off for the CRU, and then using casper and interview to select candidates. Bottom line is, they are actually doing something to address the shortcoming of their system. I personally feel like lots of universities in the rest of the country simply can't be bothered to change their admission process to make it more equitable (which I somewhat get lol they don't really have an incentive when they get thousands of qualified applicants anyway)

My point is, rather than telling OP that they should've known better, and navigated a broken system in a better way, we should really think of ways to make the entire system better, and advocate for changes.

Thank you for this!! It's interesting to see at least how they're trying to do it. Although it's the system I was directly advocating against, I appreciate like you do that they've tried to something even if I think it's the wrong approach. If they do move to some form of weighted GPA cutoff, that is a step in the right direction in my mind, as I don't think GPA really matters past a certain point.

My initial comment wasn't meant to be a slight at OP - I have personally said several times how unfair it is that my GPA is treated the same as others from easier programs. But it is tough to feel bad for me, or anyone in my situation, when we all know how the system works. Whether we like it or not, we both put ourselves in those positions and we have to accept the consequences of our decisions. That's a big part of life, not just this process.

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I came across some interesting points reading this forum and wanted to share some thoughts - furthermore there's also a lot of premeds that read this and I imagine how stressed out (as many people including myself was) when I came to reading about MCAT and grades for med admissions. 

Re: OP point about fairness: Arguing that the system isn't fair - spot on. Just from an objective GPA comparison standpoint the system isn't fair when comparing between programs and this doesn't account the non-academic and social difficulties certain students have to overcome. GPAs across the same program can also differ, I did my undergrad at probably the most debated program on this forum and I can tell you first hand that GPA also widely depends on electives taken, (which can cause fluctuations from 3.80 to >3.95). That said, however, I had friends (and sometimes me as well) that took organic chem, biochem, physics, engineering physics, differential equations, all the stuff premeds wouldnt go near with a 10 foot pole. We all still finished with non-regrettable GPAs. tldr: For premeds- regardless of the program, work hard and do your best; yes the system isn't fair but do your best. MCAT offers standardization but also faces its own challenges of fairness. If you're a highschool premed - good on your for taking initiative and reading up on med school apps this far in advance, as seen here and everywhere else, if medicine is the path for you - pick a program that you fit in with and make sure you talk to current students about your med school goal and how feasible it is to get a strong GPA. A strong GPA is a foot in the door for most med schools, opening that door (as you will see) requires ECs, MCAT, and experience. 

New points for discussion: Interestingly, I think across all the schools in Canada, theres a spot for different types of applicants. For example, the average entering GPA for McMaster is 3.8X; the pre-interview GPA may even be lower. I know friends with 3.7X GPAs that got interviews (strong CARS scores >129 though). For schools like Ottawa and UofT, a 3.7X is almost unheard of. Meanwhile for schools such as UofT and Ottawa, GPA is the heavily valued (usually the incoming class GPA is a 3.9X), however, MCAT has much lower standards compared to a place like McMaster (as the rating limiting step for many high GPA premeds is CARS on the MCAT). tdlr: Medical school is extremely similar regardless of where you go in Canada, thus getting an offer is the biggest part. Schools also have all have their admissions pre-interview formula published and the forums also offer most of the information needed to know whether your app would be competitive. Find the schools that you have the strongest chances at and maximize your application for those schools. I had a strong overall MCAT, high GPA, and good ECs, however, I never scored high on CARS, thus I worked my hardest to strengthen my application for Ottawa and UofT.

Mentorship and education are two topics I'm very passionate about and really want to hear other points surrounding medical school applications.

 

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1 hour ago, burneraccount909 said:

Diversity of thought is definitely something you want to bring into the profession and we both agree we need more of it. My argument is more about the question of how do you accurately compare program difficulty. To fairly compare all of the undergrad programs, you would need to know the difficulty of each professor, the difficulty of each specific class, and then the intelligence of the classmates you're competing with for each class. Take me for example, my cohort was significantly brighter than the other 2 co-op cohorts if you look at our 1st year average vs. theirs. The other cohorts also took classes with different professors, and we all took several electives where we had a pretty wide breadth of choice in what we took. You can't just say "oh, these two people both took MechE co-op at U of A so we'll raise their GPA's by X.X relative to everyone else" because the difficulty of achieving grades for me would have been fairly different than it would have been for anyone in another cohort, or even those in my same cohort who took different electives. And who gets to make that call on how much more difficult my degree was than someone else's? How do they do it? How can you compare a MechE undergrad with a bunch of physics-based, 60-page long report based labs and a 4 month Capstone project, to someone in a Music degree? 

It's an extremely complex problem, and while we both agree that steps need to be taken to fix it, I haven't heard of a solution yet that I don't see causing more problems than it fixes. I hope they do find one though, because it will only serve to make the profession better.

extremely complex - I would flat out say impossible. Even if you could figure it out somehow reasonably it would all be with historical data, and something critical could have changed to mess it up completely (new professor teaching the course for instance - seen that happen more than once). 

The only solutions anyone has really used it external standardized testing. Of course again the MCAT blah blah - but in Ontario again there was an argument of having simply put not just the courses in the basic science interchangable between universities but since therefore they must all have the same curriculum they would all have the same exam. Interesting thought - not sure it could work but I love at least considering out of the box solutions. Wouldn't solve things between various types of programs but it would at least equalize some common programs. 

In medicine we use standardized exams of course way past just the MCAT. Even between medical programs we still have pushed for shelf exams, all our license exams and so on. 

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1 hour ago, burneraccount909 said:

Thank you for this!! It's interesting to see at least how they're trying to do it. Although it's the system I was directly advocating against, I appreciate like you do that they've tried to something even if I think it's the wrong approach. If they do move to some form of weighted GPA cutoff, that is a step in the right direction in my mind, as I don't think GPA really matters past a certain point.

My initial comment wasn't meant to be a slight at OP - I have personally said several times how unfair it is that my GPA is treated the same as others from easier programs. But it is tough to feel bad for me, or anyone in my situation, when we all know how the system works. Whether we like it or not, we both put ourselves in those positions and we have to accept the consequences of our decisions. That's a big part of life, not just this process.

side note - the "they should have known better" argument seem to relieve the rest of the system's responsibility to get the word out. This forum wouldn't exist potentially (or at least would be a lot different) if the rest of medical education could actually successfully inform everyone considering medicine prior to day 1 of their premed degree. Right now it is fair to say that even people interested in knowing and who are otherwise intelligent have a hard time figuring this all out. 

Edited by rmorelan

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1 hour ago, scholar_and_benchpress said:

I came across some interesting points reading this forum and wanted to share some thoughts - furthermore there's also a lot of premeds that read this and I imagine how stressed out (as many people including myself was) when I came to reading about MCAT and grades for med admissions. 

Re: OP point about fairness: Arguing that the system isn't fair - spot on. Just from an objective GPA comparison standpoint the system isn't fair when comparing between programs and this doesn't account the non-academic and social difficulties certain students have to overcome. GPAs across the same program can also differ, I did my undergrad at probably the most debated program on this forum and I can tell you first hand that GPA also widely depends on electives taken, (which can cause fluctuations from 3.80 to >3.95). That said, however, I had friends (and sometimes me as well) that took organic chem, biochem, physics, engineering physics, differential equations, all the stuff premeds wouldnt go near with a 10 foot pole. We all still finished with non-regrettable GPAs. tldr: For premeds- regardless of the program, work hard and do your best; yes the system isn't fair but do your best. MCAT offers standardization but also faces its own challenges of fairness. If you're a highschool premed - good on your for taking initiative and reading up on med school apps this far in advance, as seen here and everywhere else, if medicine is the path for you - pick a program that you fit in with and make sure you talk to current students about your med school goal and how feasible it is to get a strong GPA. A strong GPA is a foot in the door for most med schools, opening that door (as you will see) requires ECs, MCAT, and experience. 

New points for discussion: Interestingly, I think across all the schools in Canada, theres a spot for different types of applicants. For example, the average entering GPA for McMaster is 3.8X; the pre-interview GPA may even be lower. I know friends with 3.7X GPAs that got interviews (strong CARS scores >129 though). For schools like Ottawa and UofT, a 3.7X is almost unheard of. Meanwhile for schools such as UofT and Ottawa, GPA is the heavily valued (usually the incoming class GPA is a 3.9X), however, MCAT has much lower standards compared to a place like McMaster (as the rating limiting step for many high GPA premeds is CARS on the MCAT). tdlr: Medical school is extremely similar regardless of where you go in Canada, thus getting an offer is the biggest part. Schools also have all have their admissions pre-interview formula published and the forums also offer most of the information needed to know whether your app would be competitive. Find the schools that you have the strongest chances at and maximize your application for those schools. I had a strong overall MCAT, high GPA, and good ECs, however, I never scored high on CARS, thus I worked my hardest to strengthen my application for Ottawa and UofT.

Mentorship and education are two topics I'm very passionate about and really want to hear other points surrounding medical school applications.

 

Hey, thank you for your input. As I mentioned in my original post, I fully acknowledge the complexity of the issue and the fact that there probably won't be a perfect solution that is going to be 100% fair for everyone. However, just because there is no perfect solution does not mean we should stop trying to find a better solution.  I do not expect the system to be perfect, but I do wanna speak up for people like me, and i think there is room for improvement. In fact, pretty much all of the "difficult courses" you mentioned were part of my degree requirement, and I did not have a choice (which I assume you did) but taking them. 

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23 minutes ago, rmorelan said:

In medicine we use standardized exams of course way past just the MCAT. Even between medical programs we still have pushed for shelf exams, all our license exams and so on. 

Big fan of standardization as a way to solve the problem. I acknowledge that the MCAT has it's faults (can cater to higher income pre-meds, some people don't do well with exams but do well in a clinical setting, etc. etc.) but it's the best way currently to compare the academic ability of applicants. Hopefully with time, they will come up with an even better entrance exam that eliminates some of it's faults.

And I agree with your side note! Places like r/MCAT and this forum saved me in my premed journey, but the fact that I had to rely on internet forums, that many don't know about, to stay informed for med school says a lot about the problems with the system.

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3 hours ago, sorrynotsorry said:

Hey, thank you for your input. As I mentioned in my original post, I fully acknowledge the complexity of the issue and the fact that there probably won't be a perfect solution that is going to be 100% fair for everyone. However, just because there is no perfect solution does not mean we should stop trying to find a better solution.  I do not expect the system to be perfect, but I do wanna speak up for people like me, and i think there is room for improvement. In fact, pretty much all of the "difficult courses" you mentioned were part of my degree requirement, and I did not have a choice (which I assume you did) but taking them. 

Very valid points OP; the goal of my post isn't to deter you from speaking up, apologies if it sounded that way. It was to shed some light for current premeds, the information for medical school applications is rather asymmetrical and I wanted to give advice for applicants currently applying as changes to the application process may take years to materialize tangibly.

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On 6/16/2020 at 8:49 PM, rmorelan said:

side note - the "they should have known better" argument seem to relieve the rest of the system's responsibility to get the word out. This forum wouldn't exist potentially (or at least would be a lot different) if the rest of medical education could actually successfully inform everyone considering medicine prior to day 1 of their premed degree. Right now it is fair to say that even people interested in knowing and who are otherwise intelligent have a hard time figuring this all out. 

Couldn't have said it any better!! I also agree the system isn't perfect and its unfortunate some people find these things out later . On the other hand, students who go to institutions like UFT typically have greater access to mentors, research projects, advocacy initiatives, etc. I personally don't think that completely offsets the disadvantage of the GPA game but also something to consider

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On 6/16/2020 at 11:21 AM, sorrynotsorry said:

First I want to apologize for bringing up the issue. But as someone who has taken classes at multiple schools across the country, I want to bring it to UBC's attention (in case they see this) that the amount of effort it takes to obtain a certain GPA is NOT the same depending on where you go. I went to U of T life science for undergrad and ended up with an OK cGPA (but definitely below med school standard) and a 98%ile MCAT. I have then taken upper year undergrad classes at 3 other major Canadian universities (which i am not going to name because it is not my point). The discrepancy that I noticed in terms of content density and exam difficulty between these schools really shocked me. I would say the same amount time I spent to get an A+ in these schools would probably get me a C+/B- at U of T. Now I am perfectly aware that it is extremely difficult to standardize GPA and there is no perfect system, but at the same time I really don't think students should be "penalized" for what they choose to study and where they choose to attend undergrad. 

I would love to hear what you guys think, and whether or not UBC is making any effort to account for the potential "differences"?

* This is all my personal opinion from my personal experience, so I apologize in advance if a similar topic has been discussed before. I also do NOT think one school better prepares someone for medicine than another. I am only concerned about the admission process at UBC (and other schools in the country). 

 

No need to apologize... these are issues we need to discuss. I am so glad you brought this up because the system is not fair and people need to know that! 

 I feel like there are so many factors involved in getting into medical school. If you start planning to go into medicine from high school and you know people in medicine you are much more likely to succeed. I feel sorry for those people who spent their high school life or entire undergrad just focused on getting into medicine. I just cannot imagine how stressful that would be. That being said, if you chose your university and degree and courses and everything you do around getting into medicine your chances will be better. Yet... I think this is unhealthy and what causes the toxic pre-med culture. In my opinion, people should be able to take some hard but interesting courses or go to the university they want to without being penalized. People should also be able to attend colleges and not be penalized for needing to go to a less expensive institution (ahem Ontario schools).  From discussions with med students it seems that those with an A+ averages vs those with an A- average have equal chances of doing well in medicine. 

It is my personal opinion that grades still play way too big of a role for Canadian med school admissions. The problem is there are just way too many applicants and they need to narrow it down somehow. I find it so upsetting that there are so many great students who still have decent grades that cannot get in because their A, A- or B+ average is holding them back. I really wish UBC would drop your worst 5 courses instead of your worst year. I think that could help solve some of this problem. Not everyone had a bad year... some people just had a difficult professor or a course they didn't like. As you said there is no perfect system and I honestly believe it can never be totally fair. I still think it is important we have these discussions and that attempts are made at making things as fair as they can be. 

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1 hour ago, ShadesofCyan said:

It is my personal opinion that grades still play way too big of a role for Canadian med school admissions. The problem is there are just way too many applicants and they need to narrow it down somehow. I find it so upsetting that there are so many great students who still have decent grades that cannot get in because their A, A- or B+ average is holding them back. I really wish UBC would drop your worst 5 courses instead of your worst year. I think that could help solve some of this problem. Not everyone had a bad year... some people just had a difficult professor or a course they didn't like. As you said there is no perfect system and I honestly believe it can never be totally fair. I still think it is important we have these discussions and that attempts are made at making things as fair as they can be. 

I definitely agree that there is too much focus on grades at Canadian medical schools. For all the fuss they make about being "holistic", the fact that many students are ineligible to apply simply because they do not meet an arbitrarily high cutoff (I'm looking at you UOttawa) is such a waste, when these students could very easily be excelling in other parts that are important such as the MCAT, ECs, CASPer etc. just because their GPA was 0.01 too low. Heck, Queen's doesn't even release any information like admissions averages or cutoffs, and end up pocketing application fees from hundreds or thousands of applicants every year who will basically pay $100s to get their application thrown out without even been looked at.

Ultimately though, the problem is that there are just too many qualified applicants. There are just too many people who have amazing ECs, research, volunteering, MCAT and CASPer in addition to a strong GPA, for applicants with all of those things but a poor GPA to have a realistic chance of gaining admission. There's a cutoff and there's a competitive average. At most schools, anyone who barely passes the cutoff won't get an interview. 

Are there some gems that get looked over every year because of these cutoffs? Probably. But shifting through a thousand below-cutoff applications for a few applicants who will be able to overcome a very poor GPA with stellar ECs is probably not within the resources of ADCOMS. Otherwise, we will need to accept paying much higher application fees so that they can double or triple their admissions team size to grant every applicant a full file review (which will pose problems of it's own, like discouraging low SES applicants).

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(Didn't read past the OP's first post, sorry if this has been said). 

Unfortunately you can't ask UBC to add an algorithm to change values of grades from every single different school/combination of schools. Every medical school is trying their best to admit their students according to their values. If you can't make it in UBC's requirements, check out another school. (Im from BC but somehow always got an interview at Queens and not UBC until my final application). 

Side note: My SO had the equivalent of 86% ish average at McGill, but 85+ is 4.0 there, and that coverts back to UBC's scale as a 92%. I'm IP, from UBC, and had to use my relatively sad 85%. It's hard to evaluate when everyone uses different scales too. 

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23 minutes ago, chiynadoll said:

(Didn't read past the OP's first post, sorry if this has been said). 

Unfortunately you can't ask UBC to add an algorithm to change values of grades from every single different school/combination of schools. Every medical school is trying their best to admit their students according to their values. If you can't make it in UBC's requirements, check out another school. (Im from BC but somehow always got an interview at Queens and not UBC until my final application). 

Side note: My SO had the equivalent of 86% ish average at McGill, but 85+ is 4.0 there, and that coverts back to UBC's scale as a 92%. I'm IP, from UBC, and had to use my relatively sad 85%. It's hard to evaluate when everyone uses different scales too. 

Thank you so much for your input. 
I know that the chances of UBC changing their admission policy in response to my post, is slim,  but I still wanted to speak up, rather than staying silent. It’s more of a systemic issue in my opinion, that I really hope the schools could address in the future. Easier for me to say for sure,  but I am still hopeful that UBC can see this and somehow improve the process to make it more fair. One day maybe. 

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31 minutes ago, sorrynotsorry said:

Thank you so much for your input. 
I know that the chances of UBC changing their admission policy in response to my post, is slim,  but I still wanted to speak up, rather than staying silent. It’s more of a systemic issue in my opinion, that I really hope the schools could address in the future. Easier for me to say for sure,  but I am still hopeful that UBC can see this and somehow improve the process to make it more fair. One day maybe. 

I think UBC is interested in making the process more fair and in attracting more well-rounded applicants - this is why they did away with science prerequisites, and why 50% of the pre-interview score is based on factors other than GPA.  But as others have explained, trying to standardize between universities is incredibly difficult. I do certainly sympathize with your situation, as it’s not reasonable to expect people to know this necessarily when applying to universities, or to know they want to go into medicine. 

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