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Why Doesn't U Of T Take The Mcat Seriously?

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I'm sure as everyone knows (hopefully even the school knows), U of T has a serious GPA acceptance problem. Every year the average GPA goes up and up and up, and despite the obvious grade inflation, nothing is being done to change this. I understand that U of T has a "holistic" approach, more so than other schools by taking into account essays, reference letters, ABS, and such, but their MCAT cut offs at about the 50th percentile are laughable. Is there any specific reason why these cut offs are so low? If they upped them to 127 across the board ~75-80th percentile, I'm certain this would screen out people from grade inflated programs possibly lowering their average GPA, making application to U of T much less daunting for people with lower grades.

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We'll never know, so honestly I don't see much point in debating these things or wasting time being upset about it. If every school had the exact same set of entrance requirements, or same cutoffs, the same 200 people would get into every school. 

 

Personally, i think it's smart on their part to be one of the few schools that accepts a 9VR/125 CARS equivalent. Especially with VR, that 1-2 question difference can effectively ruin an ON students chances at medical school. I've know quite a few intelligent, caring, students who will be great doctors only get interviewed/accepted to UofT because they got a 9VR. 

 

Keep in mind too-people aren't all first-language English speakers. Some people have dyslexia, etc. and simply can't get high CARS/VR scores. It's nice that at least one school is open for those people in ON

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 If every school had the exact same set of entrance requirements, or same cutoffs, the same 200 people would get into every school. 

 

 

 

 

So true. Also, the students who do get in that I have met while in Toronto, are amazing people. Very intelligent, well spoken, active in their community and/or research, and balance that with good grades. Definitely are deserving of their acceptances. I think Toronto does well in their interview stage from what I have anecdotally heard.

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Would have to agree with Sunny.

 

It makes no sense to have Ontario medical schools all similar across the board, each school has its own individual niche.

 

You can argue that UofT has high GPA, while that is true... take for instance McMaster - you can have a tanked GPA <3.7 and just be naturally good at verbal and get into the school.

 

UofT seems to be one of the schools that really appreciates hard-work and perseverance, if you dont have the most stellar GPA but you are really into academia they take this into account seriously by dropping the cutoff for GPA quite substantially. IMO UofT is honoring those work hard for high GPA but also persevere in the realm of science/medicine. Just look at their core competencies

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Yea but on the flip side, you have people that complete programs with inflated grades, and then don't really have to try on the MCAT. I was talking with a friend who is in McMaster Health Sci, and she says people do just that. Not having to dedicate a ton of time for the MCAT allows them to spend more time doing extracurriculars in summer boosting their application. She said over 30 people from her year got into U of T medicine. This is part of the equation that I believe is unfair. I am not discounting those who work hard and meet the competencies, but it just seems that this system is slightly biased (and helps) for a certain group of people more so than others, i.e. the ones with very high GPA which can occur for various reasons; hard word and intelligence, or being in a grade inflated program.

Sorry if I sound like a complainer, I just want to try and make sense of this, even if there is no perfect answer. In no way am I trying to discount anyones admission to this program. It's an incredible school and I hope that maybe one day I can be there as well.

 

Thank you

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Yea but on the flip side, you have people that complete programs with inflated grades, and then don't really have to try on the MCAT. I was talking with a friend who is in McMaster Health Sci, and she says people do just that.

 

You do make a good point with that. Ontario is suffering from gross GPA inflation. The causes are many, but its hardly deniable that one of, if not, the largest source of this in recent years has been McMaster Health Science. I'm not sure what the future of inflation will be, or how these programs (not just McMaster Health Science) will join the solution, but it is a problem with recognizing.

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Yea but on the flip side, you have people that complete programs with inflated grades, and then don't really have to try on the MCAT. I was talking with a friend who is in McMaster Health Sci, and she says people do just that. Not having to dedicate a ton of time for the MCAT allows them to spend more time doing extracurriculars in summer boosting their application. She said over 30 people from her year got into U of T medicine.

 

I find it hard to believe that there are people who would intentionally not try hard on the MCAT, thereby limiting their choice of schools.

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I find it hard to believe that there are people who would intentionally not try hard on the MCAT, thereby limiting their choice of schools.

 

It may not be that they don't "try hard", but they would be more willing to accept a bad score and are comfortable with passing UofT's flag, rather than put in more time and effort to rewrite. 

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Congrats on being the first person to ever complain that the requirements are making it too easy to get into med school. To be honest, I don't think the MCAT is a great indicator of one's ability to be a good physician. So much more contributes and I think a score on one test is even less telling than something like GPA. For that reason alone I think it is a good thing that they don't require scores in the 90th percentile like some schools do. Medicine is not always about how smart you are and while I don't disagree that grade inflation is a problem, a higher MCAT cutoff will not solve that problem.

 

Also, don't forget UofT has weighting on their GPA as well. Personally, mine jumped by over 0.2 so a comparison of posted averages across schools isn't exactly fair if just looking at the hard numbers.

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Don't forget that UofT's GPA is weighted, the real number is certainly lower. With that being said, there are schools for every kind of applicant, if your strength is in your MCAT, you should be applying to Western.  

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I don't think there's any ever real motivation to change anything - I'll refer to this as organizational inertia.  This is especially true in a system of admission: whenever a change happens a lot of people become upset - think of Western's cutoff changes, Ottawa's possible addition of MCAT,  etc...  Whether the change is perceived as good or bad, often depends on the perspective of the individual: but in general, the subset of people who are currently more benefitting from a given system will not have any interest to change that system.  

 

In the case of GPA at UofT, there is probably a long term danger of hitting a ceiling in terms of applicant GPAs (i.e. an excessive number with 4.00s).  Ottawa may possibly be having issues, and it seems as if it could be looking at remedies including the MCAT.  UofT could approach the issue with MCAT, but could also look at other criteria - although it may also become increasingly difficult to distinguish applicants looking through ECs, etc...  

 

At one point, GPA was probably a very distinguishing feature amongst applicants : the historical trend on UofTs webpage certainly points this way.  This does not appear to be the case anymore, however.   

 

The only objective argument for a change is that overall the system could somehow be functioning much better, if a given change occurred.  However, given the vast supply of high achieving applicants, I think that it's not an easy case to make.

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I don't think there's any every real motivation to change anything - I'll refer to this organizational inertia.  This is especially in a system of admission: whenever a change happens a lot of people become upset - think of Western's cutoff changes, Ottawa's possible addition of MCAT,  etc...  Whether the change is perceived as good or bad, often depends on the perspective of the individual: but in general, the subset of people who are currently more benefitting from a given system will not have any interest to change that system.  

 

In the case of GPA at UofT, there is probably a long term danger of hitting a ceiling in terms of applicant GPAs (i.e. an excessive number with 4.00s).  Ottawa may possibly be having issues, and it seems as if it could be looking at remedies including the MCAT.  UofT could approach the issue with MCAT, but could also look at other criteria - although it may also become increasingly difficult to distinguish applicants looking through ECs, etc...  

 

At one point, GPA was probably a very distinguishing feature amongst applicants : the historical trend on UofTs webpage certainly points this way.  This does not appear to be the case anymore, however.   

 

The only objective argument for a change is that overall the system could somehow be functioning much better, if a given change occurred.  However, given the vast supply of high achieving applicants, I think that it's not an easy case to make.

 

that is a common problem with most selection systems - the truth is the applicant pool is so good there is a vast number of very good applicants - many fold higher than the number needed to fill all the spots. After a point and some reasonable tests you can almost randomly pick people and get a very strong applicant class - particularly since the very testing methods - mcat, GPA, ECs etc are already imprecise. That is a very hard thing to swallow though of course as we are all really strongly depending these systems to do something that maybe is simply not possible - select the "best" X applicants with assurance.

 

Since we don't even have a very good exit testing system in Canada you cannot even really compare well the output of different schools on a macro level. The differences are so small and the sample size fixed at a ha under powered point (ie our class sizes) that the entire process is really challenging :)

Edited by rmorelan

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Obviously we have no idea what UofT's actual reasoning is for not counting the MCAT very heavily. However, I have never been a fan of the MCAT because I think it's a test that puts applicants from wealthier backgrounds at somewhat of an advantage. I had to work throughout all my summers of undergrad, which left me with far less time to study than someone who could afford to have most of the summer off to spend on studying. And the MCAT prep courses are also quite expensive and require a significant time commitment as well.

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Obviously we have no idea what UofT's actual reasoning is for not counting the MCAT very heavily. However, I have never been a fan of the MCAT because I think it's a test that puts applicants from wealthier backgrounds at somewhat of an advantage. I had to work throughout all my summers of undergrad, which left me with far less time to study than someone who could afford to have most of the summer off to spend on studying. And the MCAT prep courses are also quite expensive and require a significant time commitment as wetll.

Exactly. While I was very happy with my score, and met the cutoffs everywhere except being 1 point short for Western, but who knows what would have happened if had an extra 45 hours per week of time to study? Or could afford all the AAMC practice tests to get 1 question better at CARS. 

 

While the MCAT felt fairer and more of an equalizer than some things, it's not so immune to uncontrollable factors, like an extra 40+ hrs/wk, or new prep books/courses that 1 or 2 questions should determine if you get into med school or not

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Exactly. While I was very happy with my score, and met the cutoffs everywhere except being 1 point short for Western, but who knows what would have happened if had an extra 45 hours per week of time to study? Or could afford all the AAMC practice tests to get 1 question better at CARS. 

 

While the MCAT felt fairer and more of an equalizer than some things, it's not so immune to uncontrollable factors, like an extra 40+ hrs/wk, or new prep books/courses that 1 or 2 questions should determine if you get into med school or not

 

The entire med school journey is advantageous with wealth. High GPA is easier when you don't need to work to support yourself during school. Same with the MCAT, as you mentioned. I would argue, however, that the MCAT is easier to do coming from a low-socioeconomic background because it is, for the most part, built on critical thinking abilities rather than time to study. GPA simply requires devotion to the curriculum and free time to do that, which can be very difficult for some people.

 

I believe that UofT only uses the MCAT as a flag because GPA essentially tells you the same thing. If you're scoring 3.95^, then you'd probably intelligent enough for med school, or at least hard working enough to get by. With grade inflation on the rise in Ontario, I really do think UofT should change that mentality. I'd propose something along the lines of a "or" system. Have UofT remove it's weighting and accept students with a 3.9+ or have high MCAT cut-offs, like Western. This would allow a student to choose how they want to be evaluated and would not remove anyone from being in the running. 

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The entire med school journey is advantageous with wealth. High GPA is easier when you don't need to work to support yourself during school. Same with the MCAT, as you mentioned. I would argue, however, that the MCAT is easier to do coming from a low-socioeconomic background because it is, for the most part, built on critical thinking abilities rather than time to study. GPA simply requires devotion to the curriculum and free time to do that, which can be very difficult for some people.

 

I believe that UofT only uses the MCAT as a flag because GPA essentially tells you the same thing. If you're scoring 3.95^, then you'd probably intelligent enough for med school, or at least hard working enough to get by. With grade inflation on the rise in Ontario, I really do think UofT should change that mentality. I'd propose something along the lines of a "or" system. Have UofT remove it's weighting and accept students with a 3.9+ or have high MCAT cut-offs, like Western. This would allow a student to choose how they want to be evaluated and would not remove anyone from being in the running. 

 

Just because UofT's acceptance average is high, does not mean they only consider people with a 3.9+ GPA. Again, keep in mind their GPA is a weighted GPA, and not completely reflective of someones actual grades throughout 4 years of undergrad. For example, my cGPA was <3.75. The truth about applicants overall grades is not reflected in the average posted on their website.

 

UofT takes the time to look at the entire applicant (just another thing for most applicants to complain about because it takes more time to review). As long as you have a "competitive GPA" which UofT states is 3.8 (weighted!) and a just above average MCAT, you are in just as good a shape as every other applicant. There is no need to go to an either or system because to be honest, you don't need to be a superstar at both to get in. There are a lot of 4.0's who get rejected every year and a lot of 40+'s that get rejected.

 

I don't like the MCAT because blatent "luck" on 2-3 questions or just guessing could move you 2-3 points which may or not be enough, compared to years of hard work. I understand the compelling argument about how students who need to work have less time to study, but that won't change for the MCAT. The thing about UofT, provided you hit their competitive cutoffs (which are reasonable), you have a shot as long as you have some experience to back it up. Past that it really is a lottery for everyone.

 

I also don't disagree that grade inflation is the problem, but the only way to address that would be a program specific approach to GPA equilibration. I don't think the system is ready for that yet.

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Just because UofT's acceptance average is high, does not mean they only consider people with a 3.9+ GPA. Again, keep in mind their GPA is a weighted GPA, and not completely reflective of someones actual grades throughout 4 years of undergrad. For example, my cGPA was <3.75. The truth about applicants overall grades is not reflected in the average posted on their website.

 

UofT takes the time to look at the entire applicant (just another thing for most applicants to complain about because it takes more time to review). As long as you have a "competitive GPA" which UofT states is 3.8 (weighted!) and a just above average MCAT, you are in just as good a shape as every other applicant. There is no need to go to an either or system because to be honest, you don't need to be a superstar at both to get in. There are a lot of 4.0's who get rejected every year and a lot of 40+'s that get rejected.

 

I don't like the MCAT because blatent "luck" on 2-3 questions or just guessing could move you 2-3 points which may or not be enough, compared to years of hard work. I understand the compelling argument about how students who need to work have less time to study, but that won't change for the MCAT. The thing about UofT, provided you hit their competitive cutoffs (which are reasonable), you have a shot as long as you have some experience to back it up. Past that it really is a lottery for everyone.

 

I also don't disagree that grade inflation is the problem, but the only way to address that would be a program specific approach to GPA equilibration. I don't think the system is ready for that yet.

Why is it then that every year the average wGPA has been increasing like clockwork?

 

Yes it's understandable that wGPA will be higher than cGPA but that only really makes a large increase if you have significant outliers. You do not go from a 3.7 to a 3.9 by dropping 3 full courses (or 6 half courses) if you do not have 27 other courses with a 3.9+ already. 

I personally don't like how people at UofT justify a 3.96 AVERAGE by pointing out that it is a wGPA as if there's no grade inflation because dropping some courses somehow magically adds 0.1 to your grades. It doesn't.

 

Also saying there's lots of people with 4.0 that get rejected is not a good argument as that is the same as saying there's lots of smokers who don't get lung cancer. There's also a lot of people with a 4.0 that get rejected from Mac and Queens but you don't see many people saying that those schools have grade inflation problems. 

 

With that being said, there are always many times the qualified applicants than there are spots and filtering them while being fair is a very challenging process. There's no real right answer that will be 100% fair and appease every one. At least in ontario we have different schools that use different methods so people can play to their strengths (Western for MCAT, Mac for casper). 

 

The GPA trend has been pretty scary and I wouldn't be surprised if there is an overhaul on how med school admissions are done in the next 4-5 years. At this rate unless you have a 4.0 it will be a very uphill battle  (not to say it can't be done). 

 

/end rant.

Sorry I don't mean to single you out, I know a lot of people in your cohort as well as the 2018 class at UofT and these arguments are pervasive and have heard it many many times before. 

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/end rant.

Sorry I don't mean to single you out, I know a lot of people in your cohort as well as the 2018 class at UofT and these arguments are pervasive and have heard it many many times before.

I think the reason why these arguments are so pervasive is because they are largely true. Many of us in the program don't have 4.0s and many of us benefitted significantly from the weighting formula. Many people with 4.0s do get rejected because UofT has a holistic application process that takes the rest of the application very seriously.

 

I know it's easy to dismiss these arguments, especially considering how stressful the application process is (trust me, I've been there), but people don't say them just to hear themselves speak. They say them because based on their own experiences they have to be true in order to explain the make-up of the class.

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Why is it then that every year the average wGPA has been increasing like clockwork?

 

Yes it's understandable that wGPA will be higher than cGPA but that only really makes a large increase if you have significant outliers. You do not go from a 3.7 to a 3.9 by dropping 3 full courses (or 6 half courses) if you do not have 27 other courses with a 3.9+ already. 

I personally don't like how people at UofT justify a 3.96 AVERAGE by pointing out that it is a wGPA as if there's no grade inflation because dropping some courses somehow magically adds 0.1 to your grades. It doesn't.

 

Also saying there's lots of people with 4.0 that get rejected is not a good argument as that is the same as saying there's lots of smokers who don't get lung cancer. There's also a lot of people with a 4.0 that get rejected from Mac and Queens but you don't see many people saying that those schools have grade inflation problems. 

 

With that being said, there are always many times the qualified applicants than there are spots and filtering them while being fair is a very challenging process. There's no real right answer that will be 100% fair and appease every one. At least in ontario we have different schools that use different methods so people can play to their strengths (Western for MCAT, Mac for casper). 

 

The GPA trend has been pretty scary and I wouldn't be surprised if there is an overhaul on how med school admissions are done in the next 4-5 years. At this rate unless you have a 4.0 it will be a very uphill battle  (not to say it can't be done). 

 

/end rant.

Sorry I don't mean to single you out, I know a lot of people in your cohort as well as the 2018 class at UofT and these arguments are pervasive and have heard it many many times before. 

 

You aren't singling me out don't worry. I know the process is frustrating for many people and was for me too as it took me several applications to get in. I don't have a single explanation for why the GPA keeps increasing. Over the years, there have been significantly more applicants (>500 since 2011), and with increasing competition, comes increasing knowledge of the system and what it takes. I bet you will find more people taking extra years, more people taking extra years, more people taking full course loads so that they ensure they get the weighting, and just generally more drive knowing the expectations.

 

I would argue that people who wish to play to a GPA strength (similar to what you pointed out about Western MCAT and Mac CASPer) is no different. Especially given there is 0 understanding of how CASPer is graded. Furthermore, Queen's does not post their admission average so you don't know what that is, and Mac gives insane weighting to two short versions of a test (the merit of which compared to GPA is debatable).

 

Obviously there is no way to improve to a 3.9+ with weighting unless your other marks are high, and of course, hard will is still required, but I am saying it is not always a fair representation looking at the stats (which its not). People share these stories, as the poster above said, because we have gone through it and know many classmates with similar profiles.

 

I am not going to post further in this thread because people can believe what they want. I have already mentioned that I think GPA inflation is an issue, but with that being said, you can't solely rely on a single statistic either to make a statement about an entire school or program.

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I think the reason why these arguments are so pervasive is because they are largely true. Many of us in the program don't have 4.0s and many of us benefitted significantly from the weighting formula. Many people with 4.0s do get rejected because UofT has a holistic application process that takes the rest of the application very seriously.

 

I know it's easy to dismiss these arguments, especially considering how stressful the application process is (trust me, I've been there), but people don't say them just to hear themselves speak. They say them because based on their own experiences they have to be true in order to explain the make-up of the class.

I understand that, but that's largely anecdotal evidence which is subjective. 

 

Speaking of the makeup, UofT does publish some statistics so we can be objective about this. 

 

http://www.md.utoronto.ca/admission-statistics

 

From 2011 to 2015 it has been increasing by 0.02 without fail. 

 

Let's look at the class of 2019 which has the highest average so far with a wGPA of 3.96.

 

17% of the class has a graduate degree (15% Msc 2% PhD) historically graduate students will have  a lower GPA than undergraduate, so it is not unsafe to assume that the undergraduate wGPA to be higher. 5% of the class has a 3 year degree, so around 100-23%= 77% will be your standard 4 year degree. 

 

Assuming they took a full course load, a person in 4th year will have taken 30 courses that are entered into OMSAS. UofT allows them to drop 3 of them meaning 27 will be counted as a wGPA. 

So through simple math to get an average of 3.96 with 27 courses they will need to have close to 4.0 in many many courses. As noted the undergraduate wGPA is most likely higher as the graduate students will be weighting it down. 

 

I understand that sharing the wGPA does not paint an accurate representation of the composition of the class. However, stating that many people that you are aware of did not have a 3.9 in a class of 256 does not paint an accurate representation either. 

 

I personally don't have a problem with people that play the GPA game. This is what this whole process has come down to. I applaud them for understanding the process and playing the game correctly in order to achieve their goals. 

 

It's a jungle out there. McMaster's average was 3.84 if I remember correctly, but they include everything. I can't find the McMaster statistics any more. I also think that the 130 in CARS for western was a bit crazy. Overall admission to medicine is becoming insanely competitive. 

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Hi,

 

I believe you are underestimating the weighting by half. 3 courses is 3 full courses, or 6 semester courses. Also many people, like myself apply after 4th year. Thats 4 full courses, or just shy of 1 full year. Thats a lot. My wGPA was still pretty crappy but was an improvement of more than 0.3 over my cumulative GPA.

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I also don't disagree that grade inflation is the problem, but the only way to address that would be a program specific approach to GPA equilibration. I don't think the system is ready for that yet.

 

I honestly do think this is the right kind of change. McGill does it, and does it quite effectively. The issue with grade inflation isn't every professor secretly agreeing to give high marks, but rather a few programs acting as "PreMed Factories". UofT (and all schools, really) should look at the program and courses taken by the applicant. I'd even go as far as to hope they'd look at the class average select courses compared to the applicant's grade. This would put theoretical physics majors at an even playing field with Mac Health Sci's (which, historically, have the highest acceptance rate at UofT).

 

Note: I've met many HSci's and many of them are brilliant and hardworking. Not a personal attack, but rather a statistical observation. 

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I honestly do think this is the right kind of change. McGill does it, and does it quite effectively. The issue with grade inflation isn't every professor secretly agreeing to give high marks, but rather a few programs acting as "PreMed Factories". UofT (and all schools, really) should look at the program and courses taken by the applicant. I'd even go as far as to hope they'd look at the class average select courses compared to the applicant's grade. This would put theoretical physics majors at an even playing field with Mac Health Sci's (which, historically, have the highest acceptance rate at UofT).

 

Note: I've met many HSci's and many of them are brilliant and hardworking. Not a personal attack, but rather a statistical observation. 

 

The francophone Quebec schools do that: however, there is a lot of inconsistency from school to school (i.e. which program is considered more challenging), the calculations are often changing, and from a statistical point of view class distributions are not necessarily normal.  If the class distributions are not normal, then calculating a z-score could often be misleading.  Higher scoring classes will have exponential distributions functions (starting at 4.0).  It's an interesting idea, although my understanding means that a highly selective program (like HealthSci) would actually end up with possibly higher Gpas under the Quebec system.  McGill it looks like does a tiny bit of adjusting.

Edited by calcan

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The francophone Quebec schools do that: however, there is a lot of inconsistency from school to school (i.e. which program is considered more challenging), the calculations are often changing, and from a statistical point of view class distributions are not necessarily normal.  If the class distributions are not normal, then calculating a z-score could often be misleading.  Higher scoring classes will have exponential distributions functions (starting at 4.0).  It's an interesting idea, although my understanding means that a highly selective program (like HealthSci) would actually end up with possibly higher Gpas under the Quebec system.  McGill it looks like does a tiny bit of adjusting.

 

I was thinking more about re-adjusting the entire GPA system. If med schools had more access to class information, a program could automatically see where you stand compared to the class average in terms of %, rather than a 4.0 scale and z-score (because, as you said, some classes don't have normal distribution. So there could be a grade given to concrete amount of % above/below/equal to the class average. This still would essentially make it much tougher to do "well" in classes where the average is 90%, but maybe that's the appropriate consequence of taking a "bird" course? 

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