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AcesWild

R1-7 Frustration

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Before I get into things, here is some background: the past 2 years I applied to U of A and U of C as an IP applicant. I had no success my first year applying (no interviews). This year, I was rejected pre-interview at U of C and was interviewed and ultimately accepted at U of A. Despite an improved MCAT between application cycles (504-->516) my GPA was still well below competitive average for U of A (~3.4). As I was ultimately accepted there, I have to believe that my EC's were what helped push me over the edge.

 

With that in mind, after reviewing my R1-7 scores for U of C this cycle, I am left shaking my head. Every single section score decreased (most by 25 percentile or more) except for "Advocacy", which marginally improved. My "Subjective Score of Academic Merit" decreased by 30 percentile from 2016 to 2017, despite no change in academic record (as I graduated several years ago) and a nicely improved MCAT. I also scored in the 1st percentile (yes, that's no joke) this year for "Organizational & Management Skills/Leadership" despite having worked for several years managing patients and finance/admin for an Edmonton research program and being involved in leadership roles for volunteer activities. I am willing to admit that perhaps the way I chose to write my top 10 this year was the reason behind these score declines- however I remain skeptical, as I spent months working on them, had numerous people review my writing and I ensured the experiences I included nicely reflected the CANMEDs competencies as a whole. 

 

I appreciate that there is a some degree of luck and subjectivity involved in the admissions process, and this is something Dr. Walker has readily acknowledged in the past. There are also fluctuations year-to-year with reviewers and the applicant pool, and so total consistency can never be expected. However, I also want to believe that U of C is committed to maintaining a certain level of consistency and fairness throughout the process, and with my experience this doesn't seem to be the case. I guess I'm left wondering, how can future applicants to the U of C be reasonably confident that gaining acceptance is not based on luck but on one's own merits?

 

I'm curious to hear other's thoughts and experiences with this.

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First of all, congratulations on your acceptance to U of A and on that awesome MCAT score increase!! :)

 

I think I read somewhere else on this forum that someone else had a similar problem and scored similarly in the 1st percentile on one or multiple R1-7 sections. That's really unfortunate and shocking to hear, especially acknowledging that you must have really great ECs and seem to have put a lot of time into making sure that you met the CANMEDS requirements. Have you used the same people for your reference letters or did you find new people for this cycle? Do you think it has anything to do with the way the reference letters were written, maybe your referees didn't link enough to CANMEDS or what U of C specifically wanted? I'm obviously just making random guesses here, I haven't applied yet myself so I'm no expert, but I thought I read on here that U of C puts more weight on your reference letters than U of A. As you mention, luck and subjectivity play a huge role but this kind of weird inconsistency is discouraging and scary as a future applicant.

 

Would also love to hear from more people on this.

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First of all, congratulations on your acceptance to U of A and on that awesome MCAT score increase!! :)

 

I think I read somewhere else on this forum that someone else had a similar problem and scored similarly in the 1st percentile on one or multiple R1-7 sections. That's really unfortunate and shocking to hear, especially acknowledging that you must have really great ECs and seem to have put a lot of time into making sure that you met the CANMEDS requirements. Have you used the same people for your reference letters or did you find new people for this cycle? Do you think it has anything to do with the way the reference letters were written, maybe your referees didn't link enough to CANMEDS or what U of C specifically wanted? I'm obviously just making random guesses here, I haven't applied yet myself so I'm no expert, but I thought I read on here that U of C puts more weight on your reference letters than U of A. As you mention, luck and subjectivity play a huge role but this kind of weird inconsistency is discouraging and scary as a future applicant.

 

Would also love to hear from more people on this.

 

I am a UofA med student now, but my experience with the R1-R7 on my second try I also dropped between 10-15 percentile for every category except scholarly achievements (or whatever they call it).

 

I feel it boils down to a few things (please correct me if I'm wrong)

 

1. there is a bit of subjectivity even among reviewers...... some may think what you did is great while others not so much... can't rule it out

 

2. if your R1-R7 doesn't really change from one application to the next..... then it stands to reason that your achievements are more dated over time.....it would seem less impressive to people if you did X a year ago vs 3 years ago........ it's like when you publish papers and your notable publications don't change... it becomes less impressive over time

 

3. I also think when it comes to diversity that experiences that overlap frequently can be seen as negative to some people (Ex. TA, tutor, coach)... not saying it's right or wrong but I can see that happening

 

I want to reiterate again that I'm not sure how it works but you aren't alone. That said I look forward to seeing you at the UofA. 

 

- G

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2. if your R1-R7 doesn't really change from one application to the next..... then it stands to reason that your achievements are more dated over time.....it would seem less impressive to people if you did X a year ago vs 3 years ago........ it's like when you publish papers and your notable publications don't change... it becomes less impressive over time

 

- G

 

I understand the point that are you trying to make, but I think it's a bit of an oversimplification.  Full-time research experience is simply much better to produce important and quality publications.  If someone after a PhD or a post-doc goes to med school, it's unlikely they would have the time to produce the number of quality of publications that they did earlier in their career.  Same with someone who takes a more teaching or administrative role - the time dedicated to research is simply smaller.  Even a sole researcher in some disciplines might have difficulty getting the funding to produce the type of papers they did in their post-doc, that were done in a major and well-funded lab.

 

I would say though that longer time does give the chance for the relative importance or influence of a paper in a research domain to become apparent.  

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I would be curious to take a look at the statistics from the UofA and the UofC and see how many students accepted into one were either accepted or rejected or waitlisted by the other. In my very anecdotal view of it all, it seems like few people are well-rounded enough (talking excellent in all facets of their app) to simply land both. Again, this is just my perspective, having talked to a medium sized group of people who either are in a similar position to mine (Accepted in one, waitlisted in the other) or accepted/rejected. 

I think that now, with Casper (who knows if they actually used it in scoring, although they said they would), the UofA made a move towards an even more objective measurement. This is contrasting to how subjective the interview process was, however. I found it much more personal and personable than Calgary.

Any thoughts? I kind of want to expand my knowledge of the two processes because the whole thing really does make me curious :D

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Before I get into things, here is some background: the past 2 years I applied to U of A and U of C as an IP applicant. I had no success my first year applying (no interviews). This year, I was rejected pre-interview at U of C and was interviewed and ultimately accepted at U of A. Despite an improved MCAT between application cycles (504-->516) my GPA was still well below competitive average for U of A (~3.4). As I was ultimately accepted there, I have to believe that my EC's were what helped push me over the edge.

 

With that in mind, after reviewing my R1-7 scores for U of C this cycle, I am left shaking my head. Every single section score decreased (most by 25 percentile or more) except for "Advocacy", which marginally improved. My "Subjective Score of Academic Merit" decreased by 30 percentile from 2016 to 2017, despite no change in academic record (as I graduated several years ago) and a nicely improved MCAT. I also scored in the 1st percentile (yes, that's no joke) this year for "Organizational & Management Skills/Leadership" despite having worked for several years managing patients and finance/admin for an Edmonton research program and being involved in leadership roles for volunteer activities. I am willing to admit that perhaps the way I chose to write my top 10 this year was the reason behind these score declines- however I remain skeptical, as I spent months working on them, had numerous people review my writing and I ensured the experiences I included nicely reflected the CANMEDs competencies as a whole. 

 

I appreciate that there is a some degree of luck and subjectivity involved in the admissions process, and this is something Dr. Walker has readily acknowledged in the past. There are also fluctuations year-to-year with reviewers and the applicant pool, and so total consistency can never be expected. However, I also want to believe that U of C is committed to maintaining a certain level of consistency and fairness throughout the process, and with my experience this doesn't seem to be the case. I guess I'm left wondering, how can future applicants to the U of C be reasonably confident that gaining acceptance is not based on luck but on one's own merits?

 

I'm curious to hear other's thoughts and experiences with this.

 

 

 

I believe that your Top 10 score is very subjective, and it is bound to change considerably based on who you get as a reviewer.  In some sections this year, I scored 99 percentile as I did in the previous year.  However, in other section, particularly the scholarly one, my score dropped by 15 percentile although I believe it improved. Also, in the subjective assessment of academics my score dropped by 15 percentile although my MCAT score improved. 

 

Maybe, they change the criteria of what they are looking for every year.

 

I think the best peace of advice that I can give to future applicants is to make sure that your GPA is as high as possible because the Top10 scores and MMI scores are very subjective, and may not reflect your abilities. 

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Yeah, the subjective assessment of academics dropped for me by more than 30 points, even though my GPA improved and now demonstrates an upward trend. Quite puzzling, but I suppose it's because the pool has changed or they are looking for different things.

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I had the same thing happen to me too. It's really baffling. Last year, all of my subjective assessment percentiles were in the 90s except for one (88), but this year some have really dropped (despite a better application - slightly improved GPA and more volunteering leadership). References from same people.

For example: 

Ethical Standards/Professionalism: 97 --> 63 percentile

Research/Scholarship: 96 --> 65 percentile

Organization/Leadership: 88 --> 56 percentile

 

Is this quite a normal thing for U of C, to have such a discrepancy? It's only my second year applying, so I didn't really expect this big of a change. I get that the pool can change and the assessments are subjective, but they seem to not have very good inter-rater reliability for these subjective scores..

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I had the same thing happen to me too. It's really baffling. Last year, all of my subjective assessment percentiles were in the 90s except for one (88), but this year some have really dropped (despite a better application - slightly improved GPA and more volunteering leadership). References from same people.

For example: 

Ethical Standards/Professionalism: 97 --> 63 percentile

Research/Scholarship: 96 --> 65 percentile

Organization/Leadership: 88 --> 56 percentile

 

Is this quite a normal thing for U of C, to have such a discrepancy? It's only my second year applying, so I didn't really expect this big of a change. I get that the pool can change and the assessments are subjective, but they seem to not have very good inter-rater reliability for these subjective scores..

 

 

 

haha it is called the subjective component of the application for a reason. Keep trying if med is what you want

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15 hours ago, NoICant56 said:

How do they assess ethical standards/professionalism? I'm pretty confused since nothing in your application would seem to support this and I'm not sure how to improve my score for it.

If nothing in your application supports them assessing you for those criteria, you aren't writing your top 10 correctly. The whole point of the top 10 is to tell them about yourself and your experiences such that they can make those judgements.

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