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UofT- Changes to the Admissions Process


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I came across this Facebook Live that was streamed today where the Director of Admissions says that in the next couple of years there will be changes to the MD admissions process such that it will be "less GPA and MCAT centric" and "put more emphasis on interviews". I can understand the GPA part, the trend is pretty obvious that soon the average GPA of admitted students would approach a 4.0, but a 50th percentile MCAT cutoff requirement could never be used to describe the admissions process as "MCAT-centric". Have any current UofT students heard anything about this? I might be wrong, but my interpretation is that they would not only put more emphasis on the interview itself but actually modify aspects of the current interview process. Any thoughts? 

Here's the link, starts at 17:50

https://t.co/QAxV4Qtl5r

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4.0=Academically savvy? Not necessarily, especially if you are from Mac health sci.

Number of applications to a medical school is most often reflective of the minimum competitive metrics required for eligibility. McMaster gets the most applications (~5000) every year because the

We need to stop with the “those students would be successful anyways”. They’re enabled to be successful because of them being in Mac Health Science. The program grooms them. In no way can you compare

From my understanding, while UofT's MCAT cutoff has been 125, an applicant with a 128 would be more competitive than an applicant with a 126, whereas an applicant with a 124 would just be screened out entirely (i.e. they won't even look at their ABS/reference letters/anything else). Being less MCAT-centric does not have to mean lowering the MCAT cutoff, but likely just means giving it less weighting in the admissions decisions process, and a heavier weighting to interview results/ABS/other parts of the application.

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4 minutes ago, xiphoid said:

From my understanding, while UofT's MCAT cutoff has been 125, an applicant with a 128 would be more competitive than an applicant with a 126, whereas an applicant with a 124 would just be screened out entirely (i.e. they won't even look at their ABS/reference letters/anything else). Being less MCAT-centric does not have to mean lowering the MCAT cutoff, but likely just means giving it less weighting in the admissions decisions process, and a heavier weighting to interview results/ABS/other parts of the application.

False- U of T has made it clear on their site and in admissions videos that it is merely a threshold not assessed competitively. Once you reach a cut-off they don't use it anymore.

 

"The MCAT score is not included in an overall academic calculation, but is used as a threshold"

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7 hours ago, keener12345 said:

False- U of T has made it clear on their site and in admissions videos that it is merely a threshold not assessed competitively. Once you reach a cut-off they don't use it anymore.

 

"The MCAT score is not included in an overall academic calculation, but is used as a threshold"

I stand corrected. A friend of mine was part of the admissions committee a while back before the new MCAT and I guess they stopped assessing those scores competitively after my friend's time there.

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On 5/24/2019 at 11:39 AM, hiyayosup said:

Apparently, UofT dentistry now wants CASPer... Think UofT med will follow suit this coming cycle?

If they remove the MCAT then I’m all for it. If not, I find it ironic how they want the admissions process to be more accessible yet by adding Casper increase the cost to apply. This whole process is approaching (or already at) a prohibitive cost, paying more for a test (unless the MCAT is removed) is in my eyes, unfair. 

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On 5/16/2019 at 12:43 AM, Bawgg said:

I am very much looking forward to this. A person with a 4.0 GPA is academically savvy, yes we get it. But someone with a 3.8 would be just as capable of handling a medical school course load. I hope they impose a GPA cut off. That would be nice. 

4.0=Academically savvy? Not necessarily, especially if you are from Mac health sci.

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16 hours ago, moonlitocean said:

4.0=Academically savvy? Not necessarily, especially if you are from Mac health sci.

I really wish Admissions took quality/difficulty of program into account. On the one hand, they encourage use to "pursue a rigorous academic education" and on the other hand, their admissions process incentivizes people to take the easiest coursework possible. Don't get me started on mac health sci. 

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On 5/1/2019 at 4:37 PM, keener12345 said:

False- U of T has made it clear on their site and in admissions videos that it is merely a threshold not assessed competitively. Once you reach a cut-off they don't use it anymore.

 

"The MCAT score is not included in an overall academic calculation, but is used as a threshold"

yeah missed that but really all the evidence we have suggests that is true. 

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1 hour ago, hiyayosup said:

I really wish Admissions took quality/difficulty of program into account. On the one hand, they encourage use to "pursue a rigorous academic education" and on the other hand, their admissions process incentivizes people to take the easiest coursework possible. Don't get me started on mac health sci. 

only way to really do that realistically is to adopt the MCAT as a proxy for academic performance - in fact that is exactly why the MCAT exists. It would be very hard to rank various programs - the difficulty is hard to assess with such variety in degree of challenge, class size, and strength of the incoming students. The US made the MCAT as they figured it was just impossible to do.

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3 minutes ago, rmorelan said:

only way to really do that realistically is to adopt the MCAT as a proxy for academic performance - in fact that is exactly why the MCAT exists. It would be very hard to rank various programs - the difficulty is hard to assess with such variety is degree of challenge, class size, and strength of the incoming students. The US made the MCAT as they figured it was just impossible to do.

Point taken. I still feel grade inflation, especially in certain programs where it is blatant and they don't even try to hide it, needs to be addressed. The people who get into mac health sci, for instance, are not necessarily the smartest or most capable of becoming doctors. They happened to have decent high school grades and wrote a couple of good essays and it seems ridiculous that, for that, they're basically guaranteed 3.8+ cGPA.

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5 minutes ago, rmorelan said:

only way to really do that realistically is to adopt the MCAT as a proxy for academic performance - in fact that is exactly why the MCAT exists. It would be very hard to rank various programs - the difficulty is hard to assess with such variety is degree of challenge, class size, and strength of the incoming students. The US made the MCAT as they figured it was just impossible to do.

Yep. One theoretical alternative, which I believe Waterloo does to account for variation in high school difficulty, is to track how matriculants from different schools perform in medical school and compare that to the stats they had as an applicant. If people from a certain program perform worse than would be expected given their entry stats, you can then adjust entry stats from that program.

That method certainly has limitations though, and even more importantly it really isn't possible in med schools since grades are P/F (unless schools track grades internally and just dichotimize to P/F on the transcript).

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1 hour ago, hiyayosup said:

Point taken. I still feel grade inflation, especially in certain programs where it is blatant and they don't even try to hide it, needs to be addressed. The people who get into mac health sci, for instance, are not necessarily the smartest or most capable of becoming doctors. They happened to have decent high school grades and wrote a couple of good essays and it seems ridiculous that, for that, they're basically guaranteed 3.8+ cGPA.

I mean I agree - but there is asymmetry here in incentive. Those schools with grade inflation have basically no reason what so ever to actually change anything, and a lot of reasons not too. It is hard to create a tougher course in a sea of courses where no one wants to - you get a ton of complaints and it is more work to do in the first place. In the long run it can even work against the school - you want your people to get into med school or whatever - those become your high paid alumni and obviously schools want grateful high paid alumni. 

plus - and this is a bit controversial - there is a point beyond which improved academic ability seems pointless to becoming a great doctor. From a med school system point of view - small potatoes in the broader academic community - if you go out and somehow rank schools or force them at huge expense etc to standardize will you actually graduate better doctors? The system is unfair in many ways but it doesn't seem to be hurting the outcome in many people's eyes. Just makes it harder to motivate anyone to fix it (even though we should).

Which in part I think why it has been so slow in adopting other ways to deal with it. We have other ways - reducing GPA's importance, upping things like ECs and MCAT etc. These are not solutions without their own problems mind you but the schools are aware and coming around to do "something". 

 

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1 hour ago, striders02 said:

Yep. One theoretical alternative, which I believe Waterloo does to account for variation in high school difficulty, is to track how matriculants from different schools perform in medical school and compare that to the stats they had as an applicant. If people from a certain program perform worse than would be expected given their entry stats, you can then adjust entry stats from that program.

That method certainly has limitations though, and even more importantly it really isn't possible in med schools since grades are P/F (unless schools track grades internally and just dichotimize to P/F on the transcript).

may be P/F on the outside but on the inside they know people's grades. They can and do some of this internally just in part with their QA. 

Better problem is smaller sample size. All of Waterloo is a bit bigger ha than a med school program. Plus high school such as it is somewhat standardized - grade 12 math is supposed to be grade 12 math. Doesn't work with every possible university course. Take myself as an example - at Western at the time I was the only computer science major at the med school. What are you supposed to do with that ha. 

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3 hours ago, hiyayosup said:

Point taken. I still feel grade inflation, especially in certain programs where it is blatant and they don't even try to hide it, needs to be addressed. The people who get into mac health sci, for instance, are not necessarily the smartest or most capable of becoming doctors. They happened to have decent high school grades and wrote a couple of good essays and it seems ridiculous that, for that, they're basically guaranteed 3.8+ cGPA.

This is generally not true. I can't speak of the mac healthsci curriculum because I didn't attend that program, but the people from my highschool class who got into that program were the brightest and most hard working students in the entire class. They would have been successful no matter what program they went into.

 

Take into account that mac health sci students are generally the cream of the top any way, so just because they're successful it doesn't mean mac health sci is paving the way for them. 

 

Just to give another example, I did my undergrad at uWaterloo and we generally don't send that many people to medschool every year compared to other big names like Western / McMaster / uToronto. This may lead you to believe that the uWaterloo science programs are somehow harder or more disadvantageous if you want to attend medicine. But again, this is not the case because uWaterloo has a much higher proportion of students interested in research and graduate work, so we have fewer pre-meds in the first place.

 

I imagine a lot of students attending mac Health-sci at this point are interested in medicine and attending the program due to it's reputation, and when you combine that with the fact that they're already bright students to start with, you get the wrong impression that mac Health-sci is a "feeder program" or something like that. 

 

 

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9 minutes ago, ysera said:

Take into account that mac health sci students are generally the cream of the top any way, so just because they're successful it doesn't mean mac health sci is paving the way for them.

We need to stop with the “those students would be successful anyways”. They’re enabled to be successful because of them being in Mac Health Science. The program grooms them. In no way can you compare high school performance with university performance because the two are leaps and bounds different. 

Particular examples: they get to take courses enabling them to explore something they like, where they are aligned with the community, faculty for research, etc. All things that can be added to their ECs when applying. No such courses exist for those pursuing other science-based degrees and thus their volunteering and other ECs are on top of coursework. 

Health Sci students get to take a situational ethics course structured similarly to a MMI interview.  They are evaluated and given feedback on how to improve over the duration of an entire semester with different scenarios. McMaster is also the school that designed the MMI, and the MMI is being integrated into many med school interviews. Seems like an awfully huge conflict of interest. 

The average of a health science student basically needs to be high because the program needs to boast academic excellence. Behind closed doors, when health sci students do poorly as a collective on tests/assignments, they are curved to make their grades meet what it needs to be. They can do well in other courses outside of their core health sci courses because they don’t have nearly as much of a workload compared to other science-based degrees. 

These boosts in all areas of the med school application that are not available to other students are what are ensuring their high prevalence in medical school. 

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2 hours ago, rmorelan said:

I mean I agree - but there is asymmetry here in incentive. Those schools with grade inflation have basically no reason what so ever to actually change anything, and a lot of reasons not too. It is hard to create a tougher course in a sea of courses where no one wants to - you get a ton of complaints and it is more work to do in the first place. In the long run it can even work against the school - you want your people to get into med school or whatever - those become your high paid alumni and obviously schools want grateful high paid alumni. 

plus - and this is a bit controversial - there is a point beyond which improved academic ability seems pointless to becoming a great doctor. From a med school system point of view - small potatoes in the broader academic community - if you go out and somehow rank schools or force them at huge expense etc to standardize will you actually graduate better doctors? The system is unfair in many ways but it doesn't seem to be hurting the outcome in many people's eyes. Just makes it harder to motivate anyone to fix it (even though we should).

Which in part I think why it has been so slow in adopting other ways to deal with it. We have other ways - reducing GPA's importance, upping things like ECs and MCAT etc. These are not solutions without their own problems mind you but the schools are aware and coming around to do "something". 

 

Excellent points. I completely understand that schools have no incentive to change their processes for political reasons. As you said, it gives them a lot of cache when they can literally sell their program as the closest thing Canada has to a guaranteed route to medicine. But if medical schools crack down on this kind of unfair grade inflation, I can't help but think that things will change. 

As to your second point, you're absolutely right. I don't think academic ability is meaningful beyond a certain point. I'd love to see the data that says that a 4.0 is significantly better than a 3.8 when it comes to the kind of doctor someone will become. And I recognize that the reliance on GPA is the best measure of academic ability that many med schools have. But its ridiculous that at certain schools, you have to work day and night to get that 3.8 whereas at others, its virtually handed to you. A 3.8 in certain programs would not translate to a 3.8 in others and I personally wish medical schools would actively make a point of at least acknowledging in clear words that they are aware that some schools shamelessly inflate grades -- because right now, they don't even do that. 

1 hour ago, ysera said:

This is generally not true. I can't speak of the mac healthsci curriculum because I didn't attend that program, but the people from my highschool class who got into that program were the brightest and most hard working students in the entire class. They would have been successful no matter what program they went into.

 

Take into account that mac health sci students are generally the cream of the top any way, so just because they're successful it doesn't mean mac health sci is paving the way for them. 

 

Just to give another example, I did my undergrad at uWaterloo and we generally don't send that many people to medschool every year compared to other big names like Western / McMaster / uToronto. This may lead you to believe that the uWaterloo science programs are somehow harder or more disadvantageous if you want to attend medicine. But again, this is not the case because uWaterloo has a much higher proportion of students interested in research and graduate work, so we have fewer pre-meds in the first place.

 

I imagine a lot of students attending mac Health-sci at this point are interested in medicine and attending the program due to it's reputation, and when you combine that with the fact that they're already bright students to start with, you get the wrong impression that mac Health-sci is a "feeder program" or something like that. 

 

 

I respectfully disagree. I don't mean to hate on mac health sci but the reason that program comes up is because it has the most blatant grade inflation and, as a result, a very high proportion of its students go to medical school. Just as I cannot say that every student who goes to mac health sci would have done poorly in any other program, I don't feel you can say that all students in mac health sci are brilliant and would have done well elsewhere. There are no doubt students who would have gotten that 4.0 regardless of where they went, mac health sci included. But from personal experience, I can say that some of the people who I know who went to mac health sci were objectively not the best and brightest in my high school. They had decent grades as well as connections that helped them tremendously with their essay writing so they gained admission over students who were arguably more deserving (and no, I'm not referring to myself here). Is everyone in mac health sci like this? Of course not. But everyone in that program definitely isn't Einstein either and I feel a considerable chunk of them would not have done as well in other programs where you're actually graded on a curve.

I once saw the Program Agenda for the graduation ceremony for mcmaster science students. An asterisk was used to denote students who received a cGPA > 3.7. The difference between mac life sci and mac health sci students was stark. Less than 10% of life sci students had an asterisk but >90% of mac health sci students did (not an exaggeration). That is not because everyone in that program is just so brilliant while students in a different program at the same university are not. It is because mac life sci grades on a curve and mac health sci is designed to give everyone the highest mark possible.

Once again, I don't mean to attack mac health sci students or say they wouldn't have gotten into medical school otherwise. But they have a CLEAR advantage, which can be seen in trends over decades, and I wish medical schools would openly acknowledge and condemn that kind of approach to an undergraduate education. 

 

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4 hours ago, rmorelan said:

may be P/F on the outside but on the inside they know people's grades. They can and do some of this internally just in part with their QA. 

Better problem is smaller sample size. All of Waterloo is a bit bigger ha than a med school program. Plus high school such as it is somewhat standardized - grade 12 math is supposed to be grade 12 math. Doesn't work with every possible university course. Take myself as an example - at Western at the time I was the only computer science major at the med school. What are you supposed to do with that ha. 

I disagree. I think the fact that it's pass and fail means people's motivations for achieving high marks are low. Like most people's priority isn't maxing out their mark, it's to pass. The student averaging 70% may be capable of 90%, but it's not worth it to them with the pass/fail system. 

I do think if they did something like Waterloo (i.e. looking at the correlation b/w grades and performance in undergrad uni or something) could be useful 

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8 hours ago, brady23 said:

I disagree. I think the fact that it's pass and fail means people's motivations for achieving high marks are low. Like most people's priority isn't maxing out their mark, it's to pass. The student averaging 70% may be capable of 90%, but it's not worth it to them with the pass/fail system. 

I do think if they did something like Waterloo (i.e. looking at the correlation b/w grades and performance in undergrad uni or something) could be useful 

Not sure we are in  disagreement on that . I didn't say how the pass fail system impacted studying and student performance - only that that the school still knows the actual grades people got on their tests even if they only ultimately it leads to a pass or fail grade.

And I know with certainty some schools have looked at - and honestly I think they all have - peoples GPA in various ways to med school performance. .It just hasn't created any results that have prompted them to change anything.  

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