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Opinion/Question: Will the new wGPA will help students with higher cGPAs?


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Posting this with hope that I can get some clarity and opinion of others; I recognize that I am grasping at straws over news that is months old. The new wGPA system replaces 3.0 FCE dropped with 2.0 FCE dropped of your worst grades such that you take on a full course load.

https://applymd.utoronto.ca/admission-requirement-changes-and-updates-20202021-application-cycle 

 

My impression here is that the adcom intends strongly to "level the playing field" for applicants who may not has performed as well academically, but would be great in the physician role. I applaud this, but can't help but feel that this detail will do the exact opposite. Example:

 

Applicant A (traditional matriculant with very high GPA), six worst courses: 3.7, 3.7, 3.9, 3.9, 3.9, 4.0, cGPA ~ 3.9

Applicant B (targeted matriculant with high GPA and excellent non-academics: 3.0, 3.0, 3.0, 3.0, 3.0, 3.3, cGPA ~ 3.7-3.8.

 

My impression here is that while the wGPA averages will drop indiscriminately (i.e. we see less of the 3.95-3.99 average and likely closer to a 3.85-3.95), this reweighting will still heavily favour "Applicant A" in this example, assuming that both both applicants have majority high (e.g. 3.7-4.0) grades.  Applicant A would have the advantage of having their addition (low) FCE not average them down as greatly as Applicant B, who's 3.0 + 3.3 would weigh down on their average to a much greater extent than Applicant A's 3.9 and 4.0. 

In the past, this wGPA has "masked" some of us who have had poorer grades in certain classes. For example, while my cGPA is lower than most applicants, my wGPA was quite similar given that 6 of my semester courses were dropped. The rest averaged similar to my peers who matriculated.

 

My hope here is that with great intentions in mind, this adcom assess wGPA with less emphasis in general, with higher regard to ECs etc., given that this is their intention.

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Weighting formulas help those who are not consistent, especially people who perform poorly in their first year. If you are somebody with 4.0s across all of your courses, weighting formulas are meaningless to you. So yes, I would say that the new wGPA would be helping people with higher cGPA in that they have less competition from the people who used to have a high wGPA from the old formula. 

 

At the end of the day, this is all speculation and only people on the adcom would have the answer to this.

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12 hours ago, FifthCycle said:

Posting this with hope that I can get some clarity and opinion of others; I recognize that I am grasping at straws over news that is months old. The new wGPA system replaces 3.0 FCE dropped with 2.0 FCE dropped of your worst grades such that you take on a full course load.

https://applymd.utoronto.ca/admission-requirement-changes-and-updates-20202021-application-cycle 

 

My impression here is that the adcom intends strongly to "level the playing field" for applicants who may not has performed as well academically, but would be great in the physician role. I applaud this, but can't help but feel that this detail will do the exact opposite. Example:

 

Applicant A (traditional matriculant with very high GPA), six worst courses: 3.7, 3.7, 3.9, 3.9, 3.9, 4.0, cGPA ~ 3.9

Applicant B (targeted matriculant with high GPA and excellent non-academics: 3.0, 3.0, 3.0, 3.0, 3.0, 3.3, cGPA ~ 3.7-3.8.

 

My impression here is that while the wGPA averages will drop indiscriminately (i.e. we see less of the 3.95-3.99 average and likely closer to a 3.85-3.95), this reweighting will still heavily favour "Applicant A" in this example, assuming that both both applicants have majority high (e.g. 3.7-4.0) grades.  Applicant A would have the advantage of having their addition (low) FCE not average them down as greatly as Applicant B, who's 3.0 + 3.3 would weigh down on their average to a much greater extent than Applicant A's 3.9 and 4.0. 

In the past, this wGPA has "masked" some of us who have had poorer grades in certain classes. For example, while my cGPA is lower than most applicants, my wGPA was quite similar given that 6 of my semester courses were dropped. The rest averaged similar to my peers who matriculated.

 

My hope here is that with great intentions in mind, this adcom assess wGPA with less emphasis in general, with higher regard to ECs etc., given that this is their intention.

 

I understand the concern, because I certainly had this concern as well. I would agree that given their new wGPA formula, if you already have a high cGPA, you'll probably get in/be considered anyway. I think this will primarily affect those with mediocre cGPAs (3.75-3.85, I guess), for whom the old wGPA formula would bump you up to 3.9+.  I'm assuming in past admission cycles, the old wGPA formula created two extreme distributions of wGPAs (low or very high). The individuals in the 'low' category basically stood no chance because UofT had so many 'very high' wGPA individuals to choose from. Now, with the new wGPA, this will 'flatten' the curve, so that more people fall in the middle range and there are not two extremes. 

I also hope that, in addition to this, there is also a de-emphasis on wGPA in general, for whatever overall formula they use for file review scoring. 

All together, I trust that their decision is informed by data. You can imagine they have access to a LARGE dataset of applicant scores/GPA accumulated over the years, and have retrospectively simulated different wGPA formulas in that dataset, and have chosen the best solution from then. We can discuss hypothetical applicant GPA scenarios, but I think we unfortunately have to simply trust that they have taken a data-driven approach with this new wGPA formula introduction. 

 

 

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I've always thought that this wasn't to decrease the disparity between those with high and low cGPAs but to give those who weren't able to take full course loads (for whatever reason) a decent chance. The difference between a 4.0 FCE drop for someone who took a full courseload and 0 FCE drop for those who may have had mental health, familial, socioeconomic issues etc. which prevented them from taking 5 courses at a time during their undergrad is massive. At least the new system reduces the advantage of taking a full course load, allowing at least some who weren't able to do that for four straight years a fighting chance. So in that sense, I don't think that the purpose was to level the playing field for those who didn't perform as well academically, but to level the playing field for those who I imagine would still be excellent physicians but who had other things going on in their undergrad. I also believe, however I have no data to back up this claim, that those who weren't able to take full course loads for whatever reason, are probably more likely to be of low SES and therefore this decision is probably something they see as increasing the diversity of the medical field and their matriculating class specifically.

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Not to change the subject,  but wasn't Toronto supposed to give an update yesterday. I wanted to sign up for the Zoom session but there weren't any spots left so I'm waiting for the YouTube video now (which I guess isn't available yet). Wondering if they mentioned anything about the selection process. 

 

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Just now, giggles said:

Not to change the subject,  but wasn't Toronto supposed to give an update yesterday. I wanted to sign up for the Zoom session but there weren't any spots left so I'm waiting for the YouTube video now (which I guess isn't available yet). Wondering if they mentioned anything about the selection process. 

 

I had the same issue. Is anyone able to give an update as to what was said in the zoom call?

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To give you a bit of peace of mind, GPA isn't the only thing they consider. With the old wGPA formula, I had a 3.98 wGPA and I still didn't get an interview invite even with a research master's degree conferred and a whole bunch of ECs. However, other people that I know of with a lower GPA and less ECs and no grad school managed to get an interview. U of T is very holistic when it comes to looking through applications which is why I don't blame them for releasing invites in waves and causing such great anxiety for everyone. 

The thing that really held me back was my essays which were really poorly written in hindsight. 

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31 minutes ago, naptime98 said:

I've always thought that this wasn't to decrease the disparity between those with high and low cGPAs but to give those who weren't able to take full course loads (for whatever reason) a decent chance. The difference between a 4.0 FCE drop for someone who took a full courseload and 0 FCE drop for those who may have had mental health, familial, socioeconomic issues etc. which prevented them from taking 5 courses at a time during their undergrad is massive. At least the new system reduces the advantage of taking a full course load, allowing at least some who weren't able to do that for four straight years a fighting chance. So in that sense, I don't think that the purpose was to level the playing field for those who didn't perform as well academically, but to level the playing field for those who I imagine would still be excellent physicians but who had other things going on in their undergrad. I also believe, however I have no data to back up this claim, that those who weren't able to take full course loads for whatever reason, are probably more likely to be of low SES and therefore this decision is probably something they see as increasing the diversity of the medical field and their matriculating class specifically.

True, but I do think that for those applicants you described, the Academic Explanations Essays would have helped mitigate that already. I think the new wGPA formula is a general, overarching way to 'flatten' the overall wGPA curve and is for those who do not necessarily qualify for an AEE or have any extenuating circumstances to disclose. Some applicants are simply just human, and have made mistakes, or are of low SES (had to work part-time to keep up with family bills, etc.), but did not necessarily have an extenuating circumstance for an AEE (extreme poverty, serious medical condition, trauma, etc.). Lots of nuance here, but just speculation at the end of the day. 

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7 minutes ago, scoobydoo1623 said:

True, but I do think that for those applicants you described, the Academic Explanations Essays would have helped mitigate that already. I think the new wGPA formula is a general, overarching way to 'flatten' the overall wGPA curve and is for those who do not necessarily qualify for an AEE or have any extenuating circumstances to disclose. Some applicants are simply just human, and have made mistakes, or are of low SES (had to work part-time to keep up with family bills, etc.), but did not necessarily have an extenuating circumstance for an AEE (extreme poverty, serious medical condition, trauma, etc.). Lots of nuance here, but just speculation at the end of the day. 

Agreed, lots of nuance. I also definitely agree with your earlier point about the amount of data UofT was able to look at in order to make their decision. It was definitely an informed decision, and I hope it helps them achieve the goals they have for their program.

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10 hours ago, naptime98 said:

I've always thought that this wasn't to decrease the disparity between those with high and low cGPAs but to give those who weren't able to take full course loads (for whatever reason) a decent chance. The difference between a 4.0 FCE drop for someone who took a full courseload and 0 FCE drop for those who may have had mental health, familial, socioeconomic issues etc. which prevented them from taking 5 courses at a time during their undergrad is massive. At least the new system reduces the advantage of taking a full course load, allowing at least some who weren't able to do that for four straight years a fighting chance. So in that sense, I don't think that the purpose was to level the playing field for those who didn't perform as well academically, but to level the playing field for those who I imagine would still be excellent physicians but who had other things going on in their undergrad. I also believe, however I have no data to back up this claim, that those who weren't able to take full course loads for whatever reason, are probably more likely to be of low SES and therefore this decision is probably something they see as increasing the diversity of the medical field and their matriculating class specifically.

Problem is the old weighting formula couldn't be applied if you had less than 5.0 credits a year. Dropping a course was bad news therefore. They called that a full course load (which is different to them than full time studies). Looks like they are still doing it that way under the new system. 

 

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44 minutes ago, rmorelan said:

 

Problem is the old weighting formula couldn't be applied if you had less than 5.0 credits a year. Dropping a course was bad news therefore. They called that a full course load (which is different to them than full time studies). Looks like they are still doing it that way under the new system. 

 

Yeah they’re still doing it that way. I suppose my point was just that anyone who wasn’t able to maintain a full course load is a bit more competitive now that the weighting formula is less favourable.

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25 minutes ago, naptime98 said:

Yeah they’re still doing it that way. I suppose my point was just that anyone who wasn’t able to maintain a full course load is a bit more competitive now that the weighting formula is less favourable.

Ha that is true - I would wonder how many people that would help (particularly as the requirement for 5.0 courses is so common). Sometimes this is a game of edges and small advantages. I suppose someone could now in theory just do 4.0 courses every year if they were for whatever reason solely targeting TO at least on paper (although I suspect strongly that would just be flagged in the general review of the transcript. TO does not like people playing games). 

I am having some difficultly figuring out completely the logic of the change myself. The original stated reason for dropping courses was to allow students to take courses that were of interest but harder (although I would strongly question that any premed that new the rules would really be following that approach). That would no longer be the case with this new system. The fact they limited it to a fix number they drop doesn't surprise me as prior you could take courses forever basically, but limiting it to specifically 2.0 does. I will say I guess from an understandability point of view this is easier to understand. 

As a side note I do know some people that otherwise were simply brilliant students that used the prior rules to get in to TO (as in award winning top science students who classically ignored their elective classes to their pain and suffering GPA wise - TO was basically their only option). They would not do well with the new approach. 

 

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On 12/11/2020 at 10:52 AM, scoobydoo1623 said:

 

I understand the concern, because I certainly had this concern as well. I would agree that given their new wGPA formula, if you already have a high cGPA, you'll probably get in/be considered anyway. I think this will primarily affect those with mediocre cGPAs (3.75-3.85, I guess), for whom the old wGPA formula would bump you up to 3.9+.  I'm assuming in past admission cycles, the old wGPA formula created two extreme distributions of wGPAs (low or very high). The individuals in the 'low' category basically stood no chance because UofT had so many 'very high' wGPA individuals to choose from. Now, with the new wGPA, this will 'flatten' the curve, so that more people fall in the middle range and there are not two extremes. 

I also hope that, in addition to this, there is also a de-emphasis on wGPA in general, for whatever overall formula they use for file review scoring. 

All together, I trust that their decision is informed by data. You can imagine they have access to a LARGE dataset of applicant scores/GPA accumulated over the years, and have retrospectively simulated different wGPA formulas in that dataset, and have chosen the best solution from then. We can discuss hypothetical applicant GPA scenarios, but I think we unfortunately have to simply trust that they have taken a data-driven approach with this new wGPA formula introduction. 

 

 

Thank you for this response. I won't lie it was the reassurance I was looking for when I posted this thread haha.

 

I am fairly confident in their selection process, which is indeed enriched in data from past cycles; even in these instances where I don't fully understand some of the rationale. My big hope here is that the adcom is also very committed to the wGPA de-emphasis in general given the changing in its weigh structure.

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