MD Program Admissions

A leading edge 3-year MD program at the University of Calgary

MD Program Admissions header image 2

Applications for 2015-16 are now closed

October 1st, 2015 by Dr Ian Walker

The application system shut down as planned at 4pm today, local time.

It looks like there are about 1400 applicants.  That is a decrease of somewhere in the range of 200 from last year, but we won’t know for sure until we eliminate the applicants who did not meet the eligibility criteria, or failed to submit transcripts, failed to release MCAT scores etc….

We have already had a couple of people in here asking for exceptions to the deadline due to problems submitting at the last minute.  As we have always done, we take the view that unless the problem was with UCAN specifically (not with VISA, or your IP, or the fact that you used Safari as a browser), there are no extensions to the deadline.  If we did not stick to our deadline, there would in fact not be any point in having one, so like our eligibility criteria, our deadlines are inflexible.  It is absolutely unfortunate for some people, but there is also no alternative from our perspective.

Good luck to everyone who got their application in.  Now the work starts for us, and the waiting for all of you.

Tags: 36 Comments

Leave a Comment

36 responses so far ↓

  • Hello Dr. Walker,

    What kind of guidelines or orientation do reviewers receive to score med school applications? For example, when comparing traditional vs non-traditional applicants, assessing transcripts from different universities and looking at the background of the applicant.

    Finally, any news regarding the stats from the 2014-2015 cycle?

    Thank you for reading,
    I

    • Not really at liberty to discuss our training process for file reviewers, other than to say that it occurs, and is pretty thorough. All those issues you mention are covered during our file reviewer training.

  • Good afternoon. Hope everyone is having a great Friday so far. My application status has changed to “Being Reviewed by File Reviewers”. Can anyone tell me what this means? Is this in reference to the 4 file reviewers?

    Thank you.

  • I was rather disappointed last April when I found out the old MCAT would no longer be accepted. I bit the bullet though, because I understand the needs for Canadian physicians have evolved over time, and updates to the MCAT were necessary to remain current. However, now that I have written the new MCAT and received my new score, I question whether the change was necessary in the first place. I scored just about the exact same as on my original test three years ago. Furthermore, I scored very high on the new Sociology & Psychology section, despite being an engineer and having never taken a sociology class. It wasn’t hard, and since this was the only substantive change to the test and since admissions only directly weighs the CARS section, I question why MCAT rewrites were made necessary in the first place.

    The MCAT is an expensive test financially ($250 or so to write and $250 for study materials), but is also especially expensive in terms of time. That was two weeks of my life I had to spend refreshing basic science material, and honestly most students probably take more time than that to prepare. In my opinion the admissions committee should therefore either substantially change their admissions guidelines for the MCAT (e.g. increase the weight and consider all the sections) OR resume accepting old MCAT scores in applications. To do otherwise is frankly unfair and disrespectful of applicants.

    • I’m sorry about the tone of the previous post. It was harsher and much whinier than I meant it to be. Just wanted to give my 2c on improving the application/admissions system.

      • If it makes you feel any better, I’ve heard through the grapevine that Dr. Ian Walker told reviewers that they will still be looking at the old MCAT scores more closely (if available) as the scores are more validated/reliable and the new scores are still not. If you’ve got a great old MCAT score, you should still probably be good 🙂

        • I should emphasize the word “grapevine.” Not from an accurate/reliable or even involved in the file reviewing process source.

        • It was never my intent to use this to respond to hearsay, but regardless….
          It is true that the new test has not been validated yet. We need to wait and see what it looks like across our applicant group. What we have told our reviewers is to not make to much of small differences near the middle of the curve, but to pay attention to people on either tail. That is not all that different than what we told them about the old test. With the new test, however, they are reporting percentile ranks, so that helps.

    • Although superficially what you wrote seems to be true, the exam has changed in a number of ways that you are not taking into account.

      First off, the science sections have been altered to focus more on a research/analytical style of thinking rather than reward rote memorization.

      Second, many things have been removed and altered in what is necessary to know for the exam. This is perhaps most evident in the organic chemistry (and possibly physics) portions of the exam – if you look at the AAMC guidelines, a lot of the reactions/mechanisms had been removed.

      Third, the grading curve/scales for the old MCAT had to be readjusted. The AAMC made it clear that it had drifted over the years and no longer represents the distribution that they had wanted to achieve/keep.

      Fourth, although you had a positive experience with the Psych/Soc section, the general feeling amongst test-takes is that both the preparation and the questions for this portion of the exam needs to be improved. I am sure this will happen over time.

      Regardless, I understand your frustration with scoring similarly, but also know that nearly every school in the US and Canada will be phasing out the use of the old exam within the next couple years.

  • I was just curious whether your application status would reflect whether you have been eliminated or not (i.e. did not meet eligibility criteria). Or do you essentially not find out until interview offers are given. Thank you!

    • I was gonna say my status was changed to something like “application complete, being reviewed by Admissions” and that could indicate the status of the application, but when I just checked, the status line is gone… I hope it’s not a sign of badness lol

      • A week ago my app status was something like “Application complete, being reviewed by Admissions.” I just checked now and it changed to “Application submitted on 9/30/2015.” Should I be concerned?

    • Should do. If it is not clear from your UCAN interface what is going on with your application, call the office and inquire.

  • Thanks Dr. Walker for the update. I am curious to know if you could post the final numbers? It would be great to know what the difference in applications this year between last year. We all appreciate your time 🙂

    • I would appreciate knowing this as well please.

    • I think the final number of applicants this year was about 1215. About 180 non-Albertans. So, down about 200 applications compared to last year. I expect that to be a statistical blip.

      • Does that number refer to the number of complete applications or number of applications that actually meet the eligibility criteria? I know that it doesn’t really matter, and doesn’t say much about an individual’s chances but I can’t help being quite curious anyway.

        • I think its the number who meet the eligibility criteria. The original post had the number of total applications

        • It was the total number of people who submitted. the total number of “viable applications” (i.e. met eligibility requirements, released their MCATs, got transcripts here on time) turned out to be 1214. 186 non-Albertans. The rest were Albertans.

  • Hi Dr. Walker,

    I wanted to know how the committee views a score of 127 CARS for oop. Is it judged to be equivalent to the 10 or 11 VR on the old MCAT?

    Similarly, I’d like to ask the same question about a score of 124 in CARS. Thanks

    • I am also interested to know how these scores will be perceived (for IP applicants).
      Will the initially reviewers reject applicants based on scores like these, or will they consider other aspects of the applicants application (letters of reference, Top 10, GPA.) before deciding if the applicant is appropriate to be assessed by the 4 file reviewers.

      Thank you for any information you can provide.

      • This doesn’t entirely address your questions, but note that the applicant manual states the following:

        “Non-Albertan applicants must have a minimum CARS score of 127 in order to be eligible to apply. All non-Albertan applicants with a GPA of 3.8 and a CARS score of 127 or greater will be sent for file review. Non-Albertans with a CARS score of less than 127 or a GPA of <3.8 will not be considered under any circumstances."

        The VR requirements for the previous cycle for OOP was 11.
        According to the AAMC a CARS score of 127 is 81st percentile, while a VR of 11 (2012 – 2014) was 95th percentile. Some folks have suggested a direct 1:1 correlation of 132 – 15, 131 – 14, 130 – 13, 129 – 12, 128 – 11. Thus, no matter how you look at it, Calgary seems to have relaxed the VR requirement for OOP. I suspect this is mainly due to uncertainties regarding the new exam and the resultant applicant pool.

    • I am not entirely sure what you are asking. a 127 is a 127. It carries with it a certain percentile rank, that will likely be a little lower than the percentile rank in our applicant pool. The bottom line is that reviewers will take all of your academic work / test taking history / context into consideration when assigning scores.

  • Thank you!
    Really excited to see the recent entrance statistics.

  • According to last year an additional 264 applications were closed for people not meeting eligibility criteria, transcript problems, MCAT release, etc. Also, this year you have added the new IP rules and new rules were courses must come from an PhD granting institution. So, if one assumes these 2 other requirements decrease the applications numbers by another 50 then in total there will be 500(!!!) less applications this year. From 1600 to 1100. This is a dramatic decrease in applications. I understand that last year about 1/3 IP were invited for interview and two years ago that number was 1/2. Logically, this year if the same number of interviews are given out, then should IP expect a greater than 50% chance to get an interview??

  • Thank you for posting this information so quickly.

  • Hi Dr. Walker,

    Yesterday I was having trouble paying the application fees due to technical issues with the website. I made sure that the problem was not with my credit card or my computer browser since I called the customer services department of Safari.

    I called the admissions office over a dozen times yesterday and today, left voice mails, and sent a number of emails but no one in the office got back to me and I missed the deadline. I feel like the office is deliberately neglecting to communicate with me. I did not want to post my concern on this blog but I have no other way of reaching out to the admissions team. I hope you can help.

    • Did you actually try a different browser? Sorry to say this – but “customer services department of Safari” (i.e. Apple) can not fix your problem.

      Furthermore, you can very well imagine that the admissions office is incredibly busy during this time.

      Lastly, there was an email sent to all applicants nearly a week ago (Sept. 25) telling applicants not to use Safari.

      • All true C, but admittedly if K created her application after Sept. 25 (possible, but unlikely), she would have never gotten that email. Unlike OMSAS, I don’t think UCAN has a deadline for creating an account.

        Disappointing, nevertheless. 🙁

        • Yes – agreed on all points. It does however sound that the poster was aware of the issue, seeing as they contacted someone regarding Safari being the problem.

    • I used Safari and was able to submit my application no problem

  • Hello Dr. Walker,

    Thanks for keeping us updated with the information.

    One Question:

    Were most of the applicants from AB this year, considering the new MCAT requirements?

    Thanks,
    Tray