McGill eliminates MCAT requirement

Claims the exam creates unequal access for Francophone applicants


 

McGill’s Faculty of Medicine has announced that the MCAT will no longer be a requirement for Canadian applicants.

Many med schools across Canada claim to treat every undergraduate degree equally. For these schools, the context of your GPA supposedly doesn’t matter: a 3.8 in Health Sciences, Philosophy or Social Work are all equivalent.

Some schools hedge their bets, encouraging students from a variety of backgrounds to apply, while noting that “the difficulty of the program” is taken into consideration.

The whole ‘every undergraduate degree is born equal’ policy is somewhat misleading. In addition to some schools having science prerequisites (including organic chemistry and biology courses), the MCAT has always been an Arts Degree Killer. The majority of Canadian med schools (11 out of 17) and almost every school in the U.S. require the MCAT, a multiple choice exam that assesses “problem-solving, critical thinking, writing skills and knowledge of science concepts.”

A degree in a traditional pre-med program, such as the Health Sciences or Biomedical Sciences, prepares students for the exam (and usually fulfills the prerequisite course requirement for most med schools).

Getting through the Verbal Reasoning and Writing Sample might not require any advanced scientific knowledge, but the physical sciences and biological sciences sections can pose a serious barrier to arts students with dreams of med school.

Fortunately for non-traditional pre-med students, the MCAT is becoming a thing of the past.

At least, it is at McGill.

Applicants from Canadian universities are no longer required to write the exam.

“I feel what we’ve put in place is very acceptable and will allow us to properly evaluate candidates,” Dr. Saleem Razack, assistant dean of admissions for medicine at McGill, said in an interview with the Montreal Gazette. Dr. Razack says McGill would have kept the MCAT requirement if there was a French equivalent. “But we want to make sure there’s no barrier for a major segment of our population.” According to Razack, the regular med school class from undergraduate programs doesn’t have as many francophones as McGill would like.

The Northern Ontario School of Medicine, the University of Ottawa, and Francophone medical schools in Quebec don’t require the MCAT. After meeting with MCAT representatives about translating the exam- but ultimately finding it was “too complicated”- McGill is joining their ranks (some schools that require the exam actually make certain qualifications- such as McMaster University, which only uses the Verbal Reasoning section to determine interview eligibility and admission rank).

Interestingly enough, if you check out McGill’s Faculty of Medicine website, you’ll note that candidates who are not required to write the MCAT can still submit their scores, and the overall score will be evaluated by the Admissions Committee.

Related: McGill wants ‘non-traditional’ students

-photo courtesy of comedy nose


 

McGill eliminates MCAT requirement

  1. As I recall, McGill still requires certain prerequisite courses in basic sciences – as well it should. I don’t think the amount of organic chem tested on the MCAT is terribly relevant; however, verbal reasoning and writing are crucial.

  2. Yes, McGill does have science prerequisites (it’s one of the schools I was referring to when I said “In addition to some schools having science prerequisites..”).

    The amount of organic chem tested on the MCAT is certainly relevant, considering the fact that most med schools have minimum scores in place. At Dalhousie, for instance, a minimum total score of 24 is required. Further, there are also minimum scores in place for each individual section, for instance at Dalhousie you can have a minimum score of 8 in each of the three numerical categories (you can have one numerical score of 7).

    This means that applicants can’t bomb the science sections and then just compensate with the verbal reasoning and writing sections- you need a certain minimum score on the science sections.

    Not to mention, since the competition to get into med school is so fierce, applicants can’t really afford to have a ‘bad’ section on the MCAT. At the University of Alberta, for example, a minimum score of 7 is required on all sections, but the average scores of those admitted are 11 in biological sciences and physical sciences.