On Campus

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

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