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Gwynplaine

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Oct 2, 2016
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I'm considering applying for medical school in the Canadian system, and my low GPA is worryisome to me, so wanted to ask some questions about the importance of some prerequisites. Some details on my background:

I'm a business school major (finance/international business). Overall GPA is between 3.00 and 3.1 (forgot the exact number). Now, a lot of this is due to not really trying first two years, and mostly cause of 3 courses I got D's in (silly things, not even related to my major, like intro to marketing) that I did not really take seriously or thought much about. Now in my last two years of studying I think my GPA was about 3.7 and first two years about 2.4, and I usually got B+ or above in my main courses. I think without the 3 D's I'd be more in the 3.3-4 range or so. Still the low GPA does not look too good and, seeing high cutoffs for all medical schools (think McMaster was the only one 3.0+, rest were all 3.3+), with the average student getting in with 3.8-9 or so, looks discouraging for me.

I'm in the process of studying for the MCAT, and plan to do it in January, so hoping to get a high score here, but not sure how much of a difference this will even make if I have let's say 520+ but with the low GPA mentioned above.

I also do not have many of the non-MCAT school prereqs (mostly for the QC schools) , such as year of uni level bio, chem, physics, labs etc.

A couple of things I have going for me, of which I'm not sure how impressive/important they are to your application are:

Speak 5 languages fluently (including English, French, Spanish).

Worked as a clerk in a medical office.

Have experience shadowing doctors (not much, but it is not an issue to get more). Here I was lucky through some acquiantces, but I can potentially parlay this part into saying I've shadowed under so and so doctors, and if I get 3 or more names on this lst I assume it could look very impressive for a prospective application in Canada? Not sure though.

Don't have any volunteering experience in Canada (I heard this is very important though, so I might look into it a bit more til next year's application), but I lived in Europe a couple of years and have volunteered there with helping at a hospice for two months or so.

I think I can give a good interview and sell myself (have lived in 5 countries, visited 40+, have experience with multicultural environments, have some interesting hobbies, etc.). Basically I think I'm good at all that intangible stuff they might care about?

So what I'm wondering is, what would be my chances of getting into the Canadian medical system and assuming I get a high MCAT score? Low, very low, mediocre? With a low MCAT score (i.e. cutoff), I assume it must be non existant given my GPA standing. Are they very strict with the GPA criteria (e.g. if the pre req says 3.5 requirement)? Or is that figure somewhat bypassed if you make up for it in some other way like a high MCAT score, and some type of experiences they might be looking for. And would taking some continuing education pre-reqs in Physics/Chem/Bio make a big impact if I finish those courses with a high grade in my application, or would it be better to go the post bacc route? Would like to hear some opinions on this as well. Thinking of doing this, but not sure what approach to take. I mostly don't want to be screened out automatically, without given a chance to maybe be given an interview chance at some schools.

I also assume I would have an easier chance to get into the U.S. system if I get high MCAT with my GPA? Canadian med school would be my ideal, but I would apply to some U.S. schools as well. However wouldn't want to go the Caribbean/European school route (maybe only as a last resort) since I think the cons outweigh the pros.
 
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Gwynplaine

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The median MCAT for a successful international in the US is 33.7, the gpa is 3.77.
There are other challenges to be aware of: https://students-residents.aamc.org...ool/article/applying-international-applicant/

I would be relying on my MCAT score mostly for the application, but not sure the extent something like e.g. 526 would help me if my GPA is so low. My fear is that even if I get a 528 MCAT I would be turned down at some Canadian schools due to the GPA, but I know this won't be the case in the U.S. What I'm mostly wondering, is how much a high MCAT would compensate for my low GPA? Since my GPA would be the hardest to remedy and all. Even if I do another undergraduate (which seems kind of overkill), and finish with a 4.0 my GPA would still be mediocre if they weigh both @3.5 or so.
 

gyngyn

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I would be relying on my MCAT score mostly for the application, but not sure the extent something like e.g. 526 would help me if my GPA is so low. My fear is that even if I get a 528 MCAT I would be turned down at some Canadian schools due to the GPA, but I know this won't be the case in the U.S. What I'm mostly wondering, is how much a high MCAT would compensate for my low GPA? Since my GPA would be the hardest to remedy and all. Even if I do another undergraduate (which seems kind of overkill), and finish with a 4.0 my GPA would still be mediocre if they weigh both @3.5 or so.
Both gpa and MCAT are important here. A high score in one does not always offset a low score in the other.
On top of that, multiple MCAT scores are considered "differently" here. Don't take it until you are confident that you will get your best score. This usually means delaying until you have taken the courses that are covered in the test.
 
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NotASerialKiller

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This site is for US schools and there are very few Canadian users, so I suggest going to premed101.com, it's similar but specifically for Canada. They'll better be able to help you in regard to your questions about Canadian schools.

That being said, I am one of the few Canadian users, and no you would not be competitive (or close to it) in Canada right now. Mac is the only school notoriously gentle on GPA, but they also look at your cumulative GPA. Once in a while you'll hear a story about someone with a cGPA of 3.4 getting in, but that's pretty rare. At a 3.0, there wouldn't be much point in applying in my opinion. Other schools only look at your most recent years, but for those ones a 3.7 is very very unlikely to get you anywhere.

If you're serious about medicine though, there are schools that only look at your most recent degree, or last two years. If you think you can get 3.85+ as you start a science degree (which would also let you get the pre-reqs you said you're missing for some schools) that you could have a decent chance in a couple years. I can't tell from your posts, but if you haven't taken any science classes and are studying for the MCAT from scratch, I'd strongly recommend starting a science degree and taking it after you've taken physics/organic/etc. It'll be better for the MCAT and better for your chances anywhere if you have a year or two of 3.85+ before applying.

edit: Sorry I somehow cut part of a sentence and pasted it in the middle of another one. Should make sense now.
 
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Gwynplaine

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This site is for US schools and there are very few Canadian users, so I suggest going to premed101.com, it's similar but specifically for Canada. They'll better be able to help you in regard to your questions about Canadian schools.

That being said, I am one of the few Canadian users, and no you would not be competitive (or close to it) in Canada right now. Mac is the only school notoriously gentle on GPA, but they also look at your cumulative GPA. Once in a while you'll hear a story about someone with a cGPA of 3.4 getting in, but that's pretty rare. At a 3.0, there wouldn't be much point in applying in my opinion. Other schools only look at your most recent years, but for those ones a 3.7 is very very unlikely to get you anywhere.

If you're serious about medicine though, there are schools that only look at your most recent degree, or last two years. If you think you can get 3.85+ as you start a science degree (which would also let you get the pre-reqs you said you're missing for some schools) that you could have a decent chance in a couple years. I can't tell from your posts, but if you haven't taken any science classes and are studying for the MCAT from scratch, I'd strongly recommend starting a science degree and taking it after you've taken physics/organic/etc. It'll be better for the MCAT and better for your chances anywhere if you have a year or two of 3.85+ before applying.

edit: Sorry I somehow cut part of a sentence and pasted it in the middle of another one. Should make sense now.

I see, I knew GPA was the most important, but still don't think that doing the prereqs would help me that much in terms of preparing for the MCAT. I have some basic knowledge of Bio/Physics even if I didn't take the courses at a uni level, but my math is quite strong and so far my preparation is going well, and think I am able to handle it. However, I assume prereqs would help somewhat, but that is a tradeoff where I could spend that time to study specifically and make better use of it, so in the end it would probably be detrimental if I plan on taking it in Jan.

Still, I assume that if I need to redo courses (which seems to be the case for Canadian applications) it would probably be better to do the MCAT after. However I want to get it done earlier and then get some applications in at least, even if my chances are low (this way if I somehow get lucky in either country I could avoid doing the extra degree).

Also, since you said some schools only look at the last two years, if I take a full course load of a non degree program (mostly the science prereqs and the like), would that count? Or would I have to actually finish the whole degree (3 years) for it to count?
 

Frogger27

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You are doing this all wrong.

Go take the pre reqs at a university, do well, make sure medicine is for you, and then take the MCAT.
 
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NotASerialKiller

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I see, I knew GPA was the most important, but still don't think that doing the prereqs would help me that much in terms of preparing for the MCAT. I have some basic knowledge of Bio/Physics even if I didn't take the courses at a uni level, but my math is quite strong and so far my preparation is going well, and think I am able to handle it. However, I assume prereqs would help somewhat, but that is a tradeoff where I could spend that time to study specifically and make better use of it, so in the end it would probably be detrimental if I plan on taking it in Jan.

Still, I assume that if I need to redo courses (which seems to be the case for Canadian applications) it would probably be better to do the MCAT after. However I want to get it done earlier and then get some applications in at least, even if my chances are low (this way if I somehow get lucky in either country I could avoid doing the extra degree).

Also, since you said some schools only look at the last two years, if I take a full course load of a non degree program (mostly the science prereqs and the like), would that count? Or would I have to actually finish the whole degree (3 years) for it to count?

Look up the GPA policies (Western, Queens), they should all be self-explanatory. As far as I know any university-level schooling should count, but you should verify that.

If you're from Ontario then it's not accurate to say that your chances are low. I'd bet my line of credit that you won't be getting in anywhere in Canada with your current GPA, so the idea that you are in some sort of rush to write the MCAT makes little sense to me. Even US citizens don't have a chance at American MD schools with a cGPA of 3.0, so an international is out of the question. If you got a 520 on the MCAT that still wouldn't give you a shot.

I'm not trying to be discouraging, I'm saying this because planning around a desire to apply ASAP when you're not competitive at all can only hurt your chances in the future. If you take it slow and work on the fatal part of your application (the GPA) then the rest will come. If you're not able to raise it enough to be competitive, then writing MCAT would be a waste of time and money regardless of your score.
 
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doglover919

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Hey there!

If I were you I would definitely take more time to strengthen my application before I applied. The languages thing is cool but it's not going to make up for the low gpa, same goes for MCAT. This is especially true as an international applicant. And being good in interviews is really great but you have to pass a lot of screens before you get to that point. I don't know how Canadian schools work but in my experience with U.S. schools, if your GPA is on the low end you need a lot of volunteer service hours, leadership positions, research, etc. to make you stand out. I would take a year to do a science masters degree or something like that while volunteering at a clinic. I would also suggest volunteering somewhere non-clinical, like Habitat for Humanity or a food bank. Do you have any really interesting hobbies?

Also as others have mentioned I would really suggest taking the med school prereqs before you take the MCAT. You have to take them at some point anyways right? Might as well take them when it will benefit you.
 

Gwynplaine

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You are doing this all wrong.

Go take the pre reqs at a university, do well, make sure medicine is for you, and then take the MCAT.

Yes, this is why I find so annoying about this whole process, the importance placed on GPA for this whole thing. I mean I've done my degree with barely any studying, and yet got above average grades in most of my classes. I mostly partied, traveled and played internet pokers, but I don't think I can put that on my application as an excuse. The opportunity cost of me getting a degree was huge (think 7figures+), with going to classes and team projects, however thought that having one would be helpful (and to appease my family lol). It was also hard to stay level headed going from rag to riches barely out of your teens, so GPA was not a focus of mine at the time. I didn't do much with my degree, except maybe use some of the math learned in creating a few sports betting models (but still, most of the complex math and programming I learned on my own). A lot of legislation went down in the industry/coupled with vast player pool declines, as well as personal issues, and instead of being able to ride the gravy train in the sunset and retire a millionaire in my 20's (my original first year of school plan lol), I'm put in a weird spot and in need of something to do (not for financial reasons, but something challenging I might enjoy). I also have a 3 year gap since finishing my degree, but was able to do some preparatory EC's at least in the meanwhile (mostly during the last year), but most of my work is something I can't even use on my application. And it also seems that finishing with that GPA might hurt me more than having any degree in this instance.

I thought about medical school from before, but always figured that it's too late, but I'm still in my mid 20s and I guess better late than never, and might as well try. This is why I thought that just adding a bunch of EC's and acing the MCAT would be enough. I am confident in my ability to do this, and don't feel the need for prereqs to help me with any of the topics or serve as anything more than GPA boosters. I mean why should someone with a 3.99 GPA in French 1960s new wave cinema production design and 503 MCAT prioritize over someone with a 3.3 GPA in microbiology and 524 MCAT? It is what it is I guess.

I'm in a weird spot as well since fall semester started, and I won't be able to start courses until January, when I planned to do my MCAT. I wanted to get my studying done til then and only after add prereqs (if need be, but I guess it need from what you guys say), with the sole purpose of improving GPA, and not actually helping me study. I mean maybe the prereqs might dissuade me as well, but I've taken plenty of science in HS, and even a course or two for uni electives and always did quite well. I've been sort of idle lately so wanted to get started ASAP, especially since I don't necessarily have to work at the moment, and can mostly dedicate all of my time for this purpose for a while (and I always like to do well when focusing everything on something). Even if I end up not going through with all of it, at least I won't have any regrets about never attempting, especially as this is something I would not want to get into for monetary reasons but more of a challenge to myself.

Also how are A+ GPA's that some uni's give out as 4.3 counted? Can you effectively have a higher than 4 GPA when applying, or do they get scaled down to 4 at schools that don't give them out?
 

Gwynplaine

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Hey there!

If I were you I would definitely take more time to strengthen my application before I applied. The languages thing is cool but it's not going to make up for the low gpa, same goes for MCAT. This is especially true as an international applicant. And being good in interviews is really great but you have to pass a lot of screens before you get to that point. I don't know how Canadian schools work but in my experience with U.S. schools, if your GPA is on the low end you need a lot of volunteer service hours, leadership positions, research, etc. to make you stand out. I would take a year to do a science masters degree or something like that while volunteering at a clinic. I would also suggest volunteering somewhere non-clinical, like Habitat for Humanity or a food bank. Do you have any really interesting hobbies?

Also as others have mentioned I would really suggest taking the med school prereqs before you take the MCAT. You have to take them at some point anyways right? Might as well take them when it will benefit you.

Hey, thanks for the suggestions. For hobbies/work I have poker/sportsbetting from where I made plenty of money to support myself, but don't want to use this in my application as a lot of people have the wrong idea, and might give out the wrong impression (i.e. degenerate lol). Otherwise other interesting hobbies are, competitive chess, competitive backgammon, played some futbol/futsal (small leagues not varsity level), and am a purple belt in bjj. I don't know if a science masters is feasible given my background? Think the course load might be too much. Wouldn't a new bachelor of science (although the 3 year idea is kind of off putting), or taking continuing education courses be more worthwhile?
 
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Frogger27

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Yes, this is why I find so annoying about this whole process, the importance placed on GPA for this whole thing. I mean I've done my degree with barely any studying, and yet got above average grades in most of my classes. I mostly partied, traveled and played internet pokers, but I don't think I can put that on my application as an excuse. The opportunity cost of me getting a degree was huge (think 7figures+), with going to classes and team projects, however thought that having one would be helpful (and to appease my family lol). It was also hard to stay level headed going from rag to riches barely out of your teens, so GPA was not a focus of mine at the time. I didn't do much with my degree, except maybe use some of the math learned in creating a few sports betting models (but still, most of the complex math and programming I learned on my own). A lot of legislation went down in the industry/coupled with vast player pool declines, as well as personal issues, and instead of being able to ride the gravy train in the sunset and retire a millionaire in my 20's (my original first year of school plan lol), I'm put in a weird spot and in need of something to do (not for financial reasons, but something challenging I might enjoy). I also have a 3 year gap since finishing my degree, but was able to do some preparatory EC's at least in the meanwhile (mostly during the last year), but most of my work is something I can't even use on my application. And it also seems that finishing with that GPA might hurt me more than having any degree in this instance.

I thought about medical school from before, but always figured that it's too late, but I'm still in my mid 20s and I guess better late than never, and might as well try. This is why I thought that just adding a bunch of EC's and acing the MCAT would be enough. I am confident in my ability to do this, and don't feel the need for prereqs to help me with any of the topics or serve as anything more than GPA boosters. I mean why should someone with a 3.99 GPA in French 1960s new wave cinema production design and 503 MCAT prioritize over someone with a 3.3 GPA in microbiology and 524 MCAT? It is what it is I guess.

I'm in a weird spot as well since fall semester started, and I won't be able to start courses until January, when I planned to do my MCAT. I wanted to get my studying done til then and only after add prereqs (if need be, but I guess it need from what you guys say), with the sole purpose of improving GPA, and not actually helping me study. I mean maybe the prereqs might dissuade me as well, but I've taken plenty of science in HS, and even a course or two for uni electives and always did quite well. I've been sort of idle lately so wanted to get started ASAP, especially since I don't necessarily have to work at the moment, and can mostly dedicate all of my time for this purpose for a while (and I always like to do well when focusing everything on something). Even if I end up not going through with all of it, at least I won't have any regrets about never attempting, especially as this is something I would not want to get into for monetary reasons but more of a challenge to myself.

Also how are A+ GPA's that some uni's give out as 4.3 counted? Can you effectively have a higher than 4 GPA when applying, or do they get scaled down to 4 at schools that don't give them out?

Most medical schools (pretty much all) will require you to have all the pre-reqs done before matriculation. You sound like a smart person, but do realize how hard it is to "ace" the MCAT. You will be competing against people who have taken science classes their entire life, hold advance degrees (PhD, J.D, etc), and put in just as much time as you are. The only person I know who took the MCAT without taking pre-reqs scored terribly, n=1 but I do not think anyone would advise the approach you are taking.

Also, some of your most-medicine career can definitely go on your application. Schools will think it is interesting.
 
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NotASerialKiller

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Yes, this is why I find so annoying about this whole process, the importance placed on GPA for this whole thing. I mean I've done my degree with barely any studying, and yet got above average grades in most of my classes. I mostly partied, traveled and played internet pokers, but I don't think I can put that on my application as an excuse. The opportunity cost of me getting a degree was huge (think 7figures+), with going to classes and team projects, however thought that having one would be helpful (and to appease my family lol). It was also hard to stay level headed going from rag to riches barely out of your teens, so GPA was not a focus of mine at the time. I didn't do much with my degree, except maybe use some of the math learned in creating a few sports betting models (but still, most of the complex math and programming I learned on my own). A lot of legislation went down in the industry/coupled with vast player pool declines, as well as personal issues, and instead of being able to ride the gravy train in the sunset and retire a millionaire in my 20's (my original first year of school plan lol), I'm put in a weird spot and in need of something to do (not for financial reasons, but something challenging I might enjoy). I also have a 3 year gap since finishing my degree, but was able to do some preparatory EC's at least in the meanwhile (mostly during the last year), but most of my work is something I can't even use on my application. And it also seems that finishing with that GPA might hurt me more than having any degree in this instance.

I thought about medical school from before, but always figured that it's too late, but I'm still in my mid 20s and I guess better late than never, and might as well try. This is why I thought that just adding a bunch of EC's and acing the MCAT would be enough. I am confident in my ability to do this, and don't feel the need for prereqs to help me with any of the topics or serve as anything more than GPA boosters. I mean why should someone with a 3.99 GPA in French 1960s new wave cinema production design and 503 MCAT prioritize over someone with a 3.3 GPA in microbiology and 524 MCAT? It is what it is I guess.

I'm in a weird spot as well since fall semester started, and I won't be able to start courses until January, when I planned to do my MCAT. I wanted to get my studying done til then and only after add prereqs (if need be, but I guess it need from what you guys say), with the sole purpose of improving GPA, and not actually helping me study. I mean maybe the prereqs might dissuade me as well, but I've taken plenty of science in HS, and even a course or two for uni electives and always did quite well. I've been sort of idle lately so wanted to get started ASAP, especially since I don't necessarily have to work at the moment, and can mostly dedicate all of my time for this purpose for a while (and I always like to do well when focusing everything on something). Even if I end up not going through with all of it, at least I won't have any regrets about never attempting, especially as this is something I would not want to get into for monetary reasons but more of a challenge to myself.

Also how are A+ GPA's that some uni's give out as 4.3 counted? Can you effectively have a higher than 4 GPA when applying, or do they get scaled down to 4 at schools that don't give them out?

Med schools don't take the people who consider themselves the smartest, they take the ones who have put in the work and shown their dedication.

To give you some perspective, there are hordes of applicants in Ontario with 3.85+ and 514+ with a ton of volunteering who don't get an interview at a given school, including those taking microbio. If they're passing on a chunk of applicants like that, what's so amazing about you that they'd cross another one off their list to give you a shot? And no, a really high MCAT score doesn't replace the need to show them you can get good grades semester after semester in undergrad, that's why they have separate cutoffs.

With so many applicants to choose from, even if they already knew you personally somehow, a strong work ethic is more appealing to them than natural intelligence, which you seem to think you have in spades. If the idea of studying for a year or two to get in is unpalatable enough to stop you from perusing medicine, then there are many many applicants more dedicated than you. It's far too competitive for anyone to be able to say "Well I never really tried in school but I'm smart so I'm going to ace the MCAT and get in". In Canada you work for years for a strong MCAT and 3.9 GPA while volunteering and participating in other ECs throughout undergrad just for a chance at an interview, and on average 2-3 years before an acceptance.
 
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gyngyn

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Also how are A+ GPA's that some uni's give out as 4.3 counted? Can you effectively have a higher than 4 GPA when applying, or do they get scaled down to 4 at schools that don't give them out?
AMCAS will re-calculate the gpa. There are no grades worth more than 4.0
 
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Gwynplaine

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AMCAS will re-calculate the gpa. There are no grades worth more than 4.0

I see, I thought as much, thanks.

Most medical schools (pretty much all) will require you to have all the pre-reqs done before matriculation. You sound like a smart person, but do realize how hard it is to "ace" the MCAT. You will be competing against people who have taken science classes their entire life, hold advance degrees (PhD, J.D, etc), and put in just as much time as you are. The only person I know who took the MCAT without taking pre-reqs scored terribly, n=1 but I do not think anyone would advise the approach you are taking.

Also, some of your most-medicine career can definitely go on your application. Schools will think it is interesting.

It seems a lot in Canada don't emphasize the prereqs (just GPA, and MCAT), so thought about trying to get in without doing them. Yes, I understand the difficulty of the MCAT, and of course I could end up tanking it, but feel my preparation is going well, and am on the right track. The competitiveness of it made me think that if I did well, it would outweigh my GPA when considering my application. That was my original plan, to not take them unless I absolutely had too to improve GPA so as to not get screened out automatically.

Med schools don't take the people who consider themselves the smartest, they take the ones who have put in the work and shown their dedication.

To give you some perspective, there are hordes of applicants in Ontario with 3.85+ and 514+ with a ton of volunteering who don't get an interview at a given school, including those taking microbio. If they're passing on a chunk of applicants like that, what's so amazing about you that they'd cross another one off their list to give you a shot? And no, a really high MCAT score doesn't replace the need to show them you can get good grades semester after semester in undergrad, that's why they have separate cutoffs.

With so many applicants to choose from, even if they already knew you personally somehow, a strong work ethic is more appealing to them than natural intelligence, which you seem to think you have in spades. If the idea of studying for a year or two to get in is unpalatable enough to stop you from perusing medicine, then there are many many applicants more dedicated than you. It's far too competitive for anyone to be able to say "Well I never really tried in school but I'm smart so I'm going to ace the MCAT and get in". In Canada you work for years for a strong MCAT and 3.9 GPA while volunteering and participating in other ECs throughout undergrad just for a chance at an interview, and on average 2-3 years before an acceptance.

The system may be as you say, but it is a completely flawed one imo, particularly when considering Canada's situation in the medical field (i.e. not enough seats, lack of doctors, nonrecognition of foreign studies).

I understand your point of view, but keep in mind that a lot of applicants have a change of heart and don't initially want to pursue a career in medicine right away, or realize that GPA is God under the Canadian system, or even know wtf they're doing in school at first. It's not unpalatable to me to do 1-2 more years and do well in my studies, but I am not sure if it would be the best approach. I mean, I feel I'm someone that test takes well, and understands a lot of patterns, but sometimes can get demotivated/discourged with types of work that I might deem menial. This is a flaw of mine, and I realize it might go against the very same nature of the system that wants to make sure you are able to churn out near perfect results over and over. I also fear that even if I do 1-2 excellent years, they might look at my first degree and say "you're inconsistent" and even with a 4.0 for 1-2 years they might feel that it does not make up for my initial low grades, making my initial degree a hindrance rather than a help in my application. I didn't mean to sound arrogant in saying "ace" the MCAT, but from the two free test preps (Altius and TPR) I scored really well in the CARS section 130/131 just winging it (only did them for this section since I obviously did not have much idea on the sciences) and the KA CARS seem fairly easy to me (at least compared to the other two) and very rarely get a question wrong. I feel I could learn the sciences well enough in a couple of months preparing by myself, which is why I kind of wanted to bypass the prereqs. I mean someone like myself, that tests well but might lose motivation, should I even follow this path, or go through a different route like IMG with a school that is easier to get into, and passing qualifiers?
 

Gwynplaine

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Both gpa and MCAT are important here. A high score in one does not always offset a low score in the other.
On top of that, multiple MCAT scores are considered "differently" here. Don't take it until you are confident that you will get your best score. This usually means delaying until you have taken the courses that are covered in the test.

There are ~14 DO schools in the US which accept internationals. Mine is not one of them, unless you have a green card.

The median MCAT for a successful international in the US is 33.7, the gpa is 3.77.
There are other challenges to be aware of: https://students-residents.aamc.org...ool/article/applying-international-applicant/

Regarding this, I assume the median MCAT/GPA for an international in the U.S. mentioned above is higher than that of a U.S. citizen as well as tuition fees being more than double. I had heard the DO schools, have slightly lower requirements, but what I wanted to ask you guys, what would my chances be for any MD/DO school in the U.S. with a high MCAT (let's say 520+ range) and my low undergrad GPA? Things I can work in meanwhile to strengthen would be potentially adding 50-100 hours of doctor shadowing, and increasing my volunteer hours.

It seems the consensus is in Canada I won't be able to get in even with scoring a perfect MCAT, due to the importance of GPA, but will some schools in the U.S. be less forgiving if they see I have an upward trend and score well on the MCAT? I would still do the prereqs most likely (do all U.S. schools require them?) , and understand it might seem unwise to do them after taking the test, but given that I missed on the fall semester, I feel I can use this time to study and not wait til January to start classes, and then at least another year to take the MCAT. Would I have some sort of chance in this scenario as an international (I assume they have to be higher than in Canada which seem to be nonexistent)?
 

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Regarding this, I assume the median MCAT/GPA for an international in the U.S. mentioned above is higher than that of a U.S. citizen as well as tuition fees being more than double. I had heard the DO schools, have slightly lower requirements, but what I wanted to ask you guys, what would my chances be for any MD/DO school in the U.S. with a high MCAT (let's say 520+ range) and my low undergrad GPA? Things I can work in meanwhile to strengthen would be potentially adding 50-100 hours of doctor shadowing, and increasing my volunteer hours.

It seems the consensus is in Canada I won't be able to get in even with scoring a perfect MCAT, due to the importance of GPA, but will some schools in the U.S. be less forgiving if they see I have an upward trend and score well on the MCAT? I would still do the prereqs most likely (do all U.S. schools require them?) , and understand it might seem unwise to do them after taking the test, but given that I missed on the fall semester, I feel I can use this time to study and not wait til January to start classes, and then at least another year to take the MCAT. Would I have some sort of chance in this scenario as an international (I assume they have to be higher than in Canada which seem to be nonexistent)?
The combination of a very high MCAT and very low gpa has a differential diagnosis that MD schools tend to shy away from unless the issue has been verifiably resolved. There are at least 22 MD schools that have no specific course requirements but they tend to heavily favor IS or be quite selective.
I know of no schools that charge a different amount for internationals than for OOS.
Yes, the medians for both MCAT and gpa are higher for internationals than domestic matriculants.
 
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If you retook any F/D/C science coursework, your GPAs will be higher. Rising GPA trends are always good.

You should re calculate your GPAs using the AACOMAS calculator (no, I don't know where it can be found) and see if it's higher.

I'll assume that with a 3.0 GPA, and with an MCAT of ~510, that you should be able to get a decent number of IIs, especially at the newer DO schools. Offhand I don't have a list of those DO schools that take internationals, but I believe that UNECOM and MSUCOM are two of them.

But do give up the magic thinking that you'll somehow score > the 97th %ile of MCAT scorers. I believe that the way you're preparing for the exam, without taking the pre-req coursework, is a recipe for disaster.


Regarding this, I assume the median MCAT/GPA for an international in the U.S. mentioned above is higher than that of a U.S. citizen as well as tuition fees being more than double. I had heard the DO schools, have slightly lower requirements, but what I wanted to ask you guys, what would my chances be for any MD/DO school in the U.S. with a high MCAT (let's say 520+ range) and my low undergrad GPA? Things I can work in meanwhile to strengthen would be potentially adding 50-100 hours of doctor shadowing, and increasing my volunteer hours.
 
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Gwynplaine

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The combination of a very high MCAT and very low gpa has a differential diagnosis that MD schools tend to shy away from unless the issue has been verifiably resolved. There are at least 22 MD schools that have no specific course requirements but they tend to heavily favor IS or be quite selective.
I know of no schools that charge a different amount for internationals than for OOS.
Yes, the medians for both MCAT and gpa are higher for internationals than domestic matriculants.

Ah yes, you are right. I read the AAMC data wrong, didn't realize nonresident was basically anyone OOS.

If you retook any F/D/C science coursework, your GPAs will be higher. Rising GPA trends are always good.

You should re calculate your GPAs using the AACOMAS calculator (no, I don't know where it can be found) and see if it's higher.

I'll assume that with a 3.0 GPA, and with an MCAT of ~510, that you should be able to get a decent number of IIs, especially at the newer DO schools. Offhand I don't have a list of those DO schools that take internationals, but I believe that UNECOM and MSUCOM are two of them.

But do give up the magic thinking that you'll somehow score > the 97th %ile of MCAT scorers. I believe that the way you're preparing for the exam, without taking the pre-req coursework, is a recipe for disaster.

I understand where you are coming from, but I don't see it being that outrageous for me to score well on the MCAT. Maybe I won't get a 520, but if I don't get at least 510 (which is what around 80th percentile?), on my first attempt with all my time spent studying, I seriously might reconsider all this, and that is the fastest path leading to that decision. Maybe I suffer from illusory superiority, but like I said my CARS score has been quite strong in all the practice questions I took. I know I don't have the biggest sample size (and I'm someone who worked with sample size and statistics extensively), but I don't see myself doing bad in this section unless I have a really off day, and this is the part everyone dreads. The Psych/Sociology component I have the pre-reqs for since there was a lot of emphasis on this in my business undergrad (as well as being a topic I was generally interested in). It's just the sciences that are the issue for me, but my honest belief is I can learn them. It doesn't matter to me that there are PHD's with work ethic that are taking this. I don't view this exam as overly complicated with high emphasis on specific knowledge, only obtainable through years of hard work; I view it as something that is more general/introductory level that you can reason out and fits my strong suit in interpreting and analyzing patterns. I'm also used to working with a lot of math, and think my background in this will help me have an easier time absorbing the science portion.

In any case, what do I have to lose precisely by taking the MCAT early? It will give me a better general guideline as to where I stand, and will either make me reconsider (if I fail miserably) or strengthen my belief that I can do it. Even if I get a score like 499-505, would that really hurt my chances if I were to continue, do my pre-reqs (and get a good GPA), and afterwards taking the MCAT a second time and do better?
 

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Ah yes, you are right. I read the AAMC data wrong, didn't realize nonresident was basically anyone OOS.

Even if I get a score like 499-505, would that really hurt my chances if I were to continue, do my pre-reqs (and get a good GPA), and afterwards taking the MCAT a second time and do better?

Yes this would hurt you tremendously.
 
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CARS was easy for me too so I did not study for that section other than taking practice tests. What I did have to study for extensively were the science portions, which I would argue are the two sections schools seem to care about the most. Why not try your hand at one of the these sections of the practice test? That way you can really gauge how challenging/easy these sections are for you right now and go from there.
 

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In any case, what do I have to lose precisely by taking the MCAT early? It will give me a better general guideline as to where I stand, and will either make me reconsider (if I fail miserably) or strengthen my belief that I can do it. Even if I get a score like 499-505, would that really hurt my chances if I were to continue, do my pre-reqs (and get a good GPA), and afterwards taking the MCAT a second time and do better?
MCAT scores do not disappear.
They remain on the record to be interpreted in unpredictable ways.
The AAMC recommends that we average multiple MCAT scores.
A single strong score is always the best strategy. There is no benefit to a poorly timed test. It only contributes to the perception that the applicant lacks judgement, mentorship and/or patience.
 
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Frogger27

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MCAT scores do not disappear.
They remain on the record to be interpreted in unpredictable ways.
The AAMC recommends that we average multiple MCAT scores.
A single strong score is always the best strategy. There is no benefit to a poorly timed test. It only contributes to the perception that the applicant lacks judgement, mentorship and/or patience.

aka taking the MCAT without any pre-reqs would show a complete utter lack of judgement and understanding of this process, and probably get OP rejected in the future regardless of how high second score is
 
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Gwynplaine

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CARS was easy for me too so I did not study for that section other than taking practice tests. What I did have to study for extensively were the science portions, which I would argue are the two sections schools seem to care about the most. Why not try your hand at one of the these sections of the practice test? That way you can really gauge how challenging/easy these sections are for you right now and go from there.

Really? In Canada it seems CARS is the most important.

MCAT scores do not disappear.
They remain on the record to be interpreted in unpredictable ways.
The AAMC recommends that we average multiple MCAT scores.
A single strong score is always the best strategy. There is no benefit to a poorly timed test. It only contributes to the perception that the applicant lacks judgement, mentorship and/or patience.

aka taking the MCAT without any pre-reqs would show a complete utter lack of judgement and understanding of this process, and probably get OP rejected in the future regardless of how high second score is

Special emphasis on this!




There is no benefit to a poorly timed test. It only contributes to the perception that the applicant lacks judgement, mentorship and/or patience.

I see where you guys are coming from. I knew there was an emphasis placed on the first score, but may have underestimated it. How would a voided first test, along with a strong second be viewed?

However, my stance still stands, that I don't believe the pre-reqs will bring me that much more improvement that studying on my own. I will continue to do practice questions, and might re-asses next month whether I go through with it, but so far I did not feel overwhelmed and thought I was progressing quite well.
 

Gwynplaine

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Would it not remain on your record though? I mean if there's no downside, I like the option of doing that and voiding it in the instance I did not feel I did well enough.
 

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Would it not remain on your record though? I mean if there's no downside, I like the option of doing that and voiding it in the instance I did not feel I did well enough.

No they can not see voided attempts
 

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I see, I thought as much, thanks.



It seems a lot in Canada don't emphasize the prereqs (just GPA, and MCAT), so thought about trying to get in without doing them. Yes, I understand the difficulty of the MCAT, and of course I could end up tanking it, but feel my preparation is going well, and am on the right track. The competitiveness of it made me think that if I did well, it would outweigh my GPA when considering my application. That was my original plan, to not take them unless I absolutely had too to improve GPA so as to not get screened out automatically.



The system may be as you say, but it is a completely flawed one imo, particularly when considering Canada's situation in the medical field (i.e. not enough seats, lack of doctors, nonrecognition of foreign studies).

I understand your point of view, but keep in mind that a lot of applicants have a change of heart and don't initially want to pursue a career in medicine right away, or realize that GPA is God under the Canadian system, or even know wtf they're doing in school at first. It's not unpalatable to me to do 1-2 more years and do well in my studies, but I am not sure if it would be the best approach. I mean, I feel I'm someone that test takes well, and understands a lot of patterns, but sometimes can get demotivated/discourged with types of work that I might deem menial. This is a flaw of mine, and I realize it might go against the very same nature of the system that wants to make sure you are able to churn out near perfect results over and over. I also fear that even if I do 1-2 excellent years, they might look at my first degree and say "you're inconsistent" and even with a 4.0 for 1-2 years they might feel that it does not make up for my initial low grades, making my initial degree a hindrance rather than a help in my application. I didn't mean to sound arrogant in saying "ace" the MCAT, but from the two free test preps (Altius and TPR) I scored really well in the CARS section 130/131 just winging it (only did them for this section since I obviously did not have much idea on the sciences) and the KA CARS seem fairly easy to me (at least compared to the other two) and very rarely get a question wrong. I feel I could learn the sciences well enough in a couple of months preparing by myself, which is why I kind of wanted to bypass the prereqs. I mean someone like myself, that tests well but might lose motivation, should I even follow this path, or go through a different route like IMG with a school that is easier to get into, and passing qualifiers?

Canadian schools aren't very holistic. They don't care about GPA patterns, only the number calculated however each school calculates it. If a given school looks at your last two years, and your last two years are 4.0s, then you have a 4.0 same as anyone else, regardless of whether you were getting Ds or As before that.

The reason they want to see years of high grades is precisely because they want to target people who have a strong work ethic, and are willing to put in that much effort for a chance at an interview. You say that you don't want to spend another 2 years studying because it might not even pay off, but that's the situation that every single applicant is in. If you don't want to put in the work that they do, you have to ask yourself how badly you really want it. Med school and residency will have plenty of rotations in areas you don't particularly care about, and you can spend a lot of time doing things that won't be directly related to whatever you want to do long-term. Being smart can help you succeed, but being a hard worker (over the long-term) is even more important. There won't be shortcuts then, and I'd advise against trying to take shortcuts now. You could start sooner by going international, but then it could take years to come back, and likely not in a competitive specialty if that's what you end up enjoying. Put in the work now both to prove to yourself that you've got more than just smarts, and to make yourself competitive the right way. You have to really, really want this to make it worthwhile, especially without a financial incentive.

edit: It is also absolutely the best approach to improve your GPA if you want to practice in North America. You don't have the GPA for med school right now, and that's just how it works. You don't get to go around meeting deans and justifying why your GPA doesn't reflect your abilities. Schools care about GPAs, and yours isn't there yet.
 
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A high MCAT score would show us that you had the capacity to excel and did not.
A sustained period of academic excellence shows us that whatever caused the earlier grades has been overcome.
 
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Gwynplaine

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Canadian schools aren't very holistic. They don't care about GPA patterns, only the number calculated however each school calculates it. If a given school looks at your last two years, and your last two years are 4.0s, then you have a 4.0 same as anyone else, regardless of whether you were getting Ds or As before that.

The reason they want to see years of high grades is precisely because they want to target people who have a strong work ethic, and are willing to put in that much effort for a chance at an interview. You say that you don't want to spend another 2 years studying because it might not even pay off, but that's the situation that every single applicant is in. If you don't want to put in the work that they do, you have to ask yourself how badly you really want it. Med school and residency will have plenty of rotations in areas you don't particularly care about, and you can spend a lot of time doing things that won't be directly related to whatever you want to do long-term. Being smart can help you succeed, but being a hard worker (over the long-term) is even more important. There won't be shortcuts then, and I'd advise against trying to take shortcuts now. You could start sooner by going international, but then it could take years to come back, and likely not in a competitive specialty if that's what you end up enjoying. Put in the work now both to prove to yourself that you've got more than just smarts, and to make yourself competitive the right way. You have to really, really want this to make it worthwhile, especially without a financial incentive.

edit: It is also absolutely the best approach to improve your GPA if you want to practice in North America. You don't have the GPA for med school right now, and that's just how it works. You don't get to go around meeting deans and justifying why your GPA doesn't reflect your abilities. Schools care about GPAs, and yours isn't there yet.

I understand. GPA needs to be fixed. However, had some questions regarding achieving this. If, as you say, I will start doing 2 years of courses that will basically cover my pre-reqs, would I be able to pick and choose any courses I want (let's say the first yer of a BSc)? Can I pick to do the full first year or two of an accredited degree, but not be enrolled in it, i.e. not have to complete it, just take its courses?

Let's assume this example, I do the full pre-req first year, I achieve a 4.0 GPA, strengthen my ECs, and then decide to apply. I get rejected, I then continue progressively adding another year's course load building on the previous (I assume this is allowed no?), and get rejected again. In the end let's say I ended up doing 3 full years, completed a BSc requirements, but was not specifically enrolled in a BSc degree - will I be awarded that degree?

I'm also considering going international in E.U. since I've lived in several countries there and am also a citizen. However I see a lot of the better ones have pre-reqs required too, and if I'm put in the situation where I do a full successful pre-req year with high GPA and start becoming competitive in Canada, but get rejected here and accepted there, not sure which option would suit me more, continue striving to become accepted in Canada or accept the offer at the E.U. school, and then either practice there or coming back as an IMG.

A high MCAT score would show us that you had the capacity to excel and did not.
A sustained period of academic excellence shows us that whatever caused the earlier grades has been overcome.

Hehe, I guess this should be stickied somewhere ;)
 

NotASerialKiller

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I understand. GPA needs to be fixed. However, had some questions regarding achieving this. If, as you say, I will start doing 2 years of courses that will basically cover my pre-reqs, would I be able to pick and choose any courses I want (let's say the first yer of a BSc)? Can I pick to do the full first year or two of an accredited degree, but not be enrolled in it, i.e. not have to complete it, just take its courses?

Let's assume this example, I do the full pre-req first year, I achieve a 4.0 GPA, strengthen my ECs, and then decide to apply. I get rejected, I then continue progressively adding another year's course load building on the previous (I assume this is allowed no?), and get rejected again. In the end let's say I ended up doing 3 full years, completed a BSc requirements, but was not specifically enrolled in a BSc degree - will I be awarded that degree?

I'm also considering going international in E.U. since I've lived in several countries there and am also a citizen. However I see a lot of the better ones have pre-reqs required too, and if I'm put in the situation where I do a full successful pre-req year with high GPA and start becoming competitive in Canada, but get rejected here and accepted there, not sure which option would suit me more, continue striving to become accepted in Canada or accept the offer at the E.U. school, and then either practice there or coming back as an IMG.



Hehe, I guess this should be stickied somewhere ;)

You've completed a business degree right? You can look up specific policies (starting with the schools that look at your most recent years), but as far as I know they don't care if you're working toward a particular degree. If a university lets you take classes without being enrolled in a BSc, that should make no difference to med schools. But keep in mind that some med schools have a 3/5 course at/above your "year level" policy. So if you start taking classes full-time after completing a degree, that would count as year 1, and you'd have to progress from there. And yes, you could apply every year throughout that process, regardless or whether or not you ever get a second degree.

That's fine if you want to go international, you'd get in much more easily, but read up on the issues of trying to match as an IMG in Canada. It can be near impossible to come back in most specialties, and difficult in the others. People who go international generally have tried and failed to get in here for >3 cycles (even highly competitive applicants often take 2-3 years). If you're thinking about staying in whichever country you go to, just make sure you wouldn't have trouble getting a residency. Some countries have policies that make it difficult to stay (come as an international student, pay higher tuition then get out), and the application process might be very different if you apply as a citizen. I don't know much about it, so you just have to research it well before considering that route, and know that you might struggle to ever come back to North America as a specialist.
 

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You've completed a business degree right? You can look up specific policies (starting with the schools that look at your most recent years), but as far as I know they don't care if you're working toward a particular degree. If a university lets you take classes without being enrolled in a BSc, that should make no difference to med schools. But keep in mind that some med schools have a 3/5 course at/above your "year level" policy. So if you start taking classes full-time after completing a degree, that would count as year 1, and you'd have to progress from there. And yes, you could apply every year throughout that process, regardless or whether or not you ever get a second degree.

By this do you mean, that if I were in year 2, I would not be allowed to take classes that are deemed year 1 (i.e. 100 vs. 200 level)?

That's fine if you want to go international, you'd get in much more easily, but read up on the issues of trying to match as an IMG in Canada. It can be near impossible to come back in most specialties, and difficult in the others. People who go international generally have tried and failed to get in here for >3 cycles (even highly competitive applicants often take 2-3 years). If you're thinking about staying in whichever country you go to, just make sure you wouldn't have trouble getting a residency. Some countries have policies that make it difficult to stay (come as an international student, pay higher tuition then get out), and the application process might be very different if you apply as a citizen. I don't know much about it, so you just have to research it well before considering that route, and know that you might struggle to ever come back to North America as a specialist.


Well if I apply as an international, and complete the degree at their school, would I not be able to stay and practice with that degree in that particular country since I have E.U. citizenship?

And do you have any idea how hard it would be to migrate between E.U. countries? For example if I finish med school/residency in a particular country (let's say Czech Republic) and then try to practice in a different one (say Spain, France, English countries), where language would not be a problem for me, would the process be easy, or would it be challenging for "outsiders"?
 

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By this do you mean, that if I were in year 2, I would not be allowed to take classes that are deemed year 1 (i.e. 100 vs. 200 level)?




Well if I apply as an international, and complete the degree at their school, would I not be able to stay and practice with that degree in that particular country since I have E.U. citizenship?

And do you have any idea how hard it would be to migrate between E.U. countries? For example if I finish med school/residency in a particular country (let's say Czech Republic) and then try to practice in a different one (say Spain, France, English countries), where language would not be a problem for me, would the process be easy, or would it be challenging for "outsiders"?

For citizenship stuff I have no idea. Just saying I've heard of various issues, so research this well before proceeding, don't assume anything.

For year levels, you'll be covered for all Canadian schools if you take 5 courses/semester with 3/semester at or above your year level. So after first year you could still take up to two 1000 level courses per semester and be fine, it just has to be the majority that are higher. Not all schools have that policy, but some have a vague "we expect your courses to be similar to your year level" statement that boils down to the same thing.
 
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