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Confused Canadian w/3.4cGPA, 517 MCAT

neuralgal

Full Member
2+ Year Member
Aug 21, 2015
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32
  1. Pre-Medical
    Hi everybody, I'm a very confused Canadian applicant about to enter the final year of undergrad. This is my first application cycle to medical school. This is also my first time posting so I'm sorry if the post gets a bit long. Thank you in advance for any advice you can offer!

    BACKGROUND INFO:
    Degree: B. Sc. Honours in Integrated Sciences - focusing on neurology and human microbiology

    AMCAS GPA: 3.4 overall

    • 3.21 BCPM
    • 3.68 AO
    OMSAS GPA: 3.37

    MCAT: 517 (96%)

    • C/P: 128 (87%)
    • CARS: 128 (87%)
    • B/B: 131 (99%)
    • P/S: 130 (97%)
    Clinical: Volunteering at a local clinic for infants and toddlers - I just started this recently and have been involved for about 30 hours

    Physician shadowing: N/A (can't do this in Canada)

    Research:

    • Education lab (did a presentation with them and currently writing a paper, involved for 2.5 years)
    • Infant studies center (6hr/week for the past 18 months)
    • Spinal cord injury lab (I did a research course here and volunteered this summer)
    Nonclinical:
    • Canadian Cancer Society fundraiser (been on the committee for two years now and have spent at least 250 hours total working on it)
    • Sustainability coordinator for my club (150 hours)
    • House president of my student residence (300 hours easily)
    Employment:
    • Undergraduate research assistant (at the education research lab, for 2 months only as funding got cut but I stayed on as a volunteer)
    • Paid internship ($500)

    In Canada, I'm only applying to UBC (my school), Queens, and McMaster as the rest of the country is crazy about GPAs. I'm applying to Rosalind Franklin, Pritzker, and George Washington in the US. I've already submitted my AMCAS and secondaries to these schools. I now regret applying to so few schools in the US but at the time I was submitting my AMCAS, I hadn't written my MCAT yet and only knew that my GPA was a 3.4 so I didn't feel very confident about my chances anywhere.

    For this year, in terms of ECs, I'm doing my honours thesis which involves me conducting research. I'm also planning on continuing volunteering with the infant clinic, education lab, and Canadian Cancer Society. I'm returning as Sustainability Coordinator as well. In term of grades, realistically, I'm going to get a 80-90% average (maybe raise my GPA to a 3.45?).

    QUESTIONS:
    I know that my GPA is below average but do my MCAT score and my ECs make up for it? Would this give me a good chance at Canadian and American medical schools this cycle and possibly in the future?

    I was also considering applying this cycle to medical school in Ireland (for the 4 year graduate programs) and INTO St. George's 4 year International Medicine course. I'm not considering Australia because I don't have the option of applying for residency there after graduation. I am now confused about this because I ended up doing so well on my MCAT (but I still have a below average GPA). Thoughts based on my current stats and outline of what I plan to do and achieve during my fourth year?

    My current train of thought is to go ahead and apply to Ireland and St. George's and see what happens but the uncertainty of it all is confusing and frustrating me. I know that FMGs have a tough time coming back (and I want to get in neurology/neurosurgery) but I also don't know if I'll ever get in here or how long it would take.

    I would really appreciate any advice!



     

    NotASerialKiller

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    5+ Year Member
    Jul 7, 2015
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      Most people on SDN can't give you advice about Canadian med schools. Head to premed101.com for GPA questions. The first thing they'll ask you there is what the year-by-year breakdown of your GPA is. If you've been at a ~3.4 throughout then I don't think you have a hope anywhere in Canada. I know you stated that Mac is easier on grades, but even for them in-province that's too low. If your grades are a lot (a lot) stronger in recent years though, your wGPA might make you competitive, or a second degree might be an option. I would strongly consider this before looking internationally.

      As for US MD schools I think it really depends on how Canadians are viewed at each school you're looking at. Call them and explicitly ask whether you're compared to other Canadians or just considered OOS. If the former, you'll have a really tough time because there will be a lot of Canadian applicants with much better GPAs. If the latter, you'll benefit from our more generous grading scheme on the 4.0 scale and then your strong MCAT and ECs could very well make up the difference.

      Also as a side note, look at some threads about Caribbean schools. They have extremely high attrition rates, and this is not something you want to mess around with if you have any other options.
       
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      neuralgal

      Full Member
      2+ Year Member
      Aug 21, 2015
      56
      32
      1. Pre-Medical
        Most people on SDN can't give you advice about Canadian med schools. Head to premed101.com for GPA questions. The first thing they'll ask you there is what the year-by-year breakdown of your GPA is. If you've been at a ~3.4 throughout then I don't think you have a hope anywhere in Canada. I know you stated that Mac is easier on grades, but even for them in-province that's too low. If your grades are a lot (a lot) stronger in recent years though, your wGPA might make you competitive, or a second degree might be an option. I would strongly consider this before looking internationally.

        As for US MD schools I think it really depends on how Canadians are viewed at each school you're looking at. Call them and explicitly ask whether you're compared to other Canadians or just considered OOS. If the former, you'll have a really tough time because there will be a lot of Canadian applicants with much better GPAs. If the latter, you'll benefit from our more generous grading scheme on the 4.0 scale and then your strong MCAT and ECs could very well make up the difference.

        Also as a side note, look at some threads about Caribbean schools. They have extremely high attrition rates, and this is not something you want to mess around with if you have any other options.

        Thanks for the advice! I had a bad second year (3.o) that dragged it all down the most (I had a 3.4 first year, 3.7 third year). If I do well this year, get another 3.7 or higher, then I could probably have an overall of 3.6 (with the bad year excluded) but I still feel that it raises challenges in Canada.

        And I'm not planning to apply to any Caribbean schools; I ruled them out almost instantly. This is the St. George's program in London.
         

        NotASerialKiller

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        Jul 7, 2015
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          Thanks for the advice! I had a bad second year (3.o) that dragged it all down the most (I had a 3.4 first year, 3.7 third year). If I do well this year, get another 3.7 or higher, then I could probably have an overall of 3.6 (with the bad year excluded) but I still feel that it raises challenges in Canada.

          And I'm not planning to apply to any Caribbean schools; I ruled them out almost instantly. This is the St. George's program in London.

          Oh okay good about the Caribbean!

          Unfortunately having at most a 3.6 GPA is pretty much a killer in Canada. Because I'm in Ontario I don't know the UBC cutoffs for IP, but certainly OOP I don't think it would be worth the application money anywhere else. Fortunately I think Canadian GPAs are just compared at face value to OOS applicants in the US, so I think you'd still have a fighting chance.
           

          neuralgal

          Full Member
          2+ Year Member
          Aug 21, 2015
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          1. Pre-Medical
            Oh okay good about the Caribbean!

            Unfortunately having at most a 3.6 GPA is pretty much a killer in Canada. Because I'm in Ontario I don't know the UBC cutoffs for IP, but certainly OOP I don't think it would be worth the application money anywhere else. Fortunately I think Canadian GPAs are just compared at face value to OOS applicants in the US, so I think you'd still have a fighting chance.

            Sigh, the struggles of medical school.

            But thanks for all of your input :)
             
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