Medical School Information

If you're looking for more information, contact the SSSC.

Getting Into Medical School

Getting into medical school can be a very tough journey, as the average acceptance rate is approximately 15% as of 2016. This guide is designed to improve your chances of succeeding in getting into medical school!

The Health Care Team at the SSSC is also here to help you prepare for medical school applications and admission. You can schedule a one-on-one appointment with a Health Care Team member, who can walk you through the process of getting into medical school. The Team also has a variety of workshops and activities planned throughout the year to help you get ready for medical school, so make sure to check the SSSC's Upcoming Events.

Medical schools commonly consider a combination of grades, extracurricular activities, the MCAT, and interviews when assessing admission to their programs.

Grades for Medical School Admission

Ontario uses a 4.0 grading scale to consider students for admission to medical school. The undergraduate grading system conversion table is used to convert Carleton grades to a this scale. As you can see on the conversion table, the OMSAS value for each Carleton grade drops significantly as the grades get lower. Because of this, it is difficult to pinpoint an exact grade on the Carleton scale to shoot for to be considered for admission to medical school in Ontario. As an estimate, students should aim for at least a 3.85 GPA on a 4.0 scale, which is equivalent to approximately 10.8 on Carleton’s 12.0 scale. The marks students obtain in the prerequisite courses for medical schools are often the most important. 

Each school has different requirements and pre-requisite courses, so its important to do your research.

Extracurricular Activities

The Autobiographical or Character sketch is an important part of the medical school application process. It covers work, research, volunteering, awards, and extracurriculars. Volunteering and staying involved in your favourite hobbies is a great way to fill out the openings in your sketch. Be sure to keep information of all your contacts in order to complete your sketch quickly and efficiently.

When Should I Start?

As soon as possible. Medical schools love to see continuity. If you enjoy certain activities, continue to be involved in them throughout your university career. If you used to play soccer in high school, try intramurals in University.

What Should I Do?

Do what you love to do and do lots of it. Make time for the things you enjoy and integrate them into your schedule. The activities you pursue should reflect leadership and contribution to society. Doctors are the leaders in the medical community, so admissions committees like students that prove their leadership skills such as being a teaching assistant or taking on a supervisory role.

Sports facilities, hospitals, research centres, schools, old age homes - anywhere that grabs your interest will be perfect. While volunteering at a health-related facility is not absolutely necessary, it can help you determine if you are comfortable in that type of setting and can be an asset when applying to medical school.

Many medical schools also like to see that students have research experience, as it shows that you like to learn new things. Being able to work part-time while attending school is another positive attribute to show that you can handle multiple activities at once.

See Get Involved in Science for more information about clubs, societies, and volunteer opportunities.

Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)

What is the MCAT?

  • Standardized test required for entrance into most medical schools.
  • Cost: Approximately 440 CAD or 180 CAD with eligibility for the fee assistance program.
  • Duration: 7.5 hour (including breaks)
  • Format: all computerized, multiple choice questions based on passages. No calculators.

When should I write the MCAT?

  • At the latest, one year before you want to apply to med school- summer of 3rd year if you are applying in 4th year
  • If you think you will want to write the exam again, make sure you give yourself enough time to get your results back and book another exam
  • Scores are released one month after the writing date, be sure to request to have your score released to OMSAS one you receive it
  • The MCAT runs from January to September every year. Click here to see the MCAT test dates.

It is recommended that students take the MCAT during the summer of their second or third year because the test covers material often covered during first or second year courses. The MCAT Exam Website is a great resource about the test. 

Students can either take a prep course or self study for the MCAT. Depending on how you choose to study, MCAT preparation can cost anywhere from 300 CAD to 2,000 CAD.

Medical College Admissions Test Sections




Biological & Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems

59 Questions

95 Minutes

10 Passages

15 Independent questions

Biomolecules and Life

Cellular organization and assembly

Complex systems and homeostasis

Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

53 Questions

90 Minutes

9 Passages

No longer includes passages on natural science or technology

No previous Knowledge required

All answers are in passages

Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems

59 Questions

95 Minutes

10 Passages

15 Independent questions

Cellular Responses and Material Transport

Molecular Dynamics

Psychological, Social & Biological Foundations of Behaviour

59 Questions

95 Minutes

10 Passages

15 Independent questions

Perception of reacting to the world

Factors affecting behaviour

The way we think of ourselves & others


Access to resources and well-being


  • The 2015 MCAT employs a new scoring scale – individual sections will be scored using a 118 to 132 score scale range (instead of 1 to 15)
  • A composite score will then be supplicated ranging from 472 to 528 (instead of 1 to 45)
  • For most schools, the score cut off for admission is around 500

MCAT Self-Study Options

Self study is the cheaper of the two options, though you need the discipline to study and there is quite a lot of material that could be daunting. But, if you prefer self study, have the discipline, and are highly self-motivated, then it may be a better option since the course sometimes feels slow and will make you want to study less. While there are many ways to guide your study, here are a few of the most popular guides:

MCAT Preparation Course Companies

Most companies that offer courses also offer book sets for self study that will come with online small lessons on the harder concepts and (usually) 4-5 full length practice MCATs. If you prefer structure when you study and would like the benefit of having someone guide you through the studying process, there are numerous MCAT prep courses to choose from. Some companies include:

The course is expensive and that is the major con. The pros are that the people taking the course will have insider information and tips about writing while also keeping you on track. It will also be helpful if you write the MCAT after you took the class (so if you are writing the MCAT after 3rd or 4th year but need to know first year bio information) the presence of a teacher type person will help. 

Tips from Pros

  • Pick first and second year courses with the MCAT topics in mind – your MCAT prep starts with your first year courses
  • Start studying early (right after exams are done!)
    • Make a detailed study schedule with deadlines and stick to it (typically 30 hours of work, per week, for 8 to 12 weeks)
  • Start with the concepts you find the hardest
  • Do lots of full length, timed, practice exams to get used to the length (this is much more important than “hitting the books”)
  • Take a practice MCAT test in your second year
  • Don’t forget that the MCAT is American, verbal reasoning passages will be based on American history and politics…
  • Use Khan Academy to study broad topics, but especially material by Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) -- the creators of the exam!
  • Talk to students who have successfully completed the test
  • If you feel that you need more time to study, postpone your test
  • The AAMC website that includes an in-depth guide to what the MCAT is and a breakdown of the test, as well as study tips, etc.

Medical School Interviews

Medical school interviews follow the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI). This format uses many short independent assessments to get a total score for each candidate. When you arrive at the interview, you will be asked to stand in front of a door with a scenario or question taped to it. You will be given a specific amount of time to review the question and then will walk into the room. For the next ten minutes, you will answer the question or solve the problem to the best of your ability.

The questions in the MMI are created to learn about your ethics, problem solving abilities, passion, and leadership skills. Many of the questions do not have correct or incorrect answers. For example:

You live in a condo with a swimming pool and gym. Your best friend asks for your key so she can use the gym and pool because she can't afford the monthly gym pass at the public gym. But regulations state that non-tenants are not allowed to use the pool and gym. What do you do?

The Science Student Success Centre holds a MMI practice session each winter term. Spots fill up quickly, so make sure to check the Upcoming Events Calendar and then sign up to attend this event through mySuccess (Access MySuccess through Carleton360) and click on Science Student Success Centre.

Carleton Interview Resources

Co-op provides one-on-one interview practice to prepare for medical school entrance interviews.

Co-operative Education
1400 CTTC
Monday-Friday 8:30-4:30
(613) 520-4331
co-opprogram [at]

Admission Requirements for Medical Schools in Canada

Medical school admission requirements change frequently, so please check the school's website for the most up to date information. Here are the basic admission requirements for each school in Canada as of Fall 2023.

GPA is calculated using the OMSAS Conversion Scale.

Medical Schools in Ontario

  • No required courses
  • MCAT required
  • CASPer required
  • Cut off GPA = 3.00
  • Minimum three years of an undergraduate degree
  • SAT/UNS grades are not considered in the GPA calculation, however independent grades from a minimum of 5 half-year or 5 full-year courses in total are required for the GPA to be evaluated

Click here for more information.

  • No required courses
  • Recommended that science majors complete at least 4 semesters of arts, social sciences and/or humanities
  • Recommended that majors in arts, social sciences and/or humanities complete at least 4 semesters of science
  • MCAT not required
  • CASPer not required
  • Cut off GPA = 3.00
  • Minimum four-year undergraduate degree (minimum three-year degree for those 25+ years old)
  • SAT/UNS grades are not accepted

Click here for more information.

A minimum grade of B is required for each pre-requisite

  • 2 semesters in humanities/social sciences (eg. sociology, psychology, math, religion, administration, english literature, english writing, etc.)
  • 2 semesters in biology or physiology
  • 1 semester in organic chemistry
  • 1 semester in chemistry
  • 1 semester in biochemistry
  • 1 semester in statistics
  • MCAT not required
  • CASPer required
  • Cut off GPA varies each year
  • Minimum three years of an undergraduate degree

Lab requirement:

  • The laboratory requirements can be met by either having 2 semesters-worth of courses (indicated above in course requirements) that include a laboratory component and/or by having completed additional course(s) up to 2 semesters that are exclusively laboratory-based.

Click here for more information.

University of Ottawa Medical School FAQ.

  • No required courses
  • MCAT required
  • CASPer required
  • Cut off GPA varies each year
  • You are required to have a minimum of 15 full credits or 30 half credits at the undergraduate university level in a university program to be eligible for consideration.
  • SAT/UNS grades are not included in the GPA calculation, however they will be included in the credit/course count

Click here for more information.

  • 4 semesters of life sciences
  • 2 semesters of humanities, social sciences, or a language
  • Recommended to have 1 semester in statistics and 4 semesters in courses that require expository writing
  • MCAT required as a cutoff for interviews (threshold score of 125 in each section, with an allowance of 124 in one section)
  • CASPer not required
  • Cut off GPA = 3.6
  • Minimum three years of an undergraduate degree

Click here for more information.

  • No required courses
  • MCAT required
  • CASPer not required
  • Cut off GPA = 3.70
  • Only two undergraduate years are presented for GPA calculation
  • Minimum four years of an undergraduate degree
  • SAT/UNS is only accepted from 1 full-year/2 half-year course(s) in each undergraduate year used for GPA calculation
    • If you are presenting the 2019-2020 academic year, SAT/UNS from 1 full-year/2 half-year course(s) will only be accepted in the Fall 2019 term

Click here for more information.

Medical Schools Outside of Ontario

  • No required courses
  • Minimum 10 credits of an undergraduate degree
  • MCAT required (minimum of 128 in CARS and 124 in the remaining categories for Out-of-Province applicants, and 124 in all categories for Albertan applicants)
  • CASPer required
  • Cut off cGPA = 3.50 on the UofA 4.0 scale for Out-Of-Province applicants, and 3.30 for Albertan applicants

Click here for more information.

  • 2 semesters of English
  • Recommended courses include 2 semesters each of biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, and biochemistry
  • Optional courses are physics, statistics, social sciences, and humanities
  • MCAT required (minimum score of 124 in each section)
  • CASPer not required
  • Cut off overall academic average for BC applicants is 75%, and 85% for Out-Of-Province applicants
  • Minimum 15 credits of an undergraduate degree
  • SAT/UNS courses taken during Winter 2019-2020 Term no longer count toward the credit minimum requirement. 

Click here for more information.

  • No required courses
  • MCAT required (minimum of 128 in CARS for Out-Of-Province applicants)
  • CASPer not required
  • Minimum of two years of an undergraduate degree
  • Cut off GPA = 3.20 for Albertan applicants, and 3.80 for Out-Of-Province applicants

Click here for more information.

  • No required courses
  • MCAT required
  • CASPer required
  • Cut off GPA = 3.3 for Maritime applicants, and 3.7 for Non-Maritime applicants
  • Completion of undergraduate degree
  • SAT/UNS grades are not used in the GPA calculation

Click here for more information.

  • No required courses
  • MCAT required
  • CASPer required
  • Completion of undergraduate degree
  • Cut off GPA = 3.30

Click here for more information.

  • 2 semesters each of biology, physics and chemistry (all w/ labs)
  • 1 semester of organic chemistry w/ lab
  • Recommended to take 1 semester each of mammalian physiology, biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology, and statistics
  • MCAT not required
  • CASPer required
  • Cut off GPA = 3.50
  • Minimum four years of an undergraduate degree
  • SAT/UNS grades only accepted for courses taken in the Winter 2020 term

Click here for more information.

  • No required courses
  • MCAT required
  • CASPer required
  • Completion of undergraduate degree

Click here for more information.

  • No required courses
  • MCAT required
  • CASPer required
  • Academic average of 80%
  • Completion of undergraduate degree

Click here for more information.

Character Sketch

What is the Character Sketch?

  • Allows admissions committee to get to know you – apart from your grades
    • Also called the Autobiographical Sketch
  • Required for OMSAS
    • Check specific requirements for each school
  • Other schools (outside of Ontario) may require different methods: LOR, mini essays, etc.

This is usually an account of everything you have done since the age of 16- although some schools may only want the activities you have done in your undergrad. They can be structured or non-structured experiences.


There are 32 spots to fill, which includes categories for;

  • F: Formal Education (Name of Institution, dates, program, degree)
  • X: Extracurricular Activities
  • V: Volunteer Activities
  • E: Employment
  • R: Research
  • A: Awards and Accomplishments
  • O: Other

For each entry you must include;

  • Duration of participation
    • Is the activity ongoing?
    • Total number of hours completed
  • Description of role
    • Responsibilities and skills gained
  • How this will make you a good doctor

For every entry you have a limit of 150 characters to describe your role and what you gained. You must be concise.


Every entry you make you are required to have a verifier: someone they can contact to prove what you wrote is true.

  • Make sure they are reputable
  • Make sure they know they will be contacted (you do not want a verifier to be called by surprise)
  • Make sure you have one for every entry, you need verifiers that are not friends or family for most entries

Tips and Tricks

Review the application guidelines before starting to be sure nothing has changed.
Start early!

Keep track of your activities:

  • Organization name
  • List of responsibilities/roles
  • Keep in touch with your verifiers
  • Contact info for verifier

While Writing:

  • 150 character limit
  • Strong, descriptive language
  • Avoid short forms (@, w/, &)
  • Quality over quantity- some schools may not want all 48 spots filled so pick your strongest activities
  • Review all your entries. Check for spelling, grammar, etc.

For more information, contact the Med School you are interested in and for Ontario schools consult the OMSAS application guide

            samples of essays: the good and the bad

Additional Resources

OnboardMD: An online resource bank for prospective Med Students

BeMo: Med School application examples and resources


Last updated 08/11/2023

Search Carleton