There is a ton of diversity across Canada (let alone the world) when it comes to medical school admissions processes. The following is what I would do if I ran a medical school. If there are any medical school admissions committees seeking advice, you know how to reach me ;).
GPA / MCAT
I’ve said before that if I were forced to only use one item for selecting candidates, it would be GPA. So there’s no way I could leave it out if I got a chance to re-design the entire process. GPA is useful because it shows a candidate’s academic ability over a fairly long period. Due to the nature of GPA calculations, you need to be consistent to score well. You need to be able to work hard for several years. Qualities like intelligence, work ethic, organizational skills, etc. are highly suggested from a good GPA, and you need those skills to be a good medical student, first and foremost. If you don’t have the ability to learn well and study hard, you won’t be able to acquire the knowledge you need to be a competent doctor. GPA is one of the only ways for students to prove that.
Of course, one of the problems with GPA is that everyone takes different courses from different programs in different institutions. This is where the MCAT comes in, to standardized the process a bit. The MCAT allows us to compare certain abilities of students from many different programs and backgrounds. The drawback to the MCAT is that it only represents a single event, which students study a few months for – which does not tell us much about the student’s ability to be a learner for a much longer period of time. In addition, the material tested on the MCAT and its relevance to medicine are debatable, and it is problematic in the sense that it is organized by someone else and limits the medical school’s ability to control what type of skills should be tested.
As such, I think using both GPA and the MCAT is important. However, I disagree with the strict cutoff method that some medical schools use. It doesn’t make sense to me for someone scoring 14/14/8/T with a 4.0 GPA to not have an interview, while someone with a 10/10/9/Q and 3.7 GPA to be guaranteed one.
I think it makes much more sense to use an algorithm that combines the GPA and MCAT into a single score, and then rank applicants that way for the interview.