All medical schools in Ontario use an online centralized application service at http://www.ouac.on.ca/omsas/ to accept and assess applications from thousands of students annually. Students around the world use the Ontario Medical School Application Service (OMSAS) to apply to medical school in Ontario so it is a very clear, concise and effective way to consolidate application services.
The most important step is to review the OMSAS Instruction in detail. Most of the questions you want to ask will be answered in the instructions. Specific questions about each school are addressed in there as well and also on the school websites. If you still have questions, you can contact the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre (OUAC) directly, look on their FAQ section or contact the admissions coordinator for the school. The staff at OUAC and the Faculties of Medicine are very good at their jobs and we recommend you treat them with respect and kindness.
We will review pro tips for each component of the OMSAS application in this post.
Address Information & Personal Information
This is relatively self-explanatory but here are a few important points. For Aboriginal applicants, the declaration is an important way that schools identify you for their Aboriginal Applicants stream. The criteria by which schools assess ancestry vary so you need to look at each school’s policy separately. For the “First Language” field, include the language you learned at home as a child.
The Mailing Address is where you are physically living and usually refers to the place you’re living during the school year from September to April. The Home Address is like your Permanent Address and could be your parental address or the place where you’re based while in school. Ensure that you tick the “Use home address after May 1” box if you’re planning on leaving your school address for home during the summer. For mature applicants, the Mailing and Home Address are likely the same.
For students interested in applying to the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, the Rural Origins section is an important assessment tool. Include the postal code where you attended most or all of high school. Even if you’re not applying to NOSM, complete the Section as practice ensuring you’ve crossed all your t’s and dotted all your i’s.
The questions in this section are crucial in determining your eligibility to apply for medical school in Ontario. Answering ‘Yes’ to one or more of these does not mean that you will not ever get into medical school but it means the schools will pay special attention to your application and apply additional scrutiny. Lying on these questions will absolutely catch up with you so we strongly advise against answering falsely. This is fraudulent and it will not work.
The questions are:
1. Have you ever been enrolled or are you currently enrolled in an M.D. program at any university? Indicate the name of the medical school.
2. Have you ever failed a year at university or been required to withdraw from or been denied re-admission to a university?
3. Has your undergraduate program been interrupted for reasons other than academic failure?
Each school describes their “special consideration” criteria on their website. There is little that unites the schools in terms of these criteria so please explore them based on your unique situation.
This is where you tell OUAC which schools you want them to submit your application to when the deadline rolls around in early October. The choices are: McMaster University, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, the University of Ottawa, Queen’s University, the University of Toronto and Western University.
Five of the six schools have, historically, had an MD/PhD Program. The program has traditionally been funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) but the research institution recently announced that they would no longer be funding the program. This may change so if you are planning on applying to an MD/PhD program please contact the school directly to see if they will be establishing alternative funding for the program.
The University of Ottawa also asks you to apply to a language stream for their MD program. Please review the instructions again to ensure you’re including the correct stream for your language skills and desired training.
You can always edit your choices up until the point where you actually submit your application. Once you’ve made your selections, do not forget to actually click the button at the bottom of the screen.
The sketch shares a technical, standardized portrait of who you are with the schools. The sketch takes a lot of time to build properly so start early. We always recommend that students keep a running list of what they’ve done, with whom and for whom over the years, starting at age 16.
The medical schools that consider the sketch are the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, the University of Ottawa, Queen’s University and the University of Toronto. McMaster and Western do not consider your sketch.
You can enter up to 32 items in your Autobiographical Sketch in seven categories: employment, formal education, volunteer activities, extracurricular activities, awards and accomplishments, research and other. We have several blog posts dedicated to the topics of how to divide your activities in these seven categories. Once you enter an item, you will be prompted to add details. Ideally, you’ve got a spreadsheet with the essential details already made up and it becomes a matter of data entry and fact checking.
The experiences can be both structured and non-structured, which is basically the distinction between formal and informal.
You will need to assign a verifier to each activity listed. The verifiers can be added by clicking the View/Update Verifier button. You will need to have the following information to complete each verifier entry:
This section is where the specific needs of each school are satisfied through supplemental questions, such as the University of Toronto’s Brief Personal Essays.
As with all section, follow the instructions very carefully and ensure that you answer the questions. You will not be allowed to violate the character count.
This is where you allow the system to cross reference the letters they get from professors, employers and the like from across the country with your particular application.
You will ask three individuals – early, very early – to complete the Confidential Assessment form. Entering your referee address and information into the respective referee area will populate a PDF with a unique form. Download and print or save the form. Send the form to your referee. Do not ask to see your form nor discuss the assessment with your referee. It is to remain entirely confidential. Ensure that you have a committed referee before you download the forms because they cannot be changed once they are complete.
At least one referee should be a non-academic/character referee.
This section just requires your AAMC ID and your most recent test date. Double-check for accuracy.
Use our OMSAS GPA Calculator to convert your grades from any university to the OMSAS GPA without the need for any confusing charts.
Postsecondary Education & Transcripts
This is where you provide your academic history. Enter any university, college or CEGEP that you’ve attended in your life. It gets very repetitive which makes it easy to make errors, so use your transcripts to enter in the details of each course and double-check your entries. The entries are divided up into layers including year summary, year details, course summary and course details. OMSAS will calculate your GPA as you complete the entries.
The transcripts form the basis of confirming the assessment of your academic record. They will be used to calculate your GPA. They should be ordered by you and sent to OMSAS at 170 Research Lane, Guelph, Ontario N1G 5E2 by the referee not before specified deadlines.
Remember that this includes any postsecondary institution (university, college or CEGEP) at which you have registered, even if you have not attained a grade because a course is in progress, you withdrew or cancelled the course. This also includes institutions where you only took a summer course and these should be entered as Supplemental. These courses will be used to calculate your GPA at some schools and not at others. It is fraudulent not to include all transcripts that meet the criteria.
Putting it all together:
The entire process will require patience and attention, as well as several weeks of your time. Do it right so that you don’t waste an entire application cycle on a silly error. If you’re unsure about where something in your life or situation fits in the application, just search the booklet or email OUAC/OMSAS.
You will do well if you take good care of the details. Best of luck.
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About the Author
Dr. Ashley White, a former admissions committee member at McMaster, former MMI evaluator, and family physician.
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Your friends at BeMo