Are you wondering how to get into medical school in Canada? We can understand why. This country is well known for its highly ranked tertiary education system, and that includes the seventeen medical schools in Canada. Whether you're a local student wanting to become a doctor so that you can serve your community or a recent immigrant looking to build a new life in the great white north, you will need an application that stands out in order to beat the competition and get into medical school in Canada. In this blog, we'll talk about everything you need to know to do just that.


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Article Contents
8 min read

How Competitive is Medical School in Canada? Selection Factors for Medical Schools in Canada Tips to Help You Get into Medical School in Canada How to Apply to Medical School in Canada Application Timeline for Medical Schools in Canada FAQs

How Competitive is Medical School in Canada?

Getting into medical school in Canada is hard. Generally speaking, medical school acceptance rates in Canada are less than 10%.

There are some notable variations in medical school acceptance rates in Canada. For example, Queen’s University School of Medicine with an average acceptance rate of 1.9%. Other schools, like University of Saskatchewan , University of Manitoba Max Rady College of Medicine, and University of British Columbia have acceptance rates hovering around 10%. 

The acceptance rate is often lower for international students. Currently, there are seven Canadian medical schools that accept international students.

Getting into medical school in Canada might seem like mission impossible, but our admissions expert Dr. Neel Mistry offers advice that helped him be successful during the medical school application process:

“While the acceptance rate is important when trying to calculate your odds, there is no simple formula that decides who gets in. If getting into medical school in Canada is your ultimate goal, it is important to apply to as many schools as possible. Like Wayne Gretzky said, ‘you miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take.’” – Dr. Neel Mistry, MD

Here's how we help our students get into medical school in Canada!

Selection Factors for Medical Schools in Canada

Medical schools in Canada categorize their selection factors into two groups: academic and non- academic. We’re pulling back the curtain to show you exactly how they use these selection factors to assess your application.

One of the most important selection factors unique to medical schools in Canada is how students demonstrate their skills within the CanMEDS framework. It cannot be overstated that, whenever possible, your application materials should relate back to this framework.

Admissions committees at Canadian medical schools utilize the CanMEDS framework as a lens through which they evaluate applicants. Applicants are not expected to have expertise in all the CanMEDS roles and competencies, but you should take every opportunity to show your potential to excel in each.

Check out this infographic that shows the seven roles identified in the CANMeds framework:

Tips to Help You Get into Medical School in Canada

Tip #1: Maintain a High GPA

Medical schools across Canada are going to look at your GPA because they want to assess your overall academic abilities. Regardless of the medical school GPA requirements of your chosen schools, you want to maintain a high GPA, if possible. Our MD admissions expert Dr. Neel Mistry offers this advice:

But if you are applying to medical school with a low GPA, you still have options.

  • Look for schools without a minimum GPA requirement.
  • Focus on getting a high MCAT score.
  • Make sure your other application components are compelling.

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Wondering how competitive your GPA is? Use the Canada medical school chance predictor

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Tip #2 Get a High MCAT Score

Obviously, you already know that a high MCAT score will help your medical school application. In Canada, an MCAT score of 515 or greater makes you a top applicant and helps you stand out. MD admissions expert Dr. Neel Mistry scored in the 97th percentile when he took the MCAT, and this significantly increased his chances of admission to medical school.

Dr. Mistry says that taking practice tests, having a realistic study schedule, and doing a combination of content review and passage questions all contributed to his MCAT success.

Prepare to excel on your MCAT with our invaluable free resources! Discover insider tips from our experienced consultants who aced their MCATs. We provide expert guidance on creating a study schedule to surpass the 515 score , along with insights on when and how to begin studying for your MCAT.

Many students find that additional support through MCAT prep courses and tutoring is a key component in creating an effective study schedule and improving their score.

“Dr. Henry's tutoring has been a game-changer in my MCAT preparation. His consistency, coupled with a personalized approach, sets him apart. Not only does he have a knack for breaking down complex concepts, but he also takes the time to remember personal aspects of my life. This builds a unique student-professor bond based on trust and understanding. His explanations are concise, making foundational concepts breeze through. Thanks to Dr. Henry, I feel well-equipped for success on the MCAT" - Sunny, Former BeMo Student

Tip #3 Focus on Canadian Medical School Prerequisites

Each Canadian medical school has a list of courses that students are required to take. These are the most commonly required prerequisites for medical schools in Canada:

  • 2 semesters of biology with lab work
  • 2 semesters of chemistry with lab work
  • 2 semesters of physics with lab work
  • 1 semester of calculus, algebra, statistics, or another advanced mathematics class

“The #1 piece of advice would be taking courses you genuinely enjoy … When you are doing something that you enjoy, you automatically end up going the extra mile, which shows in both the quality of your work as well as the results.” – Dr. Neel Mistry, MD, University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine

Some schools also have a list of suggested prerequisite courses in addition to the required courses. Completing the suggested courses will benefit you in three ways: One, it shows medical schools that you are detail-oriented and committed to exceeding their admissions standards. Two, it is a great way to stand out from the crowd. Three, having the educational background recommended by the program will make things easier for you in medical school.

Tip #4 Optimize Experiences and Activities

Every medical school admissions committee wants to know how you've developed academically and personally through pivotal and formative extracurricular activities. They are keenly interested in seeing activities where you had the opportunity to develop and use some of the roles in the CanMEDS framework. These experiences may include leadership roles, volunteering, jobs, and shadowing.

Applicants to universities in Ontario need to enter their curated list of activities and experiences on their OMSAS sketch, while other schools have their own version of this section on their medical school application forms. Having gone through the process of putting together his OMSAS sketch, Dr. Neel Mistry offers advice you can use to make your sketch stand out:

"For the sketch, be detailed and concise, and focus on the most significant activities. Quality often supersedes quantity. It's possible to succeed with fewer entries if they demonstrate exemplary skills."- Dr. Neel Mistry, MD

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Tip #5 Write Medical School Essays that Stand Out

Your medical school admissions essays are your opportunity to stand out, but be warned, most schools have specific prompts and a strict limit on how long these essays can be. Your essays have to be easy to read and on point.

There are two surefire ways to grab the admissions committee's attention:

  1. Make sure your essay answers the prompt, and
  2. Provide examples of how you exemplify the CanMEDS roles.

You will need to take into account each school’s unique mission, values, and requirements, and tailor your application accordingly. Some schools may ask for an additional short essay while others require a personal essay.

Dr. Mistry reminds students that while it is important to showcase your unique skills and experiences, it is equally important to keep an eye on the smaller details like grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Too many errors can hurt your chances of being accepted!

Tip #6 Get Great Recommendation Letters

Medical school recommendation letters show the admissions committee how other professionals view you. There are four things to keep in mind when asking for recommendation letters: 

  • Letters should be a one-to-two-page document that illustrates your skills, abilities, and strengths.
  • Follow each school’s guidelines for who can be a referee.
  • Choose referees who know you well enough to provide examples that demonstrate your commitment to the CanMEDS values. It is helpful to provide them with the CanMEDS roles outlines to cross reference as they write your letter.
  • Make sure the letters prove that you have the specific personal and professional qualities each program is looking for.

Tip #7 Ace the CASPer Test

CASPer stands for Computer-based Assessment for Sampling Personal characteristics, and it is a situational judgment test designed to assess your interpersonal skills and decision-making abilities.

There are 12 Canadian medical schools that require the CASPer test. You are scored on your ability to think critically and make professional decisions.

Explore our resources on how long it takes to prepare for the CASPer test, test prep tips, and test question categories and types to help you get a high score on your test.

Expert help and support as you prepare for the CASPer test can make it less intimidating and help you significantly improve your scores.

“The Casper Review sessions are amazingly helpful! Dr. Haitham Shoman went above and beyond for me by scheduling other sessions when we ran out of time to ensure we answered all of my questions, providing me with great feedback on my answers and his tips on how to improve my scores were immediately effective. He is very friendly, comes with a big smile and has been an integral part of my improving casper scores.” - Dewmini D., Former BeMo Student


Medical schools in Canada favor the MMI. Practice with these tough questions!

Tip #8 Wow the Admissions Committee During Your Interview

When it comes to medical school interviews, preparation is key—they represent the final hurdle in your application process. In Canada, these interviews vary in format, ranging from traditional face-to-face to video or MMI setups.

To wow the interviewers, begin your preparation well in advance. Research each school's interview format on their official website and tailor your preparation strategy accordingly.

Remember, the interview offers you the chance to demonstrate your proficiency in the CanMEDS roles; when it makes sense, be sure to incorporate examples of applications of the different roles. Medical school interview questions will dig deep into your communication, ethical decision-making, and leadership abilities. From what you wear to how you answer questions, make sure you approach each interview with professionalism and aim to make a lasting positive impression on the admissions committee.

Dr. Neel Mistry, MD, survived his medical school interviews and knows that you will, too! He has some helpful advice based on his own experiences.

“The most important thing to remember is to be yourself. I know this sounds very cliché, but that is ultimately what will form a good first and last impression. It is normal for you to feel nervous or overwhelmed on the day of the interview. Focus on being genuine and getting to know the faculty, staff, and other prospective students. Aside from having a good personality, it is important to dress well, and ask thought-provoking questions at the end of your interview. Doing this will help you stand out and form a good overall impression.” – Dr. Neel Mistry, MD

Tip #9 Say Thank You

We recommend sending a thank you letter after a medical school interview. Your thank you letter does not need to be elaborate. It can be a simple email or handwritten note expressing gratitude for being given the opportunity to interview.

How to Apply to Medical School in Canada

How to apply to medical schools in Canada depends on the province where the school is located. Each province follows its own timeline, so it is imperative that you keep track of the deadlines and make arrangements to ensure all your application components are delivered to your school of choice on time.

Application Timeline for Medical Schools in Canada

The general application timeline for medical schools in Canada varies across provinces; Remember to always confirm the timelines provided by specific schools for up-to-date information.

FAQs

1. Is it hard to get into medical school in Canada?

Yes, it is hard to get into medical school in Canada! If you want to get accepted, you need to be a competitive applicant with great communication skills and a strong application. 

2. What’s the acceptance rate of medical schools in Canada?

The average overall acceptance rate for all the medical schools in Canada is around 7.5%. 

3. How many medical schools are there in Canada?

There are 17 medical schools across the country. 

4. Do medical schools in Canada accept international students?

Only seven universities accept international students into their medical programs at this time. 

5. What is CanMEDS?

CanMEDS is a framework that was established to improve patient care by optimizing physician training. It identifies seven roles that physicians should master and seamlessly integrate to provide high-quality and safe patient-centered care. 

6. What GPA do I need to get into medical school in Canada?

 GPA or minimum grades requirement vary greatly among Canadian medical schools, admission requires a strong academic background so you should aim for top-notch grades. 

7. Do all medical schools in Canada require the MCAT?

The MCAT is not required by medical schools in Quebec, the University of Ottawa Medical School, and Northern Ontario School of Medicine. 

8. WHAT ARE THE RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS APPLYING TO MEDICAL SCHOOL IN CANADA?
  • Permanent Residency (PR) or Citizenship
  • Study Permit
  • English Language Proficiency

Requirements may vary; it's important to check with each medical school for accurate information.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting 

Disclaimer: BeMo does not endorse or affiliate with any universities, colleges, or official test administrators. The content has been developed based on the most recent publicly available data provided from the official university website. However, you should always check the statistics/requirements with the official school website for the most up to date information. You are responsible for your own results.


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