Tips | Preparing for Medical School
Pursuing a career as a doctor is a long and intense journey. Physicians support and manage the health care of people of all ages. They take medical histories, perform physical examinations, conduct diagnostic tests, provide treatment and advise patients on their overall health and well-being. Physicians usually fall into three broad categories. Primary care physicians are the doctors whom patients visit most frequently. They treat a wide range of illnesses and provide preventive care. Next are surgeons, who perform operations to treat diseases and repair injuries. Lastly, specialists have expertise related to specific diseases and body parts such as cardiologists, neurologists, and so on.
1. What University Background is Required?
Gaining admission to medical school is competitive. Requirements to apply vary for each medical school but often start with a combination of a candidate’s GPA (minimum 3.5 but higher is preferred) and MCAT score (minimum of 80-85th percentile). Admission committees also consider a candidate’s extracurricular activities and work experience when evaluating prospective students. A strong personal statement and solid academic references from professors are also typically required. It is prudent to verify all information about admissions requirements and processes directly with each faculty.
Many medical faculties maintain separate admission categories for mature applicants, Black or Indigenous applicants, and people with disabilities. These access categories may have slightly different admission requirements. Each applicant is considered and compared with others in the same category.
2. What is the MCAT?
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) develops and administers the MCAT exam – a standardized, multiple-choice test that has been part of the medical school admissions process for more than 85 years. The MCAT exam is designed to help better prepare tomorrow’s doctors for the rapid changes in science and medical careers. This exam contains 59 questions each from biological and biochemical foundations of living systems, chemical and physical foundations, psychological, social, and biological foundations of behaviour as well as a critical analysis and reasoning skills section. This online exam lasts 7 hours with a break included and is held between January – mid-September.
Tip: Review an MCAT guide, such as those published by Kaplan, Prep101, and/or Princeton Review, for sample questions and solutions to help you understand the skills assessed in the MCAT. Once you are ready to study for the MCAT, begin to practice from actual and previously-administered MCATs. Official MCAT PrepTests can be purchased at the AAMC website.
Free MCAT Prep is also available online through the Khan Academy.
The AAMC and the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC) offer a Fee Assistance Program for Canadian examinees in financial need to help them prepare for and register for the MCAT: https://students-residents.aamc.org/applying-medical- school/article/fee-assistance-program-canadian-examinees/.
3. How to Register for the MCAT
Applicants can register online by visiting the AAMC website. Check the website for test dates, locations, and deadlines.
Tip: Check with each medical school regarding deadlines by which the MCAT must be written and consider writing at an earlier sitting to provide flexibility should you choose to take the test again.
4. Applying to Ontario Universities
There are 17 medical schools in Canada with 6 in Ontario. Ontario's medical schools receive 2,500+ applications for 170-280 spots. Given the degree of competition, students are advised to consider and prepare for a variety of career options rather than having a narrow and exclusive focus on medicine. The cost of medical school in Canada varies greatly between universities. For the 2021-2022 year, the cost of tuition ranged from $25,219 (University of Toronto) and $28,500 (University of Ottawa).
The application process is handled centrally by the Ontario Medical School Application Service (OMSAS).
- In addition to the online application, refer to each university’s admission requirements for supplementary information that might be required. Applications are due through OMSAS on October 1, 2021.
- It is recommended that applicants allow between 10-25 hours to prepare their application and if a personal statement is required, allow plenty of time for editing and refining.
- The non-refundable OMSAS application fee is $220 Canadian, plus around $100 -$130 for each school applied to.
- Refer to the OMSAS website for a list of upcoming medical school information events/sessions in the fall.
Qualifying to practice in Canada with an international medical degree requires a number of accreditation steps. For full details consult:
Need help funding medical school applications? See this link for more information:
5. Practicing Medicine in Ontario
To practice Medicine in Ontario, The Ontario Medical Association requires successful completion of:
- Degree in medicine from an acceptable medical school.
- Part 1 and Part 2 of the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination (MCCQE) or one of the acceptable alternative examinations.
- Certification, by examination, by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) or the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC).
- Completion in Canada of one year of postgraduate training or active medical practice with pertinent clinical experience.
- Canadian citizenship or permanent resident status.
Ontario Medical Schools
- University of Toronto Medical School
- University of Ottawa Medical School
- Queen’s University Medical School
- Western University Medical School
- McMaster University Medical School
- Northern Ontario School of Medicine
Tip: Detailed information about admission requirements and application procedures should be obtained from the individual Faculties of Medicine. For an overview summarizing medical school requirements, application categories, and specialty programs, refer to the Ontario Medical School Application Service.
UTM Career Centre Resources
- Fairs at UTM
- UTM Career Centre Career Profile packages
- UTM Career Centre Considering Further Education website
- Individual Appointments – Get support and information to plan your medical career, explore alternatives, gain relevant experience and critique your personal statement. Call (905) 828-5451 to book an online or in-person session.
- Job ShadowProgram: A unique career exploration program to investigate career interests over a 1 to 5-day voluntary placement usually in spring and fall.
- Is Medicine Right for You? This info session will shed light on some of the factors that can make you a competitive candidate and demystify the application process.
- Medicine: Preparing for Medical School– Learn about the different academic and non-academic requirements as well as the resources available.
- Beyond the Stethoscope (2021)
- Physician - Mission Not So Impossible (2021)
- Mastering the Personal Statement - Understand the process of writing a personal statement. Try our e-module found on our website under Further Education, Resources, and Links, then make an appointment to have your statement reviewed at the Career Centre.
- Admission Requirements of Canadian Faculties of Medicine
- Canadian Federation of Medical Students: Pre-Med
- UTM Career Resource e-library: Check out our e-book collection related to careers in medicine and the MCAT.
Contact medical schools’ admissions offices to clarify specific questions not covered on their websites.
Information is subject to change. Consult the original sources for the most up-to-date information. Updated August 2021.