Prerequisite Proposal Passed

The prerequisite proposal has passed! Final approval has been reached and we can confirm that starting with the 2016/2017 application cycle, the science prerequisites will be strongly recommended rather than required. A full year of English will still be required. This change will not affect applicants currently invited to interview. All applicants currently eligible for entry into the program this year need to complete their prerequisite courses by the end of April 2016.

What does this mean? It means that we are still encouraging applicants to take the prerequisite courses. However, since we are not requiring specific courses anymore, applicants can apply even if they have not taken all of the prerequisite courses. Hopefully this will give applicants more flexibility in the courses they take and will remove a barrier for prospective applicants who find it difficult to complete the entire prerequisite sequence.

What does this mean in terms of my application? As before, applicants will be expected to demonstrate knowledge and ability in science, particularly in biology and chemistry (including organic chemistry and biochemistry). Performing well in the prerequisite courses is an excellent way to demonstrate this. MCAT scores are also an indication of knowledge and ability in these areas. However, relying on the MCAT alone puts a lot of emphasis on MCAT scores; it’s kind of like putting all of your eggs in one basket. Some applicants might feel ok letting their MCAT scores represent their scientific capabilities, but others will want or need some prerequisite grades to support or balance their MCAT scores.

Unfortunately, we cannot give an MCAT score threshold or a specific number/combination of prerequisite courses that will definitively prove one has the knowledge and ability in science required by the admissions committee, other than the full sequence of courses posted on our website. Taking no science courses and doing poorly (or mediocrely) on the MCAT will cause the committee concern. Doing well in all of the prerequisite courses and on the MCAT will not. However, lots of applicants will be in between these two scenarios. It’s up to you to decide which courses to take.

What does this mean in terms of your evaluation criteria? We will no longer calculate a prerequisite GPA. Since the prerequisite GPA is not a factor in who is invited to interview, the pre-interview scoring is not affected by this change and will remain the same. As before, there is a holistic review post-interview, the specifics of which are confidential. MCAT minimums are the same. AP/IB scores that meet our minimum requirements will still “count” as the applicable prerequisite (and the additional chemistry course for AP Chemistry is no longer required).  In the future you will be able to decide whether or not to submit your AP or IB transcripts. If you do, this will add value to your file, but it will not be mandatory.

If I take different courses than the prerequisites listed, will they still “count”? In general, there will be more flexibility around which courses can demonstrate the foundational knowledge we are looking for; however, if you are uncertain or want clear direction, take a number of courses in general biology, chemistry, biochemistry and organic chemistry. Also, taking at least one lab course before medical school will give you a sense of what that is like, which will also benefit you.

I’m kind of mad that I spent so much money and time on the prerequisites. I wouldn’t have taken them if I didn’t have to. You are not alone! Others have shared similar feedback. Just to reiterate, the prerequisites will only help you. Courses are expensive but we hope you learned something, too. And remember, since you took all of the prerequisites, the admissions committee can easily assess your foundational knowledge in science.

46 responses to “Prerequisite Proposal Passed”

  1. John

    The pre req courses wont help me if I don’t get into medical school because my competitors took easier courses and got a much higher gpa..and to think that these individuals must take these courses to do well on the MCAT is just not true – the MCAT requires pretty basic scientific knowledge, which can be self taught over a four month period – that is probably what the admissions committee will start seeing – high MCAT scores (people that take it repeatedly to get that high score to show ‘scientific competence’) combined with high grades in easy courses – how well will this bode for those of us who had to take the difficult courses?? Just not fair at all.

  2. John

    I also want to add – every time the admissions committee changes a rule there will be a significant amount of people who will be hurt by that change, and I don’t think it’s fair to lessen their chances of admission when they were proactive enough to built their lives around rules that now, suddenly, no longer applies. For example, although the agpa for the 10year rule was advantageous for many, for some it was disastrous – imagine if you spent time planning out the next few years to get great marks, and you do this because you know those crappy courses you took years ago won’t count, and so gyou invest the next 3 years of your life showing scientific competence, undergoing significant time, stress and money, only for it to suddenly be in vain because the process has changed. UBC must start adopting strict long term rules, anf abiding by them, as to prevent disadvantaging proactive students – and with all honesty, you can’t accommodate everyone, but you should at least expect people read the admission requirements prior to going down the path to medicine – that’s what I did, and trust me, I didn’t have any role models/parents telling me to do so.

  3. George

    I am upset I had to spend my life savings (literally) and time studying for courses I had little to no interest in. However, I am most upset about the fact that some of the prerequisite courses brought down my overall GPA. How will this affect me? Will those who have taken the prerequisites have the opportunity to remove some of these courses from their transcript in subsequent applications? If not, will those who have taken the prerequisites be given special consideration? I have friends and classmates who were taking biochemistry, but immediately dropped the difficult course after this announcement. It seems unfair that the GPA of those who took the prerequisites should suffer and theirs not. I understand you will no longer calculate prerequisite GPA, but these courses negatively affect my overall GPA and thus my total file review. I also know that I am not the only one who feels this way.

  4. Lillie

    I’m wondering if there will be negative implications for applicants who are currently enrolled in the (old) prereqs, and who do a Voluntary Withdrawal to prevent a possible dip in their GPA. Do VW’s on a transcript look bad? I already have my Bachelor of Science of Nursing and am just working on the prereqs, planning on submitting my application this September. I’m in the position of having to decide whether to VW this semester, use the tuition funds returned for an MCAT course and just work (and study for MCAT). Any advice on the impact of VW’s on a transcript?

  5. Tom

    Will anyone be at a disadvantage if they didnt take the prerequisites? What does recommended mean

  6. Bobby grewal

    Will we still need a certian amount of credits to apply

  7. Aman

    Will the admissions committee still look at pre-req classes when deciding scientific competency for an applicant? And will they still calculate and post a pre-req percentage average when posting admissions statistics?As well what about students who had to extend their undergrads for a year or so in order to accomodate the pre-reqs. Will it be viewed negatively that the applicant takes 5 years (150 credits) to complete a 4 year (120 credit) degree?


  8. Joe

    HI UBC Med! I have a question: I am a science undergraduate student currently in my third year. So far I will have 87 credits completed by the end of this spring semester, and I am planning to take Biochemistry 302 ( a 3-credit course) in the summer (in order to meet the 90 credit requirement) and i plan to apply to UBC med in the 2016/2017 application cycle. Will the credits from Biochemistry 302 be used for credit to meet my 90 credit requirement?

    However, upon reading this article, Does that mean i do not have to take specifically BIOChemistry 302 anymore? Can I take a different (maybe much easier) course in the summer?

  9. Michelle

    I wonder what research has been done to support these changes to the admissions requirement.
    As noted by John in the comments, I was in disbelief when I found out about the 10-year rule being changed overnight, which nullified all my attempts and years and years of planning, hard work and building my life around my goal. Interestingly, as a Westbrook Scholar and awardee of the Premier Scholarship, UBC regards me as having “outstanding academic performance, leadership, and involvement in student and community activities” (one of the handful out of 40’000+ students) and I still don’t qualify for an interview for UBC medical school. It’s also very sad and frustrating that I am not given a chance to meet with the dean of admissions OR dean of medicine to discuss the issues with my application either, even though I have attempted to schedule a meeting.

  10. JS

    Hi UBC Med, I just wanted to ask a quick question since I haven’t been able to find any answers. I was just wondering how does the admission committee look at a course in which a supplemental exam was provided?

  11. Jessie

    Hi, I’m currently a high school student and just overwhelmed with so much new information. If I am correct, you no longer require me to take any specified courses so long as I have completed 90 post-secondary credits? So do you have any requirements other than having 90 post secondary credits and an 85% overall GPA? If I am wrong, it would be appreciated if you redirect me to to a link with all requirements of UBC’s undergraduate MD program?

  12. Liz

    Hello there,

    I plan on starting the pre-medicine program at Camosun college this fall in hopes of cutting my total years of studying ( for undergraduate degree) short. The pre-req courses offered there are exactly right for the ones UBC strongly recommends. So with that being said, I was wondering if the 2 year associate’s degree program would be sufficient to apply for this program?

    Thank you

  13. Anon

    Would there be any consideration to introduce a new factor, in determining pre-interview scores, instead of GPA and extracurriculars?

    As the average GPA is steadily rising, it may become harder to evaluate (in a student’s perspective, might become extremely competitive for each % you go up). I wonder if those admitted with a lower GPA, eg. 75-80% were followed up and see how they were doing a year or few years later. I suspect that GPA may not necessarily be a reliable indicator of how one might do in medical school, given they meet the minimum threshold (eg. 80 vs. 90 may present itself as a huge difference – but there could be a lot of different variables that come into this, including how the class was evaluated, presentations, choosing classes they are interested in vs. just for grades, etc.)

  14. Jeff

    Hi UBC Med,

    I have a scenario I would like to put forth. If I take 120 credits – then the bottom semester grades will not count in the GPA calculation. However, if one of my English classes (the only prereqs) are within that bottom semester, will that bottom semester still been taken out? Will retaking that English class to get a better grade make any difference? I hope these questions makes sense.

  15. Vince

    Hi UBC Med,

    I also had a few questions about your GPA calculations. As a student who has taken >120 credits how will my adjusted average be calculated and will you only take up to 30 credits off or the whole academic year? (Some academic years I took 34 credits).

    As well, are summer courses counted as part of that academic year?

    Lastly, is the overall GPA calculation up to 90 credits calculated in the average or is it all coursework done less the worst academic year?

    Thanks for your time!

    1. Admissions

      If more than 30 credits are presented in the worst academic year, the 30 credits with the lowest grades will be removed (if applicable). The academic year is considered to be the beginning of September to the end of August.

      The overall academic average will be calculated based on all university transferable courses attempted with grades. If you are eligible, the adjusted academic average will then be calculated by removing your worst year up to to maximum of 30 credits. To be eligible, you must have 90 credits with grades remaining by June 1 of the application year.

  16. Tom

    In the prerequisites page it states:
    Choose any one of ENGL 100, ENGL 112 or WRDS/ASTU 150 plus one of ENGL 110, 111, 120 or 121

    I am wondering if faculty-specific English courses would still be considered for this requirement. For example, as a part of my commerce degree, I had taken ENGL112 and then taken COMM390 (a business writing course that requires ENGL112 as a prerequisite). In the general sense, I feel this meets the “full year of English” requirement, but wanted to make sure Admissions would have the same view.


  17. Mike

    Hi UBC Med,

    I took my BS Biology degree at one of the universities in the Philippines and will have my credential evaluated by ICES this year. Now, would I be able to know if which of the 212 units I took back in University can be credited towards the 90 units requirement and the prerequisite courses for the MD undergrad program without submitting an application for admission?

    Thanks in advance!

  18. Rani

    HI UBC Med,

    I know you don’t give out the specifics of the post-interview process, but I’m wondering whether the MCAT will be weighed differently for the new cycle (even for those who have already taken the science pre-reqs) since pre-requisites are no longer required.

  19. Mike

    Dear UBC Admissions,

    You HAVE to allow students to drop certain courses they took from their transcript when applying to UBC now. Because we all took extremely difficult Biochem and Micro courses that drastically dropped our overall GPA. This is NOT FAIR. Students are taking music, PE, pyschology, and scoring A+ after A+ but we had to take Biochem and Micro courses which are 10x more difficult and dropped our GPA. This is not fair at all, we wasted time and money and should be given the opportunity to disregard certain courses from our transcript during the application process.

    Thank you.

    1. Joe

      1) For you personally, what makes you think you would succeed in medical school if you are not able to perform well on Biochemistry and Microbiology courses ( I would argue basic science courses )? Why are your pursuing medicine?
      If it really “drastically” dropped your GPA, you should be more worried about other science students that exceeded in those courses.

      2) Not sure how many music and PE students want to pursue medicine, but it seems like this is everyone’s straw-man argument.

      3) You should really check out the averages for psychology courses at UBC. The department policy is to have an average of 66-70% .

      –This is coming from a science student

  20. Jenn

    Hi UBC Admission,
    I had a question regarding the pre-interview process. I understand that students are selected for interview based on the TFR from the AQ and NAQ scores. With GPA usually being high for non-science students (i.e. Arts or humanities majors), the AQ will be a higher score for them as opposed to someone with a science background with pre-req classes already completed. To meet TFR cut off for the interview, wouldn’t this make it easy for someone with high GPA with a non-science background to get an interview invite? I feel that MCAT should be looked at prior to the interview process to make sure applicants with other majors have the pre-reqs done or have good MCAT scores to compensate for having no pre-reqs. This way, when interview invites are being sent out, it would be fair since AQ accounts for 50% pre-interview. For example, if 2 applicants have similar NAQ scores but different AQ scores based on the courses they did in undergrad, the one with low AQ will be affected for getting an interview invite (even if the one with low AQ has their pre-reqs done and good score on MCAT). I hope something will be done about this as it’s going to affect many students who have devoted their time in science undergrad doing hard courses with low class averages and doing pre-reqs (this will help with MCAT and future medical school but may affect their chance in getting into medical school).

  21. Alum

    Dear applicants,

    As a UBC Med alum who recently heard about the pre-requisite changes to admissions, I would like to remind you that UBC Medicine is interested in graduating doctors who not only have the capacity for high academic rigour and clinical acumen but also the abilities to relate to ALL patients we encounter. These qualities certainly are not exclusive to science majors or individuals who pursued “more difficult” undergraduate courses. Certainly some undergraduate courses are more challenging than others, but I am dismayed at some comments that suggest certain disciplines are dramatically easier than the “sciences.”

    I understand that these changes come as an unwelcome shock for many of you who have structured your courses (and lives) around requirements that are now obsolete. Please, please don’t let this deter you from pursuing Medicine. But also remember that the purpose of this change is to welcome broader experiences and talents into the profession of Medicine, which I view as a very positive and progressive change. Bravo, UBC!

    We had a few Arts, H Kin, Engineering, and Commerce grads in my class, and I personally feel these diverse backgrounds added great richness to our shared Med School experience. These students were additionally very successful in their residency matches, securing their top picks (including in competitive surgical specialities). As a non-Science grad myself, I know that having completed pre-requisites in certain subjects (Biochem) greatly benefited me in medical school. I strongly encourage “non-traditional” applicants to continue to enrol in these courses despite the lifted requirements. I did not find that my science pre-requisite grades differed drastically from my other course grades. If they had, it certainly would have been a red flag (to myself as well as admissions!)

    Students who are successful in rigorous non-Science academic programs can make excellent doctors too! No doubt this will benefit certain applicants and harm others, but each applicant is as worthy as the next. I hope you remember this as you continue your admissions process. Best of luck to all of you! (It’s worth it!)

  22. Anon

    I would like to say that I am happy to see this change finally take place. European Medical Schools are however ahead of the game because they always allowed students out of highschool to pursue medicine right away, and have a chance to finish at a young 25 years of age. While yes, this may seem like a young age, the preparedness behind the length of study in such a rigorous program has turned them into very good doctors.
    I am a registered nurse and have attempted the pre-requisites last year, but found it extremely difficult to cope with schoolwork and shiftwork, so I had to leave close to a semester’s end due to being so fatigued and unable to keep up with the heavy material taught.
    My inquiry is the following: why hasn’t there been (at a national level, not just in BC), a program or “adaptive” requirements for people like myself? More specifically, as a registered nurse, constantly caring for complex & highly acute patients day in and day out, being exposed to a lot more things that a 1st year medical student would be, why can’t there be something to help people like myself into the Medical Program? I believe with the amount of knowledge I have gained from my practicum, with *real life* exposure to chronic deterioration of surgical patients, I would be an incredible asset to the Medical Program. Moreover, i would be able to bring so many meaningful experiences that would contribute in a unique way to such a wonderful & rewarding program.

    I would love to hear some input with regards to my inquiry.
    If the pre-requisites have been removed, I do not see why working towards giving equal rights to Canadian Certified Health Practitioners like myself to pursue their dreams can’t be done. I have a passion for caring for individuals and deliver holistic care every day in my practice. I want to do more..but it almost seems impossible since the educational system itself keeps placing barriers to someone as qualified as I am.

    Thank you.