Non-Academic Requirements

In addition to academic requirements, brief personal essays, autobiographical sketches, and references are used in assessing your non-academic qualifications.

Throughout the admissions process, we assess your non-academic attributes, activities and achievements in terms of the Faculty’s mission and values, as well as the MD Program competencies. Our aim is to select students who we believe will make the most empathetic and highly-skilled physicians.

Specifically, we evaluate materials according to the following four clusters. These four clusters are based on the CanMEDS Framework that identifies and describes the abilities physicians require to effectively meet the health care needs of the people they serve.


PROFESSIONAL maturity, reliability, perseverance and responsibility
COMMUNICATOR/COLLABORATOR/MANAGER   communication, collaboration, teamwork, time management and leadership
ADVOCATE advocacy, community service and social responsibility


academic standing, achievements in leadership, research and social responsibility as demonstrated by (but not limited to) awards, conference presentations, publications and scholarships

Your ability to use the English language will be taken into consideration and you may be requested to submit additional information to supplement the application form.

Specific requirements 


Brief Personal Essays

You are required to submit four original brief personal essays, with each essay answering a specific question related to the Faculty’s mission and values. The Faculty of Medicine’s mission statement embodies social responsibility, and the Faculty’s values are reflective of this responsibility. Each brief personal essay must be 250 words or less. (This word count does not include titles, references or verifiers, if you choose to include these.) We evaluate brief personal essays independently of all other materials submitted within your application.

The four questions for the 2020-2021 cycle are:

Question 1

Tell us about a time when you had to work with instructions/information that were in conflict with your core values.

Question 2

Connectors, according to Malcolm Gladwell, are the people in a community who know a large number of people and who are in the habit of making introductions that bring groups of people together for a common function or purpose. Gladwell attributes the social success of “Connectors” to the fact that “their ability to span many different worlds is a function of something intrinsic to their personality, some combination of curiosity, self-confidence, sociability, and energy.” Only a few of us are born “Connectors”, but all of us at one time or another have had to serve in a “Connector” role. Tell us about such a time in your life. Did it come naturally to you, and if not, how did you overcome your hesitations?

Question 3

Presenting one’s opinion in the media can be dangerous. In today’s world, instant responses via mainline media and social media can be harsh, critical and hurtful. Social media shouting at each other seems to have become the norm, rather than a thoughtful, respectful conversation. As a leader of a social advocacy group, you have to make an announcement that you know will be unpopular with some members of your group and/or members of the larger community. How would you handle an ensuing social media storm?

Question 4

Describe an instance where you were obliged to take a course or other educational activity that you would not normally have taken. What did you learn from that experience?

We will perform random checks of your brief personal essays through Turnitin for detection of possible plagiarism. You will not be informed that your essay has been submitted for comparison. Essays submitted to Turnitin will be included as source documents in the Turnitin reference database, where they will be used solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. The terms that apply to our use of the Turnitin service are described on the Turnitin website. If you do not consent to your essays being submitted to Turnitin, you must e-mail us. We will honour this request.

Autobiographical sketch & statements

The autobiographical sketch (ABS) is a comprehensive list of your activities and achievements since age 16 which provide insight into who you are. These can include your:

  • employment
  • volunteer activities
  • extracurricular activities
  • awards and accomplishments
  • research, and,
  • other activities and achievements.

You are not required to have undertaken a specific number of activities or completed a set number of hours. There are also no specific activities that will give you an ‘edge’. We do not believe there is a specific medical student ‘profile’. We are looking for students:

  • with diverse backgrounds and interests
  • who are well-rounded
  • who are community-minded
  • who have gained skills and maturity from their experiences
  • who can demonstrate time management skills

Please see the Ontario Medical School Application Service (OMSAS) Application Guide for more information on the ABS.

In addition, you are required to write and submit three brief ABS statements outlining the three activities and/or achievements from your sketch that you believe best exemplify the attributes that align with the four clusters. Each ABS statement must be 250 words or less.  This word count does not include your activity title, references or verifiers, if you choose to include these.

The ABS and three additional ABS statements will be evaluated as a whole. We evaluate ABS materials independently of all other materials submitted within your application.


In some cases, we may wish to verify additional information about activities that are described in either your brief personal essays or the ABS. Therefore, you must provide the name, address and phone number of at least one contact person (verifier) for each activity. We perform random checks of applicants’ verifiers. Please notify your verifiers that they may be contacted by us. 

Note: Verifiers for ABS may or may not be the same as the verifiers you listed for your graduate studies or your references.

Let your verifiers know that they may be contacted by UME Enrolment Services.


You are required to arrange for three references to be sent to OMSAS as part of your application. Each reference includes a Confidential Assessment Form. These references will be evaluated according to the same four clusters previously listed.

We encourage you to do the following:

  • share these attributes, activities and achievements clusters with potential referees to ensure that they can speak to some or all of them; and,
  • ensure that the whole range of clusters is represented among the three references as a whole (individual references may speak to a specific cluster or clusters of attributes, activities and achievements).

Note: You must not use family members, family friends, colleagues of family members, neighbours or someone who may be perceived as your peer as a referee, as we do not consider them to be objective. Letters written by a spiritual advisor are acceptable, provided the individual is not also a family member or close friend.

Applications from candidates with non-objective references will not be considered.

Referees may submit their confidential reference online. 

The deadline for receiving references is October 1, 2020. If OMSAS does not receive your reference by this date, your application to the University of Toronto’s MD Program will be incomplete and will not be considered. It is your responsibility to ensure that OMSAS receives your references by the deadline, so we advise you to confirm submission with all of your referees prior to the deadline.