Canadian students will no longer be required to write the Medical College Admissions Test, or MCAT, to apply to McGill's medical school.

Beginning this fall, the school will abolish the entrance exam in an effort to attract more Francophone students, who do not have to write the exam to enter French-language universities in the province.

"We wanted to make sure we reached out to and attracted the best and the brightest of the Francophone community," explained Dr. Saleem Razack, assistant dean of admissions for medicine at McGill University.

Razack said a committee spent two years studying the necessity of the exam before deciding the MCAT- used by most English-language medical schools and for which there is no French equivalent - just wasn't necessary.

Alternatively, McMaster University in Hamilton has recently added the MCAT exam to its admissions criteria, because it determined the verbal reasoning part of the exam was one of the best predictors of which students might have the best clinical skills.

Third-year medical resident Mathieu Rousseau didn't have to write the MCAT when he entered McGill University, because he spent a year in pre-med at CEGEP, but admits the MCAT can be daunting for Francophones.

"The MCAT is known to be an exam to favour English-speaking students, so this way it will give French students a chance to compete with other English students," said Rousseau.

Level playing field

Eradicating the MCAT will mean more work for McGill's medical admission department, said Razack.

Candidates will be chosen from a combination of a 110-minute interview, a student's previous grades and other components, and will add a larger crop of students to choose from.

"We have a very rigorous selection process that will identify excellent students," said Razack.