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Non-Academic Considerations

Non-Academic considerations include Context Scores, the Autobiographical Sketch (ABS), Supplementary Questions, and Confidential Assessment Forms (CAF)/References.

When reviewing the ABS, Supplementary Questions, and CAFs, we assess attributes, activities, and achievements in relation to NOSM University’s mission and values and the Undergraduate Medical Education (UME) Program competencies.

Context Score

NOSM University’s aim is to admit a class whose profile reflects the demographics of the population of Northern Ontario, which includes the commitment to recruiting Indigenous and Francophone students as well as those with a strong desire to live and work in Northern Ontario, or in rural and remote areas in the rest of Canada. One of the ways we achieve this is by assigning a context score to each applicant.

Context is a score based on each of the following geographic or cultural criteria:

  1. Rural background based on years lived in a rural community anywhere in Canada that is defined using the Statistics Canada classification of communities.
  2. Northern background based on years lived in Northern Ontario or another Canadian northern region.
  3. Francophone applicants who apply through the NOSM University Francophone Admissions Application Stream
  4. Indigenous applicants who apply through the NOSM University Indigenous Admissions Application Stream
  5. Employment experience serving the populations of Northern Ontario and/or rural and remote communities of Canada.

Applicants who do not have significant living experience in Northern Ontario, and/or in rural and remote areas in the rest of Canada but are currently serving northern, rural, and/or remote communities can demonstrate their commitment to NOSM University’s mandate by submitting the Employment Verification Form along with a letter of employment.

For their employment experience to be considered towards their context score, applicants must submit a letter of employment that confirms their current position and the length of time they have been employed by their current employer as well as the Employment Verification Form which must be completed by their current supervisor, manager and/or employer.

Letter(s) of employment experience along with the Employment Verification Form(s) must submitted to OMSAS via Secure Applicant Messaging (SAM) by the application deadline.

NOTE: Applicants that are submitting their employment experience to be considered for Context Score must also fill out the demographic section of the application.

NOSM University does not have any residency requirements for applicants; we have an algorithm that we employ to calculate context scores. We do not make this algorithm public.

NOSM University does not have any “out of province” spots or quotas. We consider all applicants by the same criteria: 1) the GPA, 2) the application questionnaire & autobiographical sketch and 3) context.

Autobiographical Sketch (ABS)

The Autobiographical Sketch (ABS) is a detailed and comprehensive list of your activities since age 16, within any of the following categories:

  • E: Employment
  • V: Volunteer Activities
  • X: Extracurricular Activities
  • A: Awards and Accomplishments
  • R: Research
  • O: Other

List all activities that will give the Admissions Committee insight into who you are. Include structured and non-structured experiences that demonstrate an ability to determine needs in your community and a willingness to play a part in filling those needs.

For instance, volunteer work is often perceived as only those activities that are coordinated by an organization. However, there are many forms of volunteer work. For example, if you were raised in a farming community and helped to run a a neighbour’s farm, (e.g., when the neighbour was sick), this would be considered volunteer activity. Ensure you have a contact for each of the activities listed.

You will need to provide specific details for the Employment, Volunteer Activities, Extracurricular Activities, Awards and Accomplishments, and Research categories.

Applicants must decide for themselves which information to include in the autobiographical sketch, the individual school submissions, and the verifiers list.

Competitive applicants will demonstrate a high level of self-motivation, be self-directed and thrive in a small group, case-based, distributed learning environment.

We seek applicants who have a genuine interest in helping to fulfill the mandate and uphold NOSM University’s values. Criteria that will be examined include, but are not limited to the following:

  • demonstrated interest in living and working in Northern Ontario and/or rural/remote areas in the rest of Canada;
  • demonstrated interest in working with under serviced populations (no matter where they are);
  • structured and non-structured experiences that demonstrate an ability to determine needs in your community and a willingness to play a part in filling those needs;
  • demonstrated interest in cross-cultural experiences; and
  • employment, volunteer, and extracurricular experiences (these are all equally valued)

Applicants must provide a verifier for each of the activities listed.

ABS Questions

Using your autobiographical sketch please answer the following questions:

1. Considering NOSM University’s self-directed, small group, distributed learning environment, select ONE (1) entry from your autobiographical sketch and describe how it has specifically prepared you for being a medical student at NOSM University.

2. Select ONE (1) entry from your autobiographical sketch that has had a significant impact on your personal growth and describe how this experience has influenced your development and prepared you to be a medical student at NOSM University.

3. Considering NOSM University’s social accountability mandate, select ONE (1) entry from your autobiographical sketch and describe how this experience has prepared you to learn and work in Northern Ontario and/or rural/remote settings.

Supplementary Questions

In addition to the ABS, you will be required to answer the following four (4) supplementary questions:

1. Describe how you have developed resilience and coping mechanisms. How will you utilize these skills to support yourself during your medical training in making informed and rational decisions when faced with difficult circumstances?

2. Describe an experience you have had interacting with individuals from backgrounds different from yours. How would this experience translate to working within a health care environment and/or with patients?

3. Provide a specific example of when your work or performance was criticized. Explain how your responded to the criticism and how this experience contributed to your personal development/growth.

4. NOSM University’s Social Accountability mandate is to improve the health of the people and the communities of Northern Ontario. Describe how you plan to embody this mandate as a medical student and future physician, and how this has factored into your decision to apply to NOSM University.


The Office of Admissions may wish to verify additional information about activities that are described in your ABS or Supplementary Questions.

Applicants must provide the name, address, phone number, and email for each verifier.

Let your verifiers know that they may be contacted by the Office of Admissions.

Activities that do not have a verifier are not included in scoring the ABS.

NOSM University reserves the right to confirm the information provided in these sections by consulting the individuals you list as verifiers. NOTE: Please ensure that the verifier information (i.e. phone number and email) you provide is current and accurate.

Confidential Assessment Forms (CAF)

You are required to ask three (3) different individuals to provide a reference on your behalf by completing a Confidential Assessment Form (CAF). You should select referees who have extensive personal knowledge of you and are in a position to make statements concerning your:

  • character,
  • personal qualities,
  • academic capabilities, and
  • special circumstances, if applicable.

Referees may not be in a position to evaluate all of the characteristics requested; however, in choosing your three (3) referees, ensure that all the subject areas are covered.

At least one (1) referee should be a non-academic/character referee.

It is recommended that one (1) CAF comes from a member of the community or from a community organization, and that at least one (1) be an academic reference.

We will accept CAFs written in French.

OMSAS must receive all three (3) CAFs by the application deadline. It is your responsibility to ensure that OMSAS receives your CAFs by the application deadline, so we advise you to confirm submission with all of your referees prior to the deadline. If OMSAS does not receive all three (3) of your CAFs by the application deadline, your application will not be considered.