What is this devilish creation that has turned otherwise respectful, kind and caring students into grade-thirsty, ill-wishing and at times argumentative students? Not least of all when one considers that no other university in any other province in Canada, with the exception of the University of Toronto in Ontario (transfer students), even considers the R-Score in a student's application for admission! Devised by Quebec universities in 1995 to be an objective way to rank applicants by academic achievement, the R Score is a statistical method used to correct the differences in grading systems in colleges. It is used to assess the relative strengths of groups in a college as well as among cohorts in different colleges. The following is a collection of information to help you better understand the R Score and its implications on your academic future as students and for those teachers who are trying to understand why the grade point average (GPA) seems to matter less to students in Quebec.
What is the R-Score?
The following documents were approved by the Comité de Gestion des Collégiales and specifically discusses what the R Score is and what it does; its purpose and use; and a particularly helpful Q&A booklet for students and teachers alike. The latter three documents have also been supplied in French.
The R-Score: A Survey of its Purpose and Use
Questions and Answers on the College R-Score
Some R- Score Myths By Vanier College
An interesting document provided to students by Vanier College in Montreal, Quebec. Think of it as a reality check before deciding the end of the world is nigh!
Pedagogy Workshop - The R Score
By Champlain College St. Lawerence
A readymade PowerPoint slide for teachers interested in explaining the R Score and how it works at the next Ped Day or even to your class! It also debunks many of the fears that students generally have when applying to cegep.
Criticisms of The R Score
(click to view)Marianopolis - What is the R Score?
|Lea, The Omnovox Classroom is Similar to Banner and Angel|
"Firsthand experience suggests that the R score is not as ideal a tool as it was meant to be. A recurring complaint from students is that the ISG does not seem to sufficiently offset the advantage enjoyed by students in weak groups. Such students have the opportunity to obtain grades much higher than the low average of their class, thus earning an elevated z-score, whereas students in strong groups cannot earn such high z-scores. The presence of the ISG is supposed to work to the advantage of students in strong groups. Thus, sometimes, the best students in weak groups have lower R scores than the best students in strong groups (for example students in enriched programs). Nevertheless, the average R score in a strong group is generally higher than the average R score in a weak group due to a low standard deviation which helps bring the Z score up. Furthermore, students are not given a different R score after fixed intervals of time. Their R score constantly changes, and it is sometimes unclear whether this oscillation is due to a correction or an evolution taking new grades into account. Such perceived weaknesses of the R score are particularly worrying, because it is the main and sometimes only criterion considered by Quebec universities during the admissions process. Since the R score is perceived as an absolute measure of a student's academic performance regardless of his/her College academic rank, differences smaller than 0.5 are often used to discriminate between candidates applying to programs with fixed quotas, such as medicine, podiatric medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, law or architecture."
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R Score Calculator
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A Low R Score Should Not Equate To Low Self-Confidence!
There are numerous options for students looking to get into a Quebec university even if they do not have the required R Score. The web is filled with students with low R Scores who are panic stricken as they are only now realizing they will be unable to raise their R Score sufficiently enough in time to apply to their program of choice. Your options include:
- Save Time and Money! Don't waste either on taking an extra semester at Cegep! Believe it or not, you're better off going straight into university and working hard to get the grades you know you are capable of.
- Leave No Stone Unturned! Building on point number 1, fill in that spot on your university application form requesting your second and third program choices. So you don't have the R Score necessary to get into your first choice, fine. Start your second or third choice. Universities want to see that you are capable of growing and maturing and there is no better place than university itself to show off your abilities and perseverance. Most university programs allow students to take electives in various departments. Normally, students have complete control over which courses they take and when unless there is a program specific requirement preventing them from doing so. Thus, choose your electives wisely and kick ass! You will be surprised at how different you're education can be when your studying material you actually want to be studying!
- Re-Apply... As Many Times As It Takes! Afraid of failure? Don't be! What does not kill you will only make you stronger. After a semester or two at university, apply for a transfer into your program of choice. Being a student already at the university of your choice, getting the grades you know you are capable of and maintaining the required grade point average (GPA) will eventually help in your efforts to switch programs. Depending on your first choice, you may not even be accepted until after you have completed your undergraduate baccalaureate degree (BA)! Don't let it bother you. After all, there is no such thing as wasted time or a wasted education when you are striving for something beyond mere mediocrity in life. There are plenty of people who still became doctors and lawyers after having first completed an undergraduate degree in an otherwise unrelated field.
- Make Contacts! Whilst you come to grips with university life in your second or third choice of discipline, don't hesitate to visit your first choice department. Meet with someone who can help you choose the right electives, guide you and potentially help navigate you towards extra curricular activities (i.e. volunteering opportunities, committees, etc...) that will look favourable on your future applications.
- Be Professional! When submitting any application to any university, help increase your chances by including a letter of intent. The latter is more often than not taken into consideration when considering a university candidate and ranges between one and five pages depending on the department requirements. Also, include your curriculum vitae and cover letter and any letters of references and recommendations, be they academic or otherwise. Don't hesitate to add any volunteer experience (see point number 4).
- Show Off Your Independence! Are you are 21 years of age or older and are Canadian or a Permanent Resident? Then become an independent student! As an independent student you can take up to a maximum of three (3) courses per semester in nearly any department you wish! The latter is a great way to raise your GPA, explore different fields of study; and it gives you the freedom to test whether your first choice is really for you! Though you do not belong to any one program, this is often an excellent way for students to work their way into their first program of choice without the restrictions of departmental policies and guidelines.
- Forget About Your R Score! Yes, you read that correctly. Once your "in" and especially if you complete your undergraduate degree in your second or third choice, the R Score will be nothing more than a memory, for better or for worse. Trust me on this. Nobody, and I mean nobody, will be asking you for your R Score when you are applying to do your MA or PhD (or if you completed your first BA, your second BA!). Eventually the world recognizes that you are no longer an adolescent in need of molly coddling and you will be treated like the adult that you will become. Hence, of more importance to universities will be your life and work experience.
- Rage Against The Haters (in a healthy and respectful way of course)! Don't let ANYONE tell you what you can or cannot do with your life. Be patient, persistent and above all remain positive! The road to your personal success may have plenty of twists and turns but through perseverance and determination you will succeed!
With the exception of some exceptional teachers I met throughout my academic career (as a student) I was told that I would not even graduate from high school, let alone go onto university. I flunked out of my second year of cegep, thus I was placed on academic probation for my third and final year. I was refused from my first option at university only to eventually succeed in getting into it by first becoming an independent student. Once in my program of choice, I flourished and graduated with honours in both my undergraduate degree and later, my master's degree. Had I not turned each failure into an opportunity leading up to my undergraduate and graduate work I would never have succeeded. I tell you this because you, as a student, need to understand that you have the power to be whomever and whatever you wish to be. Ignore the pessimists and fight for what you want. After all, look at the R Score and for that matter, the GPA as a test of your convictions. After all, there are plenty of people who may immediately succeed and become eligible for various employment opportunities after completing their degree of choice. However, it does not mean that they are suitable. It takes more than good grades to be a good "anything" in life. Your life experiences, grit and frankly maturity will all help develop you into a better, brighter and dare I say happier professional. Just don't expect everyone else to like you. ;-)