Chances for 2017

The 2017 Admissions brochures for Engineering and other programs have recently been uploaded.  We have continued to include a table showing admission probabilities (“chances”) for different programs and grade ranges.  Many people find it useful for getting a realistic impression of their chances at admission, and  then they can plan accordingly.   The online version of this table can be found here.  This is based on the 2016 results and as usual we caution that 2017 may be different, since it all depends on the competition level (which is unknown in advance).

One difference this year:  I’m going to break the chances data up into two categories, “Visa” (or study permit) applicants, and “Canadians and Permanent Residents” applicants.  The tables mentioned above lump everyone together, but looking back at  the last year or two it seems like it may be too pessimistic for Canadians and overly-optimistic for Visa applicants, as we’ll see below.For convenience and readability, we lump the grades into ranges in this table.  Some people find the big jumps in probability between the different grade ranges to be difficult to understand or interpret, so for several years I have been generating graphs that provide interpolations between the various grades in finer detail (see the end of the post for methodology, if interested).  As usual, the grades shown here are the raw, unadjusted averages of the Grade 12 required courses (or equivalents), not including any other factors such as scores for extracurriculars, work experience, or awards.

Canadians and Permanent Residents

We have around 1,350 spaces reserved in Engineering for applicants who are Canadians or Permanent Residents of Canada.  For this group, the chances by program are shown in the following graph.

Looking at the results we can make some comments.   The various programs were chosen to be lumped together because their chances are very  similar.  The green and blue lines look pretty good for an interpolation.   The red line has an odd little blip around 87%, which is an artifact of the way cubic splines work; in reality having an 87% average is not an advantage over a 90%.

Clearly some programs like Biomedical and Software are very competitive (lots of applicants for a small number of spaces).  Other programs have more spaces and a bit fewer applicants per space, so not quite so competitive.  Level of competition has nothing to do with quality or career prospects, it’s just a matter of supply and demand for spaces.

As usual, these are rough estimates and not guarantees of any sort.  It’s possible to have a 99% average and not get admitted if, for example, you don’t submit an Admission Information Form or other required document, or don’t meet the English language proficiency requirements.  It’s also possible that changes in competition levels will move a certain program from one line to another (either left or right) in the upcoming admissions competition.

Study Permit Applicants

We only have around 220 available spaces in Engineering for non-Canadians, and last year over 3,000 applicants for those spaces.  So the competition is pretty intense for this group of applicants, and it takes a very strong application to get an offer.   These applicants are generally considered as a whole, not so much on a program by program basis, and so there is only one line in this graph.                  chances-2017-visa

For applicants not in a system using percentage grades, what is a 95%+?  It’s difficult to say exactly, but for IB students the grades should be pretty much all 6’s and 7’s.  For the British curriculum, the A level grades (predicted or actual) should be all A’s or better (A*).



For the past few years I have used a cubic spline interpolation technique (with linear endpoints), which is one popular method for finding values between sparse data points.  I like the results, so I continue to use the same method.  As before, I assumed that the probability in the table  corresponds to the mid-point of the grade range, and that there is zero probability below 80%, and 100% with an average grade of 100%.  As before, I used MathCAD for the number crunching (here is a nice description, for those that might be interested in more details).

21 thoughts on “Chances for 2017

  1. Hello Professor Anderson,

    I have a rather specific question here: I had low 60s in grade 11. Now, in grade 12, I have mid-high 90s and I anticipate that I will continue this way next semester. Is there an impact in regards to admissions by my grade 11 marks or are they irrelevant since you would have my grade 12 marks instead?

    Thanks and happy holidays

  2. Hi Professor,
    I am an International student and I have already sat for my AS exam earlier this year. I got more than 90% in all my subjects(Physics, Chemistry and Math). In my A2 year I will complete those 3 subjects and will also sit for AS Further Pure Math. I am predicted to get 3As and 1A*(A* in Math). Can you tell me what are my chances? I am applying to Electrical Engineering

  3. Hi! Are the probabilities here based on just marks, or are these marks after the AIF is included? For example, if I have a 92% average and were to get an extra 3% thanks to my AIF, should I look at the chances of admission for a 92% average or for a 95% average?

    Also, does waterloo and by extension other universities have access to grade 11 marks? (personally, I’d prefer if they did!)

  4. Dear Prof,

    I am a Quebec CEGEP student and I have a few questions:
    1) The minimum college cumulative average is a B, is this a Canadian standard B (70-79%)?
    2) Are college grades weighed more heavily than high school grades?
    3) Could college grades be considered (given reasonable error) equivalent to the post-adjusted score? i.e.: 93% HS grade equiv to 78% CEGEP.
    4) Your blog post about 2017 chances doesn’t necessarily reflect CEGEP applicants. The admissions requirements state a minimum of 70% average in certain courses, is this minimum requirement a realistic acceptance standard?

    Thank you for this blog! I’ve gained a lot of insight on the admissions process,

    Take care.

    • The grades indicated in this post are specific to high school levels, and are not really applicable to CEGEP, college or university. As a rough rule of thumb, applicants from those types of institutions can shift the curves about 10% points to the left, i.e. an 80 in CEGEP is something like a 90 in a high school.

  5. Good day professor,

    Thank you for the chart. I will be applying for Master of Science (Electrical Engineering) for the upcoming Fall semester (as an International student). I have 2.5 years of working experience and 2 years of research experience. The problem is my undergrad GPA. I got 3.03 (3.46 for the last 2 years) from the school in the USA and currently, I am a student at the local university in my country and I am doing pretty good (5/5 GPA taking graduate level classes in power engineering).

    Now the question. Will I be automatically rejected because of my undergrad GPA (and based on the graph it seems so) or my post-baccalaureate studies GPA will leverage my low undergrad GPA? Thank you for the help.

  6. Pingback: Alternate Program Selections | A Professor in Waterloo Engineering

  7. Hi Professor,
    I’m a second year cegep student in Quebec. If I have more than the courses required to calculate the admission average, let’s say I have completed both Calculus II and Linear algebra, how is my admission average calculated, as the admission website states only one of the two is required? Does it simply use the higher grade or rather does it use all available marks at the moment. Thank you!

  8. Hello Prefessor Anderson,

    I’m a VISA, and I’m curious about that, how are successful Visa applicants usually doing in ENG4U?
    If I take it in private school but for no any justifiable reasons, how much the deduction is likely to be? Thanks so much(!).

  9. Hi professor, I am a Chinese high school student who is applying for CE 17 fall. I think I can achieve approximately 94% in Grade 12 first semester’s final exam(92.6% in grade11’s final exam). And I got A in all subjects in Chinese High school graduation exam (also called Huikao). The problem is that I didn’t meet the English Language requirement (My TOEFL overall score is higher than 90 but I got 25 in writing and 22 in speaking, and my IELTS overall score is 6.5 but I got 6 in writing and 6.5 in speaking). Do I need to submit SAT to prove my English ability? And am I likely to be admitted by UW CE?
    Thank you, professor.


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