What universities look for in applicants

Merike Remmel works in the admissions office at the University of Toronto. She explains what she looks out for in particular and gives potential candidates a tip


What do you look for in prospective candidates?

Merike Remmel: The primary quality we are seeking in prospective students is academic strength. Above all else, excellent marks will stand out. That said, many of our faculties and programmes are also looking for evidence of leadership and extra-curricular involvement; related activities are a weighted component of the admission decision for several programmes, but they cannot compensate a weaker academic record.

How do you view applicants who have both the German Abitur and Advanced Placement diplomas?

The University of Toronto attracts applications from students following a broad range of curricula. We have quite a lot of experience with educational systems worldwide and are able to assess the relative strength of applicants on the basis of the system in which they are studying. Students following the German system, for instance, will be assessed on their Abitur results. Students who present AP courses in addition are not given priority for admission consideration, but they may receive transfer credits for any course completed with a score of 4 or 5.

Does the University of Toronto accept the International Baccalaureate as a high school graduation certificate?

We are very familiar with the IB curriculum and most certainly accept the International Baccalaureate as a basis of admission. In our experience, students who have completed the IB are well prepared to succeed at the University of Toronto. The IB programme emphasizes critical thinking and oral communication skills, and it includes a broad-based curriculum for students who embrace rigorous academic challenge. These are all elements that help with success at university.

What advice would you give to future applicants?

The advice I would give to future applicants includes both doing research and working hard: prospective students should research what is available to study and also assess their own interests and strengths in order to make choices that are appropriate and realistic; working hard in school to get the best possible grades almost goes without saying, but it is important to emphasise that this is the best pos sible preparation for a university application – and university success.


Merike Remmel works in the admissions office at the University of Toronto. The “U of T” is the biggest university in Canada and one of the 20 largest in the world. In the league tables published by Times Higher Education in 2010, it ranked 19th among the best universities in the world.

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Local Schools – Global Education

Students who attend a Phorms School learn German and English from the first year. This is the best possible start towards the German Abitur and an international programme. And Phorms secondary schools allow their students to do both. Here we present the advantages of this system and ask how students can best master this challenging stage of their education