Essential Skills and Abilities

The D.M.D. program is an accredited program whose goal is to graduate competent general dentists. The program allows students to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to achieve that goal.

Different areas will be evaluated in the selection process: review of candidate’s past academic performance, personal statement and curriculum vitae (CV), as well as scores obtained from the Dental Aptitude Test (DAT), CASPer Test and the Multiple Mini-Interviews (MMI).

Adequate aptitude, abilities and skills in the five areas listed below are required for the student to progress through the program. This includes an extensive clinical component, which prepares the student to be a competent dentist who can successfully pass the licensure exams of the National Dental Examining Board of Canada.


  1. Observation and visual acuity – it is essential for dental students to have the capacity to adequately see and observe to learn how to diagnose conditions and perform treatments,  including precision surgical procedures.
  1. Communication – it is essential for dental students to be able to communicate well with patients and professional colleagues. You must demonstrate an adequate level of English proficiency. Applicants are expected to acquire a basic knowledge of the French language.
  1. Sensory and motor function (Coordination and Dexterity) it is essential for a dental student to have sufficient manual dexterity and other motor and sensory capacities to be able to perform patient examinations, diagnostic tests and dental treatments.
  1. Intellectual reasoning – it is essential for dental students to have the capacity to gain the necessary fundamental knowledge and then to be able to apply it in the treatment of patients and management of a dental practice.
  1. Behavioral, social abilities – it is essential for dental students to behave professionally and in a socially acceptable manner


Applicants should be aware that admission to the D.M.D program is highly competitive. There may be instances in which some limitations affecting the five areas of aptitude, abilities and skills above may prevent individuals from meeting the expectations of the DMD program, and thus prevent them from being admitted.

Reasonable accommodations may be made both for applicants and for dentistry students who face disability-related or other barriers affecting these five areas of aptitude, ability and skills. We encourage any such applicant to consult our Q & A for more information.

I have a disability or another reason (for instance my civil status or religion) that may affect my performance in the five required areas of aptitudes, abilities or skills. What should I do?

We encourage you to reach out to the Admissions Officer of the Faculty of Dental Medicine and Oral Health Sciences who may invite you to consult with the Office of Student Accessibility & Achievement (SAA).

Why should I disclose my disability before applying?

You do not have to disclose your disability. However, coming forward would help us to get you, when possible and from the outset, the accommodation you need in the context of the application and selection processes, to the extent that it is a reasonable accommodation, which the university can provide without undue hardship. If you don’t disclose, there will be no knowledge of your disability and no accommodation provided. If you are admitted without having disclosed, the Faculty of Dental Medicine and Oral Health Sciences may not have the ability to accommodate you later on as a dentistry student. The Faculty of Dental Medicine and Oral Health Sciences will accommodate to the extent possible, but there may be a risk that you will not be provided the accommodations that allow you to succeed in the program.

Where in the application and selection process can accommodations be made?

Accommodations are always case-specific. Once you have decided to apply, the first step to signal a disability is to check off the “extenuating circumstances” box on the application form on Minerva. This will allow you to upload additional documents to support your need for accommodation on the basis of a disability or other grounds such as religion. Some accommodations, if possible, can be made during the MMIs. Applicants may seek accommodations on the DAT and CASPer. You must contact the Canadian Dental Association (DAT) and Acuity Insights (CASPer) directly.

Who I am disclosing this information to?

First contact the Admissions Officer of the Faculty of Dental Medicine and Oral Health Sciences. You can do so anonymously. If you wish to apply for admission, in the case of a disability, you may be directed to contact McGill’s Office of Student Accessibility & Achievement (SAA). Your information may be reviewed by the Associate Dean, Undergraduate Dental Education (UGDE) and /or the Chair of Admissions of the Faculty of DDental Medicine and Oral Health Sciences.

What will the Office of Student Accessibility & Achievement do?

They will meet with you, review your documentation related to your disability, discuss your needs and make a recommendation to the Faculty of Dental Medicine and Oral Health Sciences for accommodations. The Admissions Committee will consider that recommendation in the context of your admission application.

What will the Associate Dean Undergraduate Dental Education and/or Chair of Admissions do?

The Associate Dean or Chair of Admissions will contact you if they need more information to understand your situation well. A recommendation will then be made to the Admissions Committee for accommodations.

What will the Admissions Committee do with this disclosed information?

The Admissions Committee will review all documentation submitted, including the extenuating circumstances documents, the SAA or Associate Dean, Academic recommendation report. The Admissions Committee will consider the information in the review process. The Admissions Committee will then report to you what, if any, reasonable accommodation can be provided.

Once the Admissions Committee lets me know what accommodation, if any, they can provide, what happens next?

If the university can provide accommodations that appear adequate to you, then the Admissions Officer will proceed to confirm those accommodations, should you be called for MMI. If the university cannot possibly provide the accommodations you require or that seem adequate to you, you will have a choice to maintain your application and go through the selection process nonetheless (possibly with some accommodations) or to withdraw your candidacy. Note that given the time and resources invested by the university in the evaluation of the admission application, the admission application fee will not be reimbursed should you decide to withdraw.

Will disclosing my disability harm my chances of admission?

No, for two reasons.

First, if you don’t disclose, you won’t receive accommodations in the admissions process, which may reduce your chances of admission.

Second, the disclosure itself will not harm your chances. The Faculty of Dental Medicine and Oral Health Sciences is mandated by law to not discriminate against candidates on the basis of race, colour, sex, gender identity or expression, pregnancy, sexual orientation, civil status, age (except as provided by law), religion, political convictions, language, ethnic or national origin, social condition, a handicap or the use of any means to palliate a handicap. As such, it will very seriously consider providing all accommodations that are reasonable to provide, while maintaining the integrity of its admissions process and with the knowledge of the expectations placed on dentistry students and dentists.

However, in some cases, the Admissions Committee may conclude that the accommodations required to be able to demonstrate aptitude, ability and skill in the five areas are too great and impose undue hardship on the university, on the selection process and on the academic program.

In some rare cases, it is possible that limitations linked to your disability or other reason are so inherently linked to the demands of a dentistry student and dentist, that you could not be reasonably accommodated without causing undue hardship.

Here are a few examples:

  1. For the MMIs if you have a disability that would require substantial extra time, it would not be possible to delay multiple stations.
  2. If you have a sensory or motor limitation that requires you to have an unreasonable amount of extra time to perform a clinical procedure on a patient, it is unreasonable to have a patient sit through such a long procedure. The Faculty of Dental Medicine and Oral Health Sciences could not reasonably accommodate you and therefore, would have to decline your request for accommodation, which may have an effect of your likelihood of acceptance.

What do you take into account to determine that an accommodation would cause undue hardship?

Every request for accommodation is case-specific, but here are a number of factors that would be taken into consideration such as:

  • The specific needs of the person requesting accommodations;
  • Academic equity among all students obtaining the same diploma;/li>
  • Comfort, Safety and Overall Well-being of the patient;
  • The fact that patients have various degrees of tolerance, patience and understanding of dental procedures and that a competent dentist needs to be able to treat any patient (such as children or patients with mental disabilities);
  • The limitations of space around a dentist chair to accommodate large equipment needed to accommodate a disability;
  • Cost of special equipment;
  • Work hours of a dental clinic or schedule of academic or clinical programs;
  • Availability of supervising and teaching personnel;
  • Collective agreements and work conditions for support staff.
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