Chance Yourself

On the College Confidential forums, there are whole sections where applicants ask others to “chance me” (a rather odd use of “chance” as a verb, but anyways).  They post their stats and desired target colleges, and want others to tell them how likely they are to get an offer.  It is primarily U.S. college focused, so I thought I would develop a system where you can “chance” yourself for Waterloo Engineering, as an extension of what I discussed in the post about cut-offs.

In the brochure for Waterloo Engineering, there is a table showing your chances at an offer, reproduced below:

This is good, but not necessarily very precise since it’s based on broad grade ranges.  We can improve the “granularity” of the information by doing some interpolation within each range.  For this process, I assumed the following:

  1. The probabilities are averages for the range and occur at the mid-point.  For example, the 60% probability (first line) is for Environmental Engineering with an admission average of 82.5%.
  2. The probabilities vary linearly over each range.
  3. For higher grade ranges where no data is given, the probability is 100%.
  4. The probability below grades of 80 is 0%.
  5. The probabilities in each range are “piecewise continuous”, meaning (for example) that the probability at the top of the 80-85 range is equal to the probability at the bottom of the 85-90 range.

So, with these assumptions and an Excel spreadsheet, I created the chart shown below, where you can look up your admission average and read-off the applicable probability.

There, much more precise.  However, not necessarily accurate.  The data in the brochure is accurate for last year, but nobody knows how this year will be, and the linear interpolation used here may not be accurate.  Remember the difference between accuracy and precision:  2+2=5.0000   gives a very precise answer (4 decimal place precision), but it is still wrong.  Anyways, a fun little exercise in interpolation, and a bit more visual representation if you want to “chance” yourself.

36 thoughts on “Chance Yourself

    • Admission averages from 2012, broken down by the same groupings as in the brochure and graph above:
      Computer, electrical and systems design: 89.4%
      Environmental, geological and management: 86.5%
      Chemical, civil, mechanical, mechatronics, nanotechnology and software: 91.2%

      Remember that these are averages (means) not “cut-offs” (discussed in another post), so half the people admitted had grades less than this, and half greater. Which is why the admission average is a somewhat useless statistic on its own, i.e. it doesn’t tell you whether most people were clustered close to this number, or whether it was quite a wide distribution. That’s why we came up with the table in the brochure (and my interpolated version), because it gives a much more useful indication of an applicant’s chances at admission than the “admission average” that many schools quote.

      Another useful source of similar information is the CUDO data, available at where you can find admission average data for engineering and other programs at various schools. Waterloo’s data is also available at here.

    • I’m not quite sure what “rigorous” means in this context.

      All engineering programs contain at least one introductory chemistry course (essentially a requirement for professional accreditation). This course tends to be a review of the Ontario Grade 11 and 12 chemistry concepts, but with more challenging depth and a focus on practical problem-solving rather than theory. The Nanotechnology Engineering program has a somewhat more extensive chemistry course in the first term.

  1. I had a 95.3% average during my first semester, with the courses being advanced functions, data management, and chemistry. However, I did not get into Nanotechnology engineering in the first round of offers. Is it due to the fact that I only had 2 of the 5 prerequisites? My friend, who had a 92% average, with 2 prerequisites, got into the program, so this is confusing me.

    • I can’t really comment on specific circumstances, but in another post there is a list of reasons why these seemingly random things might happen in the early round. That’s why we hold back the majority of our offers until early May, so that everything eventually gets straightened out in a fair way.

    • The averages in the chart are the raw unadjusted high school admission averages. The probabilities include the effect of the AIF score. So for example if the probability of receiving an offer is 60%, the AIF score is one reason why there is a 40% chance of not getting an offer.

  2. Hello,

    Do you know if these probabilities will be similar to programs at the Mathematics Department?
    When I filled in my AIF form, I had a typo with the first amendment, so I made another amendment (to correct that type), do you think this would affect my admission chance?


  3. Do these averages also include out-of-province students? I keep on hearing of how Ontario students have their average inflated much higher than what it would be in other provinces, namely, AB and BC, is this true? Would a 90% from Alberta differ from a 90% from Ontario?

    And is there any possibility of me finding out if my high school is among those that U of Waterloo will adjust?

    • The averages in this post are just based on Ontario applicants, who typically make up about 70% of our intake. It gets too complicated to try and include data from outside Ontario, due to differences in course requirements and grading systems. We don’t see any evidence of significant grade inflation in Ontario versus other provinces, but we only deal with a small sub-set of the populations so I wouldn’t draw any general conclusions.

      We don’t release the adjustment factor information. It doesn’t really have any meaning outside of the context of our own internal use, so broadcasting it would only lead to inappropriate use.

  4. hi do you know if the marks this year are similar to last year’s mark? or has the program become more competitive?

  5. Has the weighting of the AIF changed since last year? I was told that the AIF was marked out of 5 last year (and thus could theoretically add 5% towards a total average). Given this, and since a 85% average has a shot at making it into any program, how would an 85% average with a perfect score AIF (5/5) stack up against averages in the 90s? Wouldn’t any low-90s average still have priority because you get at least a 1/5 for submitting? So how do that percentages make sense in that case?

    • The AIF scoring is the same as before, and so it can add up to 5 points on an average. Yes, an 85% with 5/5 for the AIF would rank just below a 90% with a 1/5. There are a bunch of other factors though that can affect the admission decision, such as a low grade in a required course, or a low English language proficiency score (e.g. TOEFL or IELTS), or a repeated course penalty.

      • I’m a little bit curious because I felt like I had a strong application last year (though I’m extremely satisfied at UW right now as I ended up accepting the alternate offer). My average was in the high-80s, and I had an AIF score of 4/5. All of my grades were relatively consistent (lowest in the low-80s, highest in the low-90s), no repeated courses, no courses taken outside of regular day school, no alternate requirements (e.g. TOEFL or IELTS). Also attended a top-10 school in Ontario, so I assumed the adjustment factor wouldn’t work against me (especially since I’m almost positive that I already have one of the lowest entering averages in my current program). Given my average just shy of 88%, my total “score” would be close to 92% (with AIF factored in). Since the maximum score of an AIF would be a 5/5, wouldn’t that mean any regular candidate with an 85-87% average (even with a perfect AIF score) would have no chance of admission under normal circumstances, when applying to that same program?

      • I’m glad you’re satisfied with your program at UW. You’re right in theory, but as indicated in a recent post when you get down to the borderline for the program there are a lot of applicants with similar overall scores. At that point it starts looking more random, although we probably have reasons for picking certain applicants.

  6. Based on the data collected so far, what was the average cut-off (including AIF Scores) for early admissions and was it higher than last year’s? Furthermore, for the admissions that took place last year around May, what was cut-off for that round of acceptance? Would I stand a high chance of being accepted with a 92% average (excluding AIF) while factoring in the competition for early admissions this year and last year’s admission average for late offers?

    • The data in this post essentially shows the chances based on last year overall. I really don’t know how this year will turn out until it’s all over. Then we will update our brochures and offer statistics in June.

  7. I’m an out of province applicant and I mailed Waterloo my transcripts which they received in late March. When should I expect a decision on my application? Namely the next wave of acceptances?

  8. how much do you think doing co-op in high school would help in my AIF score? it was at Sunnybrook Hospital with the mechanical and design engineers.

    • High school co-op is certainly an asset. It helps with our co-op too, since you would have something interesting to put on a resume and attract employers’ attention. Difficult to say how much impact it has on the AIF score, because they look at the overall picture, not just awarding points for certain things.

  9. Sorry, just one last question. Are there any other ways I can get involved in the admissions process/high school student “recruitment”? I’ve been actively keeping up with admission information for a few years. I attended the open house and had a great time, and would love to do similar things in the future. I’m intending to volunteer for You@Waterloo day, and hopefully the University Fair sometime down the line (if co-op or school term allows).

  10. It says AIF is not included in the averages stated in the chance table. Does that mean for Mechatronics, if your top 6 average is 88, and AIF adds 2% to bring to 90%, is the chance of getting accepted corresponding to an 88 %

    • Yes, the chance is based only on the average, so 88% in your example. For applicants with 88%, the reason some get an offer and others don’t will be related to the AIF score.

  11. Pingback: Chances for 2014 | A Professor in Waterloo Engineering

Comments are closed.