How To Win McGill Major Entrance Scholarships

Established in 1821, McGill University is one of the oldest schools in Canada. In addition to being ranked among the top 3 universities in Canada, McGill offers many scholarships for prospective students. Here at GrantMe, we’ve helped many students apply to and win scholarships to McGill. Here’s our top advice on how to win McGill scholarships. 

Available Awards

There are two types of McGill scholarships.

The first kind are one-year entrance scholarships. McGill award these $3,000 scholarships to students with high academic performance. If your average is around 95% or you’re in the top 1-2% in your class, you may be eligible! You are automatically considered for these scholarships when you submit your admissions application to McGill, so no additional work required! 

The next type are major entrance scholarships. These scholarships award high academic achievement and outstanding leadership in school or community activities. Unlike the one-year scholarships, these awards are renewable. This means that as long as you meet their requirements, you can receive these awards every year of your degree! The scholarship amounts range from $3,000, $5,000, $10,000, or $12,000 a year. This means you could potentially win $48,000 for your degree! 

The major entrance scholarships require an additional application. Here, we’ll take you through how you can set yourself up for success!

Your Application

The application can be completed online after you submit your admissions application to McGill. There are four parts to the application. We’ll walk you through each step below!

Activity Summary

The first part of the major McGill scholarships application is an activity summary! The prompt reads:

Provide a factual list of your school activities and community/volunteer involvement, including athletic/artistic and other activities in which you have been involved during the last three academic years. Briefly describe both the leadership and membership positions held, the period of involvement, as well as competitions, awards received and results and achievements. 

There are three categories you can list your involvements in:

  1. School activities (max. 1600 characters)
  2. Community/volunteer involvement (max. 1440 characters)
  3. Competitions/achievements/honours (max. 1440 characters)

You want to make sure that you fully expressing the breadth of your involvement! Try to list a mixture of initiator, leader, and member roles. 

Initiator roles are volunteer roles in which you started an initiative like a new club or project. Leader roles are a step down from initiator roles, like being a coach or a camp counsellor. Lastly, member roles are involvements in which you volunteered as part of a team. For more help on choosing which involvements to highlight, check out our article here!

Once you’ve chosen the activities you want to highlight, it’s time to write the descriptions. To create concise and powerful descriptions of your activities, use RATS! 

RATS Model

RATS is a modified version of STAR structure (which we often talk a lot about here at GrantMe). It’s a 4-part acronym that will help you include the key components of crafting a strong sentence describing a specific volunteer or extracurricular experience. 

  • R — Result (qualitative or quantitative proof of your success) 
  • A — Actions (what you did, how you did it, skills you used)
  • T — Task (your objective)
  • S — Situation (who, what, when, where)

Here’s an example of how you can apply RATS to describe your volunteer experience :

Student Council President 

  • R — Fostered an inclusive school climate
  • A  — by coordinating events and service projects
  • T — as Student Council President
  • S — for my school’s 1600 students.

Fostered an inclusive school climate by coordinating events and service projects as Student Council President for my school’s 1600 students.

When you put it together, you have a clear and concise description of your involvement!

Do this for each of your involvements in your activity summary. If you have extra character count, feel free to provide more than one RATS statement for each activity. 

General Essay

The next part of your McGill scholarships application is a general essay. You can choose from one of two prompts:

  1. Choose one person, either a contemporary or historical figure, and describe how you would have been influenced or inspired by that individual. (max. 4000 characters)


  1. Describe one memorable event or experience which provided you with a new outlook on life. (max. 4000 characters)

Whichever prompt you choose, you want to be sure to what makes you an excellent scholarship candidate through your response. Try to connect your answer to your leadership experiences! 

For example, if you choose prompt one, you can talk about how the figure you chose influenced or inspired your community involvement. 

If you choose the second prompt, you could talk about an experience that motivated your leadership involvement or you could choose a leadership involvement that changed your outlook. 

When talking about your leadership involvements, use STAR! 

Just like you used RATS to create short descriptions of your leadership activities, you use STAR to craft longer paragraphs about your experiences. 

  • S — Situation (who, what, when, where)
  • T — Task (your objective)
  • A — Actions (what you did, how you did it, skills you used)
  • R — Result (qualitative or quantitative proof of your success) 

Use this formula to discuss your volunteer involvements in your application! STAR will make your writing powerful and easy to follow. For more help using STAR, check out our article here!

Self Letter of Reference

The next section of your McGill scholarships application is a letter of reference that you write for yourself. The prompt reads:

Write a letter of reference for yourself in the third person. Include experiences, interests and achievements, creative endeavours, strengths as well as weaknesses, and leadership skills which you possess or are developing. (max. 4000 characters)

You really want to show not tell for this reference letter. Instead of just saying that you are a compassionate leader, you want to demonstrate it! Highlight your community involvements to do this. You’ll want to use STAR again here when writing!

External Reference Letters

Finally, the McGill scholarships application also requires you to submit two external reference letters. One must be an academic reference (i.e. teacher) and one must be related to one of your activities. This could be a coach, a teacher, a volunteer supervisor, or more. 

We created a guide on how to get winning scholarship reference letters. Check it out on our blog here!

Potential Interview

That’s everything you need to know for your application! Once the selection committee reviews all of the applications, they may invite some finalists for interviews. If you get a call-back for an interview, be sure to prepare by checking out our guide on how to ace scholarship interviews!

Follow this advice and you’re sure to submit a strong application for the major McGill scholarships!

If you want even more support, GrantMe can help you stand out. We provide personalized scholarship matches, essay editing, and mentorship from past winners to maximize your success. Complete our short scholarship eligibility quiz to learn more about how GrantMe can help you achieve your post-secondary goals. 

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