Tips for admission to Waterloo Engineering

 Waterloo Engineering students.

Desana Written by Desana (she/her), student

What grades do you need for Waterloo Engineering? This is one of the biggest questions you might have, and as you probably know, Waterloo attracts top students from around the world.

Our entrance averages change slightly every year, but in general, low to mid-90s for some programs, and mid-to high 90s for others means you’re a competitive candidate. Though remember, we rely on the Admissions Information Form (AIF) and interview portions, and those can really help set you apart.

For a more specific range of numbers, check out the statistics from the Faculty of Engineering’s website about your likelihood of admission with different high school averages.

What is the AIF?

What is Waterloo’s AIF? The Admissions Information Form is a supplemental online form that consists of a few short answer questions that help our admissions committee learn more about you. It’s required for all Engineering applicants and provides you with a great chance to brag a little about your extracurriculars and accomplishments during high school.

Close up of student tying shoelaces with basketball beside him

What should you include in your AIF?

First and foremost, the AIF is your chance to talk about your involvement in activities outside of class. We want to hear about your extracurriculars. Were you captain of your school’s debate team? President of the robotics club? Did you play any sports or instruments? We want to hear about any jobs you’ve had. Did you lifeguard? Tutor? Work at a grocery store?

We also want to know about any awards and scholarships you’ve received over the last few years. Tell us about the times you’ve been recognized or distinguished among your peers.

One thing to note: when you’re asked, “Why Waterloo?” on the form, don’t just praise the school. Tell us the specific things about Waterloo that will help you achieve your education and career goals.

Finally, if you’ve got some space left, talk about anything else that makes you stand out — special talents, skills, or interests…you could even mention places you’ve visited or languages you know.

What is the Waterloo Engineering interview?

Waterloo Engineering has an optional (though highly recommended) interview component as part of the admissions process. It’s an online video interview, but there are a number of practice sessions to help you get more comfortable before the real thing. You only get one try with the real thing, so use as many practice sessions as you’d like to prepare.

For the interview you’ll need an internet-connected computer with a webcam and microphone. The procedure is simple — you’ll be asked a question, given prep time, and allotted a set amount of time to respond. It should take you no more than 5 minutes to complete the interview (not including practice sessions).

How to ace the Waterloo Engineering interview

What are some tips for acing the Waterloo interview? First, practise, practise, practise! Next, be prepared to talk a little about yourself and answer a more creative question. The interview is a chance for admissions staff to learn more about who you are so the best way to do well is to be yourself and answer the questions clearly and honestly.

Finally, have a plain background behind you and a light source in front of you. Wear nice, plain clothes that won’t distract the interviewer from your answer. While the clothes don’t need to be super formal, you definitely shouldn’t do the interview in an old t-shirt or pajamas.

Student in a suit.

Myths about Engineering admissions

When it comes to your OUAC application form (that’s Ontario Universities’ Application Centre), you don’t need to rank Waterloo first to get an offer. We don't take your ranking into consideration when choosing who to admit.

You also don’t need a 95% average to get in. Several of our Engineering programs accept students with averages in the mid-80s, and sometimes students with slightly lower averages are admitted over students with higher averages if they have a really strong AIF. Remember, with the AIF and interview portion, Waterloo is looking for academically strong, well-rounded students.

On that note, with the AIF we’re not only looking for engineering-related extracurriculars. Sports, music, jobs, and other activities can all demonstrate important qualities like leadership, dedication, time management, and initiative. What’s important is that you’re passionate and involved.

Programming experience is recommended, though not required. The exception to this is Software Engineering, for which you must demonstrate programming knowledge.

Best of luck on your application to Waterloo!

Note: admission requirements and processes are subject to change each year.


Related articles