Queen’s Commerce Admission 2015/16

Let’s talk about Queen’s Commerce admission. “How do I get into Queen’s Commerce?” People ask that question every year, and every year there’s a different answer. You ask people in the program, you search it in google, but there doesn’t seem to be a clear cut answer.

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For more one-on-one consulting, contact our other partner at AdmissionsConsulting.ca.

This may be one of the reasons why Queen’s Commerce is one of the most prestigious business programs in the country. With its 9% admissions rate, and constantly changing admissions questions. As a member of commerce myself I have had the privilege to meet a variety of outstanding peers and not one of them are the same. That is because Queen’s doesn’t look for just the smartest, or the most involved person.

They are looking for those who can take what they have done with their life, and prove that they will use this amazing program to become the next business leader of our generation.

Note: For admissions consulting services, we recommend the folks at AdmissionsAlly.ca or AdmissionsConsulting.ca. Or read the latest Queen’s Commerce Application – How to Get In for 2017.

The Bottom Line

This next sentence is probably the most crucial information as you start your applications. Queen’s Commerce does not look at your averages once you pass the cut off. That being said if they are deciding between the last two applicants with identical essays, they will pick the kid with a 99% over an 87%.

But if you spend your choice 350 words talking about your grades or list every award as “highest mark in math” then you may not be what they are looking for. Once you pass the cut off, they know you are smart and have very high grades. Now it is time to let your essays make you stand out from the other 6000 applicants.


The PSE is a question that must be answered by EVERY student applying to EVERY faculty at Queen’s; not just commerce. Interesting fact about this year’s PSE question is that it was one of last year’s Commerce supplementary essay questions. What does this mean? It means that they value this question A LOT.

When you are thinking about answering this question it is best to not start with “which out of all my amazing activities should I pick?” because if you think about it there are 6000 people applying and one of them is bound to also put “captain of my soccer team” or “President of DECA.”

That being said, being the President of your school’s DECA club is what I wrote and it is a great answer to this question if you know how to USE it.

To start you should take your extracurricular activities from your PSE and make a list. Under each activity write down three questions.

  1. Who have I impacted with this activity?
  2. How did it affect their lives?
  3. What was the greatest learning outcome for me?

Once you get a few points for every activity you can really see which one is the clear winner. The admissions team would rather hear how you started your own small charity that helped youth in Africa, than getting a job on Bay Street where all you did all summer was get coffee. The hardest part about this question is taking something amazing you did in real life, and communicating it to complete strangers on paper.

Once you have picked your activity (let’s use the charity) you should check out last year’s article on how to fully answer this question here.

The Supplementary Essays

Once again Queen’s Commerce likes you keep you on your toes by changing up the supplementary questions. For admissions consulting services, we recommend the folks at AdmissionsAlly.ca or AdmissionsConsulting.ca.


“Based on your research about the program, in 300 words or fewer, please answer what contribution do you plan to make to Queen’s Commerce?”

Earlier this year, Steven Smith who is a Queen’s Engineering Alumni donated $50 Million to the school of business. That being said I do not think they expect you to make that kind of contribution! There are so many things to talk about with this question it is hard picking just one. Remember what I said in my introduction “will use this amazing program to become the next business leader of our generation.”

They don’t want to hear how you are going to contribute to a university, or even just Queen’s. They want to know based on the research you have done, what contribution are you going to make to Queen’s Commerce.

Funnily enough the word research has shown up in the past two years questions. This is because they want to know how you plan to use the amazing opportunities Commerce specifically offers and really make your mark as a contributor and not just a kid enrolled in the program.

The key to answering this question is knowing what makes Queen’s Commerce different than every other business program.

Within Queen’s Commerce there is the Commerce Society. Within the Commerce Society there are dozens of clubs, conferences and competitions run every year. There is one to fit every need such as the Queen’s Marketing Association Conference (QMAC), the Inter-Collegiate Business Competition so much more (find the whole list here.) An amazing way to contribute to Commerce is taking one club say QMAC and talk about how each year you are going to make a bigger and bigger impact.

1st YEAR

Apply to be a frosh rep. (That is what I am on QMAC). However, because there are 450 kids in Commerce and only around 40 clubs, being a frosh rep is very prestigious but also very hard to get. Talk about how if you do not make it as frosh rep you will apply to be a delegate at the conference (showing perseverance a.k.a the topic of your next question.

2nd YEAR

Apply to be on the exec team as delegate’s coordinator. Talk about how you will contribute your skills to making QMAC better than ever.

3rd YEAR

Expand your role to speaker’s coordinator. Talk about how you can bring on even more prestigious speakers that enrich the delegates to be better marketers in our world.

4th YEAR

Become co-chair and make the biggest contribution to commerce by bringing the students the best marketing experience that will get them ready for the real world.

By showing how you are going to intensify your impact every year and that you have done actual research about what Commerce offers will truly help you stand out.


In 300 words or fewer, describe a situation in which you made the decision to persevere, and a situation in which you made the decision to quit. What did you learn from both experiences?

There are two ways to answer this question: As two separate situations or one situation. Personally I think having two separate situations is more beneficial. This is because it allows you two show Commerce diverse range of activities you have done, and it will make not running on and on about one situation easier.

First we need to talk about a situation in which you persevered. An example is what I wrote for my accepted IVEY essay. I had played competitive soccer for 14 years when I tore my ACL (after breaking both bones in my leg the year before.) I wrote about how I didn’t give up even when I had to go to physiotherapy twice a week for a year.

This question doesn’t want you to emphasize on the activity you are persevering. They want to see what kind of person you’ve become as a result of persevering. IVEY saw the dedication I had by constantly working out, the passion I had for my sport, and the success I received after coming back and being top league goal scorer.

Next is a time you made the decision to quit. You may be thinking “why would Commerce want me to talk about my failures?” Well the trick is to answer this question like you would answer what your biggest weakness is. “My biggest weakness is I’m too involved and say yes to everyone.” Basically you are not saying a weakness but actually a disguised strength.

The best way to answer this question is talk about a time when you were involved with so much and there was one activity you had to quit in order to better allocate your time and effort to the other activities. It shows them that you are highly involved, you know when you are in over your head, and you know when to seek help.

I have to end with the cheesy “just be you.” I heard it a hundred times when I was writing my essays last year but now that I’m in Commerce I get it. This program is filled with diversely successful individuals and what sets them apart is they aren’t all genius private school teenage business owners. They have all made an impact, contributed and persevered in their own way. It’s how they communicate those experience through these essays that made the difference.

If you are serious about getting admitted, don’t leave it to chance. Get 5-star admissions support from me at AdmissionsAlly.ca  – space is limited to a handful of serious students.

Joel Nicholson

Joel Nicholson

Joel Nicholson is the Co-founder and Managing Director of CampusRankings—Canada's #1 platform for student rankings, reviews, and admissions support. He writes about topics relating to education, or food reviews on Yelp.

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