The American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) requires applicants to include descriptions of their activities. You are given space to include 15 experiences. All of the entries require contact and other pertinent information to be included. You must classify the experiences by type, selecting from a drop down list of choices. You are given 700 characters, including spaces, to write a short description of each activity.
The “Most Meaningful” Descriptions
In addition, you must select three activities as “most meaningful” and write an additional essay about these experiences. You are given 1325 characters, including spaces, to describe each experience in more detail and include information as to why it was meaningful to you. Quoting directly from AMCAS, “When writing your response, you might want to consider the transformative nature of the experience: the impact you made while engaging in the activity and the personal growth you experienced as a result of your participation.” Read this carefully because the language here tells you exactly what to think about as you write your descriptions.
Here are some tips to writing the most meaningful AMCAS experience descriptions:
- Think about why the experience was “transformative.” How did it change you? What did you learn from it? What skills did you acquire that you will bring with you to the medical profession?
- What impact did you make with this activity? Did you somehow leave a lasting legacy? Did you come up with new ideas to advance the organization or have an impact on the people you were working with? If so, describe these things.
- How did the experience change you? Did the experience help you see a population, a field of discovery, or the world in an entirely new way? Did it stretch you and teach you something you never thought you were capable of? If so, tell why.
- The key to writing an outstanding entry for your most meaningful experience descriptions is thoughtful reflection.
- Help medical school admissions committees understand who you are through the descriptions you write. Writing in-depth descriptions as to why an experience meant a great deal to you will help admissions officers understand you better.
- Don’t try to “game” the system. Be honest in choosing the three experiences that were truly the most meaningful to you. If you do otherwise, admissions officers are likely to see right through it.
- For the “most meaningful” entries it is common to choose a clinical experience, research experience, and community service experience, although this varies widely from applicant to applicant depending on the array of activities in one’s background.
- Remember that you will likely get asked about these experiences in an interview; be prepared to talk about them.
As a medical school admissions consultant, I help applicants sort out and decide which of their many experiences to include in their selection of 15. I also advise students in regard to the descriptions they write, and the most meaningful AMCAS experiences, prompting them to think deeply about their activities and what they gained or learned from them. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to discuss your application.
–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consulting