So you open up the AMCAS. You input your MCAT score, your coursework, your bio information. You type in your personal statement that you’ve spent months editing. But what about the work and activities section? That is a lot of room to explain different activities you’ve done throughout college and beyond. And you know what comes with a lot of room? A lot of room to make mistakes.
But also a lot of room to show an admissions committee how your activities have impacted you and helped you on your path to becoming a doctor!
Don’t underestimate the importance of this section. Make sure to take advantage of the AMCAS experiences section, but also avoid the following 7 mistakes:
1. Listing high school accomplishments
The people reading your application do not want to admit your 18-year-old self. They want to admit the person that you are today. So listing activities from high school is the #1 mistake you should avoid on your experiences section.
General rule of thumb: The most recent activities and experiences are the most relevant.
Another thing to note: This mistake does not necessarily apply to the personal statement. While you do want to make sure to show the admissions committee the person you are now, bringing up high school or even childhood stories is fine in your essay – as long as they are not the focus, but instead are important moments that contributed to your journey as a doctor.
2. Including an activity that you can’t speak about in depth during an interview
Anything you include in your AMCAS application is fair game during interviews. If you can’t go into detail about one of your activities, then don’t list it. You shouldn’t feel like you need to fill in every single slot – sometimes, an empty space is better than a half-hearted “filler” activity description!
3. Repeating yourself in the description
You already include the activity type, organization name, supervisor, etc. when you input your experiences. Repeating this information in the description is a waste of space!
4. Including “future” activities or publications
These cannot be counted for in your activities section. Including “future” activities or publications should be seen as the same thing as lying. If you have not experienced it yet, how can it contribute to your interest in becoming a doctor? Only include relevant, recent work and extracurricular experience.
5. Not proofreading
This mistake to avoid might sound obvious, but students fail to proofread all the time. If you’re copying and pasting your descriptions into the AMCS, make sure that the formatting does not change. Proofread on your work document. Proofread in the actual application. Proofread again. Have your mom or counselor or friend or little brother proofread. And then do it again. Small mistakes make you look lazy!
6. Spreading out activities that you could instead group together
For related and less-impactful experiences, group them together. If you shadowed three different doctors, don’t feel as though you need to take up three different activities spots with them. Rather, group them together under the same activity category. It saves you space, and application readers are quick to spot out those “filler” activities.
7. Repeating what you write in the Experiences Section in your Personal Statement
You know what’s really boring? Reading something twice.
Don’t fall into this trap. Your experiences section is a chance for you to explain the impact these specific activities have had on your journey to become a doctor. Your medical school personal statement is your chance to tell more detailed stories, and to discuss your larger journey towards medical school. While these two sections should complement each other, they should not be repetitive.
Remember: While there is room on the activities section to make some mistakes, there’s also a lot of room to convince an admissions committee to admit you! Take advantage of all this section has to offer!