“WHAT Should You Include in Your AMCAS Essay?” is excerpted from the Accepted.com special report, Ace the AMCAS Essay. To download the entire free special report, click here.
As I discussed in the first post of this series, your AMCAS essay serves as your introduction to the med school admissions board. In this way, your essay much more resembles a human interest story than it resembles a report. As a “science person,” you may be more familiar with factual, data-driven, analytical writing, with reports that are based on facts, figures, and statistics. In your application, all of this data will be included in your score reports and your resume…not in your essay.
Your AMCAS essay, your own personal human interest story, needs to be anecdotal and emotional. This is your opportunity to reveal your passion, your humor, your drive, and, in short, your unique personality. Remember, the admissions members reading your essays are human beings. Their job is to wade through a mountain of boring, trite, monotonous essays in search of that compelling gem of a story – the one that you’re going to write.
For that gem to gel, you will need to choose meaningful experiences that show your strength of character, integrity, individuality, and most importantly, your non-academic qualifications and motivation for pursuing medical school and a career as a physician.
Which would be a more interesting essay – one in which you speak generally about how you volunteered in a volunteer setting, or one in which you talk specifically about your experience working in Uganda with Doctors without Borders? Obviously the latter – an experience shared only by a handful, if any, of your competitors, will stand out more than an essay in which you talk about a vague experience that every other applicant shares.
But what if you haven’t worked in Uganda or climbed Mt. Everest or discovered a cure for cancer while a freshman? What if your most notable achievements are a little more pedestrian? Specifics and stories will still make them stand out. Furthermore if you include in your essays, your distinctive motivations, take-aways, and insights from those critical events that are important enough to you to include in your AMCAS essay, you will have a killer essay.
When you choose your essay topic, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Will this topic authentically introduce me to the reader?
2. Is this topic distinctive, or is it just going to come across as one more essay about how a grandparent’s illness directed the author at the age of 10 to medicine?
3. Does this essay reflect positively on my fitness for a career as a physician?
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.