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Accepted: The Premier Admissions Cosultancy

Presenting Yourself to Medical Schools: Your Primary Application

Click here to read the full series.

Did your application portray you the way you intended?

In Part 1 of our Medical School Reapplicant Advice: 6 Tips for Success series we talked about taking a step back and reevaluating your desire to go to med school, as well as your qualifications and skill. Today we’ll move on to assessing your application to determine what went wrong.

The second part of your assessment will examine how you presented yourself to the admissions committees. Keep in mind that these aspects of your application are necessarily subjective – there are often no right or wrong answers – but they should be subjected to the same rigorous critique as the previous section. Unlike your MCAT scores or grades, however, applicants have a lot of control over the elements in this section. Did you take full advantage of this to show yourself in the best light? This question is especially relevant when we look at the written portion of your application.

I find the accuracy of an assessment improves when it’s distinct from the remedies. This kind of critical review is not for the faint of heart. Chances are, you poured your hopes and dreams into your application the first time around. Figuring out where you went wrong is painful. For this reason, we’re not going to examine how to address your weaknesses just yet. That will come in future sections. For now, let’s focus on how the admissions committee saw you, based on your interactions.

Personal Statement: There’s no doubt that personal statements are highly subjective – what works for one reader might not work for the next. Nonetheless, it’s important to ask whether, in your honest opinion, you’ve presented the strongest possible personal statement.

• Was it enjoyable and interesting to read? If you were reading this about another person, would they come across strong? Would this be someone you might want as your physician?

• Did your essay begin with a strong lead paragraph that inspired the reader to continue?

• Did it tell a compelling story and describe your experiences instead of just listing what you’d done? Did you support claims about your abilities with anecdotal evidence?

• Did the essay focus on you rather than your projects or mentors?

• Did your stories demonstrate the key qualities desired in medical students: commitment, compassion, leadership, curiosity, critical thinking, maturity, etc.?

• Were there any typos or grammatical errors?

• Did you have anyone else review it for content and style before submission?

Whether you’re a first-rate candidate or a borderline student, your personal statement will make an impression on the med school admissions committee. If you can’t answer “yes” to all the above questions, that impression might not be the one you want.

Experiences: The experiences you choose to include in this section must reflect that you are a multi-dimensional person – one with the passion, curiosity, and integrity to excel in medical school. The experiences section is your chance to include any aspects of your background where you made an impact and showed your commitment.

• Did the activities you described reflect a breadth of activities and intellectual pursuits?

• Did you focus on your responsibilities rather than just describing the experience?

• Did you identify what impact you had on each organization/project?

• Did you identify why each experience affected your commitment to enter medicine?

• How did you justify the choice of your most meaningful experiences? Were your longer essays personal and authentic?

• When writing about the experiences in your primary essay, did you provide additional details rather than repeating information?

The AMCAS application only allows 700 characters to describe each activity, while the AACOM allows 750 characters. Cramming relevant, compelling information into these shorter essays can be awfully challenging. In your review, you need to examine whether you made each character count.

Letters of Recommendation: Although not technically how you represent yourself, recommendation letters are an extremely important part of the application process and your challenge is to find faculty members who can write a compelling letter.

• Did you select recommenders who know you well, preferably beyond the classroom?

• Did your chosen recommenders represent different areas of your life to reflect your diverse pursuits?

• Did you supply them with your CV or a list of activities so they have a better idea of your pursuits?

• Did you advise them of any areas that you specifically wanted them to address to balance the rest of your application?

• If you were asked to write your own recommendation, did you do so in a timely manner so they would have time for edits?

• Did you provide each recommender with clear instructions about submitting them to either the AMCAS Letters service or for the AACOM?

You might be feeling a bit fragile after such a critical review. If so, you’re doing it right. This exercise demands that you be ruthless and identify every potential flaw. Your ego might not like it, but you will when you have a clear roadmap to address your weaknesses.

Next post looks at the next hurdles in the admissions process, and how well you cleared them.

If you feel like you need another pair of eyes on your application, take advantage of Accepted.com’s review service to get a tailored assessment of your strengths and weaknesses.

Download Medical School Reapplicant Tips for Succcess

Cydney Foote By , Accepted consultant and author of Write Your Way to Medical School, who has helped future physicians craft winning applications since 2001.


Related Resources:

• Applying to Medical School with Low Stats: What You Need to Know
Med School Kicks Off: Ten Tips to Get You Through The Season
• Get Accepted to Medical School in 2016, a free webinar

March Madness and Story Time

Can your application tell a story?Is your bracket busted yet? (Probably.)

One of the things that draws even casual sports fans to March Madness is the storylines—the last-minute excitement, the players’ personal stories, the upsets, the Cinderella runs deep into the tournament.

And during the tournament, absolutely everything becomes a story. As I write, one of the top stories on Yahoo Sports is about the chair that GA State coach Ron Hunter fell out of in excitement when his son hit a game winning shot. Yes—the chair, which is now a treasured object of superstitious reverence. Of course! But another great story (and one of the enduring images of this year’s tournament, even after GA State was eliminated in the next round).

Stories make the game more exciting by giving us a personal connection to it. That’s how we tend to relate to the world around us. And I think it’s a useful thing to remember when you’re writing application essays: stories matter.

Your personal experiences add depth and interest to your application essays, helping you stand out and illustrating the qualities and goals you’re explaining. As you prepare to write, think about the stories you want to tell. It can be helpful to do some prewriting—think through some of the experiences you want to write about and what you learned from them, as well as how they relate to what you want to do in the future. This will give you some good material to draw on in your essay(s).

And…Go Bruins! (If they’re eliminated by the time you read this—better luck next year.)

Learn how to use sample essays to create an exemplary essay of your own!


Rebecca BlusteinBy Dr. Rebecca BlusteinAccepted.com consultant since 2008, former Student Affairs Officer at UCLA’s Scholarship Resource Center, and author of the ebook, Financing Your Future: Winning Fellowships, Scholarships and Awards for Grad School. Dr. Blustein, who earned her Ph.D. at UCLA, assists our clients applying to MS, MA, and Ph.D. programs. She is happy to assist you with your grad school applications.

Related Resources: 

• 5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your Application Essays
• Telling Your Story in Your Application Essay
• MBA Application Essays: All You Need is a Story

Yale to Offer New Online Master of Medical Science Degree

Get Your Game On: Prepping for your Grad School Application.  Download here!

Your classroom at Yale may be the one you are in right now.

There’s big news in the Ivy League-online world: Yale University is creating a new online master of medical science degree for physician assistants, reports a recent Wall Street Journal article.

Yale’s program for aspiring PAs has been around for decades, but each class only has room for about 40 students a year, with more than 1000 applicants vying for those spots. With the introduction of the web-based course, there’s potential to accept up to 360 students (across the on-campus and web versions of the degree program). Next January, for the first online class, there will only be 12 students, but that number is expected to grow over the course of the next five years.

The price of the on-campus and online programs will be the same. Currently the 28-month course costs $83,162. The majority of the course work for online students will be done via live, interactive online classes; students will also visit various clinical field sites, participate in clinical rotations (students will be placed at medical facilities near them), and meet on-campus at Yale three times.

grad 5 Fatal Flaws

Accepted: The Premier Admissions Cosultancy

Related Resources:

Five Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your Statement of Purpose
• Is it Worth it for Women to Become Doctors?
The Quick Guide to Admissions Resumes

Interview with Eniola: Medical Resident, Novelist, Child of God

click here for more medical student interviews!This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with medical school applicants and students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top medical schools and the med school application process. And now, introducing Eniola Prentice…

Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? And can you tell us about your book?

Eniola: I am originally from Nigeria and moved to the States when I was 17. I went to the University of Illinois at Chicago.

I hate answering the question about who I am. The answer usually depends on the time of the day and my mood. I do know a few things about my life. I am sure of the following. I know I am a child of God. I know I want God to use my life as He pleases to help others through my novel. I finished my novel still when I was in the fourth year of medical school. I started writing it in my third year of school. It was definitely one of the most challenging times of my life but I believe God brought out the best in me and connected me with people that are my lifelong friends. It is based on my experiences, friendships and connections in med school. I also used some of my own painful and joyful life experiences. I feel that writing still allowed me to be vulnerable. It’s a lesson I am still learning, allowing myself to be open and let other young women learn from my experiences.

Accepted: Where did you go to med school? What was your favorite thing about that school? And if you could change one thing about the program, what would it be?

Eniola: I went to Howard University in Washington DC. My favorite thing about Howard was the camaraderie and the family atmosphere. I truly had a group of friends that truly supported and loved one another. A lot of my book is based on my true life experiences with my groups of friends. We called ourselves the 210 group because we always studied in room 210. LOL. We still call ourselves that. I would probably change how struggling students were handled.

Accepted: Where are you doing your residency?

Eniola: I am doing my residency in INOVA Fairfax hospital in Virginia.

Accepted: Why did you choose that program?

Eniola: I choose it because of proximity and familiarity. Washington was just 45 minutes away and I had quite a support system nearby. I think that’s one thing that no one really gives you advice on when choosing a residency. Everyone wants to go to the most competitive program or the big name program but fails to realize that residency is demanding. The days can get dark and very lonely. You want to at least enjoy the people you are working with or have a trusted group of friends/family to vent to.

Accepted: Does your family still live in Nigeria? Do you plan on returning home once you’ve completed your studies?

Eniola: Most of my family is here. I don’t think returning to settle down is in my future. However you never know where God leads you.

Accepted: How does religion play into your passion to be a physician?

Eniola: It played a big part in my early years of deciding to study medicine. It took holding on to my faith in God and believing what He said rather than how my situation looked or what I felt or what everyone was telling. Everyone told me no but God told me yes. I listened to God and I am where I am today. Now my Christian religion pushes me to be an excellent resident, and then physician. I always remember the word of God that says “I should do my works to please God and not men.”

Accepted: What are your top 3 tips for residency applicants?


1. Location, location, location. Until you apply you don’t realize how big a factor this is. Then you realize that most of the big city programs have the most applicants and are most competitive. You should research any potential residency interview location keeping in mind that the location will be your home for the next few years and potentially more if you choose fellowship.

2. Ask the residents currently in the program what life is really like. Email them. Notice everything. Does the residency program allow you to talk to a few select residents or you talked to all. Do the residents look genuinely happy? Observe, observe, observe.

3. Support system. Yes you are going to this big name program but will it be a place everyone puts you down instead of building you up? Do they put a spot light on your weakness. It gets very hard in residency and if you don’t have that support system it makes a difficult situation unbearable. I think in medical school and with the competition of residency, you lose sight of the most important things. Find a residency that will encourage you to grow past your weakness and find a support group there. Pray for one. It’s so important.

For one-on-one guidance on your med school applications, please see our catalog of med school admissions services.

You can follow Eniola’s residency adventure by checking out her blog, Eniola Prentice: Apprentice of God, Half baked Medical doctor, Aspiring Writer. Thank you Eniola for sharing your story with us!

Do you want to be featured in Accepted.com’s blog, Accepted Admissions Blog? If you want to share your med school journey with the world (or at least with our readers), email us at bloggers@accepted.com.

Avoid the 5 fatal flaws to your residency personal statement

Accepted: The Premier Admissions Cosultancy

Related Resources:

• Residency Applications: How to Match
• Your Residency Match Application: Start to Finish
• An Inside Look at the Medical School Journey