January 25, 2020
Medical School Applications
As you apply to medical school, you naturally want to get maximum application points for the hours of hard work you put into your volunteer, work, athletic, and research activities. Competitive applicants do this by writing strong activity descriptions clearly explaining the significance of each activity. Let’s look at what comprises a strong description.
TITLE, ORGANIZATION, DATES, HOURS, AND SUPERVISOR
These are the basics of every activity description. Avoid abbreviations and acronyms in the organization name – never assume the reviewer has heard of AIESEC, GK or other acronyms. Make sure your commitment is clearly reflected by your start/end dates, frequency and total hours. Use the additional clarifications box for infrequent/irregular activities, as discussed in our blog here.
TASK + ACTIVITY + SCOPE + OUTCOME
These 4 components must be addressed in all activity descriptions. Too often, applicants only address one or two of these, leaving admissions staff with unanswered questions about the size or significance of the activity.
Task – what you did
Beyond stating your position’s title, make sure to define the responsibilities and expectations of your role. “Helped with running [event]” is a poor way to describe what you did at a volunteer event – be sure to answer what you actually did.
Activity – how you did it
This is where you elaborate on how you completed your responsibilities. For example: “I delivered excellent customer service to clients (what you did) with a polite and positive attitude (how you did it).” and “I taught a class of grade 12 students (what) using creative PowerPoints to engage my audience (how).”
Scope – what scale
When reviewing applications, admissions staff are trying to picture each activity you are describing. Too commonly, they have an incomplete picture because the applicant did not include specific details about scope. How many people attended? How many teams did you compete against? Was it a local or national conference? How many staff members did you supervise? If admissions can’t tell the scale of the event, they have a very difficult time assigning points and will likely undervalue your accomplishments.
Outcome – what was the impact
After describing the what, how, and scale of your activity, you need to tell the reviewer why it was important. What made the activity meaningful? How many events did you run? Were they successful? How many people did you impact? How did your team place? How much donation money did you raise? Did you perform beyond expectations? What did you learn or what skills did you gain?
Now that you have a framework on which to build your activity descriptions, check out this blog of examples taken from successful medical school applications.
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