January 25, 2020
MMI Writing Station
Medical school MMI tracks typically involve 10 different stations plus 1 rest station. Additionally, some schools have a writing session following these interview stations. The writing station is an often-overlooked and rarely talked about part of the MMI. At UBC, you will get a 15-minute break after your last interview station, and will proceed to a classroom or lecture hall, where you will have 30 minutes to write one complete essay. The best way to prepare for the writing station is to know what to expect and to have a plan in mind, which we will explore below.
UBC generally provides 2 prompts to choose from, which can be on any topic, and not necessarily related to medicine. This makes the writing station impossible to prepare for content-wise, but also means you will not be required to know any academic knowledge. You will be writing your essay on paper, and will not be able to bring any writing supplies or writing aides including translation tools. So leave your favourite pen and pocket dictionary at home!
Even though you can’t prepare for the essay content, you can pre-plan your strategy to writing it. Remember the 5-paragraph structure from high school English class? This is a good approach to structure your essay and, to demonstrate it, I wrote this blog in 5-paragraph format. Begin with an introductory paragraph containing your thesis sentence. (My thesis was “The best way to prepare for the writing station is to know what to expect and to have a plan in mind.”) Next, write three paragraphs with evidence and examples supporting your thesis. A nice touch is to include transition words or phrases between these paragraphs. Finally, write a concluding paragraph, summarizing your three main points and re-stating your thesis. If you run out of time, at least try for one concluding sentence.
If you decide to use the 5-paragraph approach, this equates to 6 minutes per paragraph. However, you will need a few minutes to consider the prompts and to develop your main points, so watch the clock (there will be a wall clock in the room) and pace yourself to write each paragraph in 5 minutes or less. Having such limited time to hand write a full essay will make you feel pressured to write fast, but make sure to not sacrifice legibility. Contrary to popular belief, the essay writing station is NOT trying to screen for applicants with illegible “doctors’ handwriting!”
In conclusion, the writing station is not intimidating if you know what to expect and go into it with an approach in mind. Even if the examination room smells of stress (it will), keep your mind clear, stick with your plan and don’t sweat it. Remember the essay is just one component of interview day, and is only a small part of a large application process.
If you want to learn an approach to all stations of the MMI and practise with real doctors who have all passed it themselves, check out MedApplications’ MMI preparation packages here.
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