Out of all your AMCAS work and activities, you can choose 3 activities as your most meaningful experiences. You have an extra 1325 characters to write about your most meaningful activities. Many applicants are uncertain how to approach these additional remarks and simply treat them as extended activity descriptions. However, making the most out of your AMCAS “most meaningful experience essays” requires deliberate choice of experiences, thoughtful reflection, and a particular style of writing. To this end, we have created this blog post in order to help you best select your most meaningful experiences and write about them effectively. We also analyze an actual most meaningful essay from a previously successful applicant!
In this blog post, we’ll help you decide and write STRONG AMCAS “most meaningful experience” descriptions:
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How to choose an AMCAS most meaningful experience
How many characters is the most meaningful experience on the AMCAS?
You can write up to 1325 characters for 3 most meaningful experiences on the AMCAS. Your most meaningful experiences should be experiences which had a significant impact on your personal growth, development, and aspirations within medicine.
For many applicants, which experiences to designate as “most meaningful” will be immediately obvious, and the question is merely how to write about them. But for others, choosing which experiences were “most meaningful” can be difficult. Look at our 2 most meaningful description examples below from our former medical school applicants!
We recommend asking the following in selecting your most meaningful activities:
- Which of your qualities are you most proud of and what activities have allowed you to demonstrate them?
- Which activities were you involved with for the longest period of time? Amount of hours?
- Did you assume leadership roles in any activities you were involved with?
- Which activities have helped you answer “why medicine”?
- Are there any activities with descriptions which you would want to expand on?
- Are there any activities you were involved with that are unique or unusual?
- Do any of your activities seem heavily related to your personal background or themes of your application?
For inspiration, use our Cracking Med School Admissions AMCAS Workbook to brainstorm important experiences and stories from all your extracurricular activities. Think back on which experiences have allowed you to develop and/or demonstrate your passions. Ultimately, the best “most meaningful” essays will be about experiences you feel truly passionate about!
FREE AMCAS Work & Activities Workbook
Use this workbook to write STELLAR AMCAS descriptions. This section is as important as your personal statement.
5 Important Tips for your AMCAS Most Meaningful Experience Essays
Most Meaningful Activity AMCAS Tip #1: Tell a story
As with most written components of your application, your most meaningful remarks should “show not tell.” This is especially relevant for your most meaningful experiences as you already had 700-characters to describe the activity and what you did in a more literal manner. As such, readers will expect more emphasis on reflection, what you learned, and why the experience was meaningful to you. The best way to do this is to share a short anecdote that highlights positive traits about you while demonstrating how the experience had an impact on you. See our AMCAS most meaningful experience example essay below!
Key Tip: Highlight experiences and stories that you have NOT used in your personal statement.
Most Meaningful Activity AMCAS Tip #2: Differentiate yourself
Many medical school applicants will have some sort of experience in clinical volunteering, community service, research, teaching, and leadership. Therefore, in writing about your most meaningful experiences, focus on things you did that were unique or different. Not all pre-meds will have a unique background or path in life, but everyone has his or her own perspectives and stories to bring to the table. Ask yourself if anyone else’s name could be associated with your most meaningful essay without significantly changing its message. If so, re-write your essay so that it is true and specific to your experiences.
For example, applicants can write about how volunteering in the hospital taught them empathy and compassion. But only YOU can speak to a specific patient you met while volunteering and how your conversation with the patient affected you.
Most Meaningful Activity AMCAS Tip #3: Continue to highlight your passions and overall narrative
Think about how an admissions committee member might summarize your application in a 2-minute “elevator” pitch based on your personal statement and activity descriptions thus far. Structure your most meaningful remarks around this theme to maintain a consistent narrative. For example, if your application is heavily focused on translating research findings at the bench into new clinical treatments for cancer patients, your most meaningful remarks should probably focus on your research experiences and/or work with cancer patients, as well as your motivations for working toward this goal.
Key Tip: Keep in mind that your most meaningful activities do not have to be clinically related. It is more important that the activity reveals something unique about you and is something you truly feel excited writing about. Many students choose to designate non-clinical experiences as their most meaningful activities with great success.
Most Meaningful Activity AMCAS Tip #4: Focus on impact
What did you accomplish and why was it significant? For example, if you held a leadership position in a student organization, talk about changes you made as a leader and how those changes positively benefited the group. Think about this as another form of “show not tell”: you are showing readers that you are an effective leader indirectly through your accomplishments and the impact that you had on others rather than outright telling them. If you are able to, quantify impact (X dollars raised, Y number of people affected) and be as specific as possible!
Most Meaningful Activity AMCAS Tip #5: Connect to the future
Your “most meaningful” reflections should inform readers about what type of physician you want to become and how the experience contributed to your aspirations. For example, if you write about research that you published or presented, talk about what type of research you want to do as a physician and how your experiences doing research before medical school gave you relevant skills toward that goal. This gives readers a better idea of the significance of your experience by directly making the connection for them.
AMCAS Most Meaningful Experience:
Examples and Analyses
AMCAS most meaningful activity example #1: This applicant chose to write about his neuroscience research lab experience in university.
In the 700 character description, this applicant wrote what research question he was studying. He talked about the research skills and techniques he learned. In the 1325-character most meaningful description below, the applicant complemented his research by writing more of a reflection and how he wants to integrate research into his future career.
AMCAS Most Meaningful Experience Example
AMCAS Most Meaningful Activity – Neuroscience Research
Science is a conversation and conclusions drawn from it may impact policy and patient care. For example, if opioid administration may sensitize fear learning, should patients receive opioids following physical trauma? The potential of translational research to inform answers to these questions inspired my interest in academic medicine. At the same time, truth is found through debate, and our findings were only one piece of a larger puzzle. I recall presenting our findings at a national conference and defending them against other neuroscientists whose studies had produced different results. As such, I have realized that conflict and disagreement are the main drivers of scientific progress.
My time in XYZ Lab also helped me develop valuable career skills. Familiarity with neuroscience has been academically enriching, but more valuable is my honed ability to communicate results to others and challenge my hypotheses by testing theory with experimentation. My familiarity with animal models will allow me to interpret and apply pre-clinical findings to inform clinical trials. In addition, creating and presenting posters to the general public, I have realized that persuading others involves more than just data—people are more convinced when you can convey results in context as part of a larger narrative.
Why is this a strong “most meaningful” essay?
- The applicant reflects on the advancement of scientific research and its importance to medicine. As a reader, you learn that the reader has put a lot of thought about the intersection of public policy and medicine.
- The writer connects the skills she learned and explains why it will be valuable for his career.
- The writer “sells herself” by talking about posters he presented.
AMCAS most meaningful activity example #2: This applicant chose to write about his work in the emergency room. You can see both the 700 character AMCAS activity description and the 1325 character AMCAS most meaningful essay.
AMCAS Most Meaningful Experience Example
Why is this a strong “most meaningful” essay:
- The writer comes off as reflective and thoughtful about the work he is involved with. For example, he notes the role of “narrative” in convincing others about scientific findings.
- The writer shares an anecdote at an academic conference presenting his scientific poster to show his understanding of the scientific process. Note how the anecdote itself only takes up one sentence, but gives you an idea of who the writer is and their beliefs.
- The writer explicitly connects the experience with his future career goals in “academic medicine” and relevant skills for that career.
- The writer highlights impact through his accomplishments, such as “creating and presenting posters” at a “national conference.”
FAQs - AMCAS Most Meaningful Activities
Q: How many characters are the most meaningful activities?
In addition to the 700-character limit allotted for every activity, activities designated as “most meaningful” receive an additional 1325-characters (essay is listed separately under “Most Meaningful Experience Remarks”). This is roughly 200 words, or one paragraph.
Q: Do you have to have 3 most meaningful experiences on the AMCAS?
While having 3 most meaningful experiences is by no means required, we recommend students take full advantage of opportunities to strengthen their application. Think about the activities you have already written about. Is there an alternative perspective you could highlight? An anecdote you could share? Did this experience shape your future aspirations? Use the extra characters to address these questions and convince an admissions committee to admit you to their medical school class!
Q: What if I only list 2 most meaningful AMCAS activities?
We do not recommend this. It is a lost opportunity to showcase your strengths and interests for becoming a physician.
Q: Do my most meaningful experiences have to be clinical experiences? What about shadowing?
Your most meaningful experiences do not have to be clinical! Many successful applicants designate non-clinical activities as their most meaningful experiences. However, we do recommend having at least one of your most meaningful experiences be related to medicine, and even relating non-clinical experiences to your career aspirations as a physician. Look at our example AMCAS activity description and AMCAS most meaningful activity essay above.
Q: Can I include shadowing as a most meaningful AMCAS activity?
Yes, you can include shadowing as a meaningful activity. But most of the time, our Cracking Med School Admissions team finds that shadowing is not a strong activity. While shadowing can be educational and valuable for many pre-meds, we do not recommend designating it as a most meaningful experience due to its passive nature. For your most meaningful experiences, try to focus on activities in which you actively did something and made a difference for others!