Our Cracking Med School Admissions team has read literally thousands of Work and Activities descriptions. Our goal is to show you what makes a great AMCAS work and activities description through AMCAS work and activities examples.
- How to Write Work Activities Section for the AMCAS
- AMCAS Work and Activities Examples for Various Activities
- AMCAS Work and Activities Categories
- 3 Common AMCAS Activity Description Mistakes
- FAQs about the AMCAS Work and Activities Section
- AMCAS Application Packages – Work with our team!
Contact our Cracking Med School Admissions team at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can help you edit your AMCAS, which make your overall application much more attractive to admissions officers.
How to write work activities section for amcas
There are 15 activities descriptions for the AMCAS primary application.
While not all AMCAS extracurricular activity descriptions are the same, they should give the medical school admissions committees a good picture of what you did for each activity. Additionally, they should learn why it was meaningful to you and what you learned.
For three of the activities, you have an additional 1325 characters to write more about your “most meaningful activity.” Make sure these 3 most meaningful experiences highlight different perspectives about you.
There are two main ways an applicant can write the work activities descriptions for the AMCAS.
1) Bullet points. Think about this as “resume” style. These descriptions tend to be to the point and emphasize what an applicant did for each activity.
2) Paragraph form. This allows medical school applicants to write more stories and describe their activities.
Must-have Elements for Each Activities Description:
- What YOU did: What were your responsibilities? What impact did you have in this organization? Oftentimes, we read descriptions that describe the program or project, and barely touches on what the applicant did. Leaving this out is one of the most common mistakes we see.
- Reflection is KEY: Reflection shows maturity and growth. Some reflections you can discuss in your description – What lessons did you learn? Did you face any difficulties? How did this experience impact you or change the way you think about patient care and healthcare?
Other Elements To Make Each Activities Description Stellar:
- Program Description: If you need to add context about the organization or program, then you can do so. We recommend 2 sentences MAX.
- Awards & Publications: Did you win any awards from this activity? Did you publish? Accolades are external validations that support the strength of your medical school application.
- Leadership: Especially if you were founder, first author, or president, highlight leadership in your activity description and make it bold.
Here is an AMCAS Work and Activities Example.
- Program goal: In activities in which the goal or mission of the organization / project is not obvious,
- AMCAS activity description: Write a description, whether in bullet points or paragraph form, of what YOU did for that specific work or activity. Focus on impact. One common mistake our Cracking Med School Admissions finds our students doing is they talk too much about the organization and not enough of what they did for the organization.
- Awards / Impact: If you won any awards, make sure to note them. Finally, if you can tie the activity with how you can relate it to your future career in medicine, you should mention it in the end.
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We want to give you examples of common medical school application activities and excellent AMCAS work and activities examples. Our Cracking Med School Admissions team created the AMCAS Work and Activities workbook to help you stand out in your activities description. Click the link or fill out your email address in the box below so we can send you the AMCAS work and activities workbook today!
Other than the workbook, we will share our advice on various popular AMCAS work and activities. Keep on reading!
AMCAS Activities Example – Shadowing Experiences:
A common question the Cracking Med School Admissions team receives is: how do we write about our shadowing experiences in the AMCAS work and activities section? The example below shows one approach to writing about it.
Here, the applicant has had several shadowing opportunities throughout college, so he decided to mention several of them. One thing you can do with your AMCAS Work and Activities description is to describe the significance of each shadowing experience or highlight key points.
The benefits to having a wide range of shadowing experiences is that you can clearly convey that you’ve acquired a multifaceted perspective of healthcare. The best way to do this is to incorporate experiences unique to each specialty in your description.
Looking back on the above example, the following sentences definitely stand out on their own:
“ observed open heart surgeries” (You’re never gonna see this in Family medicine!)
“patient consultations…dialysis centers” (Again, unique to nephrology)
“attended international infectious disease conferences” (Sounds like an exciting opportunity, and makes one think of the 1995 film Outbreak, starring Dustin Hoffman)
Other shadowing specialties that you can discuss:
- OB/GYN: Shadowed live births or fetal ultrasound sessions
- Radiology: Shadowed dark room sessions during an ER shift and learned to differentiate matter based on density on MRI scans.
- Orthopedic Surgery: Shadowed rounds at clubfoot clinic
- Plastic surgery: Shadowed cleft palate repair surgery and follow-up outpatient care clinic.
By conveying these experiences, you’re painting a bigger picture with fewer words.
For more AMCAS activities examples, download our free AMCAS work and activities kit here.
AMCAS Activities Example – Research:
Many of you will have research experience as one of your activities. We have stressed again, this is one of the most common fields in which applicants FAIL TO EFFECTIVELY SELL THEMSELVES. We met students who’ve invested three years into a research lab, but failed to effectively convey those experiences. And we’ve coached them through our application advising services to make sure their AMCAS activities help them stand out.
From the above experience, note how the description is limited to one, brief sentence.
How much of my experience has to be technical jargon?
You should be able to describe key points of your research, i.e. relevant information, utilized techniques and procedures, etc. in your activity. (Keep in mind that you may have to elaborate on your research during the interview). However, the bulk of your activity should include the following activities.
Don’t forget that this description can also highlight your leadership: Did you create a project of your own? How far did you carry it out?
Other insights to learn from this research AMCAS activity example:
Our applicant research example in the AMCAS Work and Activities section blog above emphasized two themes:
- Learning from his mistakes (“I never wasted my failures”)
- Establishing a pristine work ethic (“scrubbed flasks, washed counters, keeping my mind busy to rub away regrets, rinse thoughts, and repeat…”).
Note that he referenced the context of his research to push these two themes. (admittedly, the applicant notes that he is ‘not at all a research person,’ and learned so from this experience).
AMCAS Activities Example – Volunteering Experiences:
Many pre-meds have volunteered in clinical and non-clinical settings. To differentiate yourself, you need to write about your experiences with insight and demonstrable passion. Therefore, while it is important to describe your responsibilities, the bulk of your description should focus on the impact you had and lessons you learned. From the above example, notice how only one sentence describes responsibilities of the position “[ensuring] that staff and residents… have access and daily meals and needed resources,” while more space is taken to describe impact, such as the implementation of a “breakfast/lunch program,” and lessons learned about the “implementation of theory into practice.”
Furthermore, remember that medical schools want to recruit mature students with rich life experiences. Ultimately, being a doctor is about connecting with patients on a human level, so take advantage of your clinical experiences and describe what you learned about working with people. For example, the above description reflects on how “medicine is not only about treating illness but also connecting with others.” Recognition of the humanistic aspects of medicine is looked upon highly by medical school admissions committees!
For more AMCAS activities volunteering examples, download our free AMCAS work and activities kit here. We’ll help you write AMCAS activities descriptions that will catch the attention of medical school admissions committee members!
FREE AMCAS Work & Activities Workbook
Use this workbook to write STELLAR AMCAS descriptions. This section is as important as your personal statement.
How are activities categorized on the AMCAS Application?
There are quite a few categories for your activities on the AMCAS Work and Activities section. If you applied before, the categories are now different from previous years’ application. We get several questions from applicants each year, and we want to share our insights with you here.
First, it’s important to understand the different AMCAS work and activities categories you can categorize each of your extracurricular activities under.
AMCAS Work and Activities Categories:
- Artistic Endeavors
- Community Service/Volunteer – Not Medical/Clinical
- Community Service/Volunteer – Medical/Clinical
- Conferences Attended
- Extracurricular Activities
- Intercollegiate Athletics
- Leadership – Not listed elsewhere
- Military Service
- Paid Employment – Medical/Clinical
- Paid Employment – Not Medical/Clinical
- Physician Shadowing/Clinical Observation
- Teaching/Tutoring/Teaching Assistant
The AMCAS Application makes sure that you have a proper category to fit your activity into, no matter how unique it may be. There’s always the “other” category for the really rare and valuable experiences you may have.
But I’m still not sure how to categorize my extracurricular activity…
There’s a lot of strategy with filling out the Activities and work section of the AMCAS Application. We’ve helped numerous students strategize about how to present their activities and work experience.
If you need a second opinion or need help with how to best position your activities, don’t hesitate to schedule a call with us by filling out the contact form below.
We wanted to give you some examples of common premed activities and under what category you can list them on the AMCAS.
Leadership – Not Listed Elsewhere
– Student club officer
– Student activism/government/Greek activities
– Starting a non-profit/student organization/business
– Academic awards (e.g. honor societies, dean’s list)
– Interesting certifications/recognitions you have (e.g. a black belt in a martial arts, placing in a competition, certified as pilot)
– Competitive research position or project funding which you had to apply for
– Phi Beta Kappa
Community Service – Medical/Clinical
– If you are working in close proximity with patients, it is clinical.
Community Service – Non-Medical/Clinical
– If it doesn’t fall into the above, you didn’t get paid for it, and it isn’t a leadership or teaching opportunity, it probably falls here.
– For example, volunteering for non-profits or charitable organizations, volunteer work you have done at your university.
– Not just formal TA-ing or tutoring, but also mentoring or coaching.
– Use this if you were a keynote speaker, received major recognition, were an organizer/in a leadership role.
– If the conference gave you an opportunity to present a poster or presentation, consider labeling it as Presentations/Posters instead with the name of the conference attended so application screeners can easily find it.
How can I group activities together for the AMCAS Activities Section?
Another trick for entering your activities is to group several different activities under one heading so that you are not wasting multiple spots. For example, you can put all your works, poster presentations, or awards under one activity. Below, we give an example of how you can combine two of your jobs into one category.
AMCAS Activities Example – Paid Employment:
Activity: “Undergraduate Work Experience”. Category: Paid Employment – Non-Military
Starbucks Barista – August 2007 – May 2008
- Responsible for training new employees, customer service, and product ordering.
- Worked 20 hours per week while attending school full time
Paid Intern – Summer 2008
- Worked at the Mayor’s Office for the City of Memphis.
- Responsible for…
- Worked 40 hours per week while taking 1 summer class
Grocery Store Worker – August 2008 – May 2010
- Worked as a cashier for a major grocery store chain
- Worked 30 hours per week while attending school full time
- Responsible for….
By using this method, you are able to save 2 spaces in the Work/Activities section, but still are able to show that you have significant work experience and experience juggling a job and school.
Want more examples of AMCAS work and activities examples? Download our FREE Cracking Med School Admissions AMCAS Work and Activities workbook here.
FREE AMCAS Work & Activities Workbook
Use this workbook to write STELLAR AMCAS descriptions. This section is as important as your personal statement.
Three of your AMCAS activities can be designated as “most meaningful experiences”—or particularly formative experiences that shaped your personal growth and journey toward medicine. These experiences are allotted 1325-characters in addition to the default 700-characters. When thinking of experiences to designate as most meaningful, consider which experiences are particularly telling of who you are as an individual and how they might showcase your positive traits and/or qualities.
KEY POINT: Highlight experiences and stories that you have NOT used in your personal statement.
Consider the following example of a most meaningful leadership position:
This activity is a strong most meaningful experience for multiple reasons. First, it showcases many positive traits about the applicant including leadership skills, affinity for clinical research, and ability to complete substantive projects. Importantly, it also conveys the students’ career goals, to become “a prospective policy leader who informs decision making with empirical evidence,” giving admissions committee members a clear idea of what the student hopes to accomplish with their medical degree. Also note the prolonged period of involvement and large number of hours devoted to the activity. Longitudinal involvements are an excellent way to showcase your commitment to a particular cause and learn more from your involvement.
Keep in mind that most meaningful activities do not have to 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.
- One common mistake on the AMCAS work and activities section is that many medical school applicants we work with spend too much time describing the overall program. In fact, some students will write an entire paragraph about the organization and will fail to mention anything about themselves. Don’t make the same mistake! If you look at the AMCAS activities description above, the “Program Goal” is kept brief.
- If you’re going to write in bullet-point fashion, make sure to use strong action verbs. Thoroughly describe your involvement and highlight what you did. If you feel like there’s an awesome experience you want to emphasize in this AMCAS work and activities example – in this case, attending the World Health Organization meetings – then don’t be shy to include these experiences in the description!
- Oftentimes, students forget to put awards, honors, and leadership positions for each activity. Don’t forget to add your presentations, posters, or any other recognitions you’ve had! Even presenting in a lab meeting or to a small group of students should be recognized! Our team can help you with your medical school applications through our application packages.
1. What is the AMCAS Work and Activities section all about?
This is where you get to talk about your extracurricular activities, or “ECs” as they are referred to by many pre-med students. This includes things like research experience, tutoring, academic awards, volunteer experiences, clinical experiences, and shadowing opportunities. Many applicants forget to put their NON-MEDICAL extra-curricular activities. So, if you’ve been involved with sports, journalism, or other hobbies, don’t forget to put this in the Activities section. Everything that you ever wanted an admissions committee member to know about you to show that you are in fact a good candidate for medical school.
2. How important are non-medical work experiences on the AMCAS application?
Work experience is definitely important for you to list. There is a fantastic thread about this topic here:
The Work/Activities section is there for you to show off all of your skills. Holding down a job while doing well as a student, is a huge accomplishment that not everyone can handle. It also shows a well-rounded applicant that can move beyond the lab bench.
3. “But What If I don’t have that many extracurricular activities and work experiences?”
With some of our other applicants, they only have one or two shadowing experiences they want to write about. In these cases, we capitalize on the advantages of the applicant’s depth of experience, and have the applicant write a short description of what they learned or an interesting moment that happened during their experience. Was there a particular patient story that moved you? Did your physician exhibit strength of character or moral judgment that inspired you? How was the team dynamic of the hospital/clinic? You want to highlight these experiences, because they further demonstrate that you’ve made the most of your shadowing experiences.