AMCAS Work and Activities Example

AMCAS Work and Activities Examples: How to Stand Out

Our Cracking Med School Admissions team has read literally tens of thousands of AMCAS Work and Activities descriptions. Each year, our team strategizes new ways to help our students stand out on their AMCAS activity section. We update this blog post several times before the AMCAS application opens on May 1 so that you have the latest high-yield tips.  Read our tips to write an outstanding medical school application. Learn from several AMCAS work and activities examples from successful applicants!

BOOKMARK THIS PAGE TO MAKE IT YOUR GO-TO GUIDE FOR AMCAS ACTIVITIES DESCRIPTIONS!

Last Update March 2023

Learn how to write excellent AMCAS work and activities descriptions: 

  1. How to Write an AMCAS Activity Description
  2. AMCAS Activity Categories
  3. AMCAS Work and Activities Examples
  4. AMCAS Work and Activities Tips
  5. FAQs about AMCAS work and activities
  6. Cracking Med Medical School Application Packages – get edits for your med school applications!

Need help with your AMCAS application, including the AMCAS activity section? Send us a question below.  We can help you shine on your medical school applications, secondary essays, and interviews!

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How To Write an AMCAS Activity Description

The Basics: How To Fill Out the Work and Activities Section 

On the AMCAS application, one of the major sections is the AMCAS Activities section. You have space to fill up to 15 work and activities entries. For each extracurricular activity, you can identify which category best describes your experience, and you have 700 characters to describe the activities, known as the “activity description.”  Additionally, you can designate three of your activities as your most meaningful experiences. For these 3 most meaningful activities, you have an additional 1325 characters to write why this activity is meaningful to you. We have an entire blog post dedicated on how to write your AMCAS most meaningful experiences.

How to Write an AMCAS Activity Description

An AMCAS activity description contains several pieces of information, including demographical info and descriptive info.

  • Experience Type (Look at AMCAS Activity Categories right below)
  • Experience Name
  • Organization Name
  • Date
  • Hours per Week
  • Contact Name, Title, email, and phone number
  • City / State / Country
  • Experience Description – 700 characters each
  • 3 Most Meaningful Activities – 1325 characters each

The experience description on the AMCAS is where students can really shine and stand out. It is absolutely critical that you try to optimize the 700 characters allotted. When you look at the AMCAS example below, you’ll see the various elements of a good AMCAS activity description. 

As of the 2021-2022 cycle, premedical students can now have multiple date ranges.

Look at the AMCAS activity description example below to see how an AMCAS activity description looks like to an admission committee application reviewer! 

This is what an AMCAS activities section description looks like filled out

AMCAS work and activities leadership example

Elements of an AMCAS description:

Your 15 AMCAS activities descriptions need to complement each other. In some, you may highlight your clinical knowledge. In others, you may talk more about your research and analytical skills. Here are elements you can incorporate into your AMCAS work and activities descriptions. 

  1. Organization overview: If it is not obvious what the organization what the organization is, then you can write one sentence MAX about the organizations goals and mission. This will help provide context about your extracurricular activity experience. 
  2. What you did: Write a description highlight what YOU did for that specific work or activity. Focus on impact. One common mistake our Cracking Med School Admissions team finds is that applicants talk too much about the organization and not enough of what the applicant did during the activity.
  3. Story: You may want to discuss a challenge you overcame or a memorable patient. Stories bring you and the individuals you help through your activities to life. We strongly recommend incorporating a story! The stories you include in your AMCAS experience description should not be the same as the stories that you include in your medical school personal statement
  4. Reflections and Lessons Learned: You can add specific lessons learned and insights from your experience. The key to standing out is to be very specific.
  5. Leadership Role: Highlight any leadership roles you had, especially if you were a Founder or President. 
  6. Awards / Publications / 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. You can use a few characters to say “1st author publication” or any other notable presentations or publications. But, you should also have an entire AMCAS activity description dedicated to your publication(s) and another AMCAS activity description dedicated to presentation(s).

As you can see, you can write a lot in 700 characters! It is definitely an art to bring together a solid AMCAS activity section. 

How Many Activities on AMCAS? 

You can put up to 15 activities on your AMCAS application. No, that does not mean you had to be involved with 15 school activities. AMCAS activities include: gap year activities, including gap year jobs and gap year volunteering; summer internships and other summer opportunities; part-time work experiences; and other special talents you possess. 

FAQ: How Many Activities Should I Put on AMCAS? 

Our Cracking Med School Admissions team only wants you to stand out. So, we will only advise you to submit strong applications. From our experience as admissions readers and medical school admissions experts, we see that strong applicants write 13 or more AMCAS activity entries on their AMCAS applications.

 

AMCAS Experience Hours

As of the 2021-2022 medical school application cycle, med school applicants can add disparate dates for when they were involved in an activity. For example, if you did an activity two different summers in college, you may have dates ranging 06/2020 – 08/2020 and 06/2022 – 08/2022, and include the hours for each time span. 

There’s an entire strategy as to whether you should split your hours into numerous time frames or put is as one continuous date. In general, we recommend students to split their activities into different date ranges when applicable.

What should you do if you are expecting to do the activity this upcoming year? 

If you are doing this activity only in the next year, then you would put one date range, with the end date as the last month you expect to do that activity. For example, you would put the experience date range like 05/2022 – 08/2022 (# of expected future hours).”

But what if you have already been doing the activity? In this case, we want to showcase the amount of time and dedication you have already done the activity and the amount of work that you will continue to do for the experience. Therefore, our team recommends putting two date ranges: the past and the future. For example, you would put something like 09/2021 – 05/2022 (# of past hours) AND 06/2022 – 08/2023 (# of expected future hours). 

Contact us or email us at info@crackingmedadmissions.com if you have questions about your AMCAS activity hours! We are medical school admissions experts who strive to make every applicant stand out!

FAQ: Should my AMCAS Descriptions be in Bullet Points or Paragraph Style?

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. We now recommend this format for the AMCAS and AACOMAS. 

It is a personal preference and there is not one correct format to write your AMCAS extracurricular activities descriptions. We’ve seen students succeed both ways! We strongly suggest that you stick to one format, and not alternate between bullet point and paragraph form.

AMCAS Work and Activities Tips

We recommend our students to write most of their AMCAS work and activities descriptions in paragraph form because you can more easily incorporate a story and reflections. 

Must have Elements for Each Activity 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? What did you gain from this experience that you will bring to the medical field? 
Step Up Your Game: Make Your Activities Descriptions From Good to Great

Add these components to strengthen your AMCAS activities descriptions.

  • Awards: Did you win any awards? 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 your leadership role in your activity description and make it bold.
  • Impact: Discuss the impact you had on the organization, project, or people you served. You can think about these questions: How did you impact the patients or individuals you helped – how did you change their lives or health? How did you individually drive your research project? How did your leadership and effort affect that organization’s performance? 
Most Meaningful Experience Remarks

You choose 3 activities that are your “most meaningful activities” and you have an extra 1325 to write a short essay in the “most meaningful experience remarks” description box. Think of your most meaningful experience remarks as mini personal essays. At least one of your most meaningful activities should be a clinical experience / clinical activity. Your most meaningful experience remarks should also complement what you write in the experience description section. Read the research activity example below to see how the “most meaningful experience remarks” and “experience description” can complement each other.

Additionally, we have an entire blog post dedicated to AMCAS most meaningful experience tips! 

If you need to add context about the organization or program, then you can write a short description about the organization or activity background. You do not need a description of the organization if you are writing about a "Teaching Assistant" position; medical school admissions committee members know what teaching assistants do. If you are going to write about the organization in your AMCAS work and activities description, then we typically recommend it to be one sentence in length. We strongly recommend 2 sentences MAX.

There is no better way to get your question answered than to email us at info@crackingmedadmissions.com or contact us below. However, we want 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

Honors/Awards/Recognitions

  • Academic awards (e.g. honor societies, dean's list)
  • Certifications and recognitions you received, including non-clinical certifications (e.g. a black belt in a martial arts, placing in a competition, certified as pilot, EMT certification, CPR certification)
  • Competitive research position or grant funding which you had to apply for
  • Phi Beta Kappa, Cum Laude, Dean's List

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.

Teaching/Tutoring/TA

  • Activities that fall under these AMCAS work and activities categories not only include formal TA-ing and tutoring, but also mentoring and coaching.

Conferences Attended

  • Use this if you were a keynote speaker, received major recognition, or attended a medical conference related to your interests or research. 
  • Typically, we do not suggest students to fill out an activity description that falls under the "conferences attended" category because it's a passive activity. However, if you have fewer than 12 AMCAS activities, we strongly suggest that you think about filling a "conferences attended" description.
  • Important Note: 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.

If you’re going to write in bullet-point fashion, make sure to use strong action verbs. Additionally, applicants use the same verbs for multiple bullet points in a row. Don't do this - it does not appeal to the reader.

Here's an example...

Not Ideal Description:

  • Helped my research professor in collecting samples for our experiment
  • Helped analyze the data for our research paper

Instead, here's a better way to write this description:

  • Developed a bioengineered composite scaffold capable of promoting cellular proliferation 
  • Analyzed 3,000 samples using STATA to discover that our new scaffolding technique was 30% more efficient than the current standard practice

There’s a lot of strategy with filling out the work and activities section AMCAS. We’ve helped numerous students strategize about how to present their activities and work experience. And we can help you transform your AMCAS descriptions to your AACOMAS application and TMDSAS application.

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. 

AMCAS Activity Categories

AMCAS Work and Activities Categories

In the “Experience Type” field of the AMCAS activity section, there are several AMCAS activities categories that you can choose from for each of your activities. Keep scrolling for AMCAS work and activities categories tips and frequently asked questions! You can also click the hyperlinks for AMCAS work and activities examples for various categories!

AMCAS Work and Activities Categories:

  • Artistic Endeavors
  • Community Service/Volunteer – Non Medical/Clinical
  • Community Service/Volunteer – Medical/Clinical
  • Conferences Attended
  • Extracurricular Activities
  • Hobbies
  • Honors/Awards/Recognitions
  • Intercollegiate Athletics
  • Leadership – Not listed elsewhere
  • Military Service
  • Other
  • Paid Employment – Medical/Clinical
  • Paid Employment – Non Medical/Clinical
  • Physician Shadowing/Clinical Observation
  • Presentations/Posters
  • Publications
  • Research/Lab
  • Teaching/Tutoring/Teaching Assistant

AMCAS Work and Activities Tips

These tips will help help you STAND OUT on your work and activities.

1. You do not need an experience for each activity category.

2. Some AMCAS work and activities categories are stronger than other AMCAS work and activities categories.

Read more details right below in the FAQ section.

Question: Do I need to have an experience for each category? 

Definitely not! You do not have to fill out an activity for each one of the categories. For example, you can have 4 “extracurricular activities” and 0 “artistic endeavors.”

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. If you applied before, the categories are now different from previous years’ application. While not all AMCAS extracurricular activities carry the same weight, they should give the medical school admissions committees a good picture of what you did for each activity. Additionally, the application reviewer should learn why it was meaningful to you and what you learned.

There is a lot of strategy related to choosing categories and activity type, so contact us if you want help with strategizing and editing help with your AMCAS application. We can help you with all parts of the application process! 

Question: Do I need to have an experience for each category? 

Definitely not! You do not have to fill out an activity for each one of the categories. For example, you can have 4 “extracurricular activities” and 0 “artistic endeavors.”

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. If you applied before, the categories are now different from previous years’ application. While not all AMCAS extracurricular activities carry the same weight, they should give the medical school admissions committees a good picture of what you did for each activity. Additionally, the application reviewer should learn why it was meaningful to you and what you learned.

There is a lot of strategy related to choosing categories and activity type, so contact us if you want help with strategizing and editing help with your AMCAS application. We can help you with all parts of the application process! 

Question: Which categories are better than others?

You should accurately place your various work and activities experiences in the appropriate categories. However, some activities can be placed in multiple AMCAS categories.

Here are common AMCAS category strategies we have recommended to students we help through medical school application editing.

  • Leadership vs. Extracurricular Activities
    • Many med school applicants will list their school clubs as extracurricular activities. But, when we read their descriptions, they have actually had leadership within the school club! It is better to identify the activity as “leadership” than “extracurricular activities” in almost all cases.
  • Leadership vs. Community Service/Volunteer
    • In more than half of cases, if you LED a community service initiative, we think “leadership” is a better AMCAS category than “Community Service/Volunteer.” However, this is a case by case basis and it depends on whether you have other leadership experiences and other community service activities. Contact us if you have questions on this one.
  • Presentations/Posters vs. Conferences Attended
    • Medical school admission committee members will always be more impressed if you presented research at a conference rather than attended a conference. If you did a oral presentation or poster presentation, please label this experience as a “Presentation/Posters” AMCAS category rather than a “Conferences Attended” AMCAS category.
  • Community/Service/Volunteer – Medical/Clinical AND Paid Employment – Medical/Clinical vs. Physician Shadowing/Clinical Observation
    • When premeds serve as Scribes or Medical Assistants, they are working in a clinic (paid or unpaid), speaking with patients, setting up the facilities, conducting vitals, and shadowing physicians all at the same time! In general, you should designate these activities on your AMCAS as Medical/Clinical activities (doesn’t matter if it’s paid or unpaid) and not the “Shadowing/Clinical Observation.” Medical schools want to see that you are taking an active role in patient care. They do not want you to be merely an observer on the side lines. Don’t get us wrong. Observing is great but taking an active medical/clinical role is even better!

The best way to start planning your AMCAS categories and descriptions is to brainstorm using our AMCAS Workbook! It is totally free. We created it so students can start brainstorming and reflecting on their activities. 

Download the AMCAS workbook directly here or fill out the form right below!

FREE AMCAS Work & Activities Workbook

Use this workbook to write STELLAR AMCAS descriptions. This section is as important as your personal statement.

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This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Question: What are examples on the AMCAS where a student has written something for the “Other” category?

AMCAS activities section examples for the “Other” category include: 

  • Taking care of a sick family members or friend
  • Taking care of a sibling
  • Other large, personal time commitments

AMCAS Work and Activities Examples

We want to give you samples of common medical school application activities and excellent AMCAS work and activities examples. We want to share our advice on popular premed AMCAS work and activities! Want more examples, download our AMCAS Work and Activities workbook here or fill out the form right above. It is also a brainstorming tool to help you figure out what to write in your activities descriptions! 

Shadowing AMCAS Examples

How to list shadowing on AMCAS
  • You can list your shadowing on AMCAS either through bullet points or paragraph style.  It depends on the number of different doctors you have shadowed.
  • Additionally, you can list shadowing experiences on your AMCAS in 2 different activity descriptions. When do we advise this? If students have 1 doctor they’ve shadowed a lot and you want to write about that shadowing experience in detail. OR If you did shadowing abroad vs. shadowing in the United States, then you can have 2 different shadowing AMCAS activities descriptions. 

We always push students to optimize the space by either writing clinical details or insights from their shadowing experiences. 

A common question the Cracking Med School Admissions team receives is, “how to write about shadowing experiences in the AMCAS work and activities section?” Read out examples and tips below!

AMCAS Work and Activities Example – Shadowing

AMCAS Work and Activities Example - Shadowing Physicians
STAND OUT: Make Your Activities Descriptions From Good to Great

One thing you can do in your AMCAS work and activities description is to describe the significance of each shadowing experience or highlight key points. Looking back on the above example, the following sentences definitely stand out on their own:  

  • “ observed open heart surgeries” (You’ll never 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)

Your AMCAS shadowing experience can give the application reviewer a sense of the broad clinical exposure you have had as a premed student.  For example, this applicant has shadowed in 5 different clinical settings across at least 4 different medical specialties. As evident by the periods of time identified in each shadowing activity, the applicant took advantage of summer breaks and her gap years to shadow various doctors. Her clinical exposure shows her that she was interested in learning more about medicine over a long, sustained period of time. 

Analysis: The applicant has had several shadowing opportunities throughout college, so she decided to mention several of them. The applicant was specific about procedures, types of chief complaints, and patients they encountered in certain shadowing experiences, as much as space would allow. 

The benefit of 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.

Other shadowing AMCAS examples:

  • 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.

For more AMCAS activities examples, download our FREE AMCAS work and activities workbook

AMCAS Work and Activities Example – Shadowing

Experience Type: Physician Shadowing/Clinical Observation

Experience Name: Neurosurgery and Nephrology Shadowing

While shadowing residents and faculty neurosurgeons, I observed morning rounds and observed several ventriculoperitoneal shunt surgeries, lumbar spinal fusions, and skull base tumor resections. During one surgery, I was asked to reset a 3D brain mapping device. My requested participation illustrated how treating a patient is not just a one-person job, but a team effort. I also had the opportunity to round with nephrologists at an in-patient hemodialysis clinic. I learned that for patients with chronic kidney disease, maintaining proper phosphorus levels is vital to prevent the weakening of bones and calcification of blood vessels.

Our Cracking Med School Admissions team wanted to show you an AMCAS shadowing description experience example in paragraph form. 

STAND OUT: Make Your Activities Descriptions From Good to Great
  • Give specific procedures and clinical skills you learned – the more specific, the better!  
  • You can highlight your favorite patient encounter or procedure

Analysis: This applicant is very interested in neurosurgery and neurology. Therefore, he focused one clinical experience story on a neurosurgery he witnessed. Additionally, this student shows strong clinical acumen, as he discussed the phosphorus levels with dialysis patients. The more insights you can bring about clinical medicine, the better! But remember, you might get asked about these in your medical school interview

AMCAS Research Experience Examples

AMCAS Work and Activities – Research Description Tips

Many med school applicants will have research experience as one of your AMCAS extracurricular 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.

STAND OUT: Make Your Activities Descriptions From Good to Great

In your AMCAS research activities description, you should highlight the following elements:

  • Your specific research study question and goals. Oftentimes, people make the mistake and talk too much about their overall labs’ missions and not enough about their independent research project’s goals.
  • What YOU did
  • Skills you applied and learned. This can include: basic research techniques gained; how to write IRB approval applications; grant writing; patient recruitment into clinical studies; research design; analysis; special programming skills like R and STATA
  • Publication & presentation mentions (although you should also allocate an entire AMCAS experience  for “publications” and another AMCAS experience dedicated to “posters & presentations.”
  • How you independently led the research project, and what specific parts of the project.
  • Highlight your critical thinking.
  • Impact and transformative nature of your research project – what impact will your research have in medicine?
  • Leadership, including mentoring junior lab members: Don’t forget that this description can also highlight your leadership. Did you create a research project of your own? Did you mentor somebody in your lab? Make sure to write about these because it shows initiative and leadership!

    Did you create a research project of your own? Did you mentor somebody in your lab? Make sure to write about these because it shows initiative and leadership! 

AMCAS Work and Activities Research Example

Here’s one AMCAS research experience example.

Experience Type: Research/Lab

Experience Name:Mycoplasmology Lab Research Assistant

I investigated the proteomic differences of Mycoplasma iowae cells, a pathogen associated with decreased hatchability and leg abnormalities in poultry, grown in aspartic acid and asparagine. I performed multiple SDS-PAGE gels, allowing for comparison of proteins present or absent in whole cell lysate. Additional observations were measured by staining cellular DNA with 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole and calculating the aspect ratios of the cell bodies. Ultimately, I proposed a potential mechanism promoting intracellular survivability and learned to refine my techniques in each subsequent experiment in order to attain reputable results.

Publication: Co-author, Veterinary Microbiology Journal.

STAND OUT: Make Your Activities Descriptions From Good to Great
  • We have a clear idea about the research topic and research project from this medical school research applicant.
  • Give specific procedures you learned – the more specific, the better!  
  • There was space to highlight the publication

Analysis: We get a good sense that this applicant played a key role in conducting this independent research. Her actions are technical, but the reader still understands the overall topic and her involvement. Added bonus was the publication addition! Not all students will have a publication, and that is okay. Moreover, some students with a publication may not have space. If you have the space, you should strive to put a line about your publications or posters, even if you have a separate AMCAS activity designated for all your publications, posters, and oral presentations. Dr. Mediratta and Dr. Rizal work with a handful of students each year on their AMCAS applications. Check out our medical school application packages and contact us if you are interested in working with us! 

FAQ: How much of my research 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, you need to write your description geared towards an individual who does not have a science background and knowledge about your field of study. Additionally, our Cracking Med School Admissions team thinks it’s very important to also describe what you learned from this research project. You can add personal reflections and insights.

AMCAS Work and Activities Research Example

This is a more creative research example and the student selected this as a most meaningful activity.

Insights to learn from this research AMCAS work activity example: 

From the above experience, note how the research study is limited to one brief – yet extremely descriptive – sentence. Then, the applicant highlighted the laboratory skills & research techniques he gained. As a reader, we can envision this applicant dissecting tissue samples in lab! 

Second, the applicant’s research example in the AMCAS Work and Activities emphasized two points:

  1. Learning from his mistakes (“I never wasted my failures”)
  2. Establishing a pristine work ethic (“scrubbed flasks, washed counters, keeping my mind busy to rub away regrets, rinse thoughts, and repeat…”) and discipline “methodical discipline, meticulous organization…”

Third, look at how the most meaningful experience remarks description complements the experience description. The individual focused much more what he did in the experience description. The most meaningful experience remarks did not repeat the AMCAS activity experience description. Instead, the applicant told a story about a time when he failed and how the procedure (and the research experience overall) helped him become more disciplined and resilient in research.  

AMCAS Community Service and Volunteer Examples

AMCAS Work and Activities – Community Service & Volunteer Experience Description Tips

Many premeds have volunteered in both 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. 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 discussing your volunteer experiences and describe what you learned about working with people. 

 

AMCAS Work and Activities Examples – Volunteer Experiences

Experience Type: Community Service / Volunteer – Non-medical/clinical

Experience Name: Volunteer head basketball coach for at-risk and low-income middle schoolers through Coaching Corps

As a volunteer coach, I ran practices and games. I became a dependable mentor for kids who lacked a consistent figure in their life. Most recently, I created a virtual basketball class that kept 15 kids across Orange Unified School District physically engaged throughout the pandemic. Working with kids from low-income communities also illustrated the need to increase health education. In one instance, I explained basic preventative health strategies, the importance of vaccines, and what a head injury is to Zane, an 8th grader who shared my teachings with his family. As a physician, I will push policy that opens more free clinics and increases public school funding for health education.

STAND OUT: Make Your Activities Descriptions From Good to Great
  • Add a story if you can – especially if you write in paragraph form. 
  • Include your impact and initiatives you led. This will help the reader understand your leadership. 
  • Relate the activity to what you learned or how this activity relates to what you will do in your career. What insights did you gain that will help you in your future career as a physician? Why was this an important life experience? 

Insights learned from the Volunteer Activity:  

We gain a sense of compassion and commitment to underserved communities through this applicant’s activity description. It was great that this applicant even included a story of Zane. The applicant goes above and beyond in teaching his team about preventative health strategies. This shows the applicant’s dedication to health education. Finally, we love how this individual has a vision to improve public schools and healthcare for low-income communities. 

Dr. Mediratta and Dr. Rizal work with a handful of students each year on their AMCAS applications. Check out our medical school application packages and contact us if you are interested in working with us! 

STAND OUT: Make Your Activities Descriptions From Good to Great
  • Add a story if you can – especially if you write in paragraph form. 
  • Include your impact and initiatives you led. This will help the reader understand your leadership. 
  • Relate the activity to what you learned or how this activity relates to what you will do in your career. Why was this an important life experience? 

For more AMCAS activities volunteering examples, download our free AMCAS work and activities workbook.

Analysis: We get a good sense that this applicant played a key role in conducting this independent research. Her actions are technical, but the reader still understands the overall topic and her involvement. Added bonus was the publication addition! Not all students will have a publication, and that is okay. Moreover, some students with a publication may not have space. If you have the space, you should strive to put a line about your publications or posters, even if you have a separate AMCAS activity designated for all your publications, posters, and oral presentations. Dr. Mediratta and Dr. Rizal work with a handful of students each year on their AMCAS applications. Check out our medical school application packages and contact us if you are interested in working with us! 

Frequently Asked Questions about AMCAS Volunteering and Community Service

Here are some commonly asked questions about AMCAS volunteering. Read more AMCAS tips and AMCAS FAQs at the end of this blog post!

If space permits in your AMCAS work and activities section, then yes, you should include community service activities you were involved with for a brief period of time. Sometimes, we recommend students to group their smaller community service activities into one category, with the number of dedicated hours as the total number of hours you participated in all the small community service activities. 

If you include these smaller-length community service activities, the reader can still learn a lot about you! Stick to the AMCAS work and activities tips we've been preaching throughout this blog post.

  1. Include stories
  2. Tell the reader what you gained from the experience

AMCAS does not verify your volunteer hours or any of your other hours in any description. There is an honor system though. So, you should put the accurate number of hours you volunteered. Don't stress if it's 161 hours versus 162. Make your best and most accurate estimate of volunteer hours. 

It is also very rare for medical school admissions committees to call individuals you listed as "contact" in your various activities. However, we have heard about rare instances every few years when admission committee members will call individuals on applicant's AMCAS. How do we know this? Because students whom we've done mock interview preparation with have told us that their medical school interviewer contacted somebody on their AMCAS contact information. 

Any volunteering experience where you interacted with patients or volunteered in a medical or clinical setting counts as clinical volunteering on the AMCAS. These should be unpaid. These including experiences with patients not in physical hospitals and clinics, such as volunteering in the community.

Here are a list of common clinical volunteering we see students list on the AMCAS:

  • COVID clinic volunteer
  • Mobile health clinical volunteer
  • Free clinic volunteer
  • Volunteer at a hospital or medical clinic
  • Tutoring sick pediatric patients at a Children's Hospital
  • Scribing (unpaid)
  • Medical assistant (unpaid)
  • EMT (unpaid)
  • Translator at a clinic
  • Crisis Text Line or other Crisis Lines

FREE AMCAS Work & Activities Workbook

Use this workbook to write STELLAR AMCAS descriptions. This section is as important as your personal statement.

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AMCAS Paid Employment Examples

Many premeds have full-time and part-time work experiences, including tutoring and summer jobs. Some applicants think that these non-clinical work experiences are not relevant, but they definitely are! Additionally, working a job during the school year shows medical school admissions committees that you can handle several responsibilities at a time. 

There are two Paid Employment categories on the AMCAS: 1) Paid Employment. -Medical / Clinical and 2) Paid Employment – Non Medical / Clinical

Common Paid Employment Activities By Previous Applicants:

Clinical

  • Scribe
  • Medical Assistant
  • Nursing 
  • EMT
  • Lifegaurd
  • EKG or Medical Procedure Tech

Non-Clinical

  • Summer internships, including research, consulting, technology companies
  • Full-time jobs, including working for a consulting firm or technology company
  • Tutoring (usually part-time)
  • Teaching in a classroom
  • Restaurant – waitressing or manager
  • Coach
  • Research Coordinator or Research Technician
 AMCAS Work and Activities – Paid Employment Description Tips

Some medical school applicants think that they should not write about non-medical jobs they held, especially non-medical part-time jobs. WRONG! We strongly encourage applicants to include AMCAS activities descriptions for non medical/clinical paid employment. Think your Starbucks barista job is not related to clinical medicine? WRONG! You definitely have learned customer service skills. 

Dr. Rizal wrote an article for the U.S. News that shows how students can leverage their non-clinical experiences: How to Make Premed Non-Clinical Experiences Relevant to Medicine

We strongly encourage students to link their non-clinical experiences with medicine in their AMCAS descriptions. 

AMCAS Work and Activities Examples – Paid Employment

Analysis of AMCAS Activity Description:

This applicant did a great job in balancing what she did and what she learned. She was able to include a story, and we can visualize the applicant in this story.

We see this student in action! She even says that she performed CPR! We see that this student can apply her theoretical medical training in acute, life-saving settings. 

STAND OUT: Make Your Activities Descriptions From Good to Great
  • If you are discussing a clinical experience, use the same tips from the clinical volunteering experiences that we have already discuss. Bring in skills and procedures that you learned.
  • You can write about a lot of aspects of your job. However, highlight the ones that were most impactful to your personal growth and the most impactful to the organization / people you were serving. Additionally, highlight your leadership and initiative in your job. 

For more AMCAS activities volunteering examples, download our free AMCAS work and activities workbook.

Activity: “Undergraduate Work Experience”. Category: Paid Employment

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….

Tip: As you can see in this AMCAS activity description, the applicant combined 2 work experiences. We suggest students do this when they can fill all 15 activities. By combining multiple jobs into one activity, 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 have the ability to juggle a job and school. Contact us if you have questions about application strategy!

AMCAS Work and Activities - Publications

AMCAS Work and Activities – Publication Description Tips

If you do not have a publication, do not worry! You can still get into medical school!

If you do have a publication, kudos to you! It will certainly help increase the strength of your medical school application. It is important to put all your publications in the AMCAS work and activities section. 

Shorten the author list. You do not need to list all the authors in the paper. Because there are very few characters, we advise students to shorten their AMCAS publication description by not listing all the authors.

Our typical format we recommend for listing publications on your AMCAS is the following: What author order (1st author among 3 co-authors), Article title, Journal name, Year publication. PMID # so someone can find your abstract on PubMed.

For example: “1st of 6 authors, Increasing Vaccination Access in Middle-Income Countries, Journal of Global Health, 2021. PMID #######.”

If you need to shorten further, you could remove the title, but definitely keep the PMID number. 

STAND OUT: Make Your Activities Descriptions From Good to Great
  • While we typically recommend all your journal publications be listed as bullet points in one activity, there are certain circumstances where you can split your publications into different AMCAS experience entries. For example, let’s say you have multiple publications in two broad topics (health economics & OB/GYN). You might want to put one AMCAS experience entry for your publications in health economics and one AMCAS experience entry for your OB/GYN publications.
  • If you have space, write a short paragraph or 1-3 sentences about the publication. You can address the following:
    • What did you learn about the publication process? 
    • What motivated you to study this topic (these topics)? 
    • How is this research related to your career?

AMCAS Work and Activities Example – Publications

To maintain privacy and confidentiality, we did not want to use the actual publication from our advisee’s application for an example. The AMCAS publication example below emulates a strong AMCAS publication description.  

1st of 6 authors, Increasing Vaccination Access in Middle-Income Countries, Journal of Global Health, 2021. PMID #######.

I was inspired to conduct research on vaccination access because I learned during my “Vaccines” seminar at Princeton that successful vaccination campaigns required an interdisciplinary effort among pharmaceutical companies, public health officials, health policymakers, & physicians. I aim to continue doing research on access to preventative health services in my future career. 

Analysis:

As we mentioned in our AMCAS publication description tips above, you should include utilize any extra space for any insights about your motivations and/or lessons learned. 

In this AMCAS publication example, the application reader learns that this individual is passionate about vaccinations and conducted a senior thesis in college. The admissions committee members or med school interviewer may be prompted to ask you about your senior thesis, which is great! The application reader also learns that the person understands the various stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem. 

AMCAS Work and Activities - Posters & Presentations

 AMCAS Work and Activities – Poster and Presentation Description Tips

The same tips and strategies apply for posters & presentations as what we discussed in the AMCAS publication description tips above. 

First off, what is considered a presentation? Typically, presentations include: 1) poster presentations and 2) oral presentations.

In poster presentation sessions, there is a room full of individuals who each showcase a poster about his or research. In oral presentations at conferences, a conference participant does a podium presentation in front of a room and presents on his or her research topic. Then, the presenter answers questions from the audience. Oral presentations do not include presentations you make for a college class or a school club. You can include university-wide research symposiums for undergraduate students.  

How do you write posters and presentations? 

Because there are very few characters, we advise students to shorten their AMCAS poster presentation description by not listing all the authors.

Our typical format we recommend for listing publications on your AMCAS is the following: What author order (1st author among 3 co-authors), Poster or presentation title, Conference you presented at, Year. 

For example: “1st of 6 authors, Increasing Vaccination Access in Middle-Income Countries, United for Sight Global Health & Innovation Conference, 2021.

If you need to shorten further, you could shorten the name of the conference as long as it will still be recognizable. 

Lastly, if your presentation relates to one of your activities, you can include the poster or presentation as part of another activity description.

Here is an example of how an application included a presentation at the World Health Organization: 

AMCAS Work and Activities Example – Posters & Presentations

To maintain privacy and confidentiality, we did not want to use the actual publication from our advisee’s application for an example. The AMCAS publication example below emulates a strong AMCAS publication description.  

1st of 6 authors, Increasing Vaccination Access in Middle-Income Countries, Yale Global Health Symposium, Poster Presentation, Connecticut, 2021.

2nd of 5 authors, Epidemiology of Hepatitis B, Infectious Disease Conference, Oral Presentation, India, 2020.

I presented my senior thesis work on vaccination access and policy at conferences. I shared ideas to improve vaccination campaigns with global health leaders at these conferences. I learned that partnerships with local NGOs and health centers are key for success. I will continue doing research on access to preventative health services in my future career. 

Analysis of the AMCAS Poster & Presentation Example:

Notice that we still have enough space after the 2 poster presentations. Therefore, you can add more context about why these topics 

Alternatively, students discuss what they learned through presenting. These can be presentation techniques or discussions they had with other individuals at the conference!

STAND OUT: Make Your Activities Descriptions From Good to Great
  • We recommend all your posters and oral presentations be listed as bullet points in one AMCAS activity.
  • If you have space, write a short paragraph or 1-3 sentences about the presentation. You can address the following:
    • What did you learn about the presenting your research? 
    • What motivated you to study this topic (these topics)? 
    • How is this research related to your career?
AMCAS Work and Activities – Poster and Presentation Description FAQs
Question: What if I did a virtual presentation during the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Poster presentations and oral presentations have been virtual throughout the COVID pandemic. You should definitely include those in your Work and Activities section! 

Our Cracking Med School Admissions team has advised students in which we broadened the definition of presentations. Some of our students have given presentations for City Councils, State Legislatures, and international bodies like the World Health Organization. We typically recommend that they include these accomplishments under the AMCAS Posters and Presentations category. 

Question: What if my presentation is not in the medical field? 

Include your non-medical presentation in your AMCAS activities! We typically recommend med school applicants to include presentations in non-medical fields. We have had students include presentations at poetry readings and history conferences on their AMCAS applications!

AMCAS Work and Activities - Posters & Presentations

 AMCAS Work and Activities – Conferences Attended Tips

Almost all students will not add a conferences attended description in their AMCAS work and activities section. In general, we do think this is a weaker category to write in your AMCAS activities section. 

So, when is it valid to write a conferences attended activities description? 

Our Cracking Med School Admissions advisors think that students should put a conferences description attended if: 

  • The conference is relevant to your interest
  • Chatted with physicians and other healthcare professionals
  • Able to articulate what you learned and gained from the conference
  • You have less than 10 activities descriptions and need more activities (not ideal that this is the situation though)

AMCAS Work and Activities Example – Conferences Attended

Fulbright Scholarship – Selected as 1 of 10 Fulbright Scholars for the Philippines 2018-2019

Cum Laude – Princeton University

Global Scholar Award – Philippines National Cancer Institute

Dean’s List (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018) – Princeton University

 

I enjoyed the small, discussion classes at Princeton. My favorite classes were the graduate-level classes in the Princeton School of Public & International Affairs. In one seminar, we discussed the pros and cons of Thailand’s approach to HIV prophylaxis education among sex workers. I will continue pursuing health public policy and advocacy as a physician. 

AMCAS Work and Activities - Honors, Awards, and Recognitions

 AMCAS Work and Activities – Honors, Awards, and Recognitions

Believe it or not, many students forget to include awards and honors in their AMCAS activities section!

Do not forget any awards from school, community service, or any other organization that has recognized your awesomeness!

Awards and honors you should include:

  • National or international awards and recognitions
  • Post-graduate Fellowships and Scholarships like the Fulbright, Rhodes, Marshall, and Gates
  • Awards and recognitions from professional societies
  • Awards and recognitions from non-profit organizations
  • Non-academic awards from school organizations
  • Academic awards from your university. Don’t forget the Dean’s List!
  • Scholarships from your university
  • Special academic recognitions from your university
  • Awards received for your research or presentations at research symposiums & conferences
How to list awards on AMCAS

Awards are usually written in a list format. A good format is 1 honor or award per line. 

If you have multiple awards, choose one award organization to write for the contact information. For example, if you have many academic awards, you can put your Major’s Department Chair or your School Registrar’s Office.

STAND OUT: Tips for Optimizing Your Awards AMCAS Description

If students only have 1 or 2 awards, we suggest that you utilize the space to discuss an aspect of your background related to your award.

For example, if you received a community service award, then you can discuss a community service project that you enjoyed. Make sure it doesn’t duplicate information in other activities that you have discussed in your AMCAS activities section. 

As another example, if you receive an academic award from your major, you can discuss your favorite class or your honors thesis. 

AMCAS Work and Activities Example – Honors/Awards/Recognitions

With an interest in surgery, I attended the 2023 International Conference on Surgical Cancer Care in Boston, Massachusetts. Here, I was able to speak and learn from Surgical Oncologists. For example, I spoke to Dr. Patel about his work in pioneering the techniques of Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy and Cytoreductive Surgery throughout Indonesia. I learned about this procedure and the financial barriers indigent cancer patients in Indonesia encounter. This opportunity showed me that complex care in Surgical Oncology is multifactorial. As a fierce advocate for my future patients, I will be cognizant of factors, such as healthcare disparities, that my patients may be facing.

Insights to learn from this Conferences Attended AMCAS Activities description: 

Your conferences attended AMCAS experience can give the application reviewer the impression that you are a lifelong learner. These activities show that she has made an effort to continue her education in her field of research and reflect on the research that she has conducted. While attending conferences are worthwhile and provide students with the opportunity to learn about a wide variety of topics, we want to stress that solely attending a conference is not as strong as presenting at a conference.

AMCAS Work and Activities - Leadership

 AMCAS Work and Activities -Leadership Activity Description Tips

Including meaningful leadership experiences in your application can be beneficial for several reasons:

  • Demonstrates that you possess qualities that are highly valued in medicine, such as initiative, teamwork, consistency and communication skills. Exemplifying these qualities show medical school admissions committees that you are ready to take on the challenges of a career in medicine.
  • Sets you apart. Engaging in leadership activities can help set you apart from applicants who have similar academic achievements. For example, describing an experience in which you have served a community that is important to you can demonstrate that you are committed to making a positive impact in a specific niche of medicine. Ultimately, highlighting the impact that you have made and will continue to make as a future physician.
  • Provides examples of your ability to overcome challenges. Leading a multi-faceted healthcare team in the future will be challenging. Admissions committees look for applicants that can overcome obstacles and solve problems. Describing how you adapted to certain circumstances and unexpected situations through examples can attest that you have what it takes to be a successful healthcare leader. These qualities are essential for success in medical school and in your career as a physician.

AMCAS Work and Activities Leadership Example

In the AMCAS example description below, the applicant wrote about starting a non-profit. 

Insights to learn from this Leadership not listed elsewhere AMCAS description: 

From the above experience, note that the applicant describes a unique leadership experience that she is passionate about. Through this description, the application reviewer gains insight into the student’s impact, initiative ability and teamwork skills. Moreover, the applicant shows the admissions committee that she would be an asset to the student body because she is passionate about a specific niche in medicine and demonstrates that she is committed to making a positive impact on others.

STAND OUT: Make Your Activities Descriptions From Good to Great
  • Tell a story! Work on going one step further in your reflections; provide concrete examples to showcase your potential.
  • Emphasize your impact. Did you lead a team in a ground-breaking research project? Did you organize a community health fair to educate underserved patient populations that are often overlooked?
  • Demonstrate your consistency. Committing to your leadership experience for a long period time can demonstrate your passion and provides you with the opportunity to showcase admissions committees that you can make a sustained impact as a leader.
  •  

Leadership Not Listed Elsewhere AMCAS Frequently Asked Questions

 
Question: How many hours for leadership AMCAS work and activities?

Demonstrate your consistency. Committing to your leadership experience for a long period time can demonstrate your passion and provides you with the opportunity to showcase admissions committees that you can make a sustained impact as a leader.

 

Question: How to list leadership experience on AMCAS?

When listing hours for a leadership position on AMCAS you must be honest. Include all hours spent preparing, training, and working in your leadership experience. Estimate the “Hours Per Week” and multiply it by the “Weeks per Year” spent in this position to get the total number of hours.

 

Question: How to put hours for leadership position on the AMCAS?

One mistake applicants make is to not include time they are planning activities. Make sure to include all the time you invest in planning and organizing the organization (or events)! As we said in the first FAQ above, there is no minimum or maximum number of hours. 

AMCAS Work and Activities -
Teaching/Tutoring/Teaching Assistant

 AMCAS Work and Activities – Teaching Activity Description Tips

Teaching is very relevant to medicine because you will be teaching the public about health topics and you will be educating your patients about how to take care of their health. 

AMCAS Extracurricular Activities Example

Experience Type: Extracurricular Activities                                    Dates: 02/2018 – 06/2022

Experience Name: Alpha Chi Omega sorority member

Contact Name & Title: B. Evans

Organization Name: Alpha Chi Omega sorority member

In college, I was a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority. The sorority was a great way for me to make a close group of friends in my large university. We were involved in various community volunteering project, including the Garden Club, where we taught gardening to inner-city elementary school students in Chicago. After a local organization donated several plant seeds, we worked with students to growing herbs that they could sell in their neighborhoods. This project taught students about budgeting, space parameters, and the conditions needed for seed germination. I realize that as a physician, I have the power to be a resourceful to improve the health of my local community.

STAND OUT: Make Your Activities Descriptions From Good to Great
  • Even though you don’t hold an official leadership position in an activity you would label as an AMCAS Extracurricular Activities, you can still include a story and specific examples.

Analysis of AMCAS Extracurricular Activity description:

We love how the student talked about a specific volunteer project she did with her sorority. She also tied it to her interest in working with the community, especially urban communities, by saying she taught in an “inner-city” school. 

Finally, we loved the medical school applicant’s integration with her reflections about being a physician in the last sentence.

AMCAS Work and Activities - Extracurricular Activity

 AMCAS Work and Activities -Extracurricular Activity Description Tips
Question: What counts as an extracurricular activity? 

One common mistake that we mentioned in the “AMCAS Categories” section above is that students categorize leadership or community service as an extra-curricular activity. It is not wrong to do this, but it is not ideal because you are not selling yourself as well as you can.

Activities that we typically advise to label as an “Extracurricular Activity” is involvement in a school club without a leadership position. 

  • Member of a fraternity or sorority
  • Member of a pre-professional club
  • Member of a ethnic or diversity club

AMCAS Extracurricular Activities Example

Experience Type: Extracurricular Activities                                    Dates: 02/2018 – 06/2022

Experience Name: Alpha Chi Omega sorority member

Contact Name & Title: B. Evans

Organization Name: Alpha Chi Omega sorority member

In college, I was a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority. The sorority was a great way for me to make a close group of friends in my large university. We were involved in various community volunteering project, including the Garden Club, where we taught gardening to inner-city elementary school students in Chicago. After a local organization donated several plant seeds, we worked with students to growing herbs that they could sell in their neighborhoods. This project taught students about budgeting, space parameters, and the conditions needed for seed germination. I realize that as a physician, I have the power to be a resourceful to improve the health of my local community.

STAND OUT: Make Your Activities Descriptions From Good to Great
  • Even though you don’t hold an official leadership position in an activity you would label as an AMCAS Extracurricular Activities, you can still include a story and specific examples.

Analysis of AMCAS Extracurricular Activity description:

We love how the student talked about a specific volunteer project she did with her sorority. From the above experience, note that the applicant describes a singular, impactful experience from an extracurricular activity he was involved in for two years.

She also tied it to her interest in working with the community, especially urban communities, by saying she taught in an “inner-city” school. Through this description, the application reviewer gains insight into the value the applicant brings to his community and how insightful he is.

Moreover, the applicant shows that he learned important problem-solving skills which he will utilize both in medical school and as a physician.

Finally, we loved the medical school applicant’s integration with her reflections about being a physician in the last sentence.

AMCAS Work and Activities - Intercollegiate Athletics

 AMCAS Work and Activities – Intercollegiate Athletics Description Tips

Intercollegiate athletics are a unique part of the college experience that can have a significant impact on students both during and after their college years. Whether participating in sports as an athlete, coach, or fan, collegiate athletics offer students the opportunity to develop interpersonal and leadership skills.

Involvement in intercollegiate athletics can be a valuable addition to your AMCAS application. Participation in sports can demonstrate your ability to balance academic and extracurricular commitments, as well as your dedication to teamwork, discipline, and perseverance. Additionally, being a student-athlete often involves time management skills, which can be beneficial in medical school and as a physician. You may also have developed leadership skills as a captain or team member, and these experiences can provide unique examples for your personal statement or interview responses. Overall, highlighting your involvement in intercollegiate athletics can showcase your well-roundedness and ability to excel in multiple areas of your life.

AMCAS Work and Activities Example – Intercollegiate Athletics

Experience Type: Intercollegiate Athletics                                            Dates: 08/2019 – 06/2021

Experience Name: Arizona State University Women’s Tennis

Contact Name & Title: A. Smith

Organization Name: Arizona State University

Tennis has always played an influential role of my life. This sport serves as my primary source of stress relief. As a former team member of ASU’S Women’s Tennis team, I have the ability to remain focused for an extended amount of time and have learned to employ good sportsmanship and discipline in pertinent life skills. I expect to demonstrate these skills as a physician by working hard, upholding the values of the Hippocratic Oath and overcoming adversity and failures. Additionally, tennis will provide me with an outlet in the face of overwhelming responsibilities as a physician.

STAND OUT: Make Your Activities Descriptions From Good to Great
  • Discuss important skills you gained through collegiate sports: teamwork, leadership, communication, and resiliency. 
  • Tie to a career in medicine.

Insights to learn from this AMCAS work activity example:

When deciding whether to label your athletics experience as an intercollegiate athletics experience or as an extracurricular activity, note that intercollegiate athletics is conducted between colleges. If you were part of a club sports team that was not conducted between colleges, consider listing your involvement as an extracurricular activity. In addition, although this applicant could have described her athletic skill in detail, she focuses on the valuable non-athletic skills which she can utilize both in medical school, and as a physician. Through involvement in Intercollegiate Athletics, the application reviewer gains insight into the applicant’s dedication and future outlet to recharge as a medical student.

AMCAS Work and Activities - Artistic Endeavors

 AMCAS Work and Activities – Artistic Endeavors

It can be beneficial to include an artistic endeavor on your AMCAS application because it has the potential to set you apart from others. Although an artistic endeavor will not help you overcome a low science GPA, you can demonstrate that this endeavor will serve as an outlet for stress in the face of overwhelming responsibilities as a medical student.

AMCAS Work and Activities Example – Artistic Endeavors

STAND OUT: Make Your Activities Descriptions From Good to Great
  • Don’t be afraid to put thousands of hours and a long time range (as you can see from the above AMCAS description example). Many people have played a musical instrument or danced since they were younger, and continued it during college! 
  • Connect your artistic endeavor with medicine or medical school if you can.

Insights to learn from this AMCAS work activity example:

From the above experience, note that the applicant describes an impactful artistic endeavor she has been involved in for nearly a decade. Through this description, the application reviewer gains insight into the applicant’s diversity and dedication. Moreover, the applicant shows the admissions committee that she would be an asset to the incoming class because she has a unique perspective that encourages her humanitarianism.

AMCAS Work and Activities - Hobbies

 AMCAS Work and Activities – Hobbies

The strongest applicants to medical schools have 15 or more extracurricular activities that they would not put an activity description labeled “Hobbies.”

Again, do not feel like you have to include a hobbies in your AMCAS activities section. 

AMCAS Work and Activities Example – Hobbies

STAND OUT: Make Your Activities Descriptions From Good to Great
  • Similar to artistic endeavors, don’t feel bad if you have 1000+ hours. 

Insights to learn from this AMCAS work activity example:

From the above experience, note that the applicant describes a hobby she has been involved in for nearly a decade. Through this description, the application reviewer gains insight into the student’s discipline and determination. Moreover, the applicant shows the admissions committee that she would be an asset to the student body because she has a strong coping mechanism to rely on when faced with difficulties.

AMCAS Work and Activities - Military Service

 AMCAS Work and Activities – Military Service Description Tips

Thank you for your military service! We commend you.

Some medical school applicants think that military service or ROTC involvement should not be included in their AMCAS 15 activities section. We disagree.

Involvement in military service can be a compelling addition to your AMCAS application. Military service can demonstrate your commitment to serving others, as well as your ability to handle high-pressure situations, adapt to challenging circumstances, and work collaboratively with diverse groups of people. Additionally, military service can provide unique experiences that may have helped shape your character, values, and perspective on the world. Your military background may also be relevant to certain medical specialties, such as emergency medicine or psychiatry, where understanding and working with individuals who have experienced trauma or stress is critical. Overall, highlighting your involvement in military service can demonstrate your leadership, resilience, and dedication to serving others, making you a strong candidate for medical school and the medical profession.

AMCAS Work and Activities Example – Military Service

Experience Type: Military Service                                            Dates: 02/2014 – 06/2016

Experience Name: Combat Medic Specialist

Contact Name & Title: J. Bell

Organization Name: United States Army

As a Combat Medic Specialist, I administered emergency medical care to both soldiers in combat and civilians in humanitarian situations. I have been trained, meticulously, on starting IVs, administering advanced drugs and caring for patients with conditions, such as tension pneumothorax. Aside from working on the field, I trained 19 junior soldiers in first responder courses and providing care during emergencies. With my team, I implemented a curriculum involving navigating disasters, preparation for different causalities, and stabilizing wounded soldiers in the field. This experience fostered my growth as a teacher and taught me the pivotal role collaboration plays in sustaining success.

STAND OUT: Make Your Activities Descriptions From Good to Great
  • Highlight your leadership and teamwork 
  • Include a story, if you can. The military service AMCAS descriptions we’ve read have been fascinating and inspiring!

Insights to learn from this AMCAS work activity example:

Your service in the military can distinguish you from other prospective applicants. From the above experience, the application reviewer is able to gauge the applicant’s aptitude for stressful situations, teamwork and leadership roles. If you have a military background, consider listing your experience as a “most meaningful experience.” You can utilize the additional characters to tell stories that can be applied to medicine.

AMCAS Work and Activities - Teaching / Tutoring / Teaching Assistant

 AMCAS Work and Activities – Teaching Description Tips

Teaching is very relevant to medicine because you will be teaching the public about health topics and you will be educating your patients about how to take care of their health. We all must remember, a career as a physician incorporates lots of peer-to-peer teaching and the option to train the incoming generation of doctors entering the field. Additionally, as an effective clinician, one must stay up to date, each year, as practice standards and guidelines are updated and new medications are released. Thus, with a teaching experience you can draw many parallels to medicine and demonstrate your leadership capabilities.  It is no surprise that “Doctor” comes from the Latin word “Teacher”!

STAND OUT: Make Your Activities Descriptions From Good to Great
  • Tell a story! Work on going one step further in your reflections; bring the value of your work to life by sharing a personal experience with a student. 
  • Connect this with how you envision your role as a physician to be! For example, teaching students with different learning styles could help you be more flexible/adaptable when communicating illnesses to patients.
  • If you have multiple teaching experiences, then the lesson learned or application to patient care should be nuanced and different each time. 
  • Answer “how this experience could relate to being a good medical student?”

Question: Can you abbreviate Teaching Assistant as TA on the AMCAS?

Yes. We typically tell students to spell out Teaching Assistant the first time they write it out.

Example: “As a Teaching Assistant (TA) for Organic Chemistry lab.”

AMCAS Work and Activities Teaching Examples

How to describe teaching experience on your AMCAS. 

Read below for a sample 

Insights to learn from this AMCAS Activities Description?

From the above experience, note that the applicant describes a unique overseas teaching experience that will help her stand out from others. Through this description, the application reviewer gains insight into the student’s diversity of thought and skillsets. Moreover, the applicant shows the admissions committee that she would be an asset to the incoming class and future interdisciplinary teams because she values collaboration and teamwork.

Experience Type: Teaching/Tutoring/Teaching Assistant

Experience Name: Huntington Learning Center Tutor

Organization Name: Huntington Learning Center

Total Hours: 1200

I teach students who possess developmental or learning disabilities. My responsibilities include creating a rapport with students over time to shape lessons that fit their unique needs and academic goals while accommodating positivity. For example, I taught the ACT Math and Science curriculum to Mareena, a student diagnosed with ADHD. I created engaging sample problems and strategies to solve these to ensure score improvement. I established a caring relationship with every student and in turn they demonstrated dramatic changes in behavior, effort, and performance. I am confident that this will translate well in a career that incorporates lots of peer-to-peer teaching and patient education.

Insights to learn from this AMCAS work activity example:

One thing we love about this activity is that there is a story of a specific individual the applicant helped. Mareena comes to life. From the above experience, note that the applicant describes an insightful teaching experience that will help her stand out from others. Through this description, the application reviewer gains insight into the student’s leadership, adaptability, and commitment to disadvantaged populations. Additionally, we can picture the applicant working with a student, because of the story of Mareena. Finally, the applicant shows the admissions committee how this experience has prepared her for a multifaceted career as a future physician.

Experience Type: Teaching/Tutoring/Teaching Assistant

Experience Name: Organic Chemistry Teaching Assistant

Organization Name: Harvard University

Total Hours: 120

As a Teaching Assistant (TA) for Honors Organic Chemistry, I worked with students who each possessed different learning patterns. This challenged me to adjust to everyone by customizing each student depending on their level of understanding and speed. One of my students, Mina, was struggling with passing their Organic Chemistry course, I knew that our sessions needed to accommodate her personal drive and meta-cognition. Most of our sessions were spent working through complex problems related to concepts such as reaction mechanisms and verbalizing her thought process throughout. As a physician, I will have the aptitude for effectively communicating difficult diagnoses to each patient.

Insights to learn from this AMCAS work activity example:

Many times, applicants will write Teaching Assistant descriptions and write all the logistics they did. While that is not wrong, it does not stand out.

In the above TA description, we read about what this applicant learned through being a TA. We particularly liked this sentence: “This challenged me to adjust to everyone by customizing each student depending on their level of understanding and speed.”

Additionally, there is once again a very specific story of a specific person the applicant worked with. This is what we push our students to do.

FREE AMCAS Work & Activities Workbook

Use this workbook to write STELLAR AMCAS descriptions. This section is as important as your personal statement.

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How Will You Stand Out?

How will you make your medical school application stand out among the 50,000 other applicants? 

The two big pieces of medical school application tips we give to premeds so that you can stand out are:

  • Highlight a niche in medicine you are interested in: Make sure your entire medical school application highlights a niche in medicine you are interested in. It doesn’t have to be a specific medical specialty, like radiology or pediatrics. It can also be an aspect of patient care or a problem in the medical field that you are passionate about. Are you a global health guru? Love research? Figure out your niche. And highlight these strengths throughout your medical school application. For example, say you are interested in health education. You should highlight this passion in your personal statement, AMCAS activities reflections, secondary essay applications, and your medical school interviews.
  • Paint a picture of yourself through stories:  Our Cracking Med School Admissions team has found that stories are the most powerful way to display an applicant’s relationships with other individuals, teamwork, compassion, and empathy. Your AMCAS personal statement, AMCAS letters of recommendation, and secondary essays should all include stories.

More AMCAS Work and Activities Tips

AMCAS Work and Activities Tip #1:
Don’t talk too much about your extracurricular activities themselves. Instead write more about what YOU did and the impact YOU had.

One of the common mistakes we see applicants make is that they do not focus their AMCAS activities section on THEM. Instead, they write too much about the organization or what the team accomplished as a whole. While it is important to show that you are a team player, it should not be at the expense of the reader learning about YOU. When filling out the AMCAS activities section, remember to explain WHY you did something and your personal motivations. One of the key components of a good application is the ability to weave the entire application into a coherent story. Explaining your motivations is a great way to connect your past experiences to your future goals and aspirations. It’s also a great place to talk about your personal reflections on how you’ve grown as a person.

For examples of great AMCAS activities descriptions, download our AMCAS work & activities workbook here

 
AMCAS Work and Activities Tip #2:
Don’t duplicate information on your primary application and your secondary applications

To be successful on your AMCAS application, you must combine a variety of stories together to explain why you are a good match for a medical school. Avoiding redundancy is key here, which goes to say that you do NOT want to be repeating information an admissions committee already knows about you. This seems obvious, yet you’d be surprised how many pre-med applicants either re-state information in their secondaries, or complain that they don’t have enough unique stories to craft a winning application.

If you want to write about the same activity in your personal statement, AMCAS activities section, and your specific medical school secondary essays, we definitely support it. However, you should highlight different aspects about the activity. For example, you could use a hospital shadowing opportunity to write both about the rigors of the emergency room, and in a separate essay, you can talk about a personal interaction you had with a patient in the emergency room. Although both of these experiences came from shadowing, they reveal totally different yet essential qualities of a medical professional.

 
AMCAS Work and Activities Tip #3:
Spelling and grammar mistakes 

No matter how many times some people are told to proofread and get essays edited, spelling and grammar mistakes always seem to slip through the cracks on the AMCAS application and on secondary applications as well. Unfortunately, that doesn’t give them an excuse, and spelling and grammar mistakes will be looked at unfavorably and taken as carelessness. It’s simple – get your essays edited!

 
AMCAS Work and Activities Tip #4:
Don’t forget to put ALL your activities down in your AMCAS activities section

This happens more commonly than you think.

Some premed applicants have expressed that they feel they shouldn’t put non-medical related activities in their application because non-clinical activities may be perceived as a lack of focus and doesn’t contribute to their medical school candidacy. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, going “too deep” on a certain activity and not showing a variety of experiences can contribute to not getting any secondaries! Don’t feel bad to show you are well-rounded! However, also remember that there is a difference between a well-rounded applicant and an unfocused applicant. You should be able to explain how your diverse experiences have shaped you as a person and how these experiences will help you succeed in medical school and beyond.

 
AMCAS Work and Activities Tip #5:
Don’t forget to put ALL your honors and awards

On a similar note to med school applicants forgetting to write down their activities, many premeds forget to write all their leadership positions and awards.  We are often on the phone with our premed advisees making sure they don’t forget about a lab presentation or a “Dean’s List” nomination.

The most common information premeds forget on their primary medical school applications: 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!

 
AMCAS Work and Activities Tip #6:
Show depth and commitment through your activities

One of the common medical school application mistakes students make is that they do not show enough depth and commitment through their activities. From an admissions committee members’ perspective, this results in generic-sounding AMCAS extracurricular activities descriptions and essays. 

There are many opportunities for you to show commitment and passion with your activities throughout your medical school application.  First, your AMCAS work and activities section is a good place to show depth. Be sure to enter the number of hours you’ve committed to each activity, as well as a detailed description of the activity and any leadership roles you’ve taken on. It goes without saying that you should choose activities you’ve spent a considerable amount of time on across a long time period.

Read: activities picked up 3 months before applying to medical school are usually not strong activities.

Furthermore, your description of the activity is just as important as the activity itself. 

A second way to show your commitment to your activities and people around you is through your essays – both your personal statement and your secondary essays. As we stated above in our 2 biggest medical school application advice section, be sure to tell stories. You can tell stories about how you have made a difference to an individual, how you have helped your community, and how you have made changes in an organization you lead. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Responses by Dr. Rachel Rizal and Dr. Rishi Mediratta – your Cracking Med School Admissions premed advisors

Work with us through our medical school application packages! We will personally edit all your essays, and our packages include unlimited edits!

We love helping students with their medical school applications! Simply leave us a message in the contact form below.

If you want personalized advising and detailed help with your medical school application, including personal statement edits and activities description edits, then check out our medical school application packages

Yes! In fact, we have many tips and pieces of wisdom to share with medical school applicants. We wrote an entire blog post dedicated towards the AMCAS most meaningful experience descriptions.

In case you missed it, there is also a research most meaningful experience remarks in the research activity description example

Here's our best practice - we advise students to have at least 13 activities. If you don't have this many activities, make sure you aren't forgetting any of your part-time jobs, awards, or extracurricular activities.

Remember, you can add non-clinical employment, like working as a barista or as an executive assistant to your AMCAS activities!

Most commonly, people forget that they did a volunteer activity and won an award from freshmen or sophomore year. Don't forget to use a space for awards, hobbies, and work experiences.

We have other strategies to increase the number of activities you have, like separating your honors / awards into multiple activities description. Feel free to contact us if you have questions or issues. 

AMCAS does not verify your hours. There is an honor system though. So, you should put the accurate number of hours you volunteered. Don't stress if it's 161 hours versus 162. Make your best and most accurate estimate of hours for each activity. 

Most pre-meds we've worked with or met through our Cracking Med School Admissions workshops typically underestimate their hours. Remember to include hours where you are planning. For example, students will write the numbers they are physically in lab, but they do not include all the hours they read literature or write publications!

Work experience is definitely important for you to list. 

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.

The most common mistakes we see applicants make are:

  1. Talk too much about the organization and not enough about what THEY did.
  2. Write too little. Some applicants only write 200 characters per activity.
  3. Forget their activities!

If you do not have 15 activities already, then yes, we recommend using 1 or 2 of the activities descriptions as hobbies. They oftentimes make students sound interesting.

However, if you are short on activities descriptions and you have 15 or more strong extracurricular experiences, we do not advise you to add hobbies here. You can always write about your hobbies and interesting personality qualities in your secondary application essays. 

If you want more examples of AMCAS activities descriptions, download our AMCAS workbook!

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. 

Another popular activity that is grouped together is shadowing. In the shadowing example, the applicant groups all their shadowing experiences together. 

There are several ways to list your shadowing experiences on the AMCAS work and activities section. Here is what we see commonly among applicants:

  1. Write an activities description for each of your shadowing experiences. Since you have a lot of space, you can talk about what you learned, what type of doctor you want to be based on your observations of other physicians, and interesting patient cases.
  2. Group multiple or all your shadowing experiences in 1 AMCAS activities description. See the example above. 

 

Write down an individual who can vouch for you and can verify that you participated in that activity. Be sure to include the individual's contact information, such as an email address and phone number, even if it's an international number.

The only time we have heard medical school admissions committee members reach out to your AMCAS experience contacts is a) if they know the individual personally and want to ask about you (we hear this happen often with med school interviewers) and b) if the activity hours and information is egregiously extreme that they want to verify the accuracy of your application.

In general, medical school applications are an honor system. Medical school admissions committees do not want to waste time on figuring out whether your AMCAS application is accurate or not. 

Since the 2022-2023 application cycle, The AMCAS Work and Activities section has updated to allow students to distinguish completed activities from anticipated activities. A completed activity is an activity that is finished, and its end date must be the current month or earlier. Keep in mind, the current month is the month and year your application is submitted. An anticipated activity is either a new activity or an activity that you are continuing past the month your application is submitted until August of the matriculating year.

 

This section can help you stand out as an applicant because you can show the admissions committee how you plan to grow while simultaneously applying to medical schools. Moreover, anticipated experiences can help the admissions committee gauge your interests and dedication through certain activities. It is important to note, however, you cannot list the following categories as an anticipated experience:

  • Publications
  • Presentations/Posters
  • Conferences Attended

·  Honors/Awards/Recognitions

FREE AMCAS Work & Activities Workbook

Use this workbook to write STELLAR AMCAS descriptions. This section is as important as your personal statement.

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