AMCAS Work and Activities Tips You Shouldn’t Miss

By February 17, 2020March 19th, 2020Admissions Advice, Primary AMCAS Application

Our Cracking Med School Admissions team has worked with thousands of applicants on their medical school applications. Along the way, we’ve met some really amazing people who’ve done impressive things that have changed lives. We’ve been around Olympic swimmers and founders of nonprofit organizations. We’ve also, however, seen our share of critical mistakes made when filling out their medical school applications. Even some of these amazing people have made key mistakes that have kept them out of the most selective medical schools in the country.  Read our AMCAS work and activities tips down below – these tips are based on our years of advising students with their medical school applications. 

One of our goals here at Cracking Med School Admissions is to make sure the people we work with get into the best medical school possible. It’s never too early to get started on your AMCAS activities descriptions! Download our AMCAS work and activities examples here.


Our Biggest Medical School Application Advice

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 field of medicine, like radiology or pediatrics. It can also be an aspect of patient care or healthcare 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.

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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5 Common Medical School Application Mistakes You Should Not Make

Written by Andrew Park

AMCAS Work and Activities Tips #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 things that we’ve seen a lot of is applicants failing to keep the focus of their medical school application on THEM. When filling out the AMCAS application, 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 Tips #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. The thing to remember here is that medical schools aren’t necessarily looking for quantity as much as they are looking for depth and breadth of experience. For example, you may be able to reflect upon one experience in multiple ways to show different facets of your candidacy. You could use a hospital shadowing opportunity to write both about the rigors of the emergency room, and separately about a personal interaction you had with a patient. Although both of these experiences came from shadowing, they reveal totally different yet essential qualities of a medical professional.

Email us at info@crackingmedadmissions.com if you have questions about your AMCAS application.

AMCAS Work and Activities Tips #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 make 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 Tips #4:

Don’t forget to put ALL your activities down in your AMCAS work and activities section

This happens more commonly than you think.

Some pre-med applicants have expressed that they feel they shouldn’t put non-medical related activities in their application because it 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 Tips #5:

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 essays and extracurricular activities descriptions. 

There are many opportunities for you to show commitment and passion with your activities in 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 horizon. Read: activities picked up 3 months before applying to medical school won’t cut it. Furthermore, your description of the activity is just as important as the activity itself. For more tips about how to write stellar AMCAS work and activities descriptions, read our blog post: AMCAS Work and Activities Examples.

A second way to show your commitment to your activities and people around you are 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’ve helped your community, and how you have made changes in an organization you lead. 


Below is a list of other helpful AMCAS application tips and resources:

If you need help with your medical school application, check out our application packages or using the contact form below. We’re excited to help and give you more personalized AMCAS application tips!

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