How To Make Your Medical School Application Stand Out

By February 10, 2020 March 19th, 2020 Admissions Advice, Primary AMCAS Application

When the Cracking Med School Admissions team gives talks at universities around the United States, one topic we often discuss at length is how to make your medical school application stand out.  Our goal as your advisers is to help you submit as strong of a medical school application as possible so that you can get accepted to your dream medical school. 

In this blog post, we’ll go over:

  1. Our biggest medical school application advice
  2. 6 ways on how to make your medical school application stand out

This blog post is one of several high yield blog posts filled with tips for medical school applicants.  Click here for links to other popular Cracking Med School Admissions resources. Check out our medical school application packages here

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

The two big pieces of advice we give on how to make your medical school application stand out:

  • 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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Written by Andrew Park

1. Become familiar with the AMCAS Application

Submitting a stellar medical school application begins with submitting a stellar AMCAS.

The first thing you should do after you read this post is to go to the AMCAS Application Website and set up your online account with AMCAS. Then, peruse the AMCAS application and get a feel for the amount of work you have in front of you. Create a roadmap and timeline for filling out certain parts of your application, and stick to your timeline so you don’t end up a week before the deadline with half the application still blank. Also, list out the external materials you will need to submit with the application. 

The Cracking Med Admissions team can help you create this roadmap and manage you through it from start to finish. Check out our medical school application packages.

 
2. Tell a compelling story on your personal statement

How can you make your medical school application stand out? Have a captivating and moving personal statement!

The personal statement is often the last thing applicants like to tackle in the AMCAS application, and to those especially science-focused applicants, the personal statement is a painful process viewed as a necessary evil. Let us give you a little hint: don’t approach the personal statement this way! The AMCAS personal statement is your chance to show your humanity, to stand out and be remembered by the admissions committee. Of course, with great opportunity comes great responsibility. A bad personal statement can shut the door on you for certain medical schools, but a good personal statement can open doors that previously would have remained closed. 

The most important thing in the personal statement is to tell a compelling story. This means connecting your past achievements with your future aspirations. Coherence is key, and a coherent path told by a great storyteller will leave a permanent mark on admissions officers. In order to do this, you need to brainstorm and reflect on your past, present, and future. Engage your friends and family for ideas. Run drafts by people from a variety of backgrounds, especially your non-science friends. This varied feedback can help your personal statement resonate with people from different walks of life, which is exactly what you want. Build an outline from your brainstorming, and use this outline to help you craft your paragraphs. The Cracking Med Admissions team has edited thousands of essays for applicants to medical school so if you need help with your personal statement, feel free to reach out to us by filling out the contact form below or emailing us at info@crackingmedadmissions.com

 
3. List out all your extracurricular activities in your AMCAS work activities section

The extracurricular section of the AMCAS Application can be daunting for applicants because the application gives you 15 slots to list your extracurricular activities. Don’t despair. These slots are not necessarily meant to be 15 distinct activities, but can instead be used to describe in detail your involvement in a few select activities. Regardless, the most important thing to do as a first step is to list all the extracurricular activities you have been involved in, and have a 1-on-1 brainstorming session with yourself. Go through each year of college, starting with freshman year, and think about what you were involved in.

Another way to make your medical school application stand out is to have outstanding AMCAS work and activities descriptions as well as great essays for the “3 most meaningful activities” portion. 

Must-have Elements for Each AMCAS Work Activities Description:

  • What YOU did: What were your responsibilities? What impact did you have in this organization? Oftentimes, we read descriptions that describe the program or project, and barely touches on what the applicant did. Leaving this out is one of the most common mistakes we see.
  • Reflection is KEY: Reflection shows maturity and growth. Some reflections you can discuss in your description – What lessons did you learn? Did you face any difficulties? How did this experience impact you or change the way you think about patient care and healthcare?


Here’s one common mistake that applicants make, preventing them from having medical school applications that stand out: typically, applicants we have worked with will forget about an extracurricular involvement because they didn’t think it was important enough, and their mind has filed it away in the trash.
One candidate we worked with – David – had helped organize a cultural music festival on his campus, which ended up being the first such festival ever held in that city. However, he didn’t list it or remember it until we probed him for it, because he thought it was a one-off activity, not an extracurricular involvement. Make sure to list EVERYTHING before you start narrowing down your most meaningful activities. The highest impact activities you were involved in may not be the activities you think!

If you want to learn more about how to make your AMCAS work and activities descriptions stand out, read our blog post: AMCAS Work and Activities Examples

 
4. Gather external materials early

Here is a checklist of materials to gather early:

  • Your MCAT score report
  • All your letters of recommendation
  • Committee letter from you undergraduate university (if applicable) 
  • Transcripts from ALL your schools. This includes college classes you took in high school, study abroad programs, and summer courses you took during college. 

We all know “that person” – the one who underestimates the amount of time it takes to get things done, and ends up scrambling at the last minute, depending on other people to deliver against tight deadlines, when he or she could have prevented all that pain by front-loading everything. Don’t be “that person!” Recognize that a lot of the external materials you need to include with your AMCAS application can take 3-4 weeks to procure, or longer. Once you make a checklist of the external materials you need, follow that up by listing a source for each, and reaching out to that source to request the materials. Successful applicants on our team liked using Google docs or a simple Excel spreadsheet to keep track of these things. Doing this early will save you a lot of grief later on, and can keep you in the good graces of the people you reach out to for help.

The AMCAS application is no doubt a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. However, preparing early, reflecting on your accomplishments, and involving those around you can increase your chances for scoring an interview and getting admitted to your dream school.

 
5. Request official transcripts from your university

There is a difference between transcripts that you can generate online from your university’s website and print out, and Official transcripts. Official transcripts often come in an envelope, sealed with a stamp from your university. Transcript requests can take several weeks for your university to process, and that time frame is not really in your control at all, so make sure to front-load this task, at the very least. Once you have your official transcripts in hand, you’ve checked off one of the things you have the least control over on your AMCAS Application.

 
6. Consult with individuals who know you best

Use the people around you as a resource to help piece together your application profile. You’d be surprised what redeeming qualities people notice or remember about you that you may think are 

Do you want to learn more about what makes a medical school application stand out? This blog post is one of several high yield blog posts filled with tips for medical school applicants.

Check out our other informative blog posts here:

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!

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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Dr. Rachel Rizal

Author Dr. Rachel Rizal

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