How to Complete the AMCAS Application “Work/Activities” Section
July 7, 2017
After four years as a pre-med, you’ve racked up quite a list of academic awards, community service hours, club memberships, and even a publication for which you proudly received seventeenth author credit. Then there are the various part-time jobs you held down during college, not to mention your participation in the intramural curling team, jiu jitsu training, and trombone playing.
The work/activities section of the AMCAS application is just the place for you to tout these endeavors and show the committee that your life is not comprised entirely of memorizing flashcards and regurgitating formulas (even if it feels that way sometimes).
Adding work and activities to your AMCAS application
Other than the personal statement, the work and activities summary is the section of the primary application that requires the most writing. Your first mission is to determine which activities to include—and how many.
Start by making a list of all of the jobs, volunteer work, honors, awards, extracurricular activities, clubs, and hobbies that you have been involved in post high school. The limit is fifteen experiences, though each entry can include up to four occurrences. So, if you are a “joiner” you may need to pare the list down to the most relevant ones. Note, however, that not filling all of the spaces is perfectly acceptable—the goal is quality, not quantity. After all, two years in one research lab will only take up one entry but is much more impressive than several four-month stints working part-time in retail.
Selecting your three “most meaningful” experiences
On the AMCAS application, you can choose up to three experiences to highlight as the most meaningful. All entries must appear in chronological order, so this is your chance to draw attention to the achievements that you want the admissions officers to notice.
One helpful way of deciding which experiences are most meaningful is to categorize your list of 15 by type, such as “Research/Lab” or “Paid Employment.” Use these categories as a guide for what to highlight. Keep in mind that clinical and research experience should take priority; however, aim for a mix of activities.
Explaining why your experiences were meaningful
The next step is to compose a clear, concise description of each of your three most meaningful activities. Give enough context so that the committee understands the nature of the selected activity. How large was the pre-med club of which you were president? What were your duties within this role? Significant accomplishments?
While you shouldn’t turn these descriptions into mini-personal statements, some reflection on what you learned/gained from your experience for certain entries, particularly those related to medicine, is appropriate. The goal is to convey how these activities or experiences were transformative to your path to medical school, what kind of impact you made while engaging in them, and how your participation resulted in personal growth. As with every part of the application, good writing and meticulous proofreading are essential.
Looking beyond academics
The purpose of this section of the AMCAS application is to get to know you beyond your MCAT score and GPA. If you have spent years doing sculpture or sports, for example, include those interests. Beyond clinical and pre-med experiences, the committee wants to know what it is you do in your spare time.
Make sure you include paid employment in your list of 15 experiences even if it is unrelated to medicine. After all, spending hours of your time each week as a food server or retail worker means less time for you to devote to your studies and volunteering, which is important for the committee to know.
With this section complete and the personal statement done, you are well on your way to finishing the AMCAS application.
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