2005 Pre-Med Admissions Chat


2005 Pre-Med Admissions Chat

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Chat Transcript:

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:13:00 PM)
Thanks for joining Accepted.com AMCAS Magic Chat.

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:13:01 PM)
I'd like to start with a few points to think about as you write your personal statement for the AMCAS application:

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:13:16 PM)
1) You're not writing the AMCAS essay in a vacuum. The reader will have your transcript, MCAT score, and experience descriptions. To make the most of this essay, don't repeat what the reader knows or has access to.

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:13:27 PM)
2) There is no way you can fit everything that ever happened to you into the 5300 characters allowed for the AMCAS essay. You need to choose and focus on the 1-3 experiences that are most important to you and most distinctive about you. They do NOT have to be directly related to medicine, but they can be. They should reveal attributes that medical schools value, e.g., leadership, communication skills, empathy, compassion, and initiative.

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:13:35 PM)
3) Don't write in superficial clich's. Use anecdotes and experiences specific to you to reveal your motivations and preparedness for medical school. Once your relate the story, make sure you also include some analysis of the event's significance..

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:13:43 PM)
4) Dig deep. Saying, "I want to help people." is not a good enough reason to want to go into medicine. My plumber helped me when he fixed my broken shower head yesterday. Why do you want to help people in through medicine?

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:13:50 PM)
5) Let you essays be a balance of description and analysis. The description as noted above should inform the reader of important details that you can't include in the rest of the AMCAS application. The analysis should reveal why these details are important enough to include and reveal much about you, your values, and personality.

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:14:05 PM)
6) Consider using writing techniques that add interest to your essay: Active verbs, vivid (not corny) metaphors, irony, and suspense are a few of the tactics that can spice up your writing. They are all discussed in Submit a Stellar Application: 42 Terrific Tips to Help You Get Accepted.

michellew (May 6, 2004 6:15:46 PM)
Things that are mentioned in the essay...should they be mentioned in the experience section?

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:16:21 PM)
There can be some overlap but the essay should go into much greater depth.  Obviously, the experience section can give dates, location and raw facts that you don't necessarily have to repeat.  In a nutshell, only repeat in the essay what you need to repeat in order to give context to the immediate story. 

michellew (May 6, 2004 6:17:12 PM)
I know they limit it to 15.

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:17:29 PM)
They limit you to fifteen personal experiences and I think 1350 characters each.

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:17:48 PM)
Also don't feel compelled to include in the essay everything that you write about in the experience section.  You want them to complement each other as much as possible with minimal overlap and duplication.

michellew (May 6, 2004 6:17:55 PM)
I have more then 15, although some may not be as relevant.

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:18:36 PM)
If they are from high school, you can probably skip them and if they aren't relevant also skip them.  Hone in on what is most impressive and distinctive. 

michellew (May 6, 2004 6:19:00 PM)
Would it be ok to pick out the most important experience to write about in the essay to save space for the other experiences?

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:19:29 PM)
Yes, ideally, you want to focus on what's most important in the essay.  Then use the experiences for items of secondary importance. 

michellew (May 6, 2004 6:22:00 PM)
Well...I know that initial cuts are made based on GPA and the MCAT.

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:22:15 PM)
At many schools that's true.

michellew (May 6, 2004 6:22:18 PM)
Are those cut off a range or must they be very close to the number they're looking for?  I don't have a very high GPA .

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:23:08 PM)
That depends on the school. At the most competitive schools, the range will be much narrower. At less competitive schools, the cutoff will be lower and the range wider.

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:23:11 PM)
What's your GPA?

michellew (May 6, 2004 6:23:20 PM)
3.37

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:23:45 PM)
That's not SO terrible.

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:24:00 PM)
Have you taken the MCAT?

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:24:10 PM)
What was that score?

michellew (May 6, 2004 6:24:10 PM)
Well...I just took the MCAT for the third time this past April.

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:24:19 PM)
What were the previous scores?

michellew (May 6, 2004 6:24:40 PM)
21 and 17.

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:24:53 PM)
How do you think you did this time?

michellew (May 6, 2004 6:25:23 PM)
I did study as hard the first two times but I took a prep course which I think helped.

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:26:08 PM)
If you did much better, closer to 30, then you will have a decent chance at obtaining admission to a medical school.  If it remained below 25, then I recommend that you consider alternatives like physician assistant programs or other medically related careers.

michellew (May 6, 2004 6:26:35 PM)
Do you know how old a letter of recommendations can be?

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:26:47 PM)
How old is it?

michellew (May 6, 2004 6:27:08 PM)
I began gathering them in 2000?

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:27:42 PM)
That's a little stale. If you could contact your professor, give him the old letter, and just get him to, print it out again with a current date, that would be better.  In addition, you should get a letter of recommendation from your employer.

michellew (May 6, 2004 6:28:43 PM)
Exactly how does early decisions work....especially in reference to preference?

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:29:03 PM)
Funny you should ask. I was just looking at the AMCAS FAQ on it today.

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:30:33 PM)
Michelle, you can find information on the ED program at http://www.aamc.org/students/amcas/faq/edp.htm .

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:31:03 PM)
Are you applying to medical school?

DanielSteph (May 6, 2004 6:31:15 PM)
I'm starting this fall.  I'm going to LSUS-Shreveport.

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:33:00 PM)
Congratulations on your acceptance.

DanielSteph (May 6, 2004 6:33:06 PM)
Thanks.

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:33:21 PM)
Do you have any tips for Michelle, who is applying now?

michellew (May 6, 2004 6:33:21 PM)
Which part of the process was the hardest?

DanielSteph (May 6, 2004 6:33:56 PM)
Well I would say that goes on an individual basis.

DanielSteph (May 6, 2004 6:34:08 PM)
For some reason...I always said stupid things at the interview.

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:34:18 PM)
How many interviews did you have?

DanielSteph (May 6, 2004 6:34:37 PM)
I applied to...FL, USF, and FSU last year...got an interview from FSU but didnt get in.  I did early decision with LSUS this year and they accepted me.

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:34:54 PM)
So you are a reapplicant then.

DanielSteph (May 6, 2004 6:35:11 PM)
Yes, I was an early decision reapplicant...kind of a special circumstance.

DanielSteph (May 6, 2004 6:35:38 PM)
LSUS is starting up an MD/PhD program.

michellew (May 6, 2004 6:36:13 PM)
well, good luck; that's a challenging program.

michellew (May 6, 2004 6:37:18 PM)
Do you think having a masters has any positive influence in the admissions officers decision?

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:38:01 PM)
A masters with a strong GPA would help, but I don't see your GPA as the big hurdle. It's the MCAT that's the hurdle.  I don't think a higher Master's GPA will help much with the MCAT.

michellew (May 6, 2004 6:38:32 PM)
Do medical schools focus on academics or humanities or both together?

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:38:36 PM)
Realize that admissions looks at a few criteria: experience (preparation for medicine), academic ability, and personal traits.

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:38:45 PM)
Both as you see.

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:38:53 PM)
They want applicants who can perform and excel academically, have experience that shows they know what they're getting into, and specific characteristics (leadership, compassions, communications ability, etc.)

michellew (May 6, 2004 6:39:28 PM)
a lot of books tell you that the adcom wants to see humanitarian work and a true need to be a physician; do you find this true?

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:39:46 PM)
That is important, but it doesn't do away with the academic criteria.

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:40:05 PM)
There is a little wiggle room, but considering the number of applicants at most schools they can insist on all 3 criteria to a greater or lesser extent.  So yes, compassion and humanitarian commitment is important but demonstrating those qualities doesn't void a low MCAT or do away with the need to prove academic ability.

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:41:17 PM)
How did you do on your SAT?

michellew (May 6, 2004 6:41:27 PM)
I got 1260.  Does that have any influence?

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:41:45 PM)
That's a good score...t doesn't influence, but if you had done very poorly on the SAT and had a high GPA, you could try to argue that you are a poor test taker and that the scores don't predict your level of achievement.  However, it's a tough argument to make with a high SAT.

michellew (May 6, 2004 6:42:05 PM)
Any tips with the practice vision essay?

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:43:05 PM)
Have they brought back the vision essay?

michellew (May 6, 2004 6:43:20 PM)
I think so.  I checked in 2003

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:43:52 PM)
Are you applying to medical school this year, NonTrad?

NonTrad (May 6, 2004 6:44:02 PM)
Yes, I just registered with AMCAS.

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:44:45 PM)
Michelle, I don't think they ask for that now. It was two years ago that they did so.

NonTrad (May 6, 2004 6:44:49 PM)
I took the MCAT this April and hope to get a decent score.

NonTrad (May 6, 2004 6:45:36 PM)
In the AMCAS essay, do they like flowery prose, or do you think they would rather something that's in fairly simple English but makes the point more clearly?

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:45:54 PM)
The latter!!! Can the $64 words. Communicate clearly and well.  Tell them a story; they're human beings and human beings like stories.

NonTrad (May 6, 2004 6:45:58 PM)
I thought so too.

NonTrad (May 6, 2004 6:46:35 PM)
Being a non-traditional applicant, this essay is very important to convince the adcoms why I'm changing careers. I want to make sure that my message comes across loud and clear.  But the thing that concerns me more than the essays are my pre-requisites.

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:47:09 PM)
We have an article on applying from a non science background: http://www.accepted.com/medical/nonsciencebackground.aspx .

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:47:23 PM)
Have you fulfilled your pre-requisites?

NonTrad (May 6, 2004 6:48:29 PM)
No, being fairly good at self-study, I wrote the MCAT while only having completed 1 quarter of Biology, 1 quarter of Organic, and 2 quarters of Gen Chemistry. I had a year of Physics and a year of English at an international institution over 14 years ago. Even though I am hoping that I can cross 35 in the MCAT, do you think this will be a huge deal?

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:48:56 PM)
I think you have to meet those requirements -- even if you do get a 35.  You can check with various medical schools, but I think you need to take those classes.

NonTrad (May 6, 2004 6:49:11 PM)
I do have a plan to complete those courses by the time I matriculate.  However, I will have not completed them by the time I apply (the first week in June.)

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:49:51 PM)
You may also be interested in the article we have on applying as an older applicant: http://www.accepted.com/medical/olderapplicants.aspx

NonTrad (May 6, 2004 6:51:09 PM)
I was just wondering if you thought that, if I tell them of a reasonable plan to complete the courses before I matriculate, would that satisfy the adcom?

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:51:09 PM)
NonTrad, I think that if you complete them by the time you matriculate you will be OK, but I'm not 100% sure. Check with the medical schools that you intend to apply to.

NonTrad (May 6, 2004 6:51:44 PM)
Yeah - I'll check with them.

NonTrad (May 6, 2004 6:51:52 PM)
Thanks!

Linda Abraham (May 6, 2004 6:51:59 PM)
Good luck with your applications.

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