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Finding your why for your medical school statement
Applying to medical school is one of the most involved application processes that anyone can go through. The application cycle feels overwhelming. As I near the end of medical school, I can share some lessons to help you through one of the best and hardest experiences I have gone through. 
How to answer the “why medicine” question
It's a common question for medical school applications: why medicine? Here are some tips for answering this question without falling into the trap of sounding too generic or cliché.
Help! I don’t think I’m interesting enough for medical school!
This search prompt and its many iterations (“Are all medical students cool”, “What if I don’t do any sports”, “How to develop a hobby in 4 months”) littered my internet search history circa 2019, split-screened alongside the latest draft of my primary and at least five bookmarked posts on Student Doctor Network and premed Reddit. I found myself ...
Your crash course for letters of recommendation
A key part of your med school application is the recommendation letter. Since you cede control of the contents of that letter to your recommender, the information in letters of rec might seem like a black box. However, there are some tips and strategies that you can use to ensure that your recommendation letters are cohesive with the rest of your ...
How to answer a secondary about community
Essay prompts that ask questions about community are becoming increasingly common secondary prompts. They can range from questions about the communities that you are a part of, what community service means to you, and which communities you want to serve in the future (among other variations). These prompts can often feel confusing, and you may ...
How to write about your goals in medicine for secondaries
Answering the question “what are your goals in medicine?” or other variants of discussing your potential future career can be daunting. After all, isn’t one of the main points of medical school to figure out where you see yourself fitting in for medicine? Many of us, including myself, went into the application cycle with a whole range of potential ...
Anything Else? How to answer this secondary prompt
Many of the medical school (and some residency) secondary applications will have this prompt, usually towards the end of the application right before the “submit” button. This may be presented in different flavors, for example: “please share anything you feel like the admission committee should know about” or “is there anything that you would like ...
Medical school re-applicants: your secondary application
Writing essays for secondary applications can take up a lot of time, especially if you’re writing each essay from scratch for each school. Still, an almost universal essay prompt for those who have applied before is: “Tell us how your application has changed since you last applied.” 
How to write about your gap year
You have just submitted your primary application and after a brief respite, the secondary essays begin to flood in. Do not fret! With a little practice and patience, you will be churning out these essays! It can be easy, however, to become overwhelmed with the task at hand. My advice is to begin writing some of the more straightforward essays to ...
How to write about your most meaningful medical experience
The AMCAS allows medical school applicants to select three activities as your “most meaningful” activities, and provides applicants with 1325 characters to describe why. A meaningful activity can represent something different for every applicant, but should generally encompass activities that have significantly impacted your personal development ...
What is a physician’s role in medicine?
The role of a physician in the medical community has changed substantially in the modern era of medicine. This secondary question is designed to gauge your experience in medicine, how you envision your future role in this field, and what you are passionate about. In this post, I will highlight how to think about the changing landscape of medicine ...
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
"Where do you see yourself in 10 years?" Whether it's for a secondary prompt or on the interview trail, you’ll often be asked this question in some variation, and your response can help portray you as a focused, ambitious individual. There are many ways to go about tackling this question, but it is important to consider the following elements to ...
Med school application: tips from a former Yale Med admissions committee member
What do medical school admissions committees look for? How can an applicant truly stand out? Below are tips with specific examples on how to craft a successful application from an insider’s perspective. 
How to write about responding to feedback and criticism
We have all received feedback or criticism, sometimes in a kind tone and sometimes not. In this essay, your goal is to focus less on what the criticism was, and more on how you directly implemented the feedback into your plans to improve or change your behavior. In medical school and in your future career, you will receive constant feedback on ...
How to stand out as a medical school applicant
You’ve worked for several years to ready yourself for applying to medical school. Perhaps you’ve taken gap years to beef up your experiences or made a career change. But as you stand on the verge of applying to medical school, one question looms: will it all be enough? 
How to write about your biggest challenge or adversity
Your adversity statement, often called “the challenge essay,” has the potential to be a major contributor to your medical school application. The goal of the essay is not just to explain the adversities you faced or the challenges you experienced, but rather to demonstrate your ability to overcome them and grow from them. The specific challenge or ...
What will you contribute to this institution or community? A guide to this secondary question
This is not an easy prompt to answer well, and it is no wonder that applicants are often stumped by this common secondary question. However, if written strategically, this essay can really boost your application. I suggest tackling this secondary question from three main angles:  
3 things to know about research and MD admissions
“Do I need to do research to get into medical school and if so how much?” 
Academic inconsistencies, interruptions, and Institutional Actions
Are you applying to medical school and have inconsistencies, interruptions, or institutional actions you need to address in your application? Well, let's start with some definitions:
5 steps to selecting your 15 activities for the AMCAS Application
When thinking of the medical school application components, we often direct our attention straight to the big personal statement that we all dread starting. From there, many students find themselves thinking about all the secondary applications they’ll have to write. However, another crucial writing component of the application is missing in that ...
Why are you applying to our school? How to answer this common prompt.
Nearly every secondary application will include this question: "Why do you want to attend our school?" A unique answer can tip the scales towards acceptance, but this question can be one of the most time-consuming to answer since your response needs to be tailored to individual schools and thoughtful. The reason medical schools care so deeply ...
Secondaries: diving into the diversity prompt
Diversity has become an increasingly important factor in medical school admissions.  The future of medicine requires a diverse workforce with strong cross-cultural competencies; for instance, medical school curriculums have increasingly expanded testing on cultural sensitivity and communications [1].  Clinical research has shown that culturally ...
Make the most of your AMCAS Work and Activities
If you’re anything like me, you’ve been repeatedly told that your personal statement is one of the most important pieces of your American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) application. It surely is important, and thus deserves much consideration and careful attention, but don’t let it overshadow the equally demanding Work and Activities ...
The truth about medical school personal statements: a strategic view
What should I write about in my medical school personal statement? Well, that’s the wrong question.
Four traits Harvard Medical School looks for in applicants
There are four main qualities that Harvard Medical School looks for in its applicants. Highlighting the following aspects in your application will help you stand out to the Admissions Committee:
Start early: tips for medical school personal statements
There are multiple pieces to the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). The one that most people dread, if you’re anything like me, is writing your personal statement. Thinking about personal statements for medical school can be stressful. You might find yourself asking: what do they want to know? 
How to interview for medical school when you’re not a strong interviewee
I remember the paradoxical mixture of both elation and fear when I received my first medical school interview. I was excited by the prospect of embarking on my journey to becoming a medical school student. At the same time, I balked at the idea of an interview being the barrier between where I was and where I wanted to be. At that point, I would ...
7 tips to nail Zoom medical school interviews
Congratulations - you’ve been selected for a medical school interview! The school already thinks you’re qualified because of your GPA, MCAT, extracurriculars, and essays. Now, it’s time to prove that your personality meshes well with that school.
Dealing with the deluge of secondary applications
They come slowly at first. A trickle, maybe just one for a time. But then it grows into a stream, and finally a surge. This accurately describes many phenomena, such as the first spring thaw in New England or medical students arriving at free food events. But I’m talking about medical school secondary applications. After you complete a universal ...
A guide to FlexMed
FlexMed is the early assurance program offered by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Any undergraduate sophomore is eligible to apply, and it does not have any requirements for what major you are pursuing. The beauty of the program is the freedom that it affords undergraduates after acceptance. While my peers were studying for the MCAT, ...
Things I wish I had known as a premed
Writing medical school applications is a prime time for self-reflection. Both during the writing process and in preparing for interviews, I’ve found myself reflecting on the things I wish I had known as a premed. Below are the things that I wish I had known in undergrad, especially as the first in my family to pursue a career in medicine. 
Medical School Admissions Timeline
The MD admissions process is long, and it begins even before you officially apply to med school. During your junior and senior year as a pre-med, be sure to stay on top of completing all of your pre-med academic requirements, reaching out to recommenders, and(increasingly) studying for the MCAT.
How taking a gap year helped me get into Harvard Medical School
I would not be where I am today, at Harvard Medical School, if I hadn’t taken a gap year after college. If you’re thinking about taking one but still on the fence about it, here are some reasons for why I took a gap year and how I feel about that decision looking back today.  
What I learned during the first-ever virtual medical school interviews
During the 2020-2021 medical school admissions cycle, interviews were conducted on a virtual platform for the first time ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021-2022 will certainly use the same virtual format, and medical school admissions interviews are likely to remain virtual for the foreseeable future.
How to highlight your student-athlete experiences for med school applications
College athletics take a lot of time out of your schedule: student-athletes must reserve four hours per day for practice, multiple hours per week for rehabilitation in the athletic training room, a few hours per month for meetings, and several days per semester for traveling and competing. If you are a pre-med student-athlete, you might begin to ...
What NOT to do when applying to medical school
Applying to medical school can be a grueling process. It's a very competitive process, and candidates with nearly perfect metrics can be turned down. Keep the following advice in mind to ensure that you are successful in your admissions cycle. 
How to study for the MCAT while working full-time
Just as there is no one right path to medical school, there is no one right time to take the MCAT. And as it turns out, there’s never a perfect time to drop everything and study full-time for a six to seven-hour multiple choice examination. Studying for the MCAT is challenging even if you have all day to focus on it, let alone if you’re also ...
How to obtain strong letters of recommendation for medical school
Like it or not, letters of recommendation (LORs) play a key role in applying to medical school. In a the increasingly competitive field of medical school applications, you want to “load the bases” and make every component of your application shine. Letters of recommendation can seem like the part over which you have the least control: after all, ...
How to answer the interview question, What you do for fun?
"What do you do for fun?"   When I prep applicants for their medical school interviews, I can't help but grin to myself as I ask this question because of the nearly inevitably deer-in-the-headlight look that follows. Applicants are often woefully unprepared to talk about the things that they do just for enjoyment. And I get it: when I applied to ...
Why medicine?: how to answer this common MD interview question
For many applicants, the question, “Why medicine?” is an expected, yet challenging to answer when asked in an interview setting. Fortunately, you’ve likely reflected on this question when considering whether to apply to medical school and throughout the application process, particularly when writing your personal statement. But you might not have ...
Top 5 ways medical school applicants spend their gap years
Did you know that 56.7 percent of matriculating medical students this year decided by the time they finished high school that they were already set on pursuing a career in medicine? 22.8 percent of students knew a career in medicine was right for them even before they started high school. If you tack on the students who catch the pre-med bug ...
Pearls of knowledge: what my older pre-med mentors taught me
As I suddenly realize that I am halfway through my gap year and that 2020 has been swallowed by the gaping maws of that-which-shall-not-be-named, I find myself with more time than usual to sit still. To be quiet and reflect on the years that have led me to the point at which I find myself. 
“Tell me about your research”
If you did any research work at all before applying to medical school, you are likely to encounter this question. And if you apply to MD/PhD, you will encounter it multiple times at every institution. So it’s especially worth your while to be prepared.
“If you had to choose a career outside of medicine, what would it be?”
It’s interview season. You’ve spent at least the past six months writing, writing, writing to convince admissions committees that medicine is the only possible career for you, the one that will allow you to fulfill your personal and professional goals, the one your passions have driven you towards. So what should you make of this common interview ...
How would you contribute diversity to our medical school?
During the MD admissions process, this question is often dreaded, as applicants reminisce on the mundaneness of premed requirements and volunteer experiences. As with questions of, "What are your strengths?", "Why should we accept you?", and "What makes you unique?", applicants may fear coming off too arrogant and self-promoting. In all these ...
How to tackle multiple mini interviews
Multiple mini interviews, commonly referred to as MMIs, are a major interview component in the MD admissions process. According to the AAMC, “the MMI is designed to measure competencies like oral communication, social and non-verbal skills, and teamwork that are important indicators of how an applicant will interact with patients and colleagues as ...
How to send a cold email for research or shadowing in 5 easy steps
It can be daunting to reach out to a professor or doctor you’ve never met and ask to work with them or shadow them in a clinic. In this post, I’ve outlined how I like to approach cold-emailing research and clinical faculty, usually to great success.
Answering the question: “why medicine?”
Whether it is for a personal statement, medical school interviews, or networking events, you will undoubtedly be asked: “Why medicine?” Though a seemingly simple question, coming up with a unique and comprehensive answer can be challenging. In this post, I outline how I approached this question by breaking it down into specific components. Use ...
How to approach the NBME shelf examinations
The NBME shelf examinations are certainly daunting: 110 complex questions in 165 minutes is a grueling test of your knowledge. But it’s not without significant benefits! These exams can actually be a fun challenge, allowing you to apply concepts you have mastered in novel ways. Here are some tips and tricks I used as a third-year medical student ...
Breaking down the Texas medical school admissions process
The medical school admissions process is long, confusing, and stressful. Having just finished my own cycle in which I applied to schools on both AMCAS and TMDSAS, I’m creating this post in the hopes that it could provide useful insights to current and future medical school applicants.
The one major difference between how high scorers and low scorers study
There are many differences between high and low scorers on the MCAT. Many of these differences are difficult to address: reading background, experience with experimental design, and test taking abilities to name a few. However, there is one consistent, notable difference in strategy. I call this strategy mistake analysis.
Placed on the medical school waitlist. Now what?
Getting waitlisted at one of your top choice medical schools can be disheartening. After making sacrifices as an undergraduate, acing the MCAT, and putting your best foot forward at the interview, a waitlist decision may leave you feeling like you fell just short. But, it is important to recognize that a waitlist is still an open door, and what ...
Practice testing in the 520s? Boost your score into the 100 percentile
As a person who was practice testing in the 520-521 range with 2-3 weeks left of studying, I was content with my score; however, I had an idea that I could get to the 100 percentile range if I pushed myself and studied smart for the remaining few weeks. With some slight tweaks to my study plan, I was able to comfortably score in the 100th ...
Applying to medical school as an engineering student
You've made it through differential equations and crushed software development methods while taking organic chemistry "on the side.” Now what? If you're an engineering student interested in medicine, chances are you're wondering how to translate your academic experiences into a killer AMCAS application. Here are some ideas to get started:
Three tips to connect with your MD/PhD interviewer
So you’ve received an email inviting you for an MD/PhD interview. First of all – congratulations! You are one step closer to becoming a physician scientist.
A comprehensive guide to AMCAS: getting started on the primary application
You’ve decided to apply to medical school. Congratulations- that’s a huge step! How do you organize everything you’ve done in the past few years into a couple hundred words on your primary application? My goal is for this post to serve as a comprehensive resource as you organize yourself for a writing marathon this cycle. Take a deep breath- you ...
Three things that got me into Harvard Medical School
If you had asked me as a freshman in college where I was going to be in 4 years, I don't know what I would have said—but sitting in a medical school library (especially at Harvard) didn't even cross my mind. I was going to be a helicopter pilot. So, how did I ultimately end up in med school when everyone was saying that I had to be “perfect” in ...
Applying to medical school with a low MCAT score
Pre-meds all over the world freak about the MCAT. It’s a long, overwhelming test that functions as a predictor for how well you might perform in medical school. For some schools, it’s the metric for whether or not you are offered an interview. So, pre-meds study hard, and some do well, while others are less than pleased with their scores. Low ...
Endurance: the “hidden” metric of the medical school application process
Much of the conversation around the medical school admissions process focuses on quantitative metrics: your GPA, your MCAT score, the number of volunteer and research hours you have under your belt. But w hile these metrics are certainly the foundations of a strong application, there is another critical metric which is unfortunately seldom ...
How to study for the MCAT when you're not done with science coursework
A lot of folks have asked me how to study MCAT material that they have never seen in class. It is a good and important question. Many of the topics covered on the MCAT—particularly on the Chem/Phys section—are covered in classes that students tend to take later in their college careers, such as second-semester physics (E&M). In this brief ...
How to choose the right medical school for you
The hard part is over. You got into med school! If you’re one of the lucky students who has multiple acceptances to choose from, you might be wondering how you’ll ever decide where to matriculate.
How to make the most of COVID-19 as a premedical student
We are living in a time of uncertainty. No medical school or hospital was prepared for how much this pandemic would affect our world. As a premed student, it can be difficult to prepare for an application cycle when this is uncharted territory for us all. Add on the stress and anxiety of the medical school application process and it can all feel ...
How to answer 'Tell me about a book you’ve read recently' in a med school interview
There’s one common medical school interview question that doesn’t get nearly enough attention from prep materials: “Tell me about a good book you’ve read recently.” Answering this question well takes a little bit of thoughtful preparation, but if you’re ready for it, you’ll get to show off not just how well-read you are, but also how inquisitive, ...
3 essential questions to nail down before an MD/PhD interview
Congrats on making it to interview season! It’s been a long journey with the pre-med courses, long hours in the lab, grueling MCAT prep, and seemingly endless AMCAS and supplemental essays. You’re almost there. I found the interview portion really fun - I traveled to places I’d never been, got wined and dined by students and faculty, and talked ...
Building on existing reading skills to improve your MCAT CARS score
As an MCAT tutor and former test taker, I have often encountered a subset of students who struggle with the Critical Analysis and Reasoning section (CARS) of the test. It can become a significant source of frustration during studying, and there are many students who may even have to re-take as a result of a poor CARS performance.
One tutor’s guide to MCAT study materials
One of the very first questions a student asks about a standardized exam is invariably, “Which study resources should I use?”. For the MCAT, the answer is far from simple. With the multitude of test prep publishers out there, each claiming to guarantee students the best possible score, it can often be difficult to find sources that are truly ...
Maximizing the gap years between college and medical school
If you’re a college student planning to wait 1-3 years after graduating before attending medical school, I was very recently like you. Yay, we were the same! Although you or the people around you may have doubts about prolonging your training or entering the nebula of a life unstructured, I think the time you spend during your gap years can have a ...
Activism and civic engagement in your medical school application
“Medicine is a social science, and politics is nothing else but medicine on a large scale.” Rudolph Virchow, the father of modern pathology, devoted an equally large portion of his life (when he wasn’t classifying thrombosis risk factors into a triad) to social medicine. Medical history is filled with countless examples of physicians serving as ...
Test like a champion: game-day tips to keep energy up during the MCAT
Waking up on the day of your exam, hopefully 99% of the work is already done. You’ve studied and all you have to do now is take the test! Treating your test prep like a marathon and planning for every possibility is a way to succeed. Let’s talk about strategies that will help you be ready to rock on “game day.”
Behind the scenes of Harvard Medical School: part II
Logan, an MD candidate at Harvard Medical School and president of Harvard’s Global Surgery Student Association, grew up on a horse ranch in Issaquah, Washington. His love for swimming and for the outdoors brought him to Dartmouth College, where he captained his varsity swim team and led Dartmouth’s hunting and fishing club. His research on sleep ...
How to apply to American medical schools while traveling abroad
Applying to medical school while abroad can be a wonderful but challenging experience. It's entirely possible to do the whole process remotely, but it will take careful planning to be completed correctly. There are many important factors, but two of the most important will be successfully filling out your AMCAS application and navigating ...
Behind the scenes of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
  In this interview, Graham gives us a brief tour of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Graham completed an MD / MBA student at Vanderbilt University and Harvard University. Prior to his postgraduate studies, Graham graduated from MIT in 2012 as member of the Tau Beta Pi Honor Society (the Engineering Equivalent of Phi Beta Kappa) with a ...
Your medical school timeline checklist: planning ahead
So you've decided to apply to medical school this June -- congratulations!  You should take a moment and pat yourself on the back for getting this far.  It's no small feat to find yourself in the applicant pool this year!
An inside look: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Today, we'll be exploring behind the scenes at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai with one of our incredible MD coaches, Dan. Dan is currently a first-year medical student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Bachelor of ...
Staying ahead of the curve: secondary essay pre-writing strategies
Let’s be frank: completing the primary application component of the AMCAS or the AACOMAS requires a big initial push. While everyone deserves a moment to breathe and collect themselves after this first major hurdle, it would be a mistake to let the impending flood of secondaries surprise you. In fact, there is no reason not to be prepared for the ...
Surviving the MD admissions process as a student-athlete
For those of us who are pre-med collegiate athletes, or those considering this route, there is one inescapable and terrifying truth: the day consists of only 24 hours. While I was playing NCAA ice hockey at Wesleyan University, 5 hours each day were devoted to athletics. Additionally, most weekends were spent traveling for games and sleeping in ...
Behind the scenes of Harvard Medical School
This week, we interview Morgan for a backstage pass to Harvard Medical School.  Morgan is originally from Southern New Jersey, spent the past four years in Williamsburg, VA studying at the College of William & Mary, and is now in Boston as a first year medical student at Harvard. As an undergraduate, Morgan majored in Hispanic Studies and ...
Preparing for the tough questions in your med school interview
Last time we discussed the general approach to preparing for a medical school interview and went over a couple big picture questions. The ultimate goals are to, one, let the interviewer know how you are different than every other person they spoke to and, two, why you would be a good fit for this program. You want to convey these points in a ...
How athletes can strengthen their candidacy in med school applications
Whether you are a high school senior trying to decide whether to play sports in college, or a collegiate athlete beginning to fill out your medical school application, this post is for you.  When it comes down to it, admissions committees make their selections based off traits that they recognize tend to help students thrive through school and ...
4 types of MMI questions and how to ace them
  The days of traditional interviewing with 30-minute conversations about your favorite restaurants in Harvard Square are over. With more and more medical schools moving towards the multiple mini interview (MMI) format, it’s important to know what types of questions to expect and how to navigate each one.
How to create an initial list of medical school applications
Somehow, it is May again. In Boston, this means more sun, Swan Boats, and my personal favorite: the turning on of the water fountains along all of the Charles River running routes. To those of you interested in medical school, it also brings the time to work on your primary applications and initial school list. For more information about how to ...
A guide to 4 medical school secondary application question types
If you’re applying to medical school this cycle and were able to get your primary application in by the end of June, July puts you in the first (of many) waiting game. As you are refreshing the AMCAS page to check the status of your primary application, you can make use of the downtime to prepare yourself for secondaries. Depending on how many ...
How to ask for a letter of recommendation for med school
For many students looking to apply to medical school, asking for a letter of recommendation can feel pretty daunting, especially if you’re requesting it from people whom you may not have seen for a couple of years. And since you often don’t get to see your letters before submission, this is the part of your application that is least in your ...
How to answer 'tell us about yourself' on a secondary application
Even though this seems like it should be a “gimme” question (after all, what do you know more about than yourself?), many applicants consider this to be one of the toughest questions on a medical school secondary. Aside from being very broad, many people just find it uncomfortable to sell themselves, recognizing that there’s a fine line between ...
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