How to write about responding to feedback and criticism

medical school admissions secondary applications

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 your skills and performance from both patients and fellow physicians. This essay gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your ability to take criticism well, process your emotional response to it, and make appropriate goals/changes to improve. 

When brainstorming about your experience with feedback or criticism, make sure to select one that exhibits your maturity and confidence. Did you get defensive or retaliate in response to the feedback? Did you take it personally? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then that example may not be the best for this essay. Did you accept the feedback calmly, regardless of its delivery, and quickly implement it? If yes, consider this story as an option! Keep in mind that this does not have to be an academic experience. You can receive feedback in many different areas in life (professionally, socially, athletically, and more). Don’t be afraid to use this essay as a chance to briefly mention another activity or hobby that you do. Double points! 

Once you’ve selected your story, you can start your writing with a brief introduction of the circumstances to set the stage. Do your best not to get lost in the details, or make yourself out to be a victim. The real focus of the essay will be to discuss the outcome of your experience with feedback. As you transition from describing the circumstances to describing your response, be sure to discuss your exact emotional thought process. Were you hurt at first? Did you take some time to process alone and make a plan to perform better? Did you adjust quickly and succeed in your next attempt? Your reader wants to know! No matter how you preferred to tackle it, demonstrate that your method was levelheaded, calm, and efficient. 

Finally, as you close out your essay, leave the reader with a glimpse into your future and how this experience has changed, improved, or reinforced your way of receiving feedback/criticism. Did you teach yourself a new way of doing things? Did you commit to processing feedback fully at a later time? Did you decide to embrace failure or setbacks more? Tell us! After all, the reader only cares about how you will respond to their feedback one day down the road. Convince them that you will respond exceedingly well!

Olivia attended the University of Rochester, studying Neuroscience and American Sign Language. She's pursuing her MD at Harvard Medical School, where she’s exploring her interests in pediatrics and neonatology.


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