Reading some AMCAS statement of disadvantage examples will help you understand this baffling section of the AMCAS application. Understanding the different AMCAS sections and questions will help you understand how to prepare your med school application. A statement of disadvantage is a tool which can keep your application in the potentials pile by providing context of your personal situation and any barriers you face when applying to med school. If your application has any weak points, a statement of disadvantage can provide the necessary background information to explain them, leading to a better chance of being accepted to your chosen school. In this blog, we’ll look at what AMCAS considers a disadvantaged applicant, how applying as a disadvantaged student will affect your application and how to write a statement of disadvantage. You can also read some AMCAS statement of disadvantage examples to use as a guide.


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What is a “disadvantaged” AMCAS applicant?

Preparing your application to medical school through the American Medical College Application System (AMCAS) is a lengthy process, and the application asks many detailed questions about your education, your most meaningful experiences, extracurriculars or hobbies, work activities as well as biographical and demographical questions. One question that might confuse students is about writing an AMCAS statement of disadvantage. The AMCAS application form asks students if they consider themselves disadvantaged, and to explain why.

But what does being a disadvantaged AMCAS applicant mean? Should you mark yourself as disadvantaged? How will it affect your candidacy?

The explanation of being disadvantaged on the AMCAS website is a little vague, but essentially it is asking if there are personal circumstances or experiences you want the medical school admissions board to consider when reviewing your application. A disadvantage is any circumstance, barrier or obstacle which presented a roadblock to your schooling, academic development or ability to successfully apply to medical school. A statement of disadvantage is different from a diversity secondary essay or an AMCAS personal statement in that it outlines how you have overcome a hardship or difficulty in your life to apply for medical school or receive a formal education.

In general, there are three types of disadvantages a prospective medical student might face:

Learn more about the AMCAS application by watching this video!

Disadvantages can come in many forms, but they need to be legitimate and extenuating conditions for a medical school admissions board to take them into account when reviewing your application. For example, simply stating that you were working while going to undergraduate school and therefore received poor grades is not enough. Your statement needs to be detailed and outline specific disadvantages in your personal or family life, your economic situation or your lack of access to resources, funds or opportunities.

A statement of disadvantage allows you to provide context and further detail to your application, which the admissions board can take into account. If there are areas of your application that fall within the context of a disadvantage, such as low grades, poor attendance at school or a lack of work experience due to there not being any healthcare facilities in your area or virtual shadowing opportunities, you can use the AMCAS statement of disadvantage to provide that extra bit of information. Having an explanation of sorts for what might be considered weaknesses in your med school application can keep you in consideration for acceptance. If admission officers can see that you work hard despite your disadvantage and are working to overcome them, they will be more likely to keep your application and consider you for acceptance to med school.

How does a statement of disadvantage affect my AMCAS application?

Marking yourself as a disadvantaged student will not otherwise affect your application or your time at your chosen medical school. If anything, it may help you get into the school of your choice even if your application has some weak points. A statement of disadvantage is designed to give student with barriers a fair shot at being accepted to the school of their choice. To qualify as a disadvantaged student, you’ll need to be able to explain in detail why your circumstances affected you and how you overcame them. For the statement of disadvantage on the AMCAS application, you’ll have just over 1,300 characters to write, so use as much space as you have available to explain your disadvantage.

A medical school advisor can assist you with a medical school application if you plan to apply as a disadvantaged student but aren’t sure what to include or what school resources there are to help you. An advisor will also know what medical school admission requirements (MSAR) are for your chosen schools. That way, if your application falls short in some way, for example your scores a below the average accepted threshold or your GPA is too low, they can advise you on how to get a better chance of applying as a disadvantaged student.

For example, if you are submitting a late medical school application because you have responsibilities at home which include caring for ill family members, as well as working a full-time job and applying to medical school, you can consider explaining these circumstances in a statement of disadvantage. It’s a good idea to have a medical school application timeline so you can begin putting together your application early, but of course this isn’t always possible.

Other options for disadvantaged medical school applicants who feel they cannot or don’t want to pursue traditional routes in the medical field can explore an application to AACOMAS instead with a DO school application to osteopathic medicine. You can always weigh the advantages of DO versus MD and decide which career path suits your situation.

How to write an AMCAS statement of disadvantage

Writing a good statement of disadvantage means writing clearly, to the point and with sufficient detail. You’ll only have about 250 words or so to explain your disadvantage, so keep to the facts and provide as much detail as you can on your situation. Keep your answers focused on the barriers you experience throughout your life which have presented obstacles to you getting into med school. Be sure to end your statement on a high note and include how you have worked to overcome your disadvantages and how you have risen above your circumstances.

Below we’ve included some important tips to keep in mind when writing your AMCAS statement of disadvantage.

AMCAS statement of disadvantage examples

Below are three examples of AMCAS statement of disadvantages. We’ll take a look at three different disadvantages students might experience which present barriers to pursuing a medical education. Each example is under the 1,325-character limit AMCAS imposes, but be sure to use as much space as you are able when writing your own statement of disadvantage.

Statement of disadvantage example #1 – Economic

I grew up in an economically depressed area, where there were few work opportunities for the adults and the nearest school for me and my siblings was over an hour-long bus ride away. My parents both worked at one of the only factories still open in the area that paid enough to provide for the family. When I was old enough, I also began applying for work to help bring in supplementary income. Because of the long commute to and from school, and then to my part-time job, I had less time for homework and studying than my peers. My grades did slip, as I had to prioritize working over schoolwork. I managed to complete my high school courses, though with a lower GPA than I had wanted to achieve. Despite this, I started preparing for college applications and chose to apply to the schools I thought I had a reasonable chance of being accepted to with my GPA and test scores. My college required me to move into dorm living, and I wasn’t able to stay at my part-time job any longer. I found a new position in the same area as my college so I could continue to send money home to my family while I studied at college. I am happy to say that I completed my degree despite having to work long hours to achieve my goals.

Statement of disadvantage example #2 – Educational

My high school education was delayed in the middle of my junior year thanks to a tornado tearing through our community and destroying countless homes, including our own. For over a year, we moved from place to place, staying with family or friends or even in motels when we could afford it. This also meant my sister and I weren’t able to attend school regularly, if at all. Between my sister and I, we were temporarily placed in 5 different schools. I was enrolled in online schooling for a brief period when it became too difficult to move from school to school and I was missing large pieces of the curriculum. As a result of missing so many classes, I was held back and graduated almost 2 years after my peers did. Because of my age and falling behind in my coursework, I faced some difficulties in applying to college with a low GPA and late applications, and I started later in the year than the other students. Our housing situation has thankfully been stabilized, but I will not be able to recover the year of missing out on school. I have been able to attend college regularly and have made a commitment to not miss any classes. This is a promise I have kept for myself as I do not want to miss any more opportunities for my education.

Statement of disadvantage #3 – Social

My parents moved our family to the US when I was 13 years old. Although we were living in a largely immigrant populated community, and I could speak some English, it was still quite isolating when I started middle school. Learning in another language sometimes presented challenges for me, but socially it was even more difficult as I tried to make friends and learn about my new home. I still have troubles connecting with my peers at times or relating to them if I don’t understand the cultural or linguistic significance. My language barrier has also been an issue when applying for job positions or internships to gain some medical experience. I applied for a clerical position at a local medical center, which I did get accepted to. However, I still sometimes struggle when communicating with patients and my peers. Working at the medical center is providing me the opportunity to practice my language and communication skills, but again it has been somewhat isolating on a social level. I can communicate effectively in a professional setting when I need to, but socially it can still be challenging. I have wanted to be a doctor since before our family moved to the US, and I knew that I would need to learn to communicate in English, so I have joined a group of fellow students like myself to practice our conversational English to prepare me for the challenges of med school.

FAQs

1. What is an AMCAS statement of disadvantage?

An AMCAS statement of disadvantage is an optional short essay where students can explain any circumstances where they experience a disadvantaged situation or circumstance in applying to medical school.

2. What is considered a disadvantage on a medical school application?

Disadvantages are considered any economic, educational or social hardships a student might face in getting their medical education or in applying to med school.

3. Will including an AMCAS statement of disadvantage hurt my chances?

No; a statement of disadvantage is designed to aid students who experience barriers to their education to have a fair chance at being accepted to medical school.

4. How do you write an AMCAS disadvantaged statement?

For an AMCAS statement of disadvantage, be clear and keep to the facts of your situation. Also be sure to include details instead of just a summary of your barriers or disadvantages. AMCAS provides 1,325 characters for your statement.

5. What qualifies you as a disadvantaged student?

Disadvantaged students are medical school applicants who have experienced any barriers or obstacles to their education or a lack of access to the same opportunities and resources as their peers.

6. Does writing an AMCAS statement of disadvantage help me?

Yes; writing a statement of disadvantage can help explain any gaps or weaknesses on your application and the admissions board will take these disadvantages into account when reviewing your application.

7. Can I write more than one statement of disadvantage?

Yes; if you experience more than one disadvantage you can provide further information in your AMCAS application.

8. What are some examples of disadvantages?

Disadvantages can include anything from parental unemployment to personal health problems, housing instability or lack of access to resources or healthcare facilities. Any significant barrier in your life to getting a formal education can be considered a disadvantage. 

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting


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