While there are nine sections to the AMCAS application, this guide will explore Section Five: AMCAS Work and Activities. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) runs the American Medical College Application Service, or AMCAS, a centralized application service that allows aspiring first-year medical students to create one application that can be sent to most US medical schools. In this blog, you'll learn how to compose effective entries, including the AMCAS "Most Meaningful Experiences", which activities should be included, and how to maximize the allotted space to create powerful entries. Finally, we'll show you 40 AMCAS Work and Activities examples from our own past successful students so you can work towards creating your own stand-out entries.


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What is the AMCAS Work and Activities Section?

Before we begin, note that it is advisable to begin work on this as soon as possible. You need to become aware with the medical school application timeline to ensure you have all the time you need to polish your application. Now then, with that said... 

What is the AMCAS Work and Activities Section?

For this section of the AMCAS application, you will be able to select 15 experiences covering research, volunteer experiences, employment, awards, honors, publications, and extracurriculars for medical school, and you can enter up to four occurrences for each type of experience. So, for example, if you have had five volunteer experiences, you can only include four of these, so be sure to prioritize effectively. You want to think strategically about which of your experiences you want to include, demonstrating a diverse range of experiences and highlighting a variety of key qualities sought in aspiring med students. 

These qualities can be identified by looking at the AAMC Core Competencies, which are spread across four areas: 

Interested in seeing the BEST AMCAS work and activities description examples?

Each of your entries must be something you’ve done since starting your undergraduate degree. As you enter your experiences, you’ll have several activity categories to choose from as you organize and assemble them. This list of categories is fairly diverse, so for the most part it shouldn’t be especially hard to match a given experience to a specific category. However, you can only assign 1 category for each entry, so you must be selective. These categories are:

Note that you do not need to enter exactly 15 experiences – quality matters more than quantity, and even the AAMC website specifies that medical schools are much more interested in significant experiences than they are in seeing every single activity or experience a student has had. Similar to your entries, admissions committees will see these categories chronologically, but will have the ability to arrange them according to their own preference or interest. You cannot rearrange this secondary ordering once a committee has applied it. You'll also be able to record both "Completed" and "Anticipated" activities, meaning you can distinguish between past, present and planned activities you'll be engaged in. When marking your hours for these activities, be sure the dates for "Completed" activities and hours are past and the end dates and recorded hours for "Anticipated" experiences are in the future, otherwise you will not be able to submit the section. Note that anticipated experiences can be present or ongoing activities, or activities you expect to start at a future date that are relevant to your application.

For each standard Work and Activities entry, you will have 700 characters (including spaces) to describe the experience beyond just type, title, duration, total hours, organization name, city, and contact information for verifiers. For this description, most admissions committees want to see the following for each entry:

  1. How much time you dedicated to a given activity 
  2. What your responsibilities or specific accomplishments were
  3. The impact you made on a given activity/experience
  4. The qualities you demonstrated—for this, consult the AAMC core competency list above 

Lastly, those entries you’ve selected as “Most Meaningful Experiences” are allotted an additional 1325 characters (including spaces). This is a substantial increase, but will still demand care and attention to economy of language.

How to Structure Your AMCAS Work and Activities Entries

Once you’ve decided what to include in your AMCAS Work and Activities entries, you have 700 characters (including spaces) – or about four to five sentences – to discuss each experience. As with the “Most Meaningful Experiences”, you need to take time to carefully craft your entries, so that you’re maximizing the impact of each entry, and doing so while conforming to a very limited character count. 700 characters may sound like a lot, but it is actually quite difficult to summarize many important experiences in this amount of space.

To structure each standard Work and Activities entry, we recommend using approximately one-third of the allotted characters to describe the setting and activity, ensuring that the most important accomplishment or result is highlighted. The remaining space in the entry should be used to demonstrate how the experience impacted you and helped you develop the qualities sought in future medical professionals. Here’s an example:

Getting the entry to that exact length, however, took quite a bit of writing, re-writing, editing, re-phrasing for concision, etc., even as someone who writes professionally. Each word was carefully chosen to maximize impact in minimal space, ensuring the activity itself was described effectively and that the impact of the experience and its connection to education and future work was highlighted. As well, without saying so explicitly, this entry draws on or implies several of the core competencies and key qualities noted above: teamwork (playing together effectively), communication (which is necessary for that effective teamwork), reliability and dependability (everyone – presumably including the author – coming together to practice consistently and regularly, working as a unit), capacity for improvement (winning the championship and being earning the designation of “top Defender” requires progress and improvement), resilience (again, to be named a top player necessitates overcoming obstacles and bouncing back from failures), and adaptability (intentionally participating in an activity that alleviates stress so that proper focus can be given to school work – or, in other words, adapting to the stress of school by relieving that stress through rewarding physical exertion).

This should be your general structure for each standard entry in the AMCAS Work and Activities section. Take your time to write with intention and reflect on how these experiences matter for your future as a physician. Give yourself enough time to write a draft, walk away, review it and edit it, walk away again, view it through the lens of the core competencies and key qualities, and edit again accordingly. Next, send it off for professional review to ensure that your ideas are articulated as you intended, that you’ve maximized the potential impact of each entry, and that your prose is perfectly polished and free of errors, typos, or grammatical inconsistencies.

Keep in mind that brainstorming for your AMCAS Work and Activities section will help you craft your AMCAS personal statement and get you ready to answer some of the most common medical school interview questions.

Here's a recap of AMCAS Section 5: Work and Activities:

How to Structure AMCAS Most Meaningful Experiences

You will also be able to identify three of your entries as “Most Meaningful Experiences”. In this crucial element of your application, you are given an additional 1325 characters (including spaces), or about half a page, to discuss the impact and transformative nature of three of your experiences or activities. Note that you are not required to identify exactly three such experiences, but if you have two or more entries, you will be prompted to identify at least one as “most meaningful”. The entries you identify as “Most Meaningful Experiences”, and the way you address those experiences, are immensely important and are under considerable scrutiny by the application reviewers.

The AMCAS Instructional Manual’s guidance on “Most Meaningful Experiences” is as follows:

"When writing your response, you might want to consider the transformative nature of the experience, the impact you made while engaging in the activity, and the personal growth you experienced as a result of your participation."

The AMCAS manual is instructing you to not simply recite your CV. Rather, they’re requesting reflective contemplation on the experiences you’ve had in your life that have led to your decision to pursue medicine as your career. Do not simply name the positions you held or offer a mere list of qualities, tasks, or roles from that experience. You have more room, and that room should be devoted to forming a brief but compelling narrative that demonstrates key qualities that speak to the larger question, "Why do you want to be a doctor?". It’s worth noting that, in composing these experiences, you will still have the initial 700 characters to offer a description of the position itself, so the extra 1325 characters are used to reflect on the impact of those experiences.

Let’s look at a research position to explore an example of how to structure these particular entries. If your “Most Meaningful Experience” is a summer research position, then here is your structure:

There you have it in four easy steps. When the headings are removed, this entry would be 1296 characters, with spaces. This is exactly the same scaffolding you can use for jobs, sports, volunteering, AMCAS hobbies examples and extracurriculars, and any other type of work experience.

For any clinical experience, if possible, you can include a small vignette that portrays your interaction with a patient. Of course, please remove all identifying details and be careful with this. Well thought out and strategically employed vignettes help to paint a vivid picture of you as a provider of care. These pictures leave impressions and this is what you need, so just ensure that the impression you leave is one of a mature professional who embodies the key qualities and core competencies desires in aspiring future physicians.

Also, bear in mind that the text container AMCAS uses allows no formatting at all, so you can’t get fancy and use bullet points to say more. Use only full sentences with full ideas, and ensure you have someone to review what you’ve written, so that you know you’re presenting well-written, fluid prose, that makes your growth and development evident.

40 ACMAS Work and Activities Examples

AMCAS Work and Activities example: #1

Type: Paid Employment – Medical/Clinical

Name: Emergency Department (ED) Assistant

Hours: 1400 hours

Most Meaningful: No

Description:

In the ED, I provided constant observation to assigned medical and psychiatric patients, assisted with direct patient care and safely transported patients to and from the department. By being part of a patient care team, I learned that every member of the team contributes an invaluable skillset, essential to the efficiency and success of the department. I played a calming and helpful role during a difficult and often stressful time for the patients. I empathized and worked to develop trusting relationships so patients could work with our team more effectively. By working in this challenging position and with patients with a different set of needs, that I have learned patience and compassion.

AMCAS Work and Activities example: #2

Type: Research/Lab

Name: HIV Research Internship at X University

Hours: 900 hours

Most Meaningful: No

Description:

I partook in an Internship at X University through the BioMed Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program. I conducted research under the supervision of Dr. X entitled “Exploring Post-Transcriptional Regulation of CCR5 in HIV Elite controllers". Using a combination of genomic methods, I worked on identifying the genes causally responsible for elite control in patient samples who manifest a distinct mutation for HIV by performing PCR, gel electrophoresis, and CRIPR. At the end of the summer, I presented my research at the SURF Program Symposium. This experience enriched my learning in many subjects especially in Biochemistry and Cellular Biology.

AMCAS Work and Activities example: #3

Type: Community Service/Volunteer-Medical/Clinical

Name: Volunteering at X Mobile Clinic in Ecuador

Hours: 20

Most Meaningful: No

Description:

I provided education, primary care, and dental care to over 1,000 patients by participating in mobile clinics. I also had the chance to assist in local projects by building staircases with members of the community. I had been struggling with anatomy and considered not pursuing medicine anymore, but my first mobile clinic experience reaffirmed my goal of becoming a doctor. Listening to the patients explain their life stories and struggles to the physicians was invaluable. The opportunity to expose myself to people from new cultures prepared me to interact and communicate with patients from all backgrounds.

AMCAS Work and Activities example: #4

Type: Teaching/Tutoring/Teaching Assistant

Name: Math and Chemistry Teaching Assistant

Hours: 273

Most Meaningful: No

Description:

I served as a Teaching Assistant (TA) for Mathematics and General Chemistry. As a TA, I attended class with the students, graded assignments, and held office hours and study sessions. Through my position as a TA, I learned patience and worked with each student at his or her own pace. I came up with new ways to explain concepts that were suited to each student’s learning style. Their responsiveness and the look on their faces when they first understood a concept was the most rewarding aspect of the job. I will strive to facilitate patient education as a physician, making sure that a patient leaves the clinic well informed with all of their questions answered regarding their healthcare needs.

AMCAS Work and Activities example: #5

Type: Honors/Awards/Recognitions

Name: Sophmore Class GPA Award and Merit Scholarship

Hours: 0

Most Meaningful: No

Description:

I was one of two students in the sophomore class of the College of General Studies at X University nominated by faculty for my collected works. The Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning (CITL) selects two students, nominated by faculty, for the Best ePortfolio Award. CITL looks for evidence of student learning and evaluates quality and quantity of information posted in the ePortfolios. I was also one of ten students recognized at X University College of General Studies for the top GPA of the sophomore class and awarded a merit scholarship for this accomplishment. I continued with my academic success and graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences Magna Cum Laude.

AMCAS Work and Activities example: #6

Type: Clinical Research

Name: Clinical Research Internship

Hours: 900

Most Meaningful: Yes

Description:

After performing research from a chemistry perspective, I was interested in growing my knowledge in neuroscience. I embarked on a clinical internship at Spectrum Health with a neurosurgeon named Dr. X. Dr. X was focused on placing metal electrodes called neurostimulators into the spine of his patients. The neurostimulators bypassed the pain receptors in the spinal cord. Because this was a new technique that had variable results depending on the patients, I assessed the effectiveness by comparing pain levels pre and post-op using Owestry Disability Index (ODI) Score. Using these ODI scores, I analyzed the data and found statistically significant data that was published by Medtronic.

Why it was meaningful:

This experience was meaningful because I was able to closely interact with patients, increase my knowledge of neuroscience, as well as positively impacting patients through my research. Before interacting with patients, I shadowed Dr. X for almost 100 hours and learned about HIPPA violations, respect for privacy, and compassion for patients. I watched as Dr. X performed many spinal procedures such as kyphoplasties, injections, and laminectomies. Eventually, I watched him insert the spinal electrodes and learned about their composition, how they worked, and possible risks. After receiving the ODI scores of patients before the surgery, I compiled patients’ ODI scores before and 6 months after their surgeries, and noted if they increased or decreased. I shadowed Dr. X for many hours to get a better understanding of what the spinal stimulators were doing, and I also surveyed the patients to get personal measurements of their pain. I analyzed the ODI scores and was able to find statistically significant data that the manufacturer of the spinal stimulators, X, published in their studies and now uses as a selling point to other surgeons around the country. This experience was extremely special to me because I was able to make a meaningful, measurable difference in patients’ quality of life.

AMCAS Work and Activities example: #7

Type: Honors/Awards/Recognitions

Name: Health Society (HS) Grant

Hours: 0

Most Meaningful: No

Description:

I was awarded the HS grant, which is a provincial grant given out yearly to the top 5 percent of candidates based on research credibility and long-term impact on clinical medicine. I was selected based on the immediate translatability of my project. Through HS, I further investigated the cure for Infantile Spasms, a project described in another entry. Drafting a research grant was a challenging and transformative experience, which required critical thinking and a reconsideration of the bigger context for medicine and its applications.

AMCAS Work and Activities example: #8

Type: Paid Employment – Medical/Clinical

Name: Emergency Department Technician

Hours: 1500

Most Meaningful: Yes

Description:

As a full-time technician, I work closely with physicians and nurses to perform EKGs, CPR, point of care testing, phlebotomy, wound care, and splinting. I administer medications under nurses’ orders, assist in crutch walking, and assist physicians with procedures. I was promoted to Resource Technician because of my knowledge of the department, teamwork, and time management skills. I am now in a leadership position that requires critical thinking, knowledge of the needs of the department and leadership capacity. I supervise the ED Technicians and Assistants, help in each zone of the department, and solve problems. I also train new technicians.

Why it was meaningful:

In the 7 months that I have worked in this level one trauma center, I witnessed and participated in a variety of medical cases among a diverse patient population. I developed many hands-on clinical skills and refined my medical knowledge. In December, while documenting vital signs, I noticed an irregular and concerning heart rhythm, supraventricular tachycardia, on a patient’s monitor, and immediately notified the patient’s physician. I learned the importance of diligence and paying attention to detail even in the most routine task. Additionally, my role as a technician necessitates working closely with a large team of physicians and nurses. I must prioritize tasks, anticipate the needs of physicians and nurses, and manage my time to be an effective, essential member of the medical team. In addition to clinical skills, I have worked on my interpersonal skills to be more patient, understanding, and altering my care to fit each patient.

Working in this leadership role as Resource Technician, I continuously improve my collaboration and leadership skills, but also gain a better understanding of the inner workings of running a successful team in the Emergency Department. I believe my time working as a technician in a high stress, fast-paced environment, acting as a supervisor to my colleagues, and orienting new hires has allowed me to gain more clinical experience and skills, and has better prepared me for medical school.

AMCAS Work and Activities example: #9

Type: Community Service/Volunteer – Medical/Clinical

Name: Free Health Clinic Volunteer

Hours: 100

Most Meaningful: No

Description:

After Hurricane Irma affected my community of Fort Lauderdale, I felt an ethical responsibility to get involved. After months of planning and communicating with many hospitals and shelters, I was able to coordinate a free clinic in Fort Lauderdale. Over 10% of Americans have no access to medical care and I felt fortunate to work with generous physicians who donated their time to assess and treat patients in my community. I plan on coordinating a free bi-monthly clinic beginning in the fall. Poverty and lack of access to healthcare remain prevalent issues in the U.S, and I hope to continue working to alleviate these inequalities.

AMCAS Work and Activities example: #10

Type: Posters/Presentations

Name: Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute (ACHRI) Symposium

Hours: 78

Most Meaningful: No

Description:

ACHRI provides a platform for innovation in child and maternal health in Alberta. I was chosen as a trainee of the organization based on my research on Infantile Spasms (IS) in a pediatric neurology lab. I participated in monthly seminar series, journal clubs, inter-departmental competitions, and ACHRI scientific meetings. Presenting my IS research findings at a recent symposium, I engaged with collaborators, clinicians, and scientists from a multitude of medical fields. Having open conversations with a variety of clinicians and scientists about the translational studies cemented the impact that collaboration has on the progress of medicine.

AMCAS Work and Activities example: #11

Type: Physician Shadowing/Clinical Observation

Name: Clinical Shadowing at Vibrant Health Clinic 

Hours: 6 hours

Most Meaningful: Yes

Description: 

I had the wonderful opportunity to shadow Dr. Kelly Kreisler at Vibrant Health Clinic in Kansas City. I spent the day observing Dr. Kreisler at each of her appointments with patients at the clinic and had the opportunity to see how Doctors work with translators to breach the barrier of language. The experience at this clinic served as an interesting look into how a medical professional approaches handling the delivery of care to patients of diverse backgrounds.

Meaningful description:

Shadowing Dr. Kreisler served as an invaluable experience when exploring various unique environments within the medical field. Vibrant Health is a clinic in the Kansas City area that serves many individuals who have recently immigrated to the United States from different countries. Dr. Kreisler's specialty is in Pediatrics, where many of the patients she was seeing were young and in the process of acclimating to their new life here in the United States. It was evident how much of an experienced physician Dr. Kreisler was as she seamlessly worked with translators to comprehensively assure that there were no errors in communication between her and the parents of her patients. A very interesting point in my shadowing experience was seeing how Dr. Kreisler asked her patients and their parents if they were speaking English at home or at school. This was interesting as I didn't even think to consider how socialization played a role in the health and development of these young patients. This really was a lesson for me in seeing what it means to be comprehensive in the care of one's patients. This experience was truly memorable, from its unique setting, to the examples of the sometimes complex nature of doctor/patient interactions. It is an attribute I would hope to bring into my own practice, as I pursue my dream of studying and practicing medicine.

AMCAS Work and Activities example: #12

Type: Physician Shadowing/Clinical Observation

Name: Clinical Shadowing Lawrence Memorial Hospital

Hours: 6 hours

Most Meaningful: Yes

Description: 

I had the pleasure of shadowing Dr. Michael Zabel at Lawrence Memorial's Cardiology Center. I spent the day observing Dr. Zabel make his rounds, evaluate various test results from his patients, and was able to see how the process of record keeping is done within a hospital setting from the perspective of the Doctor. As my first official opportunity of shadowing a Doctor, this was a wonderful way to see many aspects of a Doctor’s day on the job from the time he gets to his personal office, to patient rounds, to analyzing test data and charting.

Meaningful Description:

Getting the call that I could shadow a doctor from cardiology was the best start to a Monday that I could have asked for. The fact that the appointment was on my birthday was an added bonus; this was a wonderful way to spend the day. The experience showed me a wonderful example of what proper and respectful bedside manner looks like between doctors and patients. I was lucky enough to sit in while Dr. Zabel spoke to his patients, most of which were alone in their hospital rooms. He took the time with each of his patients on his list to talk to them about their condition and make sure they understood what their charts meant. He would then proceed to talk to his patients about their jobs, families, or how their retirement was going. It was a wonderful look into the human side of this profession and an aspect of the job I find myself very much looking forward to. To end the day, Dr. Zabel looked at echocardiographs with me and gave me insight into how he analyzes them and what diagnoses he can derive from them. While this was a bit nerve wracking, there were times he would ask me to infer what I thought was wrong. I was blown away that he allowed me to do this with him. Instead of feeling like a fly on the wall, I felt as though I was a meaningful part of the doctor's day and was able to interact and see how my qualities could fit into this job.

AMCAS Work and Activities example: #13

Type: Community Service/Volunteer

Name: Lawrence Memorial hospital

Hours: 200 hours

Most Meaningful: No

Description: 

I served as a volunteer at Lawrence Memorial Hospital in their escort unit as well as their gastroenterology clinic. I assisted mostly with the transfer of patients while working in their escort unit and with the turnaround of patient discharge while working within the Gastroenterology Clinic. The position within escort as well as the Gastroenterology Clinic allowed me to interact with discharged patients for prolonged periods of time as they waited for their taxi or family member to come. It was a wonderful way to practice conversing with individuals from different age groups and backgrounds while also getting exposure to a new discipline within medicine in Gastroenterology.

AMCAS Work and Activities example: #14

Type: Paid Employment – Not Medical/Clinical

Name: Clinical Shadowing at Vibrant Health Clinic 

Hours: 400 hours

Most Meaningful: No

Description: 

I worked as an online and in person tutor for Varsity Tutors in the Minneapolis area as well as in Lawrence. I tutored everything from standardized tests such as the ACT and SATs to individual subjects such as organic chemistry, biology, and many more. I really loved the experience of teaching my students and made sure that with each student, I individualized their learning plan and really got to the source of any problems they had with the subject. Teaching is very rewarding, and it pushes me as an individual to have a deep understanding of the content I am teaching and exploring new, more effective ways of how to communicate information to my students.

AMCAS Work and Activities example: #15

Type: Community Service/Volunteer Medical/Clinical

Name: Midland Care, Hospice and PACE Volunteer

Hours: 420 hours

Most Meaningful: Yes

Description: 

I served as a volunteer at Midland Care's Lawrence location. This facility specialized in daytime care for individuals suffering from debilitating health conditions. I assisted administratively helping with the organization of protocols and weekly record keeping for residents of the facility, as well as helping with the planning and organization of activities for the residents.

Meaningful Description:

When I applied to Midland Care, my intent was to give myself an experience of healthcare in a new and different environment. Having had years of experience in a hospital setting, I challenged myself to experience something out of the ordinary and explore other environments I could possibly find myself in as a future medical professional. Midland serves as a nonprofit center for individuals to receive daytime care for conditions they are afflicted with that require supervision, as well as hospice care for those individuals who need it. The center in Lawrence specialized in daytime care for residents. My preconceptions told me that this experience would be difficult. Such an environment surely would weigh heavy on one’s spirit. What I found in my years at the center was very much the opposite. The individuals working here had such a genuine kindness and caring in their heart for their job and their patients, I could only admire the way these professionals conducted themselves. They taught me how one's situation is a product of how you choose to embrace it. What drives my friends at Midland to be the caretakers they are is a deep-rooted belief of the capacity for good we as people have. Every week of volunteering teaches me to redefine success and motivates me to be a multifaceted caretaker.

AMCAS Work and Activities example: #16

Type: Paid Employment – Not Medical/Clinical

Name: Summer Internship Perrigo Pharmaceuticals

Hours: 490 hours

Most Meaningful: No

Description: 

In the Summer of 2016, I had the opportunity to intern at Perrigo Company in Crystal Minnesota. I had the pleasure of working in the technical operations department. In this position, I was tasked with the development and refinement of manufacturing procedures, as well as working alongside fellow coworkers in the production of the medications. I was given a degree of autonomy in my role, in demonstrating extensive degrees of both innovation and organization in the projects I was tasked with. Many times, the job was a test of perseverance and patience working as a small gear in the machine. The experience offered a unique insight into an industry behind the medical field and how it operates.

AMCAS Work and Activities example: #17

Type: Extracurricular Activities

Name: Zeta Beta Tau

Hours: 1000 hours

Most Meaningful: No

Description: 

I have been a member of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity at KU since my freshman year of attending school in Kansas. The Chapter has a wonderful outreach within the community and having the opportunity to work as Operations Director, as well as serve in the risk management committee during my time as member allowed me to grow the chapter with my fellow leaders, to double in size as a chapter and achieve the permit and raise 75,000 dollars in funding to build a house on campus. I have been a part of numerous volunteering opportunities sponsored by the chapter and have worked extensively to help make the organization well rounded and reputable within the community at KU.

AMCAS Work and Activities example: #18

Type: Community Service/Volunteer Medical/Clinical

Name: Maple Grove Hospital Volunteer

Hours: 500 hours

Most Meaningful: No

Description: 

I served as a Guest Service Volunteer at the hospital working primarily to guide incoming friends and family members to locations in and around the hospital as well as assisting with patient discharge proceedings. My interactions were largely with new families, and the experience garnered a wonderful environment in which I was able to develop my abilities in both communication and understanding hospital procedure. As I gained experience in the department, I also assisted in the training of incoming volunteers which was one of the first instances in which I have been in the role of a mentor. Helping others become a part of our team was rewarding in itself and added depth to my experience.

AMCAS Work and Activities example: #19

Type: Hobbies

Name: Custom Sneakers

Hours: 500 hours

Most Meaningful: No

Description: 

Since I started to dress myself, I always loved picking out shoes above all other articles of clothing. As I grew, I developed a real passion for fashion. I loved finding the most unique sneakers in magazines and cutting them out so one day when I could afford them, I remembered which ones I liked. There were some though that I liked but were just not quite right. I would buy bland, or on sale versions of the shoes I liked then paint them to what I thought was perfect. I started to make my own designs and learned about how various paints and glues work on different materials. Working with different materials and techniques taught me how to work procedurally. To achieve the desired product I learned that once must consider the intricacies of each step and execute them in a fashion that leaves as little as possible to chance.

AMCAS Work and Activities example: #20

Type: Hobbies

Name: In House Mechanic

Hours: 1000 hours

Most Meaningful: No

Description: 

The worst part about owning cars? Taking them to the dealership due to a little noise, only to come out having to take out a second mortgage to fix numerous other problems you didn't know you had. My dad and I loved to fix the problems ourselves. We bonded over brake discs, exhaust pipes, and just about anything that rattled and squeaked the way it wasn't supposed to. Working to solve these mechanical problems really developed my critical thinking and reasoning to be able to deduce a larger problem from a few symptomatic indicators. Practicing working algorithmically or using heuristics I found ways to solve the problems in cars and other facets of my life.

AMCAS Work and Activities example: #21

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Conclusion

Even though each AMCAS entry is considerably shorter than a component like your personal essay, that doesn’t necessarily mean that these are easier to compose, nor that they are of less importance than the AMCAS personal statement. There are no insignificant aspects of the application process. You must bring your best, most refined effort to each and every component of your application. Sometimes, working with less space is actually more difficult, because you want to say as much as you can within a very limited character count. So don’t delay or put off this portion of your application—crafting stellar entries will take a lot of time and energy, but the payoff is immeasurable.

FAQs

1. What are the different experience categories?
  • Artistic Endeavors
  • Community Service/Volunteer - Medical/Clinical
  • Community Service/Volunteer - Non Medical/Clinical
  • Conferences Attended
  • Extracurricular Activities
  • Hobbies
  • Honors/Award/Recognition
  • Intercollegiate Athletics
  • Leadership - Not Listed Elsewhere
  • Military Service
  • Other
  • Paid Employment - Medical/Clinical
  • Paid Employment - Non Medical/Clinical
  • Physician Shadowing/Clinical Observation
  • Presentations/Posters
  • Publications
  • Research/Lab
  • Teaching/Tutoring/Teaching Assistant
2. Should I include 15 experiences?

Not necessarily, it's much more important to choose quality experiences to include instead of adding experiences just to try and fill up all 15 spots. If every single one of your experiences were significant but you only have 10, that's perfectly acceptable.

3. Should I really include a hobby or artistic endeavor?

AMCAS hobbies and artistic endeavors can certainly serve as a way to set your application apart from others. If a hobby or artistic endeavor has been a big part of your life or part of your identity, it can certainly be included. It's important, however, to ensure that what you want to include is really a significant experience for you. You'll need to demonstrate that your participation has helped shape you as a person, helped you grow, and taught you important lessons.

4. How far back can I go for listing an experience?

You can list experiences as far back as the summer following your senior year at high school. For the most part, entries further back than that are not relevant and shouldn't be included.

5. What should I write for my activity title?

Activity names should be as descriptive as possible. For example, instead of writing “Volunteer”, “Patient Transplant Volunteer” is more suitable and descriptive.

6. What should I write in the hours section for awards and publications?

Simply enter “0” into the hours section for these items.

7. How many sections are in the AMCAS application in total?

There are 9 different sections in the AMCAS application:

  • Sections 1-3: Your Background Information
  • Section 4: Course Work
  • Section 5: AMCAS Work and Activities
  • Section 6: Letters of Evaluation
  • Section 7: Medical Schools
  • Section 8: Essays
  • Section 9: Standardized Tests
8. I participated in an experience more than once, how do I list this correctly?

There is a “Yes” checkbox listed next to the “Repeated?” field. Simply check this box which will then allow you to add up to three additional date ranges for the experience.

9. Should I list an experience as most meaningful if I already discussed this in my personal statement?

Ideally, your most meaningful experiences should not be the same as the main experiences you discuss in your personal statement. You could either choose another significant experience to list as your most meaningful or discuss a different experience in your personal statement.

10. Should I list an activity that I plan to start in the future?

No, because AMCAS will not allow you to enter a future date as your start date, and the end date can not be past the intended start date of medical school. With this said, you can add future hours for an activity. Check what AMCAS says as to how much in the future you can include hours (for example, sometimes AMCAS will state you can include future hours up until August of the year you are applying). Ensure that you only include future hours if you are 100% certain you can and will fulfill these, as AMCAS can verify these months after you have submitted the application.

11. What is the biggest mistake students make when filling in the work and activities section?

The most common mistake students make is that they spend way too much time describing the activity, and not enough time reflecting on their experience and discussing what they learned or gained from the experience. With such a small amount of space, it's important that only one-third of the description actually describes the experience. Use the remaining characters for self-reflection and lessons learned. 

12. Will admissions committees see my AMCAS Work and Activities section first, or my personal statement first?

They will see your Work and Activities section first.

13. Should I list all my shadowing experiences in one entry, or split them across multiple entries?

You can combine them into one entry. This is especially useful if you have a variety of experiences you want to talk about in your Work and Activities section – you do not want to be repetitive. Don’t forget to highlight what you’ve learned in during shadowing as well as what impact you may have had.

14. How should I list publications?

List as many as possible using the AMA format. If a given publication has many authors, list the first three. Your name does not have to appear in the list.

15. Does AMCAS contact verifiers?

Not often—only if they have significant doubts about the activity or the way you’ve described it. However, if they do reach out to verifiers it’s simply to confirm that you were in fact involved in the activity.

 

About the Author:

Dr. Sarah Lynn Kleeb is an admissions expert at BeMo. Dr. Kleeb holds a doctorate degree (Ph.D.) from the University of Toronto where she examined the connections between Critical Theory and Liberation Theology. She brings 10 years of experience teaching, advising, and mentoring undergraduate students to her role as an admissions expert, having taught extensively at UofT. 

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting


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