The TMDSAS application system has several unique essay components, including the TMDSAS personal characteristics essay. While most students understand the meaning behind TMDSAS personal statement, many of them find writing the TMDSAS personal characteristics essay more challenging. We are here to show you how to write an outstanding TMDSAS personal characteristics essay and provide examples that inspire you to write your own!

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5 min read

What is the TMDSAS Personal Characteristics Essay? Which Medical Schools Require TMDSAS Personal Characteristics Essay How Can I Demonstrate Diversity in My TMDSAS Personal Characteristics Essay? What to Include in the TMDSAS Personal Characteristics Essay TMDSAS Application Timeline FAQs

What is the TMDSAS Personal Characteristics Essay?

The TMDSAS Personal Characteristics Essay is a required component of the Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service (TMDSAS) that asks applicants to describe personal characteristics and experiences that will contribute to the diversity and educational benefits of the student body.

This essay provides an opportunity for applicants to highlight unique aspects of their background, experiences, and personal qualities that align with the values of the healthcare profession. In 2500 characters or less, including spaces, students must respond to the following prompt:

Decoding the prompt and figuring out how to answer it appropriately can be challenging; so don’t stress if you aren’t sure where to start. We’re going to help you better understand the purpose of this essay. In fact, work with students on components of various applications (including TMDSAS ones) every single day; it’s what we do best!

“Danielle Payne was so, so helpful during my brainstorming session for my TMDSAS essay. Before the session, I had been struggling to come up with ideas for the essay and had re-written it multiple times. However, now I feel confident with my first new draft!” – Anonymous, Former BeMo Student

Before we get into the details of this essay, we want to encourage you think of the task as one to emphasize your own diverse experiences and uniqueness. The admissions committee wants to know what form of diversity you can bring to your medical class that will benefit your peers.

Picture a class of 100 medical students who all grew up in the same city, and came from certain economic and personal backgrounds…this class would be sorely lacking in diverse and unique perspectives. Students coming from different cultural, ethnic, religious, or other backgrounds bring with them captivating and invaluable perspectives that will only help them, and those they interact with, in the medical field.

In this essay, it's your responsibility to demonstrate how you are unique as a candidate and how you can enrich other students in your class based on your own personal experiences in life. As one of our former students, Alison, a non-traditional applicant stated:

“It’s important to provide honest insights into your journey, challenges, and the lessons learned along the way”. By reflecting on my experiences and articulating how they have shaped my aspirations in medicine, I aimed to present herself as a thoughtful and introspective candidate.” – Alison Edwards, Former BeMo Student, Dell Medical School

Which Medical Schools Require TMDSAS Personal Characteristics Essay

The following medical schools in Texas, both MD and DO, as well as Dental schools in Texas and Vet schools, participate in the TMDSAS medical school application service and therefore require the submission of a personal characteristics essay. Take note of the medical school GPA requirements to help you decide which schools are ideal for you to apply to.


  1. Texas A&M University School of Medicine
  2. Baylor College of Medicine
  3. McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
  4. Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio
  5. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Paul L. Foster School of Medicine at El Paso
  6. Texas Tech University Health Science Center School of Medicine at Lubbock
  7. Tilman J. Fertitta Family College of Medicine at University of Houston
  8. John Sealy School of Medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
  9. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine
  10. The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
  11. The University of Texas at Tyler School of Medicine
  12. The University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School


The DO school rankings below contain schools that also participate in the TMDSAS service. However, keep in mind that many other osteopathic schools use the traditional DO school application, the AACOMAS, so be sure to verify which system you need to use beforehand.

  1. Sam Houston State University College of Osteopathic Medicine
  2. University of North Texas Health Science Center Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine

TMDSAS Veterinary Schools

Check out the following best vet schools that participate in the TMDSAS application service. If you’re considering applying to some of these schools, make sure to check out their veterinary school acceptance rates.

  1. Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine
  2. Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine

TMDSAS Dental Schools

And finally, check out dental school acceptance rates among the schools that use the TMDSAS application service.

  1. Texas Tech University Woody L. Hunt School of Dental Medicine
  2. The University of Texas Health San Antonio School of Dentistry
  3. The University of Texas Health School of Dentistry at Houston

Applying through TMDSAS? Watch this video to learn more!

How Can I Demonstrate Diversity in My TMDSAS Personal Characteristics Essay?

It’s common for students to feel as though they don’t bring any diverse qualities to the table, and thus, struggle with this essay. They may think that because they are not from a traditional “category of diversity” such as race, economic class, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, culture, language, immigration and disability, that they have nothing worth discussing. This couldn't be further from the truth and has to do with a misunderstanding of the meaning behind the word.

In the case of the TMDSAS personal characteristics essay, ‘diversity’ is broadly defined to encompass a wide range of personal experiences, backgrounds, and unique attributes that an applicant brings to the medical field. This includes, but is not limited to, cultural, socioeconomic, educational diversity, life experiences, and personal challenges overcome, which contribute to a richer, more diverse medical community.

If you feel you need assistance with crafting your diversity story for your characteristics essay, our academic advisors can help:

“Ashley was really helpful in finding ways for me to think about my experiences and how they might be incorporated into my diversity essays. I struggled writing those essays and left them for last because I was lost on how to start them, let alone what to write about.” – Anonymous, Former BeMo Student

Our former student Alison reflected on her unique experience with the AMCAS and TMDSAS essays. She understands the important of students drawing from their life experiences to showcase well-roundedness and abilities to contribute to the medical school community:

“It’s important to present diverse set of experiences in applications, not only those directly related to medicine. I was a music major and athlete. This approach helped to paint a more complete picture of who I was as a person. I also used [my third essay] to talk about an academic dishonesty incident, focusing not on excuses, but on what I learned from the experience and how it's going to make me a better physician."- Alison Edwards, Former BeMo Student

What's your story? Here're some questions for you to consider when you prepare your TMDSAS personal characteristics essay:

What to Include in the TMDSAS Personal Characteristics Essay

As previously mentioned, every student has something to contribute, you don't have to have climbed Mount Everest or traveled overseas for your experience to be worthwhile. Experiences don't have to be exotic or require travel, you just have to connect back to how that experience influenced you in your journey to become a physician.

TMDSAS Medical School Application Timeline

Refer to the following important dates for you to navigate the application in a timely fashion:


1. What is the TMDSAS personal characteristics essay?

The personal characteristics essay is one of the required components of your TMDSAS application. Simply put, you can regard this essay’s prompt as a diversity prompt. You must demonstrate what new perspectives, knowledge, or skills you can contribute to the incoming medical class. Note that the term diversity is meant very broadly here. 

While you can write about traditional categories of diversity such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or immigration status, you are also encouraged to get creative with what you include in your essay. Every single person on the planet has unique experiences and events that shaped who they are – dig deep and brainstorm distinctive narratives that you can include in your personal characteristics essay.

2. I do not have a history of diverse experiences or events. What should I write about?

As I already mentioned, you must get creative with your essay. Just because you have lived in the same town or city your entire life or never swam across Lake Ontario does not mean that you do not have a unique story to tell. There is no need to fabricate events or experiences, believe me. Ask yourself the following: 

  • Have you ever faced a challenge? How did it shape your character? What did you do to overcome it? 
  • Have you ever met a person whose worldview was completely different from yours? What did you learn? How did this impact you?
  • What do you do in your free time? Do you have a passion outside of medicine? Do you play music, sports, or create art? 
  • Reflect on your family circumstances and how they shaped you and your desire to become a physician. 

I can go on and on, but the point here is that your story is unique – share it with the admissions committee.

3. Why does TMDSAS require three essays? Isn't a personal statement enough?

While the personal statement asks why you are the right candidate for medical school, the personal characteristics essay asks you to demonstrate your unique experiences and skills that can broaden the perspectives of your future medical school peers, and the optional essay is your chance to discuss any experiences or events that are relevant to your application which you have not previously discussed. I know it may be frustrating to prepare so many primary essays for your application, but all your essays must be of the highest quality – do not think the personal characteristics essay is any less important than the personal essay. 

Remember, the prompts are all different. To succeed, you must answer the prompt of the essay you are writing, whether it’s the personal statement, personal characteristics essay, optional essay, or the medical school secondary essays

4. So how many experiences or events should I include in my essay?

I strongly advise you to stick to 1-3 experiences or events. Remember, you must show rather than tell your story. Include concrete examples, describe your feelings and mental state, explain how certain experiences or events shaped you. Do not simply say, for example, “I served in the military. It was challenging.” – give the reader a vivid image of you in the military and how it shaped your character. What can your peers in medical school learn from you and your experience? Sticking to 1-3 experiences will allow you to speak of them in detail.

5. How long is the personal characteristics essay?

TMDSAS limits your personal characteristics essay to 2500 characters including spaces.

6. Since it’s quite short, how should I structure this essay?

The composition of your personal characteristics essay will follow the academic essay structure: introduction, body, and conclusion. While this essay will be shorter than the personal statement, nevertheless, it must be well organized, clean, and easy to follow. 

7. What happens if I make a mistake in my essay and I already submit it?

Unfortunately, you can’t change your essay after you submit it. The only items in your application that you can change after you submit your application include the following: contact information, colleges attended, college coursework, terms attended, planned enrollment, My Account, and Test Scores.

8. Is the TMDSAS personal characteristics the most important part of my application?

While this application component is absolutely essential, it is not the sole reason for your acceptance or medical school rejection. You will need to have other strong elements, including transcripts, evaluators, and standardized test scores.

To your success, 

Your friends at BeMo 

BeMo Academic Consulting

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