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Making The Most Out of the AMCAS “Most Meaningful” Experience Section

A relatively new feature of the medical school application is the AMCAS “Most Meaningful” sub-section.  If you haven’t already, check out our previous post for a more general overview of AMCAS Works and Activities before diving into this post.  

As a refresher, for each of your experiences you should explain:

  1. What the activity is.
  2. Your role and responsibility.
  3. Including demonstrating qualities you want to highlight to admissions committees.
  4. The impact you had.

HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR MOST MEANINGFUL EXPERIENCES

If you’ve done the first part of this exercise, you should have a list of all of your activities (preferably on paper) in the template above in under 700 characters.  Now you’ll have the opportunity to select three lucky activities to expand on with an additional 1,325 characters.

Choosing which activities are most meaningful may be easier for some students who are very involved in certain experiences and may be harder for those whose involvement is more spread out over multiple activities. As with most sections of the application, you want to be interesting, engaging, and consider how what you write will read to admissions committees.  Ideally, this section should cover content not covered in other parts of your application, highlight qualities that would make you a valuable member to a medical school class, and express thoughtfulness about your growth.

What you should start thinking about, or better yet, adding to your template, is:

  1. How did the experience impact you? (Note this is different than the impact you had.)
  2. What did you learn?
  3. How did you grow as a result?
  4. How does this relate to your desire to become a doctor OR how will this make you a better physician?

As you are doing this, you should keep in mind that at least one of your three “Most Meaningful” activities should be medicine related.  The reasoning for this is obvious: you are applying to medical school.  If all of your “Most Meaningful” experiences are not related to medicine, committees may question your commitment to the profession.

The remaining activities should be the ones that highlight the best qualities of your application and demonstrate the greatest growth.  The impact of the experience should be clear along with the takeaway.  Allow yourself time for some reflection in order to gain clarity on how you truly grew from your experiences.  With some time to think and introspect, you will be able to provide thoughtful answers that capture your greatest characteristics.

Tip: You may of course use the same experiences in your personal statement.  However, try not to use the same stories over and over again. You only have limited space to show admissions committees different dimensions of who you are, so don’t waste all of your precious space telling them the same thing in different places!

A common question is “it really doesn’t matter what other 2 activities I choose?”  The short answer is yes, it really doesn’t matter.  You should choose the activities that truly are most meaningful to you as you will be able to talk about them passionately and engage in better conversations during interview season.  

However, if you are highlighting a specific narrative in your application, you can consider giving a nod to an activity that ties into that narrative if you are having difficulty choosing. For example, if you know you are extremely interested in research or attending a research-focused medical school, you may consider including a significant research experience.  This is not mandatory at all; your primary consideration should still be the experiences that truly led to the most growth and impacted you in a meaningful way.  

The “Most Meaningful” section can be a way to impress admissions committees with your thoughtfulness, commitment, and growth.  If committee members don’t have time to read the entire section, they may often just jump to these three experiences.  Give it the time it deserves and make sure the final product is polished, impactful, and answers the questions discussed above. Of course, our advisors are always available to offer their AMCAS expertise one-on-one if you want to make sure your application will stand out with admissions committees.