Here’s a quick and dirty list of AMCAS Work and Activities section errors to avoid at all costs:
1. Don’t write to write, and don’t fill to the maximum character count unless necessary. While you want to include many strong achievements, you do not want your AMCAS to be so wordy that your reader is tempted to skim.
2. While you need to be brief, don’t write in phrases; use full sentences. It’s a formal application, and you want to make your written materials as readable as possible.
3. Don’t assume your reader will carefully study the “header” section (including the title of the activity, hours, etc.). Make sure your descriptor could stand alone: Instead of “As an assistant, I conducted experiments…” use “As a research assistant at a Stanford Medical School neuroscience lab, I conducted experiments…”
4. Don’t be vague or trite. Make sure you spell out your accomplishments clearly and substantively. If your reader doesn’t understand an activity, you will not get “full credit” for what you’ve done. Make no assumptions.
5. Avoid abbreviations. Again, you want to be formal, and abbreviations you think are common might not be familiar to the reader.
6. Write about yourself and your role – not an organization. For example, don’t use the space to discuss Doctors without Borders. Use it to discuss the specifics of your role at Doctors without Borders.
7. Avoid generalities and consider using numbers to be persuasive. Saying that the conference you organized had 300 participants says it all.
8. Don’t merge the descriptors with the most meaningful paragraphs because they are separate sections: You can complete descriptors for up to 15 activities with up to 700 characters each plus up to three most meaningful paragraphs of up to 1325 characters each.
9. Unless your PI won the Nobel, avoid using supervisors’ and/or doctors’ names in your descriptors as they will be meaningless to the majority of your readers.
10. Get help. Do not submit your medical school application without having it reviewed. You do not want to showcase suboptimal materials for a process that is this important and competitive.