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A Brief Introduction to the AMCAS Personal Statement

By Peterson's Staff updated on Thursday, October 31, 2013
AMCAS stands for the American Medical College Application Service, which is a centralized method of applying to multiple medical schools. Given that the average applicant in 2009-2010 applied to 13 programs, the AMCAS can save you a ton of time by allowing you to submit just one application rather than a dozen. Granted, there are a number of med schools and programs that do not participate in the AMCAS, but they are relatively few and far between.

While this service does enhance convenience, it also makes it even more difficult to stand out. After all, every applicant is submitting the exact same information in the exact same way. Because of this, the AMCAS personal statement is the one part of your application that will differ significantly from that of other applicants. Keep this in mind as you write.

The AMCAS asks applicants to write a personal statement no longer than 5,300 characters in length. For those who aren’t familiar with character counts, a character is anything that takes up a space in a sentence: a letter, punctuation mark, and space all count as one character. Most word processors will give you two character counts, one that includes spaces and one that does not. For the AMCAS personal statement, spaces count as characters.

Many applicants wonder whether the character count is important, and assume that so long as they are close, it is fine to go over. This is simply not true. The 5,300-character limit is extremely important, and exceeding it is a very bad idea. Simply put, there is no reason you need to write more than this in order to create a great personal statement.

Read on for more tips about the AMCAS personal statement, or visit EssayEdge now to get your essay examined by expert essay editors with years of experience!

What to Cover in an AMCAS Personal Statement

Now, nobody can tell you exactly what you should write about; the answer differs for each individual. However, this is a general guideline as to what admissions officers likely want to see in your personal statement. Because the AMCAS does not have a specific prompt or question, many applicants have no idea where to even think about beginning their essays. To help, consider these four questions. Giving the admissions officer information of this type usually makes for an excellent essay:

  1. Why are you pursuing a career in medicine? What piqued your interest in this field?
  2. What makes you an excellent candidate to become a physician? Why do you have what it takes to succeed?
  3. What do you feel that an admissions officer should know about you that is not included elsewhere in your application?
  4. Are there any elements of your application that need further explanation or elaboration?
Now, don’t try to write an essay by simply addressing each of these questions in four separate paragraphs. A successful personal statement will blend information that answers the questions above (maybe just one of them, maybe all of them) into a cohesive piece with clear direction and narrative.

AMCAS Deadlines

Deadlines for AMCAS applications and personal statements vary depending upon the individual medical schools. That said, you're best off finishing up your applications and essays as quickly as possible, both so that you don't miss any deadlines and so that you take advantage of the benefits of submitting early, like decreased processing time. Here are some of the biggest deadlines for the AMCAS:

August 1
  • University of Missouri Kansas City School of Medicine
September 30
  • University of California, San Diego School of Medicine (M.D. - Ph.D.)
  • University of Michigan Medical School (Regular M.D.)
October 1
  • Mayo Clinic College of Medicine Mayo Medical School
  • Texas A&M Health Sciences Center School of Medicine (M.D. - Ph.D.)
  • Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine (M.D. - Ph.D.)
October 3
  • University of California, Davis School of Medicine
October 15
  • Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
  • Duke University School of Medicine
  • Emory University School of Medicine
  • Harvard Medical School
  • Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University (M.D.-Ph.D.)
  • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Mount Sinai School of Medicine
  • New York University School of Medicine
  • Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
  • Oregon Health and Science University School of Medicine
  • Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the Univ. of Pennsylvania
  • Sanford School of Medicine of the University of South Dakota (M.D.-Ph.D.)
  • Stanford University School of Medicine
  • State University of New York Upstate Medical University College of Medicine
  • Tulane University School of Medicine (M.D.-Ph.D.)
  • University of Oklahoma College of Medicine
  • University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine
  • Univ. of Chicago Division of the Biological Sci. The Pritzker School of Medicine
  • University of Kansas School of Medicine
  • University of Louisville School of Medicine
  • University of Michigan Medical School (M.D.-Ph.D.)
  • University of Minnesota Medical School (M.D.-Ph.D.)
  • University of Mississippi School of Medicine
  • University of Missouri Columbia School of Medicine (Regular M.D.)
  • University of North Carolina School of Medicine (M.D.-Ph.D.)
  • Univ. of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences
  • University of Oklahoma College of Medicine
  • University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
  • University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
  • University of Virginia School of Medicine (M.D.-Ph.D.)
  • University of Washington School of Medicine
  • Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine
  • Weill Cornell Medical College
  • West Virginia University School of Medicine (M.D.-Ph.D.)
  • Yale University School of Medicine
October 31
  • Georgetown University School of Medicine
November 1
  • Albany Medical College
  • Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University
  • Baylor College of Medicine
  • Boston University School of Medicine
  • Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
  • Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science
  • Creighton University School of Medicine
  • Drexel University College of Medicine (M.D.-Ph.D.)
  • Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth
  • Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California
  • Loma Linda University School of Medicine
  • Louisiana State Univ. Health Sciences Center School of Medicine in Shreveport
  • Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine
  • Medical College of Wisconsin
  • Mercer University School of Medicine
  • Michigan State University College of Human Medicine
  • Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine and Pharmacy
  • Rush Medical College of Rush University Medical Center
  • The Medical College of Georgia School of Medicine
  • The Ohio State University College of Medicine
  • The University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix
  • The University of Arizona College of Medicine-Tucson
  • The University of Toledo College of Medicine
  • Tufts University School of Medicine
  • UCR/UCLA Thomas Haider Program in Biomedical Sciences
  • University of Alabama School of Medicine
  • Univ. of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine
  • University of California, Irvine College of Medicine
  • University of California, Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine
  • University of California, San Diego School of Medicine (Regular M.D.)
  • University of Colorado School of Medicine
  • University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine
  • University of Illinois College of Medicine (Regular M.D.)
  • University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine
  • University of Kentucky College of Medicine
  • University of Maryland School of Medicine
  • University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • University of Missouri Columbia School of Medicine (M.D.-Ph.D.)
  • University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Medicine
  • University of Nevada School of Medicine
  • University of North Carolina School of Medicine (Regular M.D.)
  • University of Texas Medical School at Houston (M.D.-Ph.D. only)
  • University of Texas Medical School at San Antonio (M.D.-Ph.D. only)
  • UT Southwestern at Dallas Southwestern Medical School (MSTP only)
  • University of Utah School of Medicine
  • University of Vermont College of Medicine (Regular M.D.)
  • University of Virginia School of Medicine (Regular M.D.)
  • University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
  • USF Health Morsani College of Medicine (M.D.-Ph.D.)
  • Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
  • Wake Forest School of Medicine of Wake Forest Univ. Baptist Medical Center
  • The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University
  • Wayne State University School of Medicine (M.D.-Ph.D.)
  • West Virginia University School of Medicine (Regular M.D.)
  • Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine
November 15
  • Cooper Medical School of Rowan University
  • East Tennessee State University James H. Quillen College of Medicine
  • Eastern Virginia Medical School
  • Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University (Regular M.D.)
  • Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans (M.D.-Ph.D.)
  • Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine
  • Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine
  • Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine
  • Sanford School of Medicine of the University of South Dakota (Regular M.D.)
  • Southern Illinois University School of Medicine
  • The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University
  • UCLA/Drew Medical Education Program
  • Uniformed Services Univ. of the Health Sci. F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine
  • University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
  • University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
  • University of Connecticut School of Medicine
  • University of Minnesota Medical School
  • University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center School of Medicine
  • University of South Alabama College of Medicine
  • University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (M.D.-Ph.D. only)
  • USF Health Morsani College of Medicine (Regular M.D.)
  • University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine
November 30
  • Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans (Regular M.D.)
  • Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine (M.D. - Ph.D.)
December 1
  • Drexel University College of Medicine (Regular M.D.)
  • Florida State University College of Medicine
  • George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences
  • Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine
  • Howard University College of Medicine (M.D.-Ph.D.)
  • Medical University of South Carolina College of Medicine
  • Morehouse School of Medicine
  • State University of New York Downstate Medical Center College of Medicine
  • Stony Brook University School of Medicine
  • University of Central Florida College of Medicine
  • University of Florida College of Medicine
  • Univ. of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-New Jersey Medical School
  • Univ. of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
  • University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine
  • University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine (Regular M.D.)
  • University of South Carolina School of Medicine
  • Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine
  • Washington University in Saint Louis School of Medicine (Regular M.D.)
December 15
  • Central Michigan University School of Medicine
  • Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University
  • FIU Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine
  • Howard University College of Medicine (Regular M.D.)
  • Indiana University School of Medicine
  • Meharry Medical College School of Medicine
  • New York Medical College
  • Ponce School of Medicine and Health Sciences
  • Saint Louis University School of Medicine
  • San Juan Bautista School of Medicine
  • Temple University School of Medicine
  • The Commonwealth Medical College
  • Tulane University School of Medicine (Regular M.D.)
  • Universidad Central Del Caribe School of Medicine
  • University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine (M.D.-Ph.D.)
  • University of South Carolina School of Medicine at Greenville
  • Wayne State University School of Medicine (Regular M.D.)
December 31
  • University of Illinois College of Medicine (M.D. - Ph.D.)
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