Writing Your AACOMAS Activities—What You Need To Know

Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts

Session 183

Having different requirements for each application service is stressful. Today, we discuss everything you need to know about the AACOMAS Activities Section.

Listen to all our other podcasts on Meded Media. If you haven’t taken the MCAT yet, listen to The MCAT Podcast and the MCAT CARS Podcast. If you’re looking for some inspiration about medicine and what specialty you want to practice, check out Specialty Stories.

We also have shows for medical students including Board Rounds and Med School Years coming soon!

Your questions here are taken directly from the Nontrad Premed Forum. If you haven’t yet, please sign up for a free account and ask away!

[01:23] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

“I found tons of advice on how to write my experiences on the AMCAS application, but here is what I have noticed on AACOMAS:

#1 the only options available to select on the activities section are volunteering, healthcare experience, and paid/non-healthcare experience. Which means I won’t have too many activities to add compared to AMCAS (where you can include hobbies, etc..).

#2 the number of characters to describe the experiences are much lower. So my question is, how am I supposed to write about what I have learned from my experiences and explain my responsibilities using 600 characters?

Also, I was told to combine all of my shadowing experiences into one single entry. Am I just supposed to list the doctor’s names, hours and specialty? There’s so much conflicting information about this online, and I am starting to get a little overwhelmed. Thank you.”

[02:33] Where to Add Your Hobbies

Include your hobbies as a nonhealthcare experience. Notice that the paid/nonhealthcare experience doesn’t say paid “and” nonhealthcare experience. So just list it as a nonhealthcare experience.

You can still put in the same activities and a large majority of them may go under either nonhealthcare experience or volunteering, or a paid experience.

'It's not the best classification system but we have to work within those confines.'Click To Tweet

Also, notice that the AACOMAS has an Achievements section to list publications and awards. Be creative with how you are addressing or labeling each of those activities.

[03:30] Maximizing 600 Characters

600 or 700 characters – it’s not really that much of a difference. The idea of these experiences isn’t to show or talk about your responsibilities. Most students would write about what they learned from those experiences.

But that’s too generic! Does that tell the admissions committees anything about you? Instead, focus on a story to highlight your impact on a patient or on an organization, on whatever you’re doing.

Squeezing this into 600 characters is very doable. Plus, talk about the impact on why it’s continuing to motivate you down this path – only if you can fit this in.

Basically, put into one sentence whatever it is you’re doing in this activity. Then the rest of the character count goes to your impact in that activity typically through an anecdote.

[05:30] Combining Shadowing into a Single Entry

Combining all your shadowing experiences into one single entry can be done. You don’t have to but you can do that. It’s a little more important on AMCAS where you’re limited to 15 entries. But you don’t have this on AACOMAS so you don’t have to limit it.

However, shadowing is pretty passive and you’re not going to have this amazing story to tell or an amazing takeaway for every activity.

'Show your impact. List all of the same activities you did on the AMCAS, just label them differently.'Click To Tweet


Meded Media

The MCAT Podcast


Specialty Stories.

Board Rounds

Nontrad Premed Forum