How to Answer COVID-19 Questions on Med School Apps

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PMY 389: How to Answer COVID-19 Questions on Med School Apps

Session 389

One question that’s sure to show up on med school applications this year is how COVID-19 has impacted you. Today, I’ll share how you should write about COVID-19.

I’m playing this audio from my most recent YouTube video about how to answer the COVID-19 question that is on the AACOMAS primary application. And that will likely be in many medical schools secondary applications for the MCAT or TMDSAS schools.

“COVID-19 is going to be a very common question about how this impacted you whether financially, scholastically, or homelife wise.”Click To Tweet

But first… some announcement:

Check out our YouTube Channel where we release fresh, new, relevant content everyday to help you in your medical school application process.

Mondays: Every Monday, hopefully, we’re releasing a video.

Tuesdays: We’re releasing our Application Renovation videos which students are loving.

Wednesdays:  The MCAT podcast and the OldPreMeds podcast.

For the MCAT podcasts, we are jumping into Blueprint’s MCAT full-length one. (Next Step is now Blueprint MCAT. And they have the second-best full-length exams out there. You can get those full-length exams by going to And I encourage you to use that link because I get a little bit of beer money when you use that link.

You can get Blueprint’s full length one for FREE when you sign up for their diagnostic, as well as some other free tools.

Thursdays: Ask Dr. Gray videos.

So we’re going to have some success stories eventually. This would be much easier once quarantine is over and once COVID is past us to a certain point.

If you haven’t registered for the MCAT, you can text the word MCAT to 720-361-0748 (US calls only). If you text the word MCAT to that number, you will get automatically signed into a list where you will be notified when the MCAT registration opens up.

For more podcast resources to help you along your journey to medical school and beyond, check out Meded Media.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

[04:50] The COVID-19 Question

A question that’s going to pop up on the primary application for AACOMAS, the DO medical school application is related to how COVID-19 has impacted applicants. Other medical schools have also been rumored to have this question on their secondaries.

“There are probably going to be good ways to write about it and bad ways to write about it.”Click To Tweet

This is just like there are good ways to write a personal statement and bad ways to write a personal statement. There are good ways to write a disadvantage essay and bad ways to write a disadvantaged essay.

[06:07] How Has COVID-19 Affected You?

Now a lot of you have been kicked out of your dorms and classes are moving online. A lot of that information is going to be useful for medical schools. Don’t look at it just from an extracurricular/medicine standpoint.

Don’t just say that COVID-19 affected you because you weren’t able to get in your research. Or you weren’t able to fit in your shadowing hours or whatever. A lot of students are going to focus on the clinical side of things, the activity side of things that were canceled because of COVID-19.

At the end of the day, the application is all about your story, not just the checkboxes that you think you have to get through to apply to medical school. 

“When it comes to your application and the question about how COVID-19 has affected you, don't just focus on those checkboxes. Focus on your story.”Click To Tweet

Did you have to come home to an abusive environment? Did you have to come home to not at home? Were you kicked out of your dorm and had to live in your car? Tell that story.

It may be difficult to tell that story. And a lot of you will be hesitant to tell that story because you don’t want the school to take pity on you. You don’t want them to think negatively about you. You’re afraid that they would think it’s going to be an issue in the future when you’re in medical school.

[07:50] Focus on Your Story

Don’t worry about how the medical schools are potentially going to look at some of these things that you’re going to talk about.

Talk about the Impact of leaving school, of going to classes online, of being in an environment that is not conducive to being a student. Talk about how your home life is struggling and your school life is struggling. Talk about that.

“You need to focus on you and your story.”Click To Tweet

Some of you may be going home. You’ve been kicked off campus, kicked out of the dorm. You’re probably going home to a two-bedroom apartment or a one-bedroom apartment where there are five or six or seven people living in that apartment. What is that like?

Some of you are going home to alcoholic parents. What is that like? Some of you are going home to abusive households. What is that like?

What is it like to go from being on campus being in a dorm working a job to maintaining your food and other needs from a monetary standpoint? 

What is it like to be kicked out of all of that, to not have a job, and not have any money coming in? Tell that story.

[09:41] Show Your Accomplishments Through All This Adversity

“Showing what you've been able to accomplish through this adversity that you've been through will help a lot of you through this process.”Click To Tweet

Use this opportunity to tell your story in a different light. The Texas application has always had this optional essay as part of their application, where a lot of students use that essay to tell a story similar to this. Now, all of you will likely have an opportunity through a COVID-19 question to talk about adversity that you’ve been through. 

I don’t think you need to mention anything specifically about research hours or shadowing hours being cut. If you want to briefly mention that stuff, great.

The medical schools are already going to know that the majority of extracurriculars have been cut because of this, unless you’re working as an EMT or scribe, or a CNA, and you don’t stop work.

But a lot of you have been kicked out of your volunteer positions and clinical experiences and clinical settings because of COVID-19. The medical schools know that and understand that already.

[11:43] Final Thoughts

“The application in general, whether COVID-19 or not – is the opportunity to tell your story, not to just show all the checkboxes that you've marked off.”Click To Tweet

So as you’re thinking about this COVID-19 Question, don’t think about it from the standpoint of not having been able to check off the checkboxes. This will not do a good job of telling your story. So be careful with that aspect of it.

Talk about you and your stories, and how you have been impacted in that way in your life, not just those checkboxes.

Remember, the AACOMAS application will have the COVID-19 question built into the primary. A lot of medical schools are going to ask for it in the secondary essays. Go to for more information about secondary essays will have some information there as well.

Finally, the essay doesn’t have to be all pity. If you had some benefits from the quarantine, if some happy things happened, talk about those as well. This isn’t just the negative side of things. Although a lot of it is, it doesn’t have to be.


Meded Media

Episode on how to answer the COVID-19 question

Application Renovation videos