This site was extremely helpful for me (I applied from abroad and had no other advising), so I'll be as thorough and transparent as possible in order to pay it forward:
ACADEMICS: Double major (molecular biology / human physiology) & double minor (chemistry / philosophy), 20+ credits/term, honors thesis research, magna cum laude, phi beta kappa, departmental honors, department valedictorian, master's in global health politics and economics at UCL-London (high merit).
LETTERS: 1) Pre-med advisor, 2) Bio professor, 3) Research P.I., 4) Master's professor, and 5) Volunteer Manager (all exceptionally strong).
RESEARCH: 15 months full-time in biophysics, 1st author pub on its way, no conferences. After the waitlist: another publication (2nd author), international conference presentation, summer fellowship at MIT.
MCAT: Did not perform my best ...was abroad and family things going on :( ... but decided not to retake for two reasons: 1) The rest of my application is quite strong, and 2) I felt it was somewhat vain for me to put more time into a few MCAT points rather than pursuing some more meaningful opportunities I had. Let's hope they understand this and see the big picture!
EXTRACURRICULAR: Traveling, a couple big internships, a human rights fellowship at Oxford, MDG conference leadership, 1,500 hours volunteering (more non-medical), global health leadership involvement through my master's, department leader, health policy work, ecological work (social spider research in the Amazon?), triathlon/fitness, etc. I spent almost 12 months traveling and had some incredible life experiences, which I emphasized as a major aspect of the person I am, and my passion to work as a physician.
STYLE: I think I was a bit of a unique applicant... very passionate about global health. I was unabashedly myself, despite being told otherwise (e.g. I was told not to write one of my "most meaningful activities" about non-academic backpacking through Asia...). I hope that being my honest-self will be beneficial and, more importantly, that I'll get into a school with aligning values. I highly encourage everyone to pursue what they love without regard to medical school admissions. This will only lead to your success and happiness, and if you're a good fit for a school, then you will be admitted. I definitely let my passion show through, maybe even unprofessionally-so, although that's just me. Always remind yourself to stop caring so much about who medical schools want you to be and for god's sake just BE YOURSELF!!
PERSONAL STATEMENT: It was killer. I put my heart into that essay until I felt it was perfect, and then didn't take much advice :) because I felt it was very "me" as it was. I think it stood out.
SECONDARIES: I returned most of them within a day or two (and submitted my primary early), and would consider myself a strong writer. Secondaries weren't all that bad (~2-3 hours per secondary).
UPDATES: I had a pretty epic update during the waitlist period... I got a research job at MIT, was doing a project in India, published 2nd author and presented at an international conference. Oh, and I did some solo travel through India, which I didn't leave out ;)
WEAKNESS: MCAT (especially the 9 on VR! lol), limited clinical exposure, no publications when I applied, non-prestigious undergrad, several pass/fail classes, long periods of "unproductivity"...
As for the reach schools... #YOLO ----- LET'S DO THIS!!
I hope this profile helps you! Keep up the hard work and motivation everyone!!
// Applications //
Application Cycle One: 05/13/2013
Undergraduate college: University of Oregon
Undergraduate Area of study: Biological/Life Sciences
Institution: University College London
Area of Study: Psychology/Social Sciences
Degree Obtained: MA
Total MCAT SCORE: 513
MCAT Section Scores:
Overall GPA: 3.90
Science GPA: 3.80
Summary of Application Experience
Exactly one year and one day after receiving my app from Hopkins, I received the phone call of a lifetime. Never give up on your dreams...