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Medical School Essay


Evaluations are important. They are personal statements about you as well as about your work. Think carefully about the evaluations you solicit. Medical school admissions committees are interested in academic achievement, motivation, suitability for a medical career, and those variables which make you an interesting person. There is no perfect number of evaluations; we recommend that students have between three and five letters in their file, with two of these coming from faculty members in the sciences. Think of those aspects of your work you wish presented and who might present them best. Do not overlook areas outside the sciences. Your major field of study is especially important. If it is a science, you might also wish to include an evaluation from a humanities or social science professor. Also remember employers, volunteer and research supervisors, and coaches. We recommend against family friends and politicians unless you have had a direct working relationship with them.

Whenever possible, ask for an evaluation in person. Give the person you ask a chance to talk with you. Prepare a succinct autobiographical statement to help the writer. In lieu of this you might consider sharing your Career Interest Form or Personal Comments section of the AMCAS application. Most people appreciate this type of information and it generally improves your letter.

Please keep in mind that:

  • We forward in full every evaluation we receive.
  • Evaluations are written exclusively for submission to admissions committees and may not be used for any other purpose.
  • We will accept evaluations only directly from the writer.
  • These evaluations should augment your academic record.
  • The status of the writer is not as important as the content of the evaluation.
  • Request evaluations from those people who know you and your work best.
  • People who know you and like you will generally be glad to write for you.

In accordance with the Family Rights to Privacy Act, students have the right to read any evaluative materials sent out about them. If you choose to have an open UCSB Health Professions Evaluation, you may do so. However, we have found that many evaluators believe that their letters should be considered confidential, and will only write if you agree to waive your rights. In addition, you will need to inform the medical schools whether or not yours is an open or confidential file. Most students choose to waive their rights to see the letters written on their behalf.

Evaluation forms are available in the Biology Advising Office Bldg 478 rm 1124, as well as the Health Professions Advising Office. All letters should be sent to the Health Professions Advising Office, c/o College of Letters and Science, UC Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106.


The autobiographical sketch assists the persons writing your letters of evaluation in preparing their letter. It is not to be confused with statements and essays you will be asked to prepare by medical schools. You may use the following outline to prepare your statement.

1. High School and personal background

a. family

b. high school

extracurricular and volunteer activities

honors and awards

course selection, advanced courses

2. University (academic)

a. course selection

b. academic load

c. bad quarter/semester

d. disciplinary history

e. grade trend

f. independent work, research

g. MCAT scores

3. University (extracurricular)

a. organized activities

b. hobbies, interests

c. accomplishments

d. work while attending school

e. summer activities (employment, research, study, travel)

f. what you have learned from your extracurricular pursuits

4. Exposure to health-related fields

a. volunteer experiences

b. research

c. special courses

d. familiarity with health issues

5. Motivation

Give a BRIEF history of your interest in a career in medicine. Which experiences have convinced you that medicine is an appropriate career choice for you? Include discussion of leadership, originality, creativity, time off from school, and any hardships you may have encountered.

6. Anything else you would wish an admissions committee to know about you.

>> Personal Statement

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