How to Stand out as an Applicant Without Any Awards or Recognitions

medical equipments

During our recent MedSchoolCoach webinar, “Establishing Your Brand: How to be Unique When Applying to Medical School”, Dr. Mehta, CEO of MedSchoolCoach, spoke with Dr. Katzen, MedSchoolCoach Master Advisor, about his take on not having awards or recognitions on your medical school application and if this can hurt your chances of being accepted. Read more about this topic from a previous admissions committee member below!

Dr. Mehta:  Dr. Katzen, here’s a quick question for you. Do medical schools look down upon an applicant who doesn’t have any awards or recognitions on his or her application?

Dr. Katzen:  Again, I think that this gets to how do you look at the application as a total entity. As we mentioned before, there are a couple of components that I think are very key that go beyond, as Dr. Mehta mentioned, the GPA and the MCAT. What is it that you put forth about yourself in the personal statement? And how creative, or I’ll use the word strategically again, do you utilize the MCAT’s activities? Are there other things that you have done, or other awards that you have done, that you can bring to show different aspects of what you have done? These don’t necessarily have to be scientific or academic. Can you show that you were a leader? Can you show that you’re artistic? Those types of things can help you put together a stronger application.

And, you know, when I work with the applicants, I like to take a while to interview them because sometimes we find things that we think may be of value just by talking to them; we learn things about the applicant that strengthens their application, even if there is not a specific academic or other honor.

Dr. Mehta:  Great. Thank you.

Is Research Necessary to Get into Medical School?

researcher putting sample on petri dish

During our recent MedSchoolCoach webinar, “Establishing Your Brand: How to be Unique When Applying to Medical School”, Dr. Mehta, CEO of MedSchoolCoach, spoke with Dr. Marinelli, MedSchoolCoach Director of Advising, about the importance of research in your extracurriculars. Read more about how to get involved with research and why it’s important below!

Dr. Mehta:  Dr. Marinelli, we have a question probably not specifically related to branding, more so the entire application and process. And just to put it simply, do you think research is necessary to get into medical school?

Dr. Marinelli:  Great question. I think research is something you really, really want to have. I have seen people get into medical school without research and I’ve seen people not get into medical school because they were lacking research early, so that was a big gap in their application. So, having research is definitely going to help your chances to get in, but if you absolutely cannot get research, I would still suggest applying. However, you should really prepare your application as thoroughly as possible the first time you do apply, and that should be exhausting every avenue you can possibly think of to try to get a research experience.

I get this question quite often from people that are out of undergrad because obviously if you’re not in college anymore, your research opportunities for bench research are pretty limited. So usually what I suggest to those people is to try to get that experience because it’s going to hopefully help your application. I would suggest looking into clinical research. You can look online in your area, ask around at the local hospitals or local physician offices, especially if you have a teaching hospital nearby. You should definitely talk to the teaching hospital to see if there’s any clinical research opportunities. And it may not be science research but having some research activity where you’re actually working through a hypothesis and using a thesis and using the scientific method will really help your application.

Exclusive Interview with Master Advisor, Dr. Katzen on Interview Do’s and Dont’s


During our recent MedSchoolCoach webinar, “Establishing Your Brand: How to be Unique When Applying to Medical School”, Dr. Mehta, CEO of MedSchoolCoach, spoke with Dr. Katzen, MedSchoolCoach Master Advisor, about his take on major do’s and don’t’s for students on the medical school interview day. Read more about these necessary tips from a previous admissions committee member below!

Dr. Mehta:  Are there any do’s or don’t’s for the interview day that you think are absolutely necessary for an applicant to know?

Dr. Katzen:  Sure. Let me go through a couple of basics. I always say that, first of all, you’ve been given the opportunity to interview and you need to look at the interview as a formal opportunity. I think it’s important to realize that everybody who conducts an interview whether they’d be a staff or private physician, resident intern or medical student is doing it voluntarily and I emphasize that because I think at the beginning and the end of the interview, you should thank whomever it is for taking the time to interview you.

The other thing I’d like to point out is that I think at the end of the interview, as the interviewer, I should not remember what you wore; in other words, I think you should dress professionally and appropriately. A couple of other points, I think when you introduce yourself and come in to the interview, you should introduce yourself with your first and last name. If you introduce yourself and say, “Hi, I’m Robby,” you’re already demeaning yourself a little bit and putting yourself in an unnecessary inferior position.

Throughout the interview, you don’t want to brag but you want to put, if you will, your best foot forward. This is your day to shine. And when you get questions such as “Tell me about your biggest fault,” I think you should really think about that in advance. And that whatever fault you might want to bring up because we all have faults, at the end of that, we should almost audibly hear a comment in a sentence where you tell me how you’ve grown or how you’ve changed and that is no longer a fault.

And most importantly, you should not sound rehearsed. It’s more important that you are relaxed and I think you can be most relaxed if we anticipate or help you anticipate some of the questions and you just think more in terms of themes of what you’re going to talk about rather than the specific words or specific sentences. If you’re talking about yourself or your own accomplishments or places you’ve been or things you’ve done, I think just remembering a couple of key words is much more efficient and safer as opposed to trying to actually memorize a one-page or more speech.

Dr. Mehta:  Great. Thank you.

Dr. Katzen:  Sure.

6 Essential Tips to Prepare for a Successful Medical School Interview

girl being interviewed by two woman

By Amanda Wilks

You have finally received the letter that you have been waiting for and opened it. Fortunately, it started with “Congratulations!” and now you have some worries about not being able to ace an interview at the school of your dreams.

It’s high time you stopped worrying about that, because we have prepared a list of 6 important tips to help you ‘wow’ the interviewers at your future medical school.

1. Stay Up-To-Date

In the world of medicine, research is everything and many discoveries can be made within a short period of time.

As a good prospective medical student, you should always be up-to-date with all the current research and discoveries that pertain to the world of medicine. This can be achieved through reading medical journals and blogs or even talking to researchers and resident doctors you may meet while working or volunteering.

This is a good way to impress your interviewer as he/she will take note of your ability to form personal opinions on relatively new pieces of information. As KW2 says, you and the interviewer should be “bobbing to the same beat;” that is, understanding each other because of sharing current information.

2. Research on Interview Feedback

What better way to get prepared for your medical school interview than to ask those who have already been there about it? You can do this by talking to other medical students or doctors about how their interviews went so that you get a feel of what to expect when your day finally comes.

Websites such as The Student Doctor Network contain a lot of information from seasoned experts. There are even online webinars on acing your medical school interview from which you can gather valuable advice and information, shared by highly-esteemed experts in the field. This information will help you a lot while preparing and will also give you a good confidence boost.

3. Log onto the School’s Website

This is another great way to impress the interviewer, since the possession of knowledge about your prospective future school shows that you are actually interested in attending the institution. Most of the information about a school can be easily found by visiting their website. This is a simple way of gaining access to interesting details, such as information about their curriculum, teaching methods, student body and many more important bits.

You can also find this out by actually touring the school and talking to students who study there. At the end of the day, you should also strive to know about the school’s resident placements, mission, facilities, and hospitals in which you will be doing clinical rotations.

You should also find out what key aspects form the school’s most prized assets or reputation. This will go a long way in showing the interviewer why the school is the perfect fit for you.

4. Go Through Your Application

As with all interviews, your interviewer will go through the documents that you presented during your application and ask you questions based on the information that you made available. This can become a huge pitfall if you don’t review your application, which in most cases, was submitted months ago. The reason is that your memory of the details you have presented may become a little hazy.

Go through your AMCAS (American Medical College Application Service) application, especially the sections on course work, work, and activities, your personal essay, and test scores as they will be featured during the interview.

Another important tip is, if you have ever conducted any research, be sure to remember the specifics about it, as well as how far the project has gone up to date.

5. Update Your Interviewer

Now that you have polished up on what you wrote on your application, you should also make sure to inform the interviewer on all that you have achieved in the time between the submission of your application and the interview.

Have you been volunteering somewhere? Have you conducted or helped in conducting research? What about where you live? Will the distance interfere with your studies? Have you made any publications?

All these and more questions will help you in remembering all the new information about yourself, which will help the interviewer to better assess you.

6. Prepare for and Anticipate Questions

Anticipating the questions that the interviewer may ask you will give you plenty of time to research on them and formulate your own personal opinions. This will also give you a boost in confidence, as you will feel better prepared.

A common pitfall is the question concerning end-of-life matters. Your interviewer is most likely going to ask you to air your views on matters such as euthanasia and other tough ethical issues such as abortion and stem cell research.

Such questions should be handled with seriousness and dignity, as the interviewer will want to know where you stand when it comes to such tricky and emotional matters. After asking you questions, he/she will give you an opportunity to air your queries too. Do not fall into the abyss of saying that you have none, because you will give the impression of being a shallow person, who has no interest in this domain of study.

Instead, you should prepare a series of thoughtful questions that cannot be answered by simple online means such as the FAQ section of the institution’s website. These meaningful questions will show that you truly have an interest in studying medicine at their school, as you have sought further clarifications regarding it.


These tips will prepare you for a successful medical school interview. Remember that your application is to show your credentials, but the interview is what will determine what kind of person you are, so always strive to show interviewers the best version of you.


Author Bio: Amanda Wilks is a guest blogger and a contributing author. As a motivational writer focused on education and social activism, Amanda loves sharing her work, hoping that it will inspire others to shape a successful career. Visit Amanda’s Twitter for more of her writings.