VITA, the Video Interview Tool for Admissions, is Announced by AAMC

Virtual Medical School Interview

On June 25 2020, the AAMC announced VITA or Video Interview Tool for Admissions. It’s an initiative by the AAMC to help medical schools during the COVID-19 pandemic assess applicants without the need for traditional in-person interviews; essentially, it’s a one-way virtual interview!

The AAMC developed and will administer this one-time, one-way video (recorded) interview designed to help medical schools assess applicants’ pre-professional competencies important for success in medical school.

How exactly the text will be utilized by medical schools is still up for debate. With the addition of the VITA, as well as the SJT (situational judgment test) and the CASPer exam, there are now multiple “pre-interview” tests that a pre-med may have to take. While the SJT is only being piloted to two schools, the VITA test will be used by many medical schools for the 2020-2021 application cycle.

What are the VITA Exam Specifics

There are many specifics of the exam that are covered on the AAMC website, but a few highlights include that you must be selected by at least one medical school to complete the AAMC VITA interview. Schools will notify the AAMC that you have been selected to complete the AAMC VITA interview, which will initiate the process. You only have to take the AAMC VITA test once and it will be available for all schools to review.

The AAMC VITA interview will be done on the HireVue platform, which is an online interview platform that typically is used by recruiters for job interviews. The AAMC has adapted the format to reflect a one-way medical school interview. You will not need to schedule a specific date for this portion of your medical school interview, which will really allow travel to become a non-concern for students. It’s not clear yet whether medical schools will still require an in-person interview in addition to the VITA interview.

How Will the Exam Be Scored?

Medical schools will likely score this interview similar to how they score other interviews. While AAMC will not grade it, each medical school will evaluate your responses using its own school-specific process. There is no guarantee that a medical school that selects you to interview will view or evaluate your responses. As with a traditional in-person interview, you may not receive feedback from a medical school about your interview performance.

Sample AAMC VITA Questions

  • What motivated you to choose a career in medicine?
  • Please describe a time when you disagreed with a coworker or classmate. How did you resolve the situation?
  • If you were in a situation where you did not agree with how an attending was talking to a patient, what would you do?

We have many more sample VITA questions coming up. Check back for regular updates!

What the VITA Exam Means for Pre-Meds

Overall, this is a much-needed step for medical schools to take, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Traditional interviews involved a high cost to students, requiring them to fly to different parts of the country (and occur large expenses). It is possible that schools will take this instead of the traditional interview, or in conjunction with Zoom interviews for this application cycle. Some schools may still require in-person interviews, but that seems less likely given social distancing, the ongoing number of infections and restrictions on travel. Regardless, students should prepare for the AAMC VITA interview like they are preparing for an actual medical school interview and consider utilizing the MedSchoolCoach Virtual Interview Simulation, which will be available shortly.

VITA Exam Prep by MedSchoolCoach

What is Your MSC Score?

What is Your MSC Score?

What Does Your MSC Score Mean?

Based on your Med School Competitiveness score, you can see your likelihood of getting into a medical school. With lower scores, you may need to raise your score just for a chance of getting into any school at all. At higher scores, even though your odds of getting accepted level out, you are competing more heavily to get into the top med schools.
(more…)

ERAS Delayed: New Deadlines for 2021 Residency Applications and Match

ERAS Changes for 2021

The ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has caused disruption in the residency match process and the ERAS applications (Electronic Residency Application Service). AAMC just announced changes in regards to ERAS and the residency match process and published a new timeline, including a new date for transmission of the ERAS application to residency programs. Continue reading “ERAS Delayed: New Deadlines for 2021 Residency Applications and Match”

2021 AMCAS Application Timeline

2021 AMCAS Application Timeline

2021 Application Cycle Update: Application Submission to Medical Schools Has Been Delayed​

AMCAS just announced important information for the 2021 application timeline. Most years, the AAMC and AMCAS send applications to medical school at the end of June. But this year, AMCAS will move that back by two weeks to July 10, 2020. Here’s the official announcement from AAMC.
(more…)

Should I Include College Activities on ERAS Application?

ERAS Application College Activities

The ERAS application Electronic Residency Application Service is an application you fill out during medical school in preparation for the MATCH process in order to obtain a residency. There are several common questions that come up in filling out the ERAS application. While it is similar to the AMCAS application in some regards, residency program director’s look at applicants experiences quite differently than a medical school admissions committee would. This leads to differences in the way the applications should be filled out and if college activities should be included on the ERAS application. Continue reading “Should I Include College Activities on ERAS Application?”

How to Write a Great Medical School Personal Statement

Medical School Personal Statement
Wring a strong personal statement for medical school is what will define your initial advancement in the application process. It is 100% essential that your statement is powerful and flows well for the captured audience.  Now is the time to get started with your personal statement. Keep these handy tips in mind for a great medical school personal statement.
(more…)

What is the CASPer Exam – And Which Medical Schools Require It?

The CASPer examination is becoming a tool that medical school’s utilize to evaluate applicants in lieu of or in addition to the traditional medical school interview. So what is the CASPer examination and how can a prospective medical student prepare for it?


What is the CASPer Exam?

CASPer (Computer-based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics) is an online, web-based computer test that takes about 90 minutes. It was started to be utilized in Canada but now has been also utilized in US based medical school admissions, specifically at New York Medical College (NYMC) and Rutgers (NJMS). More schools will utilize it soon. CASper helps schools screen applicants as part of the admissions process, in addition to of course the GPA/MCAT/LOR and everything else that goes into a great medical school application.


What is the structure of the CASPer test?

CASPer has 12 stations. Each section follows a similar format consisting first of a short video or other directed text, followed by 2-3 questions relating to the material.  Some sections are prompted by situational challenges displayed in short video clips; others are prompted by self-reflective questions. The applicant has 5 minutes to answer all questions in a given section.


What kinds of questions are on the CASPer test?

CASPer tends to test medical and other scenarios focused on ethics and behavior. All the questions are not medically related, in fact most are simply behavioral questions. Here is a word based scenario:

Consider this statement: From time to time, we deal with conflict in some form.

Questions to the Applicant:

1. Describe a time when you had to deal with conflict and how you coped with it.

2. How might you handle a similar situation differently should it arise again?

3. What would be your strategy if you were faced with a conflict that was extremely difficult to resolve?


What material should I utilize to study for CASPer?:

CASPer is not a test you necessarily need to “study” for, like the MCAT. In fact, it’s actually designed to not be studied for! It’s more testing your ability to think, handle situations, etc. However, we do recommend you go through a few scenarios or sample cases to get an idea and for that, the MedSchoolCoach CASPer Prep program is perfect.  It will take you through every aspect of the exam you need to understand and includes coaching by a physician.

Another great website with medical ethical scenarios and situations is University of Washington’s Bioethics page (https://depts.washington.edu/bioethx/toc.html). If you feel comfortable thinking about and going through scenarios such as those laid out, you will be good to go for CASPer! There are a few other things that people recommend to study which we’ve included below (courtesy of Je Suis Banane on SDN).


1) Read “Doing Right” by Philip C. Hébert – Excellent crash course in medical ethics. This book contains a lot of different scenarios that if you have time to read will give you great insight. 2) Look up the background/FAQs of CASPer – Get a very good understanding of the format of the test, use CASPer’s sample test to your advantage (https://takecasper.com/sample-casper-test/) as well as the MedSchoolCoach CASPer Prep Program (https://www.medschoolcoach.com/medical-school-casper-preparation/), learn the history and acknowledge that the test is designed so that it is difficult to improve your score by studying. 3) Find sample questions from different websites and use those to your advantage. There’s tons of stuff on YouTube if you do a quick search for ‘CASPer sample questions’, ‘medical ethics questions’, or ‘medical interview questions’. 4) Practice taking notes for videos/sample questions to accurately get an idea of the scenario. On test day, you can’t go back and re-watch the video. It’s a 1-time deal. Make it count!


Which medical schools utilize CASPer?:

Medical schools currently using CASPer along with the distribution deadline:

SCHOOL DISTRIBUTION DEADLINE (FINAL DATE THIS SCHOOL CAN BE ADDED TO YOUR CASPER DISTRIBUTION LIST)
Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine April 26, 2021
Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine April 26, 2021
Baylor College of Medicine  November 30, 2020
Boston University October 26, 2020
California Health Sciences University College of Osteopathic Medicine March 3, 2021
Case Western Reserve University, School of Medicine November 11, 2020
Central Michigan University, College of Medicine March 3, 2021
Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine March 3, 2021
Drexel University College of Medicine December 23, 2020
East Tennessee State University James H. Quillen College of Medicine December 23, 2020
Florida Atlantic University Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine January 25, 2021
Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell November 20, 2020
Howard University College of Medicine April 26, 2021
Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine April 26, 2021
Indiana University School of Medicine December 23, 2020
Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine November 11, 2020
Augusta University, Medical College of Georgia  October 7, 2020
Medical College of Wisconsin December 23, 2020
Meharry Medical College January 25, 2021
Mercer University School of Medicine December 23, 2020
Michigan State University  January 25, 2021
New York Medical College, School of Medicine January 25, 2021
Northeast Ohio Medical University, College of Medicine December 23, 2020
Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine April 26, 2021
Oregon Health & Science University  December 23, 2020
Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences, College of Osteopathic Medicine April 26, 2021
Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine January 25, 2021
Rosalind Franklin University, Chicago Medical School April 26, 2021
Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School December 23, 2020
State University of New York Upstate Medical University November 30, 2020
Renaissance School of Medicine, Stony Brook University December 23, 2020
Temple University School of Medicine- Lewis Katz April 26, 2021
Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine October 7, 2020
Texas Tech University EI Paso November 30, 2020
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine November 30, 2020
Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, NY March 3, 2021
Tulane University School of Medicine November 30, 2020
University of Colorado Denver, School of Medicine November 30, 2020
University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Medicine December 14, 2020
University of Miami, Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine March 3, 2021
University of Michigan March 3, 2021
University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine  October 7, 2020
University of Rochester November 11, 2020
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Long School of Medicine January 25, 2021
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, School of Medicine October 26, 2020
University of Texas Southwestern  January 25, 2021
University of Vermont, Larner College of Medicine December 23, 2020
University of Washington, School of Medicine November 11, 2020
Virginia Commonwealth University, School of Medicine October 7, 2020
Wake Forest School of Medicine  November 30, 2020
West Virginia University School of Medicine April 26, 2021
Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific April 26, 2021
William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine April 5, 2021
   

A Guide to Writing a Stand-Out Personal Statement

Personal Statement

The college essay should tell an original story about you and what matters to you. It can feel like a strange way of writing because students often engage in activities without explicitly expressing why they are motivated to do so. You want to convey your internal motivations and values to the reader.

The first step to writing a genuine personal statement is to start with free-writing and lots of it. Familiarize yourself with Common App questions and any supplemental essays. Then think through many moments and stories that could help you answer the prompts. Be specific, general statements are not as memorable You will have time to refine so focus on expression first

Think about big questions. What are your biggest dreams? What are your values? Why? How will college help you achieve your goals? What are your main academic interests? What appeals to you about those subjects?

Seek out information provided by admissions offices at your top choices. They will likely have clear language about what kind of students they are looking for and what kind of community they are striving to create. For example. Yale looks for “applicants with a concern for something larger than themselves.” Princeton looks for “students with intellectual curiosity, who have pursued and achieved academic excellence.” Find the mission statements for your top choices and practice writing stories that prove you are the kind of student they want to admit.

After free-writing, read through your stories and reflections and select the strongest points for your chosen prompt. Refine this story into a first draft then get feedback. Your Med School Coach mentor is a great resource for this. Revising will usually take longer than putting together the first draft. Don’t settle for your first draft. Go through your work critically. Be prepared to replace repetitive words, be more concise, and fine-tune your transitions. Once you revise, at least twice, get feedback from your recommenders so that they know what you are submitting.

Remember to let your voice shine through and make the statement about you, not other people. You might choose a story that involves your grandmother. Yet, your grandmother is not the one applying to college, you are. If you write about other people make sure their story does not overpower yours. You should be talking about your relationship with the other person and how it molded, shaped, and impacted you.

Your essay will be read alongside the complete application so you should think about how to tell a story that complements your overall narrative. Again, be critical of your writing. Would you be able to remember this statement after reading it once? Admissions officers will only have about 12-15 minutes to read your application so make sure you grab their attention and leave them with a lasting impression.

About the Author: Racquel Bernard

Racquel Bernard, MedSchoolCoach Tutor
Racquel Bernard is a former admissions officer of Dartmouth College. She graduated from Dartmouth with a bachelors in African and African American Studies. She completed her masters in Cultural Studies at the University of the West Indies, Mona. She is currently a PhD student in Musicology at UCLA.

How to Choose a College School List

Choosing a College List for Pre-Meds

Selecting colleges can be a very difficult task. There are literally hundreds if not thousands to chose from. Making a college list for a high school student can be a daunting task.

Get Help From Your Parents

A few things can make this a bit easier to do. The first, is to get help from your parents! Yes, we know that parents can be overbearing and sometimes even difficult to deal with during the college admissions process, but they can really help you eliminate some schools quickly or find others you didn’t even know about.

Ignore College Rankings

The next tip is to ignore the college rankings, as much as possible. Nowadays, there is a ranking for absolutely everything. Most of these are meant to sell magazines and little else! There are many amazing schools that don’t rank highly on some list for one reason or another. To prove how arbitrary the ranking systems are, you can go back and see huge “jumps” from a particular school because they manipulated a little data here or there (ie they made a big push for alumni donations that year). Basically, these serve as just one of many guides to making a list.

Consider Location

Finally, one thing you should think about is geography. Where do you want to spend 4 years? Are you a big city person or a rural town person? Do you like a campus that is the center of everything in town, or do you like one that is in the middle of a very vibrant city? These are important questions to ask as you prepare your school list!