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The Electronic Residency Application Service® (ERAS®) is daunting. How do you succinctly summarize your past, your goals and motivations, and let your personality shine through? No doubt, you’ll probably spend the majority of June-September stressing over it, thinking about it, and slowly perfecting it.
And while everyone’s application is different, here are a few big tips that we think apply to pretty much any applicant:
Start early. As soon as ERAS® is open for editing, start looking around. Get a sense of the information you’ll need to gather. Start thinking about your personal statement in the spring of your third year, and start writing it in early summer, as you’ll likely go through several versions before finding the best one.
Really think about the “Hobbies/Interest” section. Even though you’ve focused the past three years on getting good grades, scoring dazzling evaluations, and maybe doing research — this tiny section in ERAS® is probably what you’ll talk about more than anything else during interviews. Choose up to three or four compelling or interesting hobbies/interests that could be great conversation starters for almost anyone interviewing you. No need for more.
“Preview” your application and personal statement. ERAS® gives you the option to download a PDF preview of your application. Use this function. You might find that some parts of your application look better or worse in the PDF compared to what you thought you inputted.
Have someone else (or a “text-to-speech” program) read your personal statement. By September, you’ll probably be able to recite your personal statement in your sleep. That could be a good thing, but it’s not helpful if you’re proofreading for minor flaws. Have someone else (or a computer) read your personal statement out loud. You might find that you’re missing a conjunction somewhere, or that some parts sound more awkward than you thought.
Personalize your personal statement. ERAS® gives you the option of sending individual personal statements to each program you apply to. Use this flexibility to your advantage, at least for programs of particular interest to you. In the last paragraph of your personal statement, it’s worth mentioning the program by name (but obviously triple-check that it’s the right one!) and talk about why you want to go there in particular. Do you have family and friends in the area? Did you have research there under a certain faculty member? Did you do an away rotation there and love it? Although personalization isn’t guaranteed to get you an interview, it’s not that difficult and definitely worth the extra effort.
Electronic Residency Application Service® (ERAS®) is a registered trademark of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and is used under the fair use doctrine. Med School Mentors is not affiliated with, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with the AAMC.
United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) is a registered trademark of the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) and is used under the fair use doctrine. Med School Mentors is not affiliated with, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with the NBME.