HHi Hi everyone. This past cycle I have helped over 55 students gain acceptances to 12 medical schools. I have been working with many clients and overall, I have noticed some common trends which I would like to share with you in point form. These are tips for the UofT essays. Please keep in mind this is not an exhaustive list, but it should come in handy. If you require assistance with applications, feel free to send me a message.
T TThis is the checklist to keep in mind:
1) Audience—University of Toronto has done a splendid job in their evaluation process of essays. Rest assured that multiple people, from different backgrounds will assess your essays. These could be medical students, community members or physicians.
a. What is important to keep in mind is that you want these essays to be vignettes of colors that sketch an accurate image of who you are as a person by demonstrating what is unique about you.
b. This is often achieved through a coherent writing style, thoughtful presentation of ideas, exploration of those ideas. This is solidified by concrete examples that provide evidence to support your claims.
2) The act of writing—each essay should be persuasive by using your voice throughout the piece. Do not be afraid to disagree with a prompt if, and only if, you are able to provide your reasoning.
a. Say everything in the smallest number of words where it can be said clearly.
b. Writing should be treated as a medium of sharing thoughts.
c. Using verbose terminology (see what I did there) that uses flamboyant terms is not going to impress your reader. If anything, it could annoy them.
d. A strong architecture in writing requires that there is a connection between each sentence, in which ultimately the foundation supports all the rest.
3) Actively rewrite/revise—A strong writing piece is like a passionate yet unfinished love affair. We can never be fully done with a piece of writing. We only decide, at some point, that we are partially satisfied with what we have presented. I en other words, there is always room for improvement.
a. Ask people who know you well to read your essays. Ensure that these people will be critical with what you have written. If they disagree with you and you can convincingly provide reasoning why something ought to be there, then keep it. If you do not have that solid, then change it.
b. Allocate at least twenty minutes, preferably in the morning, to write a few lines. Let the process continue over time. After thoughtful consideration, choose what you like and what you don’t. For example, for one prompt, I explored seven different ideas until I was somewhat satisfied with it.
c. Never use ‘and’ except at the beginning of a sentence.
d. Put a comma every few words.
e. Read your writing aloud and with clear intonation.
4) The four clusters that are mentioned on the website, ought to be integrated into the collective BPE’s. This does not mean you would be using the words professional, scholar, advocate and communicator over and over. It means that you demonstrate those set of skills either through the examples you choose or through the arguments you are presenting.
5) Try to cite sources, ideally peer-reviewed papers, if a question is highly specific and there is plenty of room for interpretation. For example, one of last year’s prompts on social media, was a great example of citing authorities. This shows the reader that you have researched your topic and can back it with evidence.
6) Take reasonable risks—when talking about your experiences, try to choose examples that are slightly exoteric. I say slightly exoteric because it always helps to show a new dimension of yourself. Perhaps, you may be fascinated with calligraphy or analytic philosophy and engage with these activities over time. Don’t be shy to mention them if they are appropriate to the questions. Everyone has the clinical and volunteering experiences.
7) Narrative form—humans are natural story tellers. We enjoy the tensions, turbulence, excitement and variety of experiences in other people’s lives. Try to have that in mind when writing your essays.
8) Teleology/ direction—sometimes, I see essays were relevant experiences are mentioned, but the directionality of the essay is lacking. Try to build up to a climax and release it if you can. Do not remain at the same tempo. The landscape of writing is vast. You have had an interesting life. Show it to your reader. Let them enjoy it with you.