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  1. I have been asked by many users to develop a detailed guideline on how to effectively tackle UofT BPE’s. I am pleased to share with you an overall mental framework to help you in this process. This is followed with a brief commentary on each of the 4 BPE’s. My credentials: I have helped 60+ students receive acceptances to Canadian medical schools across the country this past cycle. Specifically, 20+ were admitted to UofT med in the 2018/2019 Cycle. This is advice I have accumulated over time. I also offer editing services should you be interested. Why I make long posts like this: There is no doubt that applying to medical school is very stressful. There are so many factors one needs to consider to be competitive. I also understand that these essays can be stressful for many applicants and I hope this guideline will help alleviate some of that stress. My overall vision is to help create a collaborative culture where we can all learn from one another. Doing that makes me very happy! Disclaimer: I am not claiming this is the definitive guide of how these essays ought to be written. If anything, this is simply my take. These essays highlight cultural diversity and variety of experiences. I am only giving these suggestions as plausible approaches that can work. Certainly, other effective methods are going to be equally valid. Please be wary of that. UofT Med statistics in 2018: 3265 applicants --> 639 interviews granted --> ~259 students accepted Once you get the interview, the format is in MPI (I will make a post about this in January) 15 Overall Tips for Good Writing: 1) Be engaging in your essays by developing a unique voice *your voice* a. Be selective in the examples that you use b. The Johns Hopkins University has a very helpful sample of essays that I think represent the breadth and depth of engagement, stylistic approaches and the art of the narrative. c. I am not asking you to emulate these essays, as the AMCAS has a different format, but this should give you some ideas. https://studentaffairs.jhu.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2015/12/Sample-HPCA-Essays.AY2017.pdf 2) Be reflective—don’t just describe an experience you had. a. Enthusiasm shows in writing b. Demonstrate understanding of other people’s perspective. Connect the dots. 3) Avoid long sentences: a. Shorter sentences that transition well are more meaningful than longer sentences. 4) Don’t be verbose a. Clarity of thought and ideas are highly prized. Practically by everyone. b. Using big fancy words, won’t impress the admissions. c. If you are too technical and they do not understand what you are talking about, it will not help your file scorers. 5) You don’t have to have an activity from your ABS when writing your BPE’s. a. When using your ABS, be sure to choose the most meaningful ones. Less typical examples are equally as good as typical examples. b. For the personal one (BPE#4), it is perfectly fine to talk about something personal. 6) Always have a clear rationale as to what you are writing about. a. I cannot stress how crucial it is to brainstorm ideas. Knowing why you chose a specific sentence, and what purpose it serves, will help you create outstanding writing. b. Develop your ideas into a coherent point form structure before you begin writing in full sentences. c. This helps you remove fluff and only include what matters. 7) Make sure you are answering the questions: a. It seems simple enough, but when some questions have two parts, you want to make sure your answers are proportionate and reasonable to what the prompt wants. b. Share your opinions about issues that are important in healthcare (BPE #1) 8) Don’t repeat the prompt. a. Some of the BPE’s ask about your opinion. You can just clearly state it. BPE #2 asks about uncomfortable conversations; simply say if you agree or not. 9) If for some of the BPE’s, you like to mention activities from your 32 ABS, feel free to cite the number at the end of your sentence. a. For example, I personally prefer this notation: [#X] where X is the number listed on your ABS activity. b. You could also cite the verifier number, but it is not necessary. 10) Avoid clichés. 11) Find logical gaps in your writing by reading your writing aloud. 12) Make sure transitions are smooth. a. I don’t mean to say use transitory words to fill in the gap. b. I mean to say that your logical thinking, as reflected in your sentences, should follow from one point to another. 13) Use examples only in context of helping you answer the question. The main purpose of the BPE’s is to use personal evidence/work experience/reflection/introspection to address what you are being asked. The goal of the BPE is not for you to magnify an activity. That is the goal of the ABS extensions. 14) The revision step is highly crucial. Its purpose is to reduce, revise and rethink. Probably, in that order. a. If you are over the word-limit, in your rough sketch, it is okay. b. This is when you get to go through and navigate through your writing to keep what is essential and omit what is not. c. Ask for other people’s perspective on your writing—even if you do not agree with their suggestions, different angles of looking at a piece of writing, inevitably leads to its enhancement.  15) Use Bertrand Russell’s 3 step formula. I will quote it for you: a. Never use a long word if a short word will do. b. If you want to make a statement with a great many qualifications, put some of the qualifications in separate sentences. c. Do not let the beginning of your sentence lead the reader to an expectation which is contradicted by the end. d. Read his short guide on how he wrote: http://www.pereestupinya.com/pdf/Russell,_Bertrand-How_I_Write.pdf Commentary on the 4 BPE's: Your go-to resource should be this link: https://md.utoronto.ca/news/admissions-blog-brief-personal-essays-and-how-they-are-assessed As well as this link: http://applymd.utoronto.ca/non-academic-requirements Make sure you keep your word count does not exceed 250 words. They are strict about this. Make sure you represent the 4 clusters Do this after you have answered the question Revise your entries. Show. Don't tell. Saying you have leadership experience many times, is not the same as showing how you led a conference for X number of people and had Y number of tasks and learned Z number of valuable skills. Be methodical. BPE #1: Commentary “Reducing the economic gap may be impossible without also addressing the gap in empathy.” ― Daniel Goleman. Why is this the case? How might healthcare professionals advocate to help reduce these gaps? This essay asks you to develop a relationship between "reducing the economic gap" and "the gap in empathy". You need to be able to show you lack of empathy affects the economic gap or vice versa. That connection needs to be very clear. You should start by reading up on Daniel Goleman. He wrote a book on Emotional Intelligence. It's well-worth taking the time to read it. Also, consult YouTube for interviews and talks he has had. Interpret his ideas in context. Have specific solutions for the second part. of the question. Instead of thinking on a macro-scale, really address how healthcare professional can advocate for filling in these gaps. You don't have to have personal experiences here. You are not a healthcare professional... yet! Be analytical and reflective. It is okay to cite your source if you choose to add it in. BPE #2: Commentary Uncomfortable conversations, although difficult and even hostile at times, are not necessarily unsafe ones. Do you agree or disagree? Discuss a time where you had to partake in such an uncomfortable conversation and how you handled it. The first part should make it clear whether you agree or not. Don't leave this last. Unless, you want to build up and then give your rationale. Highlight a specific instance, from your life, where you had a difficult time conversing with someone. It doesn't have to be medically relevant. It can be, but doesn't need to be. Briefly provide context what was uncomfortable. Show what the outcome of the uncomfortable conversation was. Ensure you address how you handled it. Such an important part they want you to explore. BPE #3: Commentary There are many relationships that have an inherent power imbalance, such as teacher/student, physician/patient, or police officer/citizen. Describe a situation where you have experienced a power imbalance and what it taught you. Power imbalance functions on a spectrum. You can be on either side of it. As long as you explain that relationship well, both sides are equally valid. Again, it doesn't need have to be medically related. How you handled the power imbalance is very important. It should be carefully discussed. If you had power, you need to explain your responsibilities and how you adhered to them. If you lacked power, and were asked to do so and so things, you need to explain your dynamic with your supervisor/mentor. What you got out of this is so important. In fact, it is half of the question. I see a lot of people spending 200 words just explaining context and then with very few words discussing the outcome. Make sure you have a good proportion. BPE #4: Commentary Failure is an essential part of the learning process. Discuss a recent setback you experienced and overcame. What resources and/or tools helped you overcome this failure? Probably, the hardest of all the BPE questions because what you choose to talk about absolutely should fit in the parameters of the prompt. Be sure that what you write is personal and was --indeed-- a failure. Don't talk about a shortcoming or a minor dilemma. Stick to how you define failure and in what scope it was. It is so crucial that you explain how you were able to manage it, or if you were not able to mange it, what you learned from it. This does not have to be from your 32 ABS. In fact, the stronger examples, will be highly personal. The admissions wants to see you in your vulnerable state and see how you overcame it. Remember to be mature, professional and receptive. The tone for this question is very important. And with that, this concludes my advice. If you find this information helpful, please give it a like. It would help me in the future as I develop more content on the forum. I wish you all the best and hope that you all receive the outcome you are looking for. Best of luck to you!
  2. Hey everyone! I am applying to Dal this summer and planning on writing the MCAT. Anyone interested in meeting to chat about their application and/or studying for the MCAT?
  3. I've got a question about the Academic Explanations essay at UofT: I'm planning on applying this coming year but am concerned as I am not eligible for wGPA (I never took a full course load and instead took summer courses due to my chronic illness) and my current cGPA is 3.89.... all due to one calculus course I ended with a 70 in due to failing the final exam during an illness flare-up. Without that one course, my cGPA *would* have been 3.95. If I had been eligible for wGPA, I'd have a 4.00. I'm very concerned that despite having an otherwise strong application I will be disadvantaged due to this one course. What should I do? Would you advise I write the Academic Explanations essay? How else can I rectify this awful mistake? Thank you in advance!
  4. Hi there, any recent applicants able to shed some light on what specifically they are asking in the personal statement and on the word/character limit? Thanks!
  5. For the letter to the editor essay, do you guys know how much of formatting we are supposed to have in it? Features like name, address, phone, email, date, name of publication...
  6. I've finished my Top Tens for a little while now, but I'm having a hard time editing them. If anyone is available to help me proofread them and edit them that would be absolutely wonderful. I will gladly return the favour by buying you lunch if you're in Calgary, or if you'd prefer I can give you some feedback as well. Thanks!
  7. Im applying to both schools next year and I am wondering how to prepare what to expect for the critical skills test. The topic is a surprise, how are we to formulate an essay in one hour on it? If anybody has information about their experience and what I can expect from the prompt, I would greatly appreciate it.
  8. I'm confused about this. Are we supposed to integrate it into the essay where when we mention activity x we say "activity x (ABS item #3, verifier 2) has..."? Or do we add these things at like the start or end as like a title or footer type thing? Can anyone tell me how they formatted theirs and if that is considered correct? Do these words count towards word count? If so that sucks.... Really stressing because the application is due today.
  9. Hi, I am currently a first year student and I am interested in going to PA school in the future. I am currently taking an English class and we have an upcoming paper due where we are required interview a person who is currently in the profession we intend to explore. I was wondering if anyone would be interested in being interviewed about the PA profession for my essay. The interview will be a set list of questions regarding the career of a physician assistant. This interview can take place through e-mail or just through this forum. Listed below I have included the questions: 1. what do you enjoy the most about being a physician assistant? 2. What do you dislike about being a PA? 3. what do you and the doctors talk about while working? 4. what can you and cannot you do as a physician assistant? Do you feel that there are any barriers between youand a physician or any other health professionals in the workplace? Do you feel there is a good amount of autonomy as a PA, compared to nurse practitioners? 5. What are some common vocabulary terms used as a PA? Thanks.
  10. 1.How have your life experiences to this point helped shape and prepare you for making decisions in situations of uncertainty or ambiguity? can someone please give me examples of uncertainty or ambiguity? not sure i understand what they mean by situations of uncertainty or ambiguity. the deadline is in two weeks and i havent even started for this question. i would really appreciate any help and i'd be eternally grateful
  11. I am aware that Toronto's admissions page says explicitly to pick one activity per ABS essay that outlines one or more of their clusters, but how specific does this one activity have to be? for example: if I picked volunteering in a research lab as my activity, can I include the awards/presentations/publications/whatever else related to that activity as well? or do i just have to talk about what i did in the lab? thank you for all your help! EDIT: also, how bad is it if my essays are no longer than 200 words (both ABS and brief personal essays)?
  12. Hey guys, new poster here! I'm just curious to know how other people interpret the word 'anticipate' as used in a context similar to the sentence below: 'Anticipating a career in medicine, I realize that sometimes I will have to make difficult choices' Though anticipating, by dictionary definition, includes both the meanings 'expecting' (which would sound kind of cocky here) and 'looking forward to' (which is closer to the intended meaning), I just want to see how most people (and by extension, ad coms) reading this might instinctively interpret it. Thoughts?
  13. Hello! I'm having a hard time getting to a point with my essays where I am happy with them, specifically the first essay is giving me some trouble. I don't really understand why they chose to ask this question and maybe some of you could offer some insight. The question is "Health care today combines both technical and personal aspects of care. Describe how you envision the balance of technology and compassion in physician-patient relationships?" I don't really understand how to make this personal or if it is appropriate to include personal stories that may relate. Also, is it necessary to write in a more formal essay style or would starting off the essay as a narrative be ok? Thanks for your help!
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