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Frederick Sanger

How to Ace the NAQ component for UBC

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Hi everyone: 

I wanted to share with you some successful strategies for achieving a high (35+) NAQ for the UBC application. I have helped many clients receive acceptances from UBC, and based on my experiences, these strategies are helpful:

I begin with initial premises about the application process: 

1)    UBC receives a few thousand applications each year. Therefore, they cannot treat each entry with enough detail as one would imagine. It is best to use key-words that convey the theme throughout. 
2)    UBC values community work and what you do for others just as other medical schools. However, being able to contextualize it in your NAQ, can give you strong points when you get the MMI to elaborate on them. 
3)    A coherent entry should be easy to read for someone who has no idea what medicine is. In other words, parsimony, without comprising the essence of the activity, should be used at all times. 

These are check-lists to have in mind when writing every entry. 

     Active voice > Passive voice 
     Past tense action verbs for activities that you are not involved with anymore.  
     Progressive form verb tense for ongoing entries that show progress at some point in time. 
     General schema: What you did (descriptions), what you learned (analytics), why it matters (pragmatics)
     Directionality/progressionist approach in each activity. 
     1-3 specific examples for meaningful entries
     Impact of work to others (For example, enumeration if worked with a team larger than 30, or led an event) 
     Balance in each category (in terms of hours, commitment, role)
     Maximize use of titles:


•   CANMEDS
•    Medical expert, communicator, collaborator, leader, health advocate, scholar, professional
•    Make sure each activity shows at least 2 of these in each entry 
•    The CANMEDS MUST be distributed equally
•    You need not use these words repeatedly. Rather, you must show it. 
     Some key words to have in mind: understanding, advocating, discussing, leading, mentoring, publishing, &.c. 
     If you worked in a team, mention the size
•    Show that you are great at working in both small and large groups (use numbers)
     If you did advocacy, show how many people you engaged with 
 

If anyone would like more detailed help, including edits for their application, feel free to send me a message. I would be happy to help. 

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2 hours ago, yesandno said:

The limit is 350 characters... how on Earth can you fit in "what you did (descriptions), what you learned (analytics), why it matters (pragmatics)" and 1-3 examples?

Honestly, I don’t think you need to. I too received an NAQ that was at least 35 by my estimate, and I did’t do anything nearly this careful or specific. I stuck to simple descriptions of exactly what my roles and responsibilities were and, where appropriate, how they evolved over time (e.g. moving from a participant to a leader in a activity, etc).  Where possible I also included my motivation for doing it (e.g. to learn a new skill, etc).

I am sure careful wording will improve the NAQ score between two applications that involve the same activities / number of hours. But the main reason for the variation in NAQ is the activities themselves, the length of time spent on them, and their relevance to the key areas admissions is looking for (leadership, community focus, diversity of life experience, etc), just as admissions says. Barring horrible writing / mistakes, focusing on the nuances of the description can only take you so far.

Edit: Which is not to say you shouldn’t think about how you write your description, and there’s lots of good advice here. I’m just not convinced it’s necessary to be this particular, especially if it causes you stress. I suspect that clarity about your roles and responsibilities is really all you need. The best way to improve NAQ is to do more the rest of the year to grow your experiences.

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On 8/14/2019 at 8:54 PM, frenchpress said:

Honestly, I don’t think you need to. I too received an NAQ that was at least 35 by my estimate, and I did’t do anything nearly this careful or specific. I stuck to simple descriptions of exactly what my roles and responsibilities were and, where appropriate, how they evolved over time (e.g. moving from a participant to a leader in a activity, etc).  Where possible I also included my motivation for doing it (e.g. to learn a new skill, etc).

I am sure careful wording will improve the NAQ score between two applications that involve the same activities / number of hours. But the main reason for the variation in NAQ is the activities themselves, the length of time spent on them, and their relevance to the key areas admissions is looking for (leadership, community focus, diversity of life experience, etc), just as admissions says. Barring horrible writing / mistakes, focusing on the nuances of the description can only take you so far.

Edit: Which is not to say you shouldn’t think about how you write your description, and there’s lots of good advice here. I’m just not convinced it’s necessary to be this particular, especially if it causes you stress. I suspect that clarity about your roles and responsibilities is really all you need. The best way to improve NAQ is to do more the rest of the year to grow your experiences.

.

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