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merrychristmas

How I Got A 35+ Naq To Get The Ubc Med School Interview

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A word of caution: Wait until after you are accepted and admitted, before you start showing people your application, and providing advice. I know you have good intentions, but you never know how people may try to sabotage you...or if it could blow up in your face. Not saying it will, but be very cautious. 

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A word of caution: Wait until after you are accepted and admitted, before you start showing people your application, and providing advice. I know you have good intentions, but you never know how people may try to sabotage you...or if it could blow up in your face. Not saying it will, but be very cautious. 

 

This was my first thought as well. Man, so cynical, this sucks. 

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Hopefully this post can act as a guide for some struggling with the NAQs. It's not really meant to be the be all end all approach. But I've taken Commons' suggestion, and decided to focus on my interview and hopefully get an acceptance before offering support.

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Hi all, 

 

I've received many messages over the last week from many people seeking out advice on how I acquired a higher NAQ score. To put into context I am a B+ student who was lucky enough to get a A- (82%) after having it being adjusted. Even then I'm working with a 18.xx AQ score - not very much to work with. Despite this hurdle, I was able to achieve a higher than normal NAQ, likely 35+, to reach the threshold for a interview (52.91). I believe my success was due to a very fine attention to crafting the 350 character description as well as an extraordinarily diverse and distinguished set of extracurricular activities.

 

To help or guide others, I will include in this post a list of 1) general tips on writing your NAQ activity description as well as a quick summary of my 2) extracurricular activities. 

 

Hopefully some of the tips will help you rethink the process of writing your descriptions; and with a summary of my ECs as a sample pathway to diversify your pursuit. It's not the only way, but a pathway that has found me some success with the interview offer.

 

Good luck!

 

---

 

1. General Tips

 

1.1 Format:

  • General format: 1) past-tense action verb, 2) what you did, and 3) outcome (see below for more information)
  • Example: (1) I advocated for an organization supporting marginalized groups (2) by leading a group of 30 supporters to petition to improve inequitable treatment due to stigmatization. (3) Through my advocacy, I was able to provide support to a group with little voice, and gain experience collaborating with like-minded individuals to support actionable change.
  • Think resume format
  • 1) Look for past tense action verbs that showcase what you did: lead, advocated
  • 2) List 2-3 things you did 
  • 3) Talk about what you learned, who you impacted (target audience), who you worked with, what was changed, what product was created, etc

 

1.2 Maximize use of title:

 

The title is where you can be sneaky. That's where you add additional information to maximize your character limitations. Think of of your description with considerations of what a reviewer would go through, reading thousands of entries of the same  research assistant entry that everyone second med hopeful is including. Based on this consider how you want to make the conclusion or impressions of your entry for them. Force the impression onto them before they go with the default conclusion of "typical research assistant". 

 

1.3 Think CanMEDS competency:

  • Medical Expert, Communicator, Collaborator, Leader, Health Advocate, Scholar, Professional. Each activity you submit should touch on at least 3 of the 7 competencies, but also focus on at least one of the three
  • You should use words and phrases like expertise, technical knowledge, communicating, advocating, mentoring, instructing, teaching lead/leading, publishing, preparing a manuscript as much as you can. 
  • Try not overuse it; it can seem like you are trying to game the system or trying to hard
  • Try to distribute each of the 7 competencies throughout your NAQ and Employment
  • Reread each activity and count the number of competencies you use and determine if one competency is over-represented
  • No one is a medical expert (yet), but if you can show expertise in something else, it will create the impression that you CAN be an expert

1.4 Use numbers to show scope and level of involvement:

  • If you instructed people in a workshop, indicated the number. 
  • If you worked on a team, indicate the size of your team
  • If you did advocacy, indicate how many people it may have engaged
  • No matter size, try to show you can work in small and large groups

1.5 Details:

  • Be careful of the amount of details you include as you have a character limit; best include 2 important things you did; 
  • The number of hours should give an idea of what other details you may be missing; if you have many hours the reviewers will likely assume you've include the important ones, so include only important ones

2. Extracurricular activities:

  • International research experience, multiple publications, leadership role in a  charitable organization, volunteer, research assistant, entrepreneurship, sports, work with physician-related organization with large initiatives, MSc 

 

How do you know what your scores are? Is this from last year?

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Is it frowned upon to use short forms and symbols to increase the wordcount? I hadn't even thought about that but I saw it posted on one of the other forums for a different school. They suggested removing spaces by using something like students&helped and using short forms and punctuation (ie @ instead of at) whenever possible, but this seems very unprofessional.

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2 hours ago, rosiecreek said:

Is it frowned upon to use short forms and symbols to increase the wordcount? I hadn't even thought about that but I saw it posted on one of the other forums for a different school. They suggested removing spaces by using something like students&helped and using short forms and punctuation (ie @ instead of at) whenever possible, but this seems very unprofessional.

I definitely used short forms at ubc, but I kept it as minimal as possible (max 1-2 per sentence is pushing it). I did things like omit pronouns at the start of sentences and start with a verb instead (ex. Collaborated with.... Instead of I collaborated with...) And I also used short forms like & or +. But to ensure it doesn't look unprofessional or overdone, I typed it out normally first and only changed it to symbols if I really can't cut it down through rewording - it's important not to let these shorthands clutter and disrupt the flow of your entry. It worked out for me, but can't guarantee that UBC is ok with it.

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I agree with the above. In general, I think UBC is okay if you use short forms because they're probably more concerned with learning what you did in your role than making it sound all grammatically perfect. That said, you still want to make sure you don't make it too short form that it's difficult to read or understand.  

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On 12/20/2016 at 11:11 PM, merrychristmas said:

1.2 Maximize use of title:

 

The title is where you can be sneaky. That's where you add additional information to maximize your character limitations. Think of of your description with considerations of what a reviewer would go through, reading thousands of entries of the same  research assistant entry that everyone second med hopeful is including. Based on this consider how you want to make the conclusion or impressions of your entry for them. Force the impression onto them before they go with the default conclusion of "typical research assistant". 

so what would you suggest putting in instead of research assistant?

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On 20/12/2016 at 11:11 PM, merrychristmas said:

1.3 Think CanMEDS competency:

  • Medical Expert, Communicator, Collaborator, Leader, Health Advocate, Scholar, Professional. Each activity you submit should touch on at least 3 of the 7 competencies, but also focus on at least one of the three
  • You should use words and phrases like expertise, technical knowledge, communicating, advocating, mentoring, instructing, teaching lead/leading, publishing, preparing a manuscript as much as you can. 
  • Try not overuse it; it can seem like you are trying to game the system or trying to hard
  • Try to distribute each of the 7 competencies throughout your NAQ and Employment
  • Reread each activity and count the number of competencies you use and determine if one competency is over-represented
  • No one is a medical expert (yet), but if you can show expertise in something else, it will create the impression that you CAN be an expert

Don't they specifically tell you NOT to include stuff like this? "We do not want to know how you are like a doctor, and encourage you not to think about your application in such a limited way."

But at the same time, I'm struggling with a few of my NAQs that are simple descriptions and I'm trying to include what I've learned in it.

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