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Advice on writing ABS entries?

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Hey all,

I'm applying this cycle to all Ontario schools, plus UBC, and perhaps Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

I'm looking for any advice on writing entries in the ABS within OMSAS. My extra-curriculars are easily the weakest part of my app so I'd like to do the best I can on the ABS. I'm not sure how to best go about describing the activities to maximize their effect since you only get so much space. Should I be as straightforwards as possible? Are there any specific words I should use for specific entries? Or will they get most of the information from the verifiers anyway so it's not a big deal how I describe it? I know the fact that most of my EC's starting late (beginning of 2017) is a major, major red flag. Is there anything I can do about this at this point? Any advice is appreciated.

For context, here are some of the major entries I plan to list. My unweighted GPA is 3.95, MCAT is 525 with 131 CARS.

1. Volunteer at children's hospital (with direct patient contact); since 8/17, ongoing; will reach 100+ hours by the time of application.

2. Research team member on large systematic review, submitted for publication, roles include screening, data extraction and data analysis; 1/17 to 8/17.

3. Research team member on methodology study, so far involved in screening; 8/17 - ongoing.

4. Attended leadership development conference hosted by two university departments, recognized with a certificate; 5/17.

5. Hobbies: play music in a start-up band with friends; few small coffeehouse shows here and there for charity; 9/14 - ongoing.

6. University awards: entrance grant (based on high-school grades); undergraduate grant (based on GPA).

Thanks all and best of luck to applicants this cycle.

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To try and answer your questions in order:

1. Yes you should be as straightforward as possible. In 150 characters, you need to describe what you did (while simultaneously implying what you learned from this experience and how it helped you develop)

2. While there aren't specific words, there are definitely specific concepts. If you haven't heard of CANMEDs roles, you should look those up and each one of your experiences listed should demonstrate one or more of those. In fact, sometimes it is better to avoid specific words because it can come off as too forced. It really is an art to writing these descriptions, which is why most med students on here recommend you start early and edit often.

3. Most verifiers will never be contacted.  Occasionally they will though it is essentially random where and when so best to say everything you need to say. They are more likely to verify the title and the number of hours if they do call.

4. I wouldn't say that starting most of your ECs late is a "major red flag".  A major red flag would be if you lied on your application about something or your reference said you were not fit for medicine. However, it does show a lack of long term commitment to causes you care about, which may be an issue for some reviewers. There is nothing you can do at this point except think really hard for things you have been involved in (that aren't just hobbies) to try to show this side of you. At this point in your life you have to have had some more volunteer experience or position or a job or something that you've held for more than a few months. Otherwise it will be a barrier you must overcome and sadly that might take a few years. Fortunately, your marks are good (and MCAT as well? Sorry I don't know the new MCAT very well), so it may just come down to how well you word your sketch and your essays.

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