How Do I Write a Good VMCAS Essay?
Loop Abroad alum Amelia Matczak shares her top tips for writing a good VMCAS essay.
Tackling the VMCAS application is something almost every potential veterinary student dreads. For many, the worst part about the whole application process is trying to write a good VMCAS essay. How do you make yourself stand out from other applicants and make yourself a top candidate? Not only that, but with VMCAS having switched from one, long personal essay to a series of small one-paragraph essays, how can you make a good VMCAS essay in under 300 words?
- Notebooks: All pre-veterinary students know they need to get animal experience to apply to vet school. Yet, despite the countless hours of animal volunteer work I did, when it came to writing my essay on the experience I had, I completely blanked. Luckily, a recently-graduated vet friend of mine had suggested to me I keep a notebook of all the interesting cases I saw a year before I started my application. Although I thought it was a little bit weird at the time, it saved me and really helped me during the essay writing process. There will always be an essay question that, in some way, shape or form, asks about your animal experience. By keeping a notebook, you can ensure that when it’s time to write that essay, you will not only remember what to talk about, but you will know all of the details surrounding it.
- What Makes You Unique: When it’s finally time to start your VMCAS essays, a key to standing out is, well, standing out. No matter who you are, there is always something that makes you a unique applicant. For me, it was the animal volunteer work I did during my semester abroad with Loop. For you, it might be that you volunteered at the same place for a long time and were given more responsibility over time, or maybe you have helped a farmer during lambing season. No matter what it is, make sure that it is a major talking point in your essay. Remember, thousands of students apply for veterinary school annually. You want to make sure something about your experience sets you apart, even if it seems like a small detail of your application.
- Talk Yourself Up: This is the hardest part of writing a good VMCAS essay: talking yourself up. By the nature of the career we are interested in, many vet school applicants are more apt to help other animals and people than we are ourselves, making bragging about yourself a difficult task. Unfortunately, bolstering your attributes is the name of the game when writing good VMCAS essays. Of course, you never want to come off as being full of yourself, but you have to ensure that your writing exudes confidence in your qualification for veterinary school. In short, you want to put your best foot forward, even if that means writing in a way you aren’t used to.
- Edit: Editing, editing, and editing; it’s the most important thing you can do to strengthen your VMCAS essays. I suggest that you edit your essay three times, each time waiting a few weeks in between re-reading them so you look at them with fresh, unbiased eyes. Then, once you’re happy with how they sound, ask other people to read over them. Since you only have 300 words, have them give you feedback on how quickly you get to the meat of your writing. Was your purpose explicit from the beginning of the paragraph? Is there any information in your writing that seems a minute detail, distracting from your overall message? All of this feedback and editing will ensure that your writing is clear to not just you, but anyone reading it.
Of course, you want to make sure your essay is grammatically correct and free of typos. But once you meet that goal, you aren’t done. Does it show something about you? Do you come through in what you wrote? In a short paragraph, you can’t possibly cover everything about you or everything you’ve done, so you don’t need to try. But if you can share something of yourself that isn’t shared anywhere else in your application, you can help the admissions committee to get to you know.