AMCAS Statement: Writing the Medical School Essay | Ivy Eyes Editing

It’s time to face the gurney (oh c’mon, it’s kind of like facing the music, isn’t it?): You’ve got to write your personal statement for the AMCAS application. And whether you’re the word-loving or word-fearing type of pre-medical student, there are no two ways around the fact that this has got to be the craftiest piece of writing you’ve ever produced. Hey, no pressure. That’s why Ivy Eyes is here to help. So if you’re jonesing for an admit to Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine or Columbia’s College of Physician’s and Surgeons, let us take some of the mystery out of the medical school essay.

One of the greatest challenges in admissions essay writing is knowing where to start. The introduction will set the tone and the theme for your statement. It means grabbing the attention of the admissions committee—or not. We’ve got a whole slew of tips on how to nail a perfect ten of an intro in a previous blog post, but suffice to say that your introduction should establish the point of your statement, providing a humanistic perspective that we won’t find elsewhere in your application.

Some applicants fear this means they can’t write about anything that is on their resume, and some err in the opposite direction, writing their CV’s in narrative form. Neither extreme is beneficial, because what is most important here is meaning. You can write about almost anything you want, as long as you know what it means to you, and why this is important for your future as a medical student and physician. It’s time to flex your capacity for self-reflection and storytelling.

That said, here are a few medical admissions writing tips:

• Don’t dilute: Don’t try to pack every shadowing experience, research project, and marathon you’ve run into 5300 characters. Like any good storyteller, you should decipher, beforehand, which details are most important to the story of you becoming a medical student. What is your story’s beginning, its middle, and its end? Add more detail; never generalize.

• Don’t hyper-focus on research: Many students we work with have more experience in research than they do with direct patient or clinical care. We get it—that’s part of being a student! But it’s important not to get too lost under the biochemistry microscope as you’re writing your personal statement—the admissions committee needs to see a candidate that is firmly prepared for the nitty-gritty humanness of being a physician.

• Dial up the YOU: The blank page sitting before you is your canvas. Where before you had to check boxes, meet MCAT criteria, and calculate your GPA, here you are free to express yourself exactly as you like. Seize the opportunity to show the admissions committee who you are. Know that—no matter what you think—you are NOT boring. You’re an original. Let that speak through your personal statement. That’s why it’s called personal.

And please, let us help you out! We’re here whenever you’re ready.

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Medical School Admissions, Essay Writing & You | Ivy Eyes Editing

Whether you’ve been preparing your medical school application since kindergarten or you’re just now deciding to apply, Ivy Eyes has a number of resources to help get you admitted. Here’s how we can help you pick a school (Harvard? Stanford? Duke?), craft a stellar CV, pen a genius personal statement, navigate your secondaries, and nail your interviews.

Ready? Set? Med school!

1) APPLY: Our Medical School Resource Center has every last detail you need to handle the AMCAS portal, figure out what your ideal school needs from you, and gather the necessary materials.

Take a tip from us and start an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of all your deadlines and what each school needs from you.

2) RECOMMENDATIONS: Ask for recommendations as early as possible. And if your recommender needs some extra support, you can assure them that we’re here to help!

3) THE MEDICAL CV: Figuring out what to put on your resume for medical school can feel like a retrospective house of horrors. Let us help you navigate your educational and extracurricular history with our time-tested formatting expertise and high-impact language. A focused and concise CV can mean the difference between an admissions committee giving you a second look or a pass.

4) THE PERSONAL STATEMENT: Your personal statement for medical school must be sharp, specific, and—above all—poignant. But before you start reading us a yarn about Uncle Boris and the children he saved from cholera, we advise you take a moment to get strategic about the story you are telling. Your personal statement will define you as an applicant. Let us help you craft the perfect representation of your candidacy with our Standard, Advanced, or Premiere Editing services. The same goes for your secondary essays.

5) THE INTERVIEW: You got an interview! Before you celebrate too hard, consider when your last interview was, and what it was about. Have you taken the time to articulate—verbally, let alone mentally—your primary drivers as a medical student and future physician? Can you speak eloquently (and not ramble) about your strengths and weaknesses? Do you know—really—why you want to be a doctor? We offer rigorous and comprehensive interview prep sessions. Bomb with us so you can learn to soar in the admissions office with them.

Ivy Eyes has helped thousands of medical school applicants get admitted, with services to support you at every step of the application process. Email us at with questions about how we can help you!

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ESL Essay Writing: Beauty Isn’t Substance | Ivy Eyes Editing

We love working with ESL (English as a Second Language) applicants not only because it’s a pleasure to expand our American horizons, but also because we usually learn something profound about the English language in the process. One perennial lesson is about the aesthetics of word choice and sentence construction. Translation: Big, beautiful words and complex sentences are not always your friend.

We get it: Your introduction to the great works of the English language probably began with authors like Dickens, Dostoevsky, Hemingway, and Brontë. And while we have the utmost respect for those masters, here’s the problem with writing an application essay that tries to emulate their style: You will sound horrifically dated, and totally awkward. Admissions committees aren’t looking for a rewrite of Great Expectations, they’re on the hunt for the innovative minds of the 21st century.

As an ESL applicant, you need to deliver crisp, modern language that reflects your command of English as it is used today. So while you may think that three and four syllable words are the key to success, we challenge you to find fresh ways of expressing yourself as you would in your current lexicon. While descriptive language can be fun to play with, remember that your admissions essays are not a painting-with-words exercise.

The aesthetics of ESL are often misleading. Let’s look at a few examples of this from real-life admissions essays:

“She was a gaunt-faced girl…”

Although there is a lovely poetic consonance to “gaunt-faced girl”, the language feels like Dickens with a side of Anna Karenina. Instead of delivering the drama, we urge you to use adjectives that are in your everyday vernacular. Remember: This is a personal statement, not the vocab section of the SATs.

“Her chicks were puff…”

You might protest, “But this is what ESL essay editors are there for!” And sure—we’d be happy to help change “chicks” to “cheeks”, and “puff” to “puffy”. But we know you can do better than that, and we’d love to work with you as thought partners, not just as human grammar and spell-checkers. Together, we can find better, simpler ways to say what you mean, and mean what you say.

“I myself could not be touched.”

Although we love this deeply felt expression, it contains far too much grammar for such a little sentence. The double pronoun, which simultaneously brings the reader closer to and farther away from the subject of the sentence, is truly obscuring. And the use of the past subjunctive verb tense gives the sentence a hazy, distant feeling.

The antidote? Simplify your language to make sure none of your ideas is lost in translation. Never sacrifice clarity for fanciful expression. And most importantly—in writing, art, and life—spend more time looking to the future rather than emulating the past.

Ready to begin working on your essay? Start here:


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The Nursing Shortage: More Scholarships? | Ivy Eyes Editing

Hi everyone,

There’s currently a nursing shortage, and the generally accepted outlook is that a shortage will remain through the immediate future. As our population lives longer and medical technology continues to grow, the need for nurses outpaces the rate by which nurses are finishing school. This nursing shortage bodes well for for industrious students that are looking to attain scholarship money and graduate debt free.

One solution several hospitals have implemented is a scholarship program that absorbs tuition costs for current nursing students. However, this investment does have strings attached in most institutions. Once the scholar graduates from nursing faculty, he/she is committed to work for the hospital for a prearranged period of time. If the nurse leaves before that point, he or she is accountable for paying back part or all of the tuition.

This can be an incredible solution for college students who would otherwise not be able to afford college to earn a degree. Not solely will the scholar graduate debt free, but they automatically have a job once they leave school. The years once nursing faculty can be spent gaining expertise in an exceedingly variety of hospital settings, and if they decide to move on once their obligation is fulfilled, they have a good idea of what field of nursing they’re most interested in.

Financial Help for Graduate Degrees

The shortage of nurses with graduate degrees indicates that it is attainable for you to earn a Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Midwife, or Nurse Anesthetist degree without the burden of taking up a significant debt. Previously, it absolutely was often troublesome to weigh the advantages of returning to graduate school against the problem of pricey graduate faculty credit hours. With many hospitals and clinics lowering prices by using Nurse Practitioners in place of physicians, and Nurse Anesthetists to help the Anesthesiologist, it’s terribly likely that the medical group that you simply currently work for offers tuition reimbursement. If they are doing not, you ought to speak to your supervisor or human resources personnel. They may be willing to offer tuition reimbursement on a case by case basis. If your current employer will not supply tuition reimbursement, you will want to think about moving to a totally different employer. Many employers will provide full tuition reimbursement or perhaps permit you to attend school full time, with the agreement that you will work for them for a specified time once you receive your graduate degree.

Increasing Your Probability of Receiving a Scholarship

Whether or not you are looking for a needs based scholarship for an undergraduate nursing degree, or are looking out for a hospital financed scholarship supply to finish your graduate degree, there are many things that you’ll be able to do to improve your probabilities of success.

Work in your field. It does not matter if it is paid employment or volunteer work, however working in the field you intend to earn a degree in shows the choice manufacturers that you perceive the work and are less probably to switch majors or drop out.

Watch your grades and your money. Regardless of if you are trying for a want primarily based or tutorial based scholarship, keep your grades high, even in classes that you are doing not think matter, and watch your money. After you receive your scholarship cash be certain to buy the books and study materials that you may need to succeed. If attainable, hold some money back so that you can afford a tutor before exams if you discover yourself struggling.

Overcommunicating with Admissions Offices | Ivy Eyes Editing

We are frequently asked by clients who seek our help in shifting a deferral or rejection decision: how much contact is too much with an admissions office? If you are asking that question, you’re in danger of overstepping the boundary.

Responding to a waitlist letter or rejection notice needs to be dealt with delicately. We’ve helped clients reverse both types of admissions decisions, but we’ve also worked with clients who have shared dozens of emails to admissions offices (sometimes also from their parents). The damage done is often irrevocable. Why? Admissions offices are very busy places, typically with most people working at their full bandwidth. Expecting a response to your tenth email is not only unlikely, it could cause an overworked admissions officer to snap.

We understand the admissions process can provoke anxiety, and can even become emotional. However, every correspondence with an admissions committee is a reflection on what kind of student you will be inside their community. There are no bonus points for waitlist zeal or email volume. The quality of contact is paramount. So, before you tweet with the HBS or Wharton admissions director, fax in an additional copy of your resume or email a youtube video plea, think twice. You may be doing more harm than good.

Looking for advice on a deferral or rejection? Visit our deferred/rejected applicants page for more information on our services.

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Transition Sentences in Admissions Essays | Ivy Eyes Editing

Hello everyone,

During 3rd grade English class, many of us began preparing for statewide standardized tests. These exams often included a writing portion. In a standard “how to” essay, the framework was simple: introduction (ends with the thesis or main idea), then several body paragraphs all set off by transition words or sentences, then the conclusion. Ordinal numbers were a customary device used to transition between actions and ideas (e.g. “Second, I decorate the individual layers of the cake…”) or a conjunctive adverb.

It would seem that many applicants are still plagued by this essay writing formula. However, in a sophisticated, refined admissions essay, a solid transition may not feature a conjunctive adverb. It may not overtly refer to the last sentence of the previous paragraph. It may represent more of a ‘beat’ (the smallest unit of measurement in a screenplay) or shift in tonality. It may feature a splash of irony. It may not ‘feel’ like a customary transition sentence at all.

One of the tools we use with our clients is reading writing aloud. While you might not typically discuss ‘what matters most to you and why’ (Stanford GSB’s classic prompt) in everyday conversation, reading your writing aloud will make those stilted transitions and other essay writing hangups obvious. Ultimately, your application essay should not feel so distant from colloquial speech that it makes you squirm when read aloud.

Your admissions essays – whether you’re applying for college or MBA programs – are not subject to the same stringent rules of English classes past. There is no prescription for a great transition sentence, or the perfectly cohesive admissions essay. You’re your own person now, and your own writer, so find that voice and don’t compromise it for a second.


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Premiere vs. Advanced Editing Service | Ivy Eyes Editing

Hi everyone,

A question we get rather frequently is: Should I submit my essay/personal statement for Premiere or Advanced Service? What’s the difference?

Here you have it:

Advanced Editing is our signature service and includes 2 full revisions. In revision 1, we make a number of grammatical, stylistic and structural changes and insert specific questions to harvest missing content and synthesis. Then, you answer our questions, and we integrate that content into a final draft. The whole process wraps up in 4-5 days total (48 hrs between revisions), unless you order expedited service. Rush service is 24 hrs between drafts, and blitz service is just 12 hrs between drafts…yes, we can work quickly (and efficiently)!

Premiere Editing includes all of the above but starts with a 1-hour Skype call. Some clients opt for Premiere Service who already have a rough draft, and others come to us with just a resume. For the former, we are able to talk through many of the ‘Advanced Service’ questions and expedite the process a bit; for the latter, we transcribe the most compelling content into a skeletal framework of an essay. Shortly thereafter, we polish the essays together.

So why would you choose Premiere Service over Advanced Service? Many clients prefer discussing their ideas over Skype – there’s a bit more freedom of expression that way. We can help you choose between various ideas if you’re still on the fence, and really get to know what makes you tick. However, some clients are fully confident about their fundamental content, and Advanced Service suffices in those cases.

Ultimately, the choice is yours. All of our editing processes are highly collaborative. We understand that WE don’t have all the right answers for your application, but we do have the right questions. Regardless of the service level you order, it’s important to our team to get the right content from each client, so that your application fully represents who you are.

Still have additional questions regarding our editing service suite or auxiliary services? Email us at

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When Mom And Dad Write Your College Essay | Ivy Eyes Editing

We’ve read enough admissions essays at Ivy Eyes Editing to know what makes young writers tick. We understand their range, their point of view, their insecurities and their curiosities. That being said, we are never so audacious as to assume we can fully occupy any one young writer’s position.

If Mom or Dad has had a hand in writing your admissions essay, we can typically tell from the first several sentences. How?

It’s not just in the sentence construction (Dad does love a semicolon, Mom loves a compound-complex sentence). More critically, it’s in the synthesis. There’s something miraculous about reading a young writer’s work, seeing their worldview captured so honestly and precisely in 650 words. It’s also something that can’t be easily recreated by Mom or Dad. This is where we aspire to take all of our clients, and we do it through a highly facilitative editing process based on asking questions.

Mom and Dad might even think the questions are unreasonable or excessive (eventually they will see it our way). But they also don’t look at the world the same way – and that worldview is what you should distill in your Common App essay. In The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger captured the unmistakeable, angsty voice of a 16-year-old, a voice that is still relevant and authentic today. That ability to channel another person’s inner voice – the mark of the great modernists – is a rare gift. Even Salinger lost facility with this gift in his subsequent work.

Admissions officers WANT to read the fresh perspective of a thoughtful 18-year-old. They want to be transported, challenged and inspired at the same time. That’s the funny thing about The Catcher in the Rye isn’t it? It’s what makes Salinger’s prose feel so alive. We digress.

Our point is: write your own college essay. Mom and Dad may have superior grammar or a larger lexicon, but they don’t have your worldview. You won’t be 18-years-old forever. Harness that ephemeral worldview and write your own essay. That’s where the most exceptional writing is found.

Looking for guidance on your Common App essay? Visit our college admissions page for more info about our services.

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2013 Common App Essay Tips | Ivy Eyes Editing

Whether you’ve been procrastinating since August or you’ve already written and tossed out 25 outlines, the time has come to pick a Common App essay prompt and get down to business. The only thing is, it’s definitely not business as usual over at Common App central. And unless you consider writing long personal essays a favorite pastime, the new format might not be second nature. But never fear: We’re here to help you take the leap from 500 to 650 words with some wisdom about the art and craft of storytelling.

Storytelling?!” you say? “What on earth does storytelling have to do with my college application?”

Well, in short—everything. A good story has the power to make or break everything from a business deal to a toddler’s bedtime. The human brain is hardwired for story, and the more personal that narrative is, the greater potential it has to be meaningful. The funny and paradoxical thing about telling a story is that, usually, the more specific we get, the more universal the tale’s meaning becomes. And a personally moving but universally powerful story is exactly what you need to answer any one of the newly revamped Common App prompts.

First, pick a prompt and think of a story to tell that is uniquely important to you. Or, think of a story to tell and then pick a prompt—they are so far-reaching that taking this reverse approach shouldn’t be hard. (And check out our blog post on the new prompt choices if you need help.) Then, before you start to clickety-clack at your keyboard, take a few minutes to sit with your essay structure. Every story has three basic parts: Beginning, middle, and end. As you write down these fundamental points, start to consider the interstitial pieces. Because, clearly, the next great American novel does not solely consist of beginning, middle, and end.

Classic dramatic structure breaks these three parts down into five: Exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement. Exposition sets the scene, and rising action contributes to the situation leading up to the central point of action, or the climax. The climax is the centerpiece of the story, the pivot point upon which everything else turns. Once the climax of the story is reached, the rest is residual cause and effect, contextualization, and—in the case of admissions storytelling—self-reflection. Denouement (n. the final part of a narrative in which the strands of the plot are drawn together and matters are explained or resolved) is your opportunity to share the distinct perspective on these events, and how they changed you. In the Common App essay, the denouement is what makes you you, and your essay unforgettable to the admissions committee.

Joan Didion famously wrote, “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” Through story, we remember, understand, empathize, learn, and grow. Every story has the inherent potential to fortify its reader—even the most seemingly banal. As you sit down to write a longer narrative for your college essay, remember the basic and time-tested formulae of storytelling. It worked out pretty well for the ancient Greeks, so you might as well give it a shot.

And we’re just an email away when you’re ready to put on the finishing touches!


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Is Facebook Making You a Better Writer? | Ivy Eyes Editing

“Use the right word, not its second cousin.”

~Mark Twain

While most of you are busy completing your CommonApp, we are aware that a *very small* minority of applicants are spending copious amounts of time on Facebook. And while any distraction from one of your life’s most important goals – getting into college – may be frowned upon by some, we think regular Facebook time is…a good thing.

Over the last decade, writing has taken over speech as the dominant form of interaction, whether it be via Facebook, e-mail or text messaging. These modern modes of communication have enabled writing to feel more and more like speech. So what is happening to the technique of writing as a result?

For starters, on Facebook, Twitter or via text, crisp writing is king. Sure, we can all name our local ideologues with a penchant for verbosity, but we also know how we feel about them (they’re annoying.) Articles (a, an, the) often fall to the wayside, and vocabulary is more casual and colloquial. And while your English teacher may bristle at this, we can appreciate the shift in style.

Across social media platforms, writers proclaim their subjectivity as a badge of honor (don’t even get us started on this brilliant piece on the impact of David Foster Wallace). The content itself has become more unfiltered, more authentic – which in many cases means more rich (excluding the occasional internet user who wields a status update with the delicacy of a battering ram). This supposed subjectivity can be taken to the extreme, in admissions writing or otherwise. As mentioned in the NYTimes article cited above:

“In the Internet era, Wallace’s moves have been adopted and further slackerized by a legion of opinion-mongers who not only lack his quick mind but seem not to have mastered the idea that to make an argument, you must, amid all the tap-dancing and hedging, actually lodge an argument.”

Facebook has provided an unrivaled forum in which to showcase and refine voice and point of view. On Facebook, you suddenly have the ability to converse (and collaborate!) with elementary school teachers, college professors, neighbors, ex-girlfriends and second cousins. The potential these kinds of interactions can have on your thought process, your language and your future can be overwhelmingly positive – as long as you budget enough time to finish that CommonApp!


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