Quoted: Padding the AMCAS application


Escape artist
Moderator Emeritus
15+ Year Member
Apr 4, 2007
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Goodness, I overheard some students talking about padding their application by adding extra EC's and/or extra hours they supposedly performed. My question is are applicants ever caught doing this? How often? Is their a screening procedure for things written on the application? I consider it unfair to those of us who are honest in our apps yet we may not "appear" to have as many credentials as those who lied.

Do you mean by "screening" of EC's do we call up some or all of the places folks say they've worked/volunteered, etc and ask them about it. Well, maybe some people do, but I don't. Wouldn't be very effective or practical.

"Hello, big city hospital, can I speak to the ER?"
"Hi, I'm Tildy the dog and I am reviewing the application of 'Joe Smith' who says he spent 8 hours a month in your ER in November and December of 2004 and one night he saw a kid with a broken bone and held his hand for an hour while they took care of him. Is this true?"
"No way, man, he never spent more than 6 hours here in any month. And it was the other premed who held that kid's hand that night."

*Tildy throws application in trash.*

Imagine doing this with someone who claims to have spent their spring break in Costa Rica feeding the homeless instead of at the beach.

Bottom line is that there is the possibility of exaggeration and unfairness throughout the entire applicaton process (easy grading of classes, better MCAT conditions, etc, etc, etc) for every school and job. As an adcom member, it is our job to evaluate the entire application and determine if it fits together. Then, if we believe this person is worth meeting with, we will ask them detailed questions not only about what they did to get to this point, but what it meant to them. Our experience helps us identify sincerity.

Can we be fooled? Of course.

Do we catch folks who exaggerate? Sometimes - especially when it is about specific skills (languages spoken).

Can people carry on the exaggeration/lie at interviews? Maybe

No admissions system is perfect. Just like you want a physician who is both knowledgeable and experienced to care for you, then you want to be applying to schools with admissions committee members who do their best to be fair and balance all inputs of information in making a decision, not the least of which is what we see when we actually talk to the applicant.