2023 TMDSAS Activities Section Guide


The TMDSAS activities section lets admissions committees see your personality, values, and interests outside of the classroom. This is where the admissions committee will look first to discover who you are beyond your grades and whether or not you’re the kind of candidate they’re looking for.

The activities section summarizes the breadth of extracurricular activities you participated in since graduating from high school to prepare you for medical school. Admissions committees are looking for a range of activities that highlight your skill and dedication as well as your passion for the medical field and the communities you serve.

Learn more about the TMDSAS activities section, including why it’s important, what’s included, how the chronology works, and how to prepare for it.

Not sure what application type you need to submit? Read our guide to AMCAS vs. AACOMAS vs. TMDSAS Med School Application Differences to find out how the three application services compare.


The Anatomy of a TMDSAS Application

The TMDSAS application for Texas medical schools opens for submissions at the beginning of May. Schools begin accepting applications around the middle of June, which means you have just over a month to complete and fine-tune your application.

Rolling admissions degrade your odds of acceptance the later you submit, so do all that you can to plan ahead and submit your application as soon as possible. While the technical deadline for primary applications is later in the year, it is critical that you submit your application as close as possible to the opening date.

The timeline below shows both possible and ideal schedules.

TMDSAS Medical School Application Timeline

For a complete breakdown of the entire application process, read our Medical School Application Timeline, which includes key dates and an ideal month-by-month preparation schedule.

The TMDSAS activities section is only one piece of your primary application. For a successful application, you must work on multiple application components at once.

  • GPA and MCAT Score
  • Personal Statement
  • Letters of Evaluation (also called Letters of Recommendation)
  • Activities and Most Meaningful Activities Section
  • Mini Essays
  • Depending on the schools you apply to, you may also be required to take a Casper test.

Read our complete TMDSAS Application Guide for more information about the other application components.


The TMDSAS Activities Section

The activities section on the TMDSAS application allows you to create a chronology of the activities you participated in since graduating from high school. Unlike AMCAS, TMDSAS is specifically looking at the order of your experiences (based on the dates you enter) and whether or not there are any gaps. You should not have any gaps between activities greater than three months.

For each activity, you will only have 300 characters to provide a meaningful description. This is not a lot of space at all, especially considering AMCAS applications allow for 700 characters per entry for the equivalent Work and Activities section.

Additionally, you are allowed to choose a maximum of three most meaningful activities. For each of your chosen activities, you will have an additional 500 characters to describe why this activity meant so much to you and why it stands out among the rest.

Unlike the other application processes (AMCAS and AACOMAS), TMDSAS asks premeds to include planned activities. Planned activities are any activity you plan to participate in after you submit your application—this includes any activities you are currently involved with that will continue after you submit your application.

There are two additional 2500 character essays within the TMDSAS application. One asks students to “describe your personal characteristics (background, talents, skills, etc.) or experiences that would add to the educational experience of others.” The other essay is optional but strongly encouraged. It asks you to share a broader picture of who you are as an applicant. Use this as an opportunity to further engage with admissions committees and continue the narrative you are building across your application.

  1. Activities (Chronology of Activities, which includes everything between high school graduation and the summer of your application.)
    • 300 characters each
    • Categories: Academic Recognition, Non-Academic Recognition, Leadership, Employment, Research Activities, Healthcare Activities, Community Service, Extracurricular Activities
  2. Most Meaningful Activities
    • Which of your previously listed activities were most meaningful and why?
    • 3 maximum
    • 500 characters each (in addition to 300 each in Activities)
  3. Planned Activities
    • 300 characters each
    • Indicate future activities you plan on participating in between the application deadline and August of the year you submit your application.
    • This can include any future employment, future research, healthcare, community service, or extracurricular activities
  4. Mini-Essays (Found in the Personal Information section)
    • 600 – 1000 characters
    • Describe how your military experience prepared you for a career as a healthcare provider. (1000 characters)
    • Have ever been arrested or charged with any violation of the law regardless of outcome? (600 characters to provide details.)
    • If you indicate that you consider yourself a non-traditional applicant, the following essay prompt will appear: “Describe the factors that have defined you as a non-traditional candidate and how they impact your application.” (1000 characters)
  5. Personal Characteristics
    • 2500 characters
    • Learning from others is enhanced in educational settings that include individuals from diverse backgroundsand experiences. Please describe your personal characteristics (background, talents, skills, etc.) or experiences that would add to the educational experience of others.
  6. Optional Essay
    • 2500 characters
    • The optional essay is an opportunity to provide the admissions committee(s) with a broader picture of who you are as an applicant. The essay is optional; however, you are strongly encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity.


Types of TMDSAS Activities

You will need to choose between a list of categories to classify each of the activities you add.

Activity categories:

  • Academic Recognition
  • Non-Academic Recognition
  • Leadership
  • Employment
  • Research Activities
  • Healthcare Activities
  • Community Service
  • Extracurricular Activities

Include as wide a range of categories as possible, but don’t misclassify experiences for the sake of extending your range. What’s most important is making sure to include activities within three critical areas: clinical exposure, research experience, and community involvement.

Planning your activities well in advance will help to make sure you have enough experience in each of these three areas.

Clinical exposure demonstrates that you know what it means to be a physician because you have been at the center of a medical environment. You’ve seen the sights and the smells, and you’re still passionate about becoming a doctor. The ideal way to get this experience is by volunteering with an MD or shadowing an MD.

Research experience is critical to your medical school success, as research is the foundation of advancements in healthcare. Ensure you demonstrate that you know how to ask relevant questions, analyze data, and develop logical conclusions. A thirst for knowledge and a passion for learning is a huge part of being a medical professional, and it’s something that admissions committees look for.

Community involvement shows an admissions committee you’re serious about your community and passionate about helping people. Volunteering within your community, with different groups in college, or in a medical setting are all excellent ways to demonstrate your commitment to helping people.**

Learn more about the main types of Extracurriculars Medical Schools Look For.


TMDSAS Activities Section Strategies

1 | Plan Ahead

Put careful consideration into your activities and meaningful experiences section well in advance of beginning your application. You should be well on your way to working on your clinical and research experiences during your sophomore year.

Waiting too long to begin participating in activities is to your detriment, as admissions committees want to see the breadth of your involvement across clinical exposure, research, and community involvement.

It takes time to find a wide range of activities for your application and much longer to fulfill your commitments. It’s possible you may not like an activity as much as you thought you would, which is why it’s important to give yourself plenty of extra time to complete your activities. This way, you can seek out multiple opportunities in order to find something you’re really passionate about. When it comes time to complete your application and interview, you will be able to speak about your experiences with detail and enthusiasm.

The sooner you begin researching and seeking out activities, the better.

2 | Take Notes

The more thorough you make your notes throughout college, the simpler it will be to complete your activities section. The further you get away from any type of activity, the hazier your memory will become. It will be difficult to recall details, and you may develop a skewed perspective of events and your feelings toward them. You may also struggle to accurately recall the specific dates of the activity, which is crucial for the TMDSAS Chronology of Activities.

A detailed notebook or journal will help you capture critical details about your experiences, including what you accomplished, what you learned, the struggles you overcame, how you felt in the moment, and illuminating or amusing anecdotes.

Speaking about your activities doesn’t stop with your primary application. There’s a strong likelihood that you will be asked about these activities as you complete medical school interviews. The more information you have to refresh your memory, the better you will be able to speak about these experiences and answer interview questions with confidence.

Start keeping a journal as soon as possible and establish a system for capturing activity details, dates, and other relevant information. This will be an invaluable resource as you complete this section of your application and continue forward with interview season.

If you haven’t been capturing these details in a notebook or online document, begin doing so as soon as possible. Even if an activity has passed, the sooner you capture your thoughts and the details around the activity, the more accurate your notes will be.

3 | Classify Accurately

Admissions committees are looking for variety across your activities, but you should be able to achieve this without misclassifying activities. Taking care to plan your activities in advance will help you make sure you have impactful experiences across clinical exposure, research, and community involvement.

You can’t simply misclassify activities in order to look like you have a wide range of experiences. That said, some activities may naturally fall under multiple categories, such as working in a clinical setting that turned into paid employment or a volunteer opportunity that resulted in a leadership role. In these cases, you can use your discretion to build a comprehensive and diverse Chronology of Activities.

While variety is important, don’t sacrifice quality. It doesn’t do you any favors to focus on activities in which you barely participated or played a minor role just to check off a wider variety of categories. Your activities should be ones you played an active role in—ones you will be able to speak passionately about if asked to elaborate on during interviews.

4 | Make it About You

Describe your personal experience, not just what you did or what the activity required. Admissions committees don’t want a play-by-play of what shadowing entails. They want to hear about your unique experience and how the activity affected you, as well as how you affected the people you worked with.

Clearly but briefly describe the activity, and put most of your focus on your involvement. What impact did you have on others? What did you learn? How did the activity shape your path toward medical school?

Remember that you are crafting an overall narrative across your medical school application. Utilize the activities section to continue telling your unique story. Describe events, utilize storytelling, and insert anecdotes where possible to paint an intriguing narrative for admissions committees.

You only have 300 characters to describe each activity, so this is no small feat. To make the most of the section, carefully choose your most meaningful experiences to paint a broader picture of who you are as an applicant while complimenting the other aspects of your application.

5 | Complete the Optional Essay

TMDSAS has two short essays in addition to the 5000 character personal statement. Each extra essay is a maximum of 2500 characters long.

The first essay asks:

Learning from others is enhanced in educational settings that include individuals from diverse backgrounds and experiences. Please describe your personal characteristics (background, talents, skills, etc.) or experiences that would add to the educational experience of others.

The second 2500 character essay is optional—but we strongly encourage it. It’s an open opportunity to provide admissions committees with a broader picture of who you are as an applicant.

Any chance to continue selling yourself and elaborating on your unique story should be seen as an opportunity. Don’t skip this optional essay, and take time to prepare your answers in advance so that you are not rushing through these questions to get your application submitted as soon as possible. While not as long as your personal statement, these mini-essays still play an important role in your application and should be approached with care and consideration.

How can you utilize these essays to further your narrative? TMDSAS is not looking for a continuation of your personal statement or a rehash of something they’ve already seen in your application. This is an area to add a fresh perspective on any issues, qualities, or important anecdotes that have not been previously covered in your primary application.


TMDSAS Activities Section FAQ

What is a Planned Activity?

A planned activity is any activity that will take place after the application deadline. What activities are you planning to undertake after you submit your application? Add these activities to the planned activities section. You can no longer make changes after you submit your application.

Planned activities also include any current activities that will continue after the application deadline. Any activities added in the current activities section that will continue beyond the application deadline will need to be entered again in the planned activities section. You are also required to list your projected hours from this point until the activity is completed.

What Happens If Your Activities Change?

You are not able to make changes to your activities after you submit your application, but TMDSAS does allow and recommend that you create a one-page addendum to your application if you have changes. The addendum will account for any changes or edits you make to your activities, and you can take this page with you to your interviews.

How Does the Chronology of Activities Work?

Your Chronology of Activities is automatically built based on the information you enter in each of the other sections of the application. You are required to account for all time and every activity between high school graduation and August of the year you submit your application. Any and all gaps greater than three months must have a record.

The Chronology of Activities page is a summary of all of the activities you entered in your application. It’s important to note that the summary will only show the first 50 characters of each of the activity descriptions.


Attention to Detail For Your Entire TMDSAS Application

Med School Insiders will help you create a stand out medical school application with activities tailored to the schools of your choosing. We offer a range of Comprehensive Medical School Admissions Packages that will pair you with physicians who will guide you every step of the way.

We are committed to creating a generation of happier, healthier, and more effective future doctors. We can help with the entire application process, from MCAT tutoring to mock interviews to secondary editing to student advising. Our team is made of doctors who have years of experience serving on admissions committees, so you’ll receive key insights into the selection process—including how to make your activities look as impressive as possible.


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