AMCAS II Ex. 5 — What’s Your Weakness?

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We are all full of weakness and errors; let us mutually pardon each other our follies – it is the first law of nature — Voltaire

During the secondary applications, there is a good likely hood that you’ll eventually hit a question that asks for your to explain your weaknesses — some questions may even have you elaborate more, some less. As premeds we’re hyper vigilant when it comes to addressing our weaknesses. The worst thing you can do on this essay is to wall yourself up, become defensive, and start playing “cat and mouse” on this question. When interviewed, this is a question interviews like to toss in, so the better you know this question the better you’ll be during it. In fact, there’s seldom a job interview that I’ve had that also didn’t ask this question (at least a job that preferred a degree).

On the other hand you may indeed be perfect, good luck explaining that to your interviews who likely can easily give you a running list of their “weaknesses”.

Here was my strategy in answering the question:

1. Present weakness (feint)

The first step to many problems is to first acknowledge you have one. (see step 3). In my example it’s my “self doubt” about past decisions.

2. Rationalize/humanize, but don’t minimize weakness (parry into step 3)

Use an explanation to explain what your weakness is in context, then project how this could be a ‘problem’ later. Pretty much, in this phase I was beating my reviewer to the punch by acknowledging my issues, then being realistic about how that is a weakness in their context as well. After that, I used that to transition into the next step, step 3. In my case I tried to reason with physicians who probably were just as neurotic as I was about things, so it wasn’t a hard argument to bridge rumination and self destruction.

3. Propose solution/plan of action for your weakness (Parry into a gentle counter attack ‘riposte’)

Up until this point, I was on the defensive as a writer, but at the conclusion I moved towards the offensive, I decided to address how I’d overcome my problem: becoming more systematic, learning how to trust and delegate better (more trust in the process less restless nights in theory). This helped turn my weakness into more of an, “Aha!”, moment then a guilty admission. The key here is to really give the “how will you solve” this problem prompt real consideration.

And the golden rule — don’t BS ( unless you believe the BS too, but that’s some type of Inception type concept that we don’t have time to cover).


What is your weakness?

I feel one of my largest flaws is my tendency to ruminate on my past decisions. As a future doctor I could imagine myself always wondering if I could have provided a better outcome for a patient: if I just had noticed a symptom sooner, prescribed medicines more or less aggressively, if I made the correct ethical choice, and wondering constantly if there was a better way to perform my duty. This year I have strove to empirically record my observations using an online journal; it has allowed for me reduce circular worries. Later, I could assuage my concerns with meticulous chart recording and recording case studies. I should also learn how to better develop trust and delegate to others, this would help reduce a lot of stress. These skills would transfer into medicine as I better learn to foster team work with other allied professionals. While I believe self-criticism is necessary, and should be invited, nonconstructive self-doubt helps no one.


As you may have imagined, to reflect on things is healthy but to ruefully regret is not a good thing. You may have also imagined that this trait would have made me more anxious during application season, at the beginning this was indeed true. However, during that time I grew to appreciate a new philosophy about my time and how much I would worry about things.


7 thoughts on “AMCAS II Ex. 5 — What’s Your Weakness?

    premedmachine said:
    July 10, 2014 at 1:32 am

    Hello, another interesting post that made me realize how hard I have to work on being a doctor in addition to tough studies! ” knowing ones self; be able to take criticism and know your weakness too not only strength!”Thanks again!👍

      doctororbust responded:
      July 10, 2014 at 10:03 am


      Yes, there’s a lot more then scores and GPA points. Though I did perfectly fine on both the MCAT and my GPA(s) I came into the process understanding that those were just my credentials — credentials that most premeds are expected to have.

      Being able to take criticism will be essential in medical school and beyond. Also, knowing your weaknesses allows for your to improve upon your strengths. After all, would you want a medical student who couldn’t acknowledge their honest frailties?

      Thanks for reading!

        premedmachine said:
        July 13, 2014 at 3:19 pm

        Hi. I am not sure if u can help me but I wanted to ask you something about my laptop purchase and needed your opinion on that. I need to buy a laptop and I want to get the MacBook Pro. I called Apple and they customize it according to my needs(after asking me few questions). I am doing specialization in cell and molecular biology, and I want to keep the laptop for long time like in med school when I start in 2 years 🙂 . Is this a good one? Below the details of MacBook Pro they offered me:
        2.6GHz Dual-core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 3.1GHz

        16GB 1600MHz DDR3L SDRAM

        256GB PCIe-based Flash Storage

        Await your reply. Thanks!

        doctororbust responded:
        July 13, 2014 at 3:56 pm


        While I can’t predict how the requirements will change over the years, here are the laptop minimal requirements for my program:

        2.0 Ghz Processor
        2 GB of RAM
        120 GB Hard drive
        1280 x 800 resolution
        at least 4 hours of battery life

        Suggested Upgrades
        128 or 256 SSD, and upgrade to 7200 rpm.
        8 GB RAM or more. (You’re typically stuck wit the laptop RAM you have, so think wisely)
        12″ to 13″ monitor
        8.1 Professional and Mac OSX Maverick 10.9.

    premedmachine said:
    July 14, 2014 at 11:52 am

    Thank you so much.

    […] Secondary – Diversity Essay (one of the ‘harder’ essays), Community Essay, Greatest Weakness Essay […]

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