Application Essays and Future Performance in Medical School: Are They Related?

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Teaching and Learning in Medicine








Background: There is a paucity of research on whether application essays are a valid indicator of medical students' future performance. Purpose: The goal is to score medical school application essays systematically and examine the correlations between these essay scores and several indicators of student performance during medical school and internship. Methods: A journalist created a scoring rubric based on the journalism literature and scored 2 required essays of students admitted to our university in 1 year (N = 145). We picked 7 indicators of medical school and internship performance and correlated these measures with overall essay scores: preclinical medical school grade point average (GPA), clinical medical school GPA, cumulative medical school GPA, U.S. Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) Step 1 and 2 scores, and scores on a program director's evaluation measuring intern professionalism and expertise. We then examined the Pearson and Spearman correlations between essay scores and the outcomes. Results: Essay scores did not vary widely. American Medical College Application Service essay scores ranged from 3.3 to 4.5 (M = 4.11, SD = 0.15), and Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences essay scores ranged from 2.9 to 4.5 (M = 4.09, SD = 0.17). None of the medical school or internship performance indicators was significantly correlated with the essay scores. Conclusions: These findings raise questions about the utility of matriculation essays, a resource-intensive admission requirement. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

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