How to Write a Personal Statement

I’ve been asked by a few people for advice in writing a personal statement.

The personal statement of your medical school application…

This is often a daunting process for medical school applicants, and they push it off as long as possible. In my opinion, this can be one of the easier medical school processes if you’ve prepared yourself appropriately.

1) Grab their attention immediatelyIf possible, try to catch the reader’s attention in your very first sentence. Imagine having to sift through pages upon pages of personal statements, many of which seem to elicit feelings of deja vu in the mind of the reader. Don’t be an applicant with “just another personal statement”. Be unique!

Think of the most influential moments that led to your current medical journey. You should have clinical experiences, volunteering opportunities, etc. to draw ideas from. Whatever you find to be most influential is probably going to be the most attention-grabbing as well. Draw the reader in from the very start!

2) Be genuine! Like I said before, schools receive so many applications that are extremely similar. One of the similarities is the applicant’s reasoning for attending that school. Applicants often discuss how great the school is, how great the faculty are, or how that school will make them a better doctor. I definitely recommend a statement or 2 that makes it clear you’ve actually researched the school and aren’t just blindly applying to as many schools as possible. However, don’t be a suck up!

People who write about how great the school is are completely failing to write a “personal statement” since it’s not even about them as an applicant at that point. Be true to yourself and to the school you’re applying to as well. Express genuine ideas, beliefs, etc. and let them see you as a person. If they don’t get an idea of who you are through the personal statement, what reason do they have to give you an interview? Plenty of people want to attend that specific school because “it’s an amazing institution”, but you need get across why you should be at that school.

3) Ease their concerns about any “red flags” on your application. Whether you grades suffered, your clinical hours are low, or you didn’t experience enough research, you want to address any possible concerns with legitimate explanations. Please note that I said “legitimate explanations” and I did not say excuses! You aren’t expected to have a perfect application. I didn’t have a perfect application by any means and most people don’t! However, you should have a brief explanation if there are any causes for concern. Also, be sure to keep this part brief! You want to spend the majority of your personal statement expressing your attributes, not explaining where you messed up.

4) Make everything flow. You don’t want to be jumping around from topic to topic and making it difficult for the reader to keep up. Use transition sentences where appropriate and try to link everything together at the end. Like I said earlier, you want to grab the reader’s attention immediately. You also don’t want to lose their attention! Keeping your thoughts fluent will benefit you dramatically by a) keeping their attention and b) providing an insight into your ability to express yourself and your ideas.

The main idea in writing a personal statement is that you want to stand out in a positive way. Think about the number of people who write that they want to change lives, have always dreamed of being a physician, or any other number of the cliché premedical statements. Your goal should be that even if the reader goes through 100 different personal statements, they still remember reading yours specifically.

I may add to this later but need to get back to studying histology for now. I’ll also be sure to add this to the resources page once I’ve finalized my ideas. Hopefully this helps some of you!

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2 responses

  1. This is a great blog with tons of interesting posts – I’ll definitely be referring back to this when I start applying next year – also, congratulations on your baby girl!

    1. Thanks so much!! I hope you’ll find plenty of things to help you along the way!

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