Personal statements are an admission requirement for all graduate schools. When writing a personal statement for medical school - one must consider the subtle nuances that admission officers dig for. Over half of your admission score will rely solely on your personal statement. Medical schools enroll sharp, compassionate, and open-minded students. Be prepared to demonstrate exemplary dedication and spirit in your writing. This blog looks at how to write a compelling med school personal statement which will show the committee what you’re made of!
- What Is The Purpose
- What Convincing Medical Statement Should Do
- Personal Statement Topic
- How To Write It
What Is The Purpose
Before writing a med school personal statement, one must understand what admission officers are looking for. The MCAT and GPA scores have demonstrated that you’re capable of following instructions and achieving good grades. The personal statement must lift the veil, revealing the person behind the scores to the admission committee.
Ideally, the statement should:
Tell them who you are
Show how you stand out from other applicants
Detail your motivations behind pursuing a medicine career
Keep in mind that the admission committee will review the statement as a sample of your writing. They may potentially bring up some of the themes or points you’ve made in the interview.
What Convincing Medical Statement Should Do
Avoid Cliches. Many personal statements say the same thing. “I want to change the world” or “I want to help others” - and while these may be worthy reasons, they are too general and come off as unoriginal. Think of WHY you want to help others, or HOW exactly do you want to change the world. Show, don’t tell.
Explain your motivation for taking up medical studies. Many do it because they feel like it’s a righteous path. Others have personal and emotional reasons for pursuing a career in medicine. Perhaps you wish to make a lasting impact on the field of medicine, or continue your a family line of doctors - your motivations are your own.
Show them why you’re perfect for a career in medicine. Admission officers read heaps of personal statements every day. You don’t want to bore them with yet another generalized “I want to change the world” personal statements. Focus on what’s important - why your unique experiences make you perfect for a medical degree.
Personal Statement Topic
Your personal statement will merely be a part of your primary application. The application will already include all the technical information required by the uni. Hence, you can write a personal statement on any topic of your choosing.
It’s always good to surprise the reader with something fresh and unique. However, here are some common personal statement themes to consider:
- A personal experience that taught you something valuable
- Your goals and ambitions in the field of medicine
- A unique approach you used to overcome an obstacle
- A relationship with a person who inspired you
- A world problem that you have a unique solution to
How To Write a Personal Statement for Medical School
Now that we’ve gotten all the organizational matters out of the way, it’s time to start writing. Follow these personal statement tips to get the admission committee absorbed into your work and see you as a potential candidate:
1. Write, double-check, repeat
The personal statement will make or break your admission. Therefore, it’s important to give yourself enough time (a couple of weeks – or even months) for editing and revision. Even the greatest writers revise their work to perfection. When finished, set your draft aside for at least 24 hours before proofreading and making changes.
2. Focus on a theme
Writing your entire life story in the personal statement might be an exaggeration. Take an interesting theme, or part of your journey, and put it in the spotlight.
3. Take a different angle
All people experience various forms of success and failure. The difference is how they handled it. How did you handle it? What does it say about your character? Show them your perspective, your voice, and your approach to making decisions. Is there a story you can tell that no one else can?
4. Keep your writing engaging
Simple literary devices such as introductory hooks can make your personal statement engaging and fun to read. Create momentum from the first line, and keep the ball rolling. They won’t even know what hit them!
5. Showing beats telling
Imagine if stories went like “Jim was a bad guy until he realized that being a nice guy is better. The moral: Be nice.” Telling the committee that you’re an organized, empathetic, and open-minded person doesn’t really tell them anything. The best way is always to show - and that’s what all good stories do.
6. Use the 5-paragraph-essay format to your advantage
Almost every essay is a variation of this format on a smaller or bigger scale:
An opening paragraph with an attention grabber and thesis
Three body paragraphs that bring out the heavy artillery. This section will show your understanding of medical studies and your approach to problem-solving
A conclusion to sum everything up, tie into the introduction, and challenge the reader with a fresh thought or moral of the story
7. Keep it simple
Imagine if doctors explained problems in hardcore medical terms. You don’t want to walk out of their office feeling more confused than when you came in. Good doctors use clear and direct language, and you should too!
8. Transitions matter
If your essay is an unconnected jumble of facts and experiences, it will be boring to read. Every paragraph must flow logically into the next. The best transitions are always invisible. Avoid transitions such as “And now let’s talk about…”
9. Don’t ramble
Often students think that personal statements are a great opportunity to write the next Ulysses. True, Joyce's flow of consciousness can be fascinating to some, but definitely not to your med school admission officers. Avoid rambling, and stay on topic.
10. Check for punctuation and grammar
This must go without saying. In this day and age, there are plenty third-party grammar-checkers you could use to proofread for minor errors.
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