5 Tips To Master Your Medical School Personal Statement
The personal statement is a core component of applying to medical school. It’s a chance to give admissions committees a glimpse of your personality, to show you’re more than just your grades and test scores. Most of all, it’s your chance to express your desire and commitment to pursue a career in medicine. Here are some tips for mastering your personal statement.
Say what no one else can say:
Grades represent only a small part of who an individual is. And while letters of recommendation from professors can help had a personal touch, no one can represent yourself better than you. Your personal statement should say something new that isn’t on your formal application. Be personal and open. Write about something that stands out and is specifically unique to you.
Be simple and concise:
This is not the time to get creative with your writing style. Writing that is eloquent and interesting does not have to be elaborate. So cut the extraneous sentences and hyperbolic adjectives, and be straightforward in getting to the heart of the matter. According to Yale College’s guidelines for writing a personal statement, “The more specific you can be, the more the admissions committee will feel as if they have a sense of who you are.”
“Show” rather than “tell”:
Yale also stresses that good personal statements have a strong sense of narrative, usually including a brief description of a personal experience, followed by reflection on how that experience relates to them pursuing medicine (i.e. how it inspired them, challenged them, shows their commitment and drive, etc.) Using personal anecdotes to illustrate your personal values and attributes is much more powerful than simply listing off your good qualities.
Stay on topic:
Whatever topic you choose to write about, make sure your personal statement directly relates back to why you want to pursue a career in medicine. Being hard-working- passionate and responsible are all admirable qualities, but how are they relevant to you going to medical school? Follow the prior rule about keeping your writing simple, and the easier this will be.
Follow the rules:
This may sound like a given, but it can be easy to get carried away in the writing process and forget about or try to bend personal statement guidelines. If there’s a word limit, don’t exceed it; if a specific prompt is given, address it in your writing. Each member of medical school admission committees has to read many personal statements submitted by the thousands of potential students who apply each year. Don’t let something insignificant like writing a paper that’s one page too long hurt your chances of acceptance.