Review these items occasionally; let them tell you more about what you want your personal statement to say. Start writing drafts, experiments; you will know when a paragraph begins to gel.
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There are many common pitfalls to the personal statement. Here are some things that you might be tempted to do in your statement but should not:. Skip to main content. Personal Statements Thinking about graduate school?
What Makes a Good Personal Statement? There is no exact template for an effective personal statement. Good personal statements often have a strong sense of narrative. This does not mean that they read like short stories, though they can relate a few scenes or anecdotes from your life. Strong personal statements often give readers an idea of how applicants see their experiences as leading to the decision to pursue medicine. A Suggested Writing Process Everyone writes differently, so these are potential strategies rather than rules.
Make a list of some of your most defining experiences — extracurricular activities, specific classes, volunteer work, research, hobbies, etc. Try not to include overly personal experiences breakups, trouble with parents, illnesses in the family, and so on. You want experiences in which you did something and had to make a choice. From this list, try to select an experience that particularly demonstrates your intellectual curiosity, your dedication to service, your composure under pressure, your leadership ability, or any other personal trait that you think is particularly relevant to your case that you would make a good doctor or medical student.
Start writing a draft based on this experience. Try to use your draft to craft a succinct story that demonstrates your character and your motivations. Set the draft aside for some time a number of days or weeks , and then revisit it with fresh eyes.
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Be as honest with yourself as you can be: What works in this draft? Revise, revise, revise: tighten the structure, add new things to make your point clearer, take away sentences or sections that now seem unnecessary, use the active voice as much as possible, and anything else that needs to be done. Solicit feedback from a couple of trusted readers and revise again based on the suggestions that you find most useful. Edit your work for grammatical mistakes, typos, clumsy repetitions, and so on.
Make your prose impeccable before you submit your statement. Asking help from other readers can be especially helpful with editing, as sometimes it gets difficult to read your work with fresh eyes. How to Get Started The personal statement is an exercise in self-reflection. Questions to consider: Who are you? I am driven to… I have learned to… I believe… What are your most passionate interests or concerns? What problem s most occupy your thinking and your efforts? How did you develop those interests? Not just the story, but what drives you.
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What errors or regrets have taught you something important about yourself? When does time disappear for you? What does this tell you about your passions, your values? What ideas, books, courses, events have had a profound impact on you? How so? To what extent do your current commitments reflect your most strongly held values?
Some tell you not to open with a story. Others tell you to always begin with a story.
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Regardless of the advice you receive, be sure to do three things:. Most important is to begin with something that engages your reader. I encourage applicants to start their personal statement by describing an experience that was especially influential in setting them on their path to medical school.
This can be a personal experience or an extracurricular one. The bulk of your essay should be about your most valuable experiences, personal, academic, scholarly, clinical, academic and extracurricular that have impacted your path to medical school and through which you have learned about the practice of medicine.
The best personal statements cover several topics and are not narrow in scope. Why is this important? Many different people with a variety of backgrounds, interests, and ideas of what makes a great medical student will be reading your essay. You want to make sure you essay has broad appeal.
Personal Statements for Medical School
As I have outlined in my book, The MedEdits Guide to Medical School Admissions , the following exercise will help you to determine what experiences you should highlight in your personal statement. Before starting your personal statement, create an experience- based personal inventory:. Write down a list of the most important experiences in your life and your development. The list should be all inclusive and comprise those experiences that had the most impact on you. Put the list, which should consist of personal, extracurricular, and academic events, in chronological order.
From this list, determine which experiences you consider the most important in helping you decide to pursue a career in medicine. Remember that you must provide evidence for your interest in medicine and for most of the personal qualities and characteristics that medical school admissions committees want to see. What did you observe? What did you learn? What insights did you gain? How did the experience influence your path and choices? Choose to write about those experiences that not only were influential but that also will provide interesting reading, keeping in mind that your goal is to weave the pertinent experiences together into a compelling story.
In making your choices, think about how you will link each experience and transition from one topic to the next. Decide which of your listed experiences you will use for the body of your personal statement and create a general outline. Summarize why you want to be a doctor and address what you hope to achieve and your goals for medical school. Not true. This advice is antiquated and dates back to the days of the written application when admissions committees flipped through pages. If your personal statement is interesting and compelling, it is fine to use the entire allotted space.
The application systems have incorporated limits for exactly this reason! Many students, depending on their unique circumstances, can actually undermine their success by limiting their personal statement to a page. That said, never max out a space just for the sake of doing so. Quality writing and perspectives are preferable to quantity. Above all, your personal statement should be about you. Explain to your reader what you have done and why you want to be a doctor with insight, compassion, and understanding.
You want the reader to be able to envision you as a caregiver and a medical professional. You want to convey that you would be a compassionate provider at the bedside — someone who could cope well with crisis and adversity. The best personal statements engage the reader. Write in your own language and voice, but really think about your journey to medical school and the most intriguing experiences you have had.
You want to tell your story by highlighting those experiences that have been the most influential on your path to medical school and to give a clear sense of chronology. You want your statement always to be logical and never to confuse your reader. The best medical school personal statements tell a great deal about what you have learned through your experiences and the insights you have gained. The vast majority of personal statements do not have themes. My personal statement should not describe patient encounters or my personal medical experiences.
Again, the actual topics on which you focus in your personal statement are less important than the understanding you gained from those experiences. I have successful clients who have written extremely powerful and compelling personal statements that included information about clinical encounters — both personal and professional. Write about whichever experiences were the most important on your path to medicine.
Focus instead on those that are more current. Not exactly true. You never want to boast in your personal statement. Let your experiences, insights, and observations speak for themselves. You want your reader to draw the conclusion — on his or her own — that you have the qualities and characteristics the medical school seeks.
Never tell what qualities and characteristics you possess; let readers draw these conclusions on their own based on what you write. Read some medical school personal statement examples to get inspiration for your own personal statement. MedEdits proven personal statement document review and editing service has helped, literally, hundreds of applicants get in to medical school. Partnering with applicants, we offer personalized suggestions of what topics to focus on and draw out your distinctive voice, stories and attributes.
We do not use a formulaic approach to our personal statement review and editing; each of our students composes a document that is uniquely his or her own. Want to captivate your reader? Sign up for a free 15 minute consultation to find out how we can help you or purchase your editing service.