Your personal statement is a chance to provide a quick glimpse of who you are and why you want to become a doctor. These statements can be tricky, because you are trying to stay professional while also giving them an idea of your personality. Here are six tips for writing a good medical school personal statement.
1. Preparation is key.
The best way to prepare to write your personal statement is to go over some questions about yourself. Ask yourself, who are you and what drives you forward? Think about what kinds of things interest you and why you developed those interests. Think about some mistakes you have made, how you learned from them, and how they have changed you. How do your interests and personality contribute to the goals you have set for yourself? Answer these kinds of questions and write them down. Reflect on them, put them away, and come back to them. Then use them to form an outline. Outlines are very useful because they help you figure out all your points and what you want to say before you start writing. Writing without an outline can result in you losing focus and getting carried away with a point and forgetting about others.
2. Try the five point format.
Give the five point essay format a shot and see if it works for you. You begin with a paragraph that is about four or five sentences long. The goal of this first paragraph is to grab a reader’s attention. Use the next three or four body paragraphs to talk about yourself. Try and have one of them focus on your clinical understanding, while another talks about service. Then end with a solid conclusion paragraph that mirrors your introduction, summarizes who you are, and ends by looking toward the future.
3. Show them proof.
The most important part of your statement is providing proof of why you should be accepted. Describe your strengths, but do not talk about things too generally. Everything you say you should try and back it up with proof. Give details and examples. Which doctors have you shadowed? What kind of research have you been involved in, and where was it published? Don’t just mention that you have volunteered, describe the names and places and what you were doing.
4. Keep it simple and straightforward.
Keep the language in your statement simple. You’re not going to score any points by using unnecessarily fancy words; your goal is clear communication. Write a simple story, so that if you read it to a friend they could understand. Don’t try and sound like a doctor. This is just another way of trying to impress the reader. You want the reader to like you based on the way you write, not be turned off because you are trying to impress them.
5. Don’t do this.
If you avoid these common mistakes you’ll already be ahead of many other people. Avoid talking about yourself in a glorifying manner, but don’t go too far the other way and come off as too modest. “Don’t go overboard with the qualifiers, which are words such as “really,” “quite,” “very," etc. Don’t write your statement in a narrative form or using overly flowery language you would never actually speak. Also try to avoid using a lot of jargon and abbreviations,” advises Mary Dundas, educator at Academized. It’s a personal statement, not a creative writing assignment. Avoid talking hyperbolically about how passionate you are; it's better to show than tell so give examples of things you have done. Above all, keep the writing in your statement professional.
6. Try these resources.
Writing is a unique skill that not everyone works on in university. There are plenty of brilliant medical students who struggle with writing, but luckily there are resources that can help.
Grammar rules can be confusing, and a lot of people don’t know how to apply them properly. These grammar resources will ensure you don’t write a statement with grammatical mistakes.
These are writing blogs you will find helpful. There a lots of different approaches to writing out there and it’s good to see what is working for other people.
Writing a good medical school personal statement is no easy task. You want to show that you have what it takes to be a doctor, but you also don’t want to seem boastful. You also want to show them a bit of your personality, but still remain professional. Follow these six tips to write a good medical school solid statement.