How to Write a Great Medical School Personal Statement

Medical School Personal Statement

Wring a strong personal statement for medical school is what will define your initial advancement in the application process. It is 100% essential that your statement is powerful and flows well for the captured audience.  Now is the time to get started with your personal statement. Keep these handy tips in mind for a great medical school personal statement:

Start your personal statement long, and then condense it.

Pick a quiet place, turn off your phone, grab a cup of coffee, and begin drafting your medical school personal statement.  For the early draft writers, focus on the overall content, structure and message, and then edit down your ideas to fit the length limits for the application. It’s much easier to write a long personal statement, and then condense it. The maximum entry is: 5,300 characters (including spaces) for AMCAS, 4,500 and 5,000 characters for Texas programs.

Incorporate stories, experiences, and details to make your statement compelling and convincing.

Your goal is to capture your audience immediately. Reviewers read hundreds of essays. Write a captivating opening story that touches the reviewer’s heart and grabs their attention. The more interested the reader will be, the more likely he or she would like to know more about you in detail – which will lead you to the next phase of their application process (secondary essays and the big interview!).

Take breaks between drafts.

A few days or even longer between drafts will allow you to read yours statement with fresh eyes and see what is working, and what isn’t. Find a time during the day to come back to your draft when you’re not distracted.

Don’t try to squeeze in every activity and accomplishment you have.

Medical school applications contain sections to list your work, volunteer and extracurricular activities, so use the medical school personal statement to focus on a smaller number of essential experiences that support the story of why you want to become a physician, and why you’ll be a good one.

Get others’ opinions, but a select few.

Having an advisor, physician or professor look over your statement and give you feedback can be invaluable. However, taking advice from too many people will lead your own distinctive writer’s voice to be lost in a sea of other people’s thoughts and opinions. Allow a select few of readers to review your statement so that the process will be smooth and not too overburdened.

Be your own advocate

A great medical school personal statement serves as a letter of introduction to the admissions committee and will convince them that this is an applicant they want to get to know better. Be confident, but do not try to “sell” your story, it may come across in a negative way and will turn off the reader.

Proofread relentlessly.

Getting started is the hardest part of the writing process. Having to write a personal statement is the stepping-stone to making your dreams of becoming a physician come true. My final piece of advice is to commit to a time and a place and begin writing. Although you may not love your first draft, it will move you forward even closer to finishing after your drafts.  Sit down, fill a page or two with your thoughts and then go back and revise again, and again, and again. Stay strong and focused. Remember, many patients are waiting for your help and assistance in the future as their physician!

The Personal Statement: How Early Should You Start?

typing on laptop with coffee

During our recent MedSchoolCoach webinar, “Establishing Your Brand: How to be Unique When Applying to Medical School”, Dr. Mehta, CEO of MedSchoolCoach, spoke with Dr. Katzen, MedSchoolCoach Master Advisor and previous admissions committee member at GWU, about the recommended timeline for personal statements. Read more below about when to get started with your personal statement!

Dr. Mehta:  How early do you usually recommend your applicants get started on the personal statement, Dr. Katzen?

Dr. Katzen:  You know, each individual writes differently. Some can write fairly spontaneously and some need to think about it for a while. The primary application is quite an endeavor to undertake and I certainly think that the personal statement is one of the more challenging parts. I’d like to see people who know they’re going to apply begin to work on it in December. By the end of January, or beginning of February, they should have a completed the essay and be at the point where they can give it to several people to read and give their opinions on. With this timeline, they can begin to think about revising it and prepare other parts of the application before it becomes live in the beginning of May.

I think some people do have the ability to sit down and write, but I think most people need to think about it, maybe need to create an outline, start with bullet points and just consider the points that Dr. Marinelli made a little while ago, which is what it is you’re going to get across about yourself in the application. You have to realize it has to have a flow and there has to be a connection from the beginning to the end.

So, it’s probably one of the more difficult essays that you will encounter. I’m one that likes to do things in advance, so I advise people to get started on it by December or January if they know they’re going to be applying in May or June.

Want some tips on writing a personal statement that will make you stand out? Check out “Applying to Med School: The Importance of a Personal Statement”.