Tips for Writing the Medical School Personal Statement

If you’re gearing up to apply to medical school for fall 2015 entry, now is the time to get started with your personal statement. Keep these tips in mind as you sit down to write:

  • Start long and then condense. For the early drafts focus on the overall content, structure and message, and then edit down your ideas to fit the length limits for the application (5,300 characters including spaces for AMCAS, 4,500 for AADSAS and 5,000 for Texas).
  • Incorporate examples, anecdotes and details to make your statement compelling and convincing.
  • Don’t try to squeeze in every activity and accomplishment you have. Med school applications contain sections to list your work, volunteer and extracurricular activities, so use the 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.
  • Take some time 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.
  • Keep the purpose of the statement in mind. A great 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.
  • Get others’ opinions, but don’t go overboard. Having an advisor, physician or professor look over your statement and give you feedback can be invaluable, but if you try to take advice from too many people, you’ll find your distinctive writer’s voice lost in a sea of other people’s thoughts and opinions.
  • Proofread relentlessly.

Getting started is the hardest part of the writing process, so my final piece of advice is to pick a time to just sit down and begin. Even if you’re not thrilled with your first draft, getting something down on paper will give you something to work from.  Sit down, fill a page or two with your thoughts and then go back and revise again and again.

Need the help of an advisor experienced with medical school applications? Contact Dr. Eaton at (626) 768-2154 or for a free 20 minute phone consultation.

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