Do’s & Don’ts Of Writing Your Medical School Personal Statement

October 17, 2013

Posing :-) When crafting your personal statement for your medical school application, what you don’t say is just as important as what you do say. Medical school interviewers are highly

experienced. They’ve read several hundred applications and personal statements and have mastered the art of reading between the lines and gauging your potential as a student of their institution.

Here are a few dos and don’ts that you should keep in mind when writing out your personal statement.


  • Do create an articulate narrative that explains your decision to pursue a career in medicine.  
  • Do draw attention to and highlight your strengths and your skills. Be unique. Be convincing.
  • Do be brief – avoid the temptation to elaborate on every aspect of every one of your experiences. Elaborate only on the most relevant experience that highlights what you learnt from it.
  • Do show insight and introspection when relating any incident. These say volumes about your level of maturity and your ability to deal with difficult situations.
  • Do mention any overseas medical placement experience or volunteer service that you participated in. Highlight your specific role and what you took away from the experience.
  • Do mention any kind of medical condition that you may have faced and overcome and how that has made you a stronger person and even more determined to become a doctor.  
  • Do keep your personal statement interesting and engaging. The idea is to pique the interest of the interviewer who will want to know more about you.     
  • Do proof read and edit your personal statement before sending it off.


Tina's friend Olivia holding a new born baby in Iringa Regional Hospital Don’ts

  • Don’t make sweeping statements about how you ‘want to help people’. This is a common mistake most pre-medical students make. The problem with this statement is that wanting to help people does not necessarily lead to a career in medicine. You could have chosen a career as a social worker or a teacher too. The important thing is to highlight specifically why you chose medicine. 
  • Don’t use quotes. Your personal statement is about you and your thoughts not about another person’s wise words or thoughts, no matter how famous they may be.
  • Don’t use clichés and other common phrases. They are not likely to impress the interviewers.
  • Don’t fake your passion for any one particular aspect of the medical profession. If you are not passionate about something don’t bring it to the forefront. Interviewers know what’s fake and what’s genuine. 
  • Don’t talk about any major medical obstacle that you may have faced that caused you to fall apart. Authorities are never enthusiastic about hiring someone who is likely to crumble in the face of adversity.
  • Don’t focus too much on childhood or high school activities. Experiences that are more current carry more weight.