Shadowing a Doctor

January 27, 2014

Your personal statement is a crucial component of your medical school application and it can make the difference between getting admission and facing rejection. Here are a few tips that will help you write a personal statement that is impressive, effective and will increase your chances of obtaining admission to a school of your choice.   

Patient in the Burns Unit Avoid clichés

While going through student applications, medical school officers read literally thousands of variations of very clichéd statements about how candidates would like to be a doctor because they want ‘to be able to help people’. While this may be true for you as it is with several others, it is totally ineffective simply because your individuality does not shine through when you write a statement like this. Instead, if you describe specific activities such as community services that you have been involved in or a medical placement that you went on, it will show that you have a genuine interest in helping people 

Be interesting 

In most cases, admissions officers will only skim through the thousands of essays that have been submitted and will only stop to read through those that sound truly interesting. With that in mind, it is important that your essay should catch the reader’s attention from the get-go and there should be no ambiguity in what you are saying.

Use personal detail

A good essay is one which is grounded in personal details and has some solid points. Talk about specific incidents and experiences instead of merely making vague statements about how you “believe in something” or “have learned something”. Give concrete examples of what you learnt and how. What you write should paint a vivid picture without sounding too drawn out.

Avoid lengthy essays

Do not confuse the reader with too many words. Use short, crisp and impacting sentences. Phrases such as “the fact of the matter is”, which do not have any significance and are only included to make the essay look longer, do not impress anyone and in fact will only end up testing the reader’s patience. Be direct and say what you mean without beating around the bush.

Address your weaknesses

There are certain sections in the applications where you can explain about deficiencies in your records and that is something you should take advantage of. Explain it in an adequate and plausible manner. For instance, if you had been unwell before your MCAT, mention it there. Also, try to spin your negatives just a little bit and turn them into positives by stating exactly how you have attempted to improve upon them.

Seek opinions

Ask friends and family to read your essay and ask them for suggestions. Tell them to look at things like whether your essay looks like it has a single central theme. Ask them to see if it is engaging and also whether it reads like you have added some concrete experiences. They should also be looking at whether the sentence structure that you have used is varied. Ask them whether the essay sounds interesting and memorable. Also ask them what the worst part of the essay was and what it revealed about your personality.

Most applicants tend to turn their essay into an autobiography and the entire content sounds like an endless list of experiences. Try to avoid this and bring some level of coherence into your essay and make it sound organized and well-structured. Every sentence should support the central theme. It is also very important that you revise everything you have penned, over and over again before you finally feel convinced that you have an essay that is unique and catchy.