Writing your personal statement Part 1: What are med school authorities looking for?

October 14, 2014

Gap Medics students with hospital staff in Thailand Almost all candidates who apply for admission to any medical school would have met the school’s basic academic qualifying criteria. Unfortunately, even though you’ve made the grade, you should know that most medical schools find it impossible to grant interviews to all the thousands of applicants who qualify academically for admission to their institution. The only way to cut down the numbers is for the admissions authorities to use other criteria to choose students who they think would be more suitable than others. This is where your personal statement comes into play.   

Your personal statement is one of the most crucial elements of the medical school application process. It acts as the perfect medium to let the university get to know you better through your own words. For this to work in your favour, it is important that you create a personal statement that is compelling, impressive and piques the curiosity and interest of the interviewing board.

Before you start, consider the purpose of the statement. This will help you shape your statement more effectively.


The main goal of a med school personal statement is to convince the admissions authorities about your passion for medicine and your commitment and dedication to a career in this field.  


To be more specific, they are looking for answers to the following questions:


  • Do you have solid reasons for choosing this career path or did you choose it on a whim? Explain the background of why you are interested in your preferred specialty.
  • Are you going to be a good match to the course you have chosen to apply for? Med school tutors want to see evidence not just of your interest and enthusiasm but also of your aptitude and perseverance. They are looking for students who are adequately motivated and inspired to work and enjoy university life so that their dropout rates would be as low as possible. Demonstrating in one-way or another that you have a real interest in your chosen subject is most crucial.
  • Does your interest in your selected subject extend beyond just school and college? Have you had any relevant practical experience of any sort? If you have done part-time work, this is the time to mention it. In mentioning any hands-on experience you may have had, it is import to also include the skills and proficiencies that you gained during the experience. Have you participated in any volunteering or other activities that show your level of commitment?
  • Will you have the fortitude or staying power once you get admission to med school? Medical school authorities will want to see solid examples of how you have aimed for a particular goal in your life and achieved it, even when the going got tough.
  • Are you a good communicator? Most courses will involve communicating and discussing your ideas with fellow students, tutors and lecturers. As part of your coursework, you will also have to do essay-based coursework for several subjects. To gauge whether or not you can do this, the admissions committee will read through your statement carefully to determine whether or not you are capable of structuring your work well and whether your vocabulary goes beyond the basics.
  • How do you cope when you are under pressure? Do you feel easily overwhelmed with having to juggle several looming deadlines or are you capable of staying calm and thinking clearly under pressure? 


Part 2 will discuss the questions you need to ask yourself in addressing the points above.