Writing your personal statement Part 2: Questions to ask yourself & important do’s & don’tsOctober 15, 2014
Knowing what to write about can often be the most challenging part of writing your personal statement for medical school. What can you say that will help you stand out from amongst tens of thousands of candidates applying for one of those precious med school seats?
In Part 1 you read about what the admissions authorities will be looking for in your personal statement. This follow-up article addresses the questions you need to ask yourself that will help you get the thought process started.
- What is unique or distinct about you and your life story?
- Why do you want to become a doctor?
- How and when did you become interested in medicine? Was there any one incident that triggered your passion in this field?
- What have you learned so far about medicine?
- How do you know for sure that you really want to study medicine? In what way did your experiences and your understanding of yourself help you confirm this desire to pursue medicine?
- What are some specific details about your personality, your values or experiences of people around you that you can share with the admissions committee to help them get a better understanding of who you are?
- In what way have your experiences or the people in your life contributed to your growth?
- Have you had to overcome any difficult circumstances or obstacles in your life that demonstrate your ability to cope under pressure?
- What outstanding valuable personal characteristics do you have? You could mention compassion, integrity, thoroughness and diligence.
- Is there anything that you have done that demonstrates that you have these personal characteristics?
- What soft skills do you have in terms of leadership skills, communication skills and administrative skills?
- How will all or some of your skills translate into becoming a good doctor?
If you have any gaps or discrepancies in your academic record this is a good time to explain it and let the authorities know about the obstacle or difficult circumstance that resulted in the discrepancy.
Remember, you do not have to provide answers to all of these questions. They just act as a good starting point. As you work on proofing, editing and tweaking your statement, you can start deleting the information that is a little more superfluous and only keep those details that make the greatest impact.
A few do’s & don’ts to keep in mind while writing your personal statement
- Do compose a draft, keep aside for a while, re-read, edit and keep tweaking the language and refining your ideas.
- Do keep in mind the word limit set by the particular school you are applying to.
- Do ask your teacher, mentor or parents to critique your statement and give you helpful feedback.
- Don’t leave it until the last minute. The earlier you start, the more time you have to let your ideas develop and to refine your content.
- Don’t be tempted to lie or stretch the truth – it’s not all that difficult for universities to find out the real truth.
- Don’t plagiarise. Plagiarism is inexcusable and if found out, your application will be disqualified.