8 Tips For Writing A Kick-Ass Personal Statement For Medical School June 10 2014, 0 Comments

The personal statement is an important part of your medical school application package. The purpose of this essay is to describe why you are uniquely qualified for a career in medicine. It is an opportunity to explain to the selection committee what medicine means to you, and how you reached the personal decision to become a doctor. However, applicants often don’t realize that the style, flow and organization of the essay can contribute as much to the overall impression left on the reader as the content. Spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, and sloppy writing can easily land your application in the ‘do not invite’ pile. Taking the time to craft a well written, enthusiastic and passionate personal statement greatly improves your chances of being invited to interview.


Here are the top 8 tips for writing a medical school personal essay, compiled from some the best medical schools in the country and the AAMC.

  1. Write it good. Your essay should be grammatically correct and free of spelling errors. The AMCAS application website does not feature a spell-checker. Ask a friend, mentor or professional service to proofread your essay for you. Do not rely exclusively on your word processor.
  2. Focus your essay. Select a central topic for your essay. The Johns Hopkins website offers a great list of topic ideas. The site also has an equally important list of AMCAS essay themes to avoid. Our favorite? Unusual formats. Do not convey your personal statement through interpretative dance.
  3. Go with the flow. Your essay should read in a logical, organized manner. Consider writing an outline first to organize your paragraphs.
  4. Keep it interesting. Remember, committee members are people too. Your essay should be an engaging read. Avoid the temptation to simply list all of your accomplishments or experiences. It is far more effective to selectively describe one or two experiences in detail that illustrate your character.
  5. Keep it real. The tone of the essay is important. Be authentic, passionate and enthusiastic. Avoid boasting or implying that the school would be lucky to have you.
  6. Be active. Using a first-person, active voice is a great way to inject energy into your essay and keep it direct.
  7. Avoid using the word FLOCCINAUCINIHILIPILIFICATION. Long, impressive-sounding words often add little or no value and can detract from your overall message. Similarly, avoid using slang, colloquial phrases, undefined acronyms, and txtspk.
  8. Start early. Give yourself lots of time to revise, and then revise again. Ask several people to review your essay. Does it begin with one theme and end with another? Does it ramble? Do you have a strong introductory paragraph and compelling conclusion? If you don’t have time to edit multiple drafts, consider using a professional editing and proofreading service.
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