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Personal Statement

The personal statement accomplishes a variety of goals:

  • It explains why you are choosing a career in medicine.
  • It puts a "face" to your application.
  • It helps medical schools understand your experiences, interests and values.

What Medical Schools Look For

  • Evidence that you understand the realities of medicine.
  • Your view on why you have chosen a career in medicine.
  • Your life story - How did you get to this point?
  • Your values/experiences - Why is medicine a good fit for you?

Common Pitfalls

  • Writing only about medicine and not about yourself.
  • Not giving yourself enough time to revise multiple drafts.
  • Cutting and pasting the statement from a Word document into the application, which introduces formatting errors. Make sure to write statement in a text-only program like Notepad or directly into the essay.
  • Not proofing the final draft carefully.
  • Not being aware of the tone of essay; coming across as arrogant or entitled to a career in medicine.
  • Relying only on your ideas of medicine and not showing how you tested your decision with experiences.
  • Writing a personal statement that could apply to any applicant.
  • Repeating information that can be found elsewhere in the application.


  • Start early. If you procrastinate on a personal statement, you delay the whole application process.
  • Overwrite at the beginning of the process. Any extra material can often be used in secondary applications and preparing for interviews.
  • Edit the final draft to 5,300 characters (including spaces) for AMCAS statements (usually a page and a half single spaced).