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?
- 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).
- Personal statement workshops are held in winter and spring quarters. They are designed to help you begin the writing process. See our events page for upcoming workshops.
- Individual advising appointments are available for preparation and feedback. Book an appointment to meet with an advisor.
- You can review examples of successful personal statements at the HPA office. They are available for viewing at the reception desk.
- Check out Essay Workshop 101 on the Student Doctor Network website for tips and considerations.
- If you need style help, The Writing Place can help with grammar and expression (but not with content).