How to write a personal statement for medical school?
Your AMCAS personal statement is the single most important piece of your med school application because it is your opportunity to consciously control how you are perceived by the med school admissions committee.
By the time you begin filling out your application, your MCAT and GPA will be unchangeable and cold numbers alone might not convince an admissions committee that you are an exemplary applicant prepared to thrive in a rigorous medical program. And unlike a statement of purpose for graduate school or residency, consider your med school personal statement a “written interview” that gives you the opportunity to show why you are a unique and promising individual within a massive field of applicants.
Stuck on your med school personal statement?
Here’s the tough part: The prompt for the medical school application essay — aka the AMCAS personal statement — (which says, in part, “Use this section to compose a personal essay explaining hwy you selected the field of medicine, what motivates you to learn more about medicine…”) is so open-ended that the vast majority of pre-med students have no idea how to approach the medical school personal statement with a strategy that will create persuasive results.
Many medical school applicants rely on tired techniques in their admission essay, like chronological storytelling: “I was born, I went to school and got good grades, now I want to be a doctor” (SNOOZE) and they write their essay with no structure, theme or imagination.
A personal statement for medical school written without a clear theme and structure won’t pull your reader in; it will bore them and push them away.
It’s easy to get stuck after you complete your first med school personal statement draft because you might not be confident that your approach to the personal statement for medical school is good because you don’t have a successful model to follow.
Below is a video I made with a student who wanted to know if his med school personal statement was “good enough.”
How to write an outstanding med school personal statement
Follow the steps below as you begin writing your medical school admissions essay and you’ll many of the common pitfalls and stumbling points experienced by applicants. This advice has helped guide hundreds of students write compelling and successful med school personal statements that got them admitted to medical school.
Step 1. Map out the entire structure of your paper to ensure that your med school personal statement follows a clear theme. Every anecdote you include or reflection you make should clearly fit into your strategic framework and remind your reader what your motivations are.
Step 2. Excite your reader with life-changing stories from your past — ones that inspired your passions or gave you direction in life — and discuss how these incidents changed you as a person. These riveting stories will become the focus of your medical school personal statement even if they are not medically related. Big hint: Any type of story can work as long as it demonstrates personal growth and motivation.
Step 3. Use interesting writing techniques like simile and metaphor to “show” rather than “tell” information to your reader. Plain, unimaginative writing will BORE your reader.
Step 4. Avoid repetitive statements that don’t add anything new to your ideas and waste valuable character space. Be concise!
Step 5. The AMCAS application electronically limits the length of your AMCAS personal statement to 5300 characters. Spaces, punctuation marks and paragraph breaks all count as characters.
Step 6. Model your essay after past successful med school personal statements. You are much more likely to create a successful personal statement for medical school if you approach it with writing strategies that have worked for applicants in the past. Use sample essays, sample outlines and writing instructions. This strategy will reduce the heartache and stress that many pre-meds experience while writing their med school personal statements because this approach shows you exactly how to layout your medical school admissions essay with content that will be engaging and memorable.
You absolutely must have example essays. Check out our 5 free sample medical school personal statements here.
Sample personal statements will help you get a massive head start because you’ll see not only the format, but many examples of what other students have written. One thing to be aware of is that some student samples may not fit your situation specifically, so you want to look for some samples that match you and your experiences, as well as your MCAT score and GPA.
That’s why I created Personal Statement Secrets. Personal Statement Secrets includes 25 example personal statements, and also include step-by-step instructions on how to write the personal statement. What I really like about personal statement secrets is the templates that come with the program.
I also really like the video critiques of several essays that I have done with previous students that are included in personal statement secrets. You’ll find the conversation with the students really enlightening, as I go through line by line of each student essay and help them understand how to make their essay more persuasive and more impactful on the admissions committee.
A friend of mine was recently with an admissions committee member for a University of California system medical school and he told her just how important the personal statement is to University of California medical schools.
He said, “Most students don’t realize just how much emphasis we, in the admissions committee, place on the content of the personal statement. The help that you’re giving to students is extremely important and you’re right on track.”
Here’s a page showing what’s inside Personal Statement Secrets. Personal Statement Secrets has 25 successful med school personal statements from students in the past, templates to help you organize your paper and writing instructions to guide you throughout the process. Check out our free medical school personal statement examples here.
So, now you know the main tricks on how to write a personal statement for medical school admissions. Good luck!