How To Write a Personal Statement for Med School Admission

August 17

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Writing your personal statement for med school is one of the most nerve-wracking and challenging parts of the application process. Therefore, please complete this critical section of your medical school application.

It would help if you started working on your personal statement well before the deadline to have enough time for brainstorming, reflection, revisions, and examining your work from a new angle. This will help you produce the most remarkable personal statement possible and improve your admission chances.

This article will help you write your personal statement for your medical school application. Please keep reading if you want to know the best tips, tricks, and mistakes to avoid when drafting your personal statement.

What is a Personal Statement for Medical School?

The personal statement explains your identity and motivations in the form of an essay. You will provide a story in it outlining your own path toward becoming a doctor. 

Additionally, it would help if you went into detail about a few character attributes that will distinguish you from the other numerous applicants the school will be considering.

Your MCAT score and GPA will likely be used as the initial screening criteria for your application. 

However, even a perfect GPA and a fantastic MCAT score will not guarantee admission to your chosen programs.

The qualities and resilience necessary to bear the demands of a medical school program and residency must be demonstrated to med schools. 

In addition, they must be able to humanize you so that they may learn more about you. 

This is something your personal statement can help you with. Additionally, it will be the first chance for medical schools to hear your "voice." 

Most of the time, the medical school faculty members who will be teaching you and supervising your work will be the ones reading your application and your personal statement. They want to know that you will be a good fit for the medical field and their curriculum.

Why Are Personal Statements Important in Medical School?

First, the personal statement is essential because it serves as a bridge to an interview. 

The admissions committee can learn more about you through your personal statement, confirm that you know what you are putting yourself into, and forge a bond with you. As a result, they will not be as willing to take a chance on a student they think will not be happy working as a doctor.

The importance of the personal statement varies by school, just like the application process. 

Many schools may give personal information more weight when deciding whether to schedule an interview with a student. Other institutions might pay greater attention to other parts, though.

Nevertheless, it is worth noting that you must exert significant time and effort when writing your personal statement for medical school.

7 Tips and Strategies When Writing Your Personal Statement

Never undervalue the power of your personal statement to make a strong, positive impression on the admissions committee for medical school. 

Combining your performance in the interview with your personal statement could determine your overall admissions score.

Here are the best tips and strategies to make your personal statement stand out: 

Have a Primary or Overarching Theme

Your essay will be more coherent and make an impression on the committee if it has a unifying theme. This theme could be a philosophy, a personality quirk, or an experience.

You can still incorporate a variety of prior experiences into your essay as long as they all relate to your theme. This subject may be:

  • A situation that challenged you or altered how you view medicine
  • A connection to a mentor or other motivating person
  • A description of a memorable academic or personal encounter
  • An understanding of how medicine is practiced

Research for Examples of Personal Statements

There are a ton of samples to choose from because personal statements for medical school are required of every student. 

Spend some time reading as many excellent examples of personal statements as possible.

Ask someone you know who graduated from medical school successfully whether you can read their personal statement. Look for samples of successful personal statements written by past students.

Keep in mind that they are only meant to be used as samples. 

Although you cannot duplicate or imitate another person's personal statement, you can understand what works. To inspire your own ideas, use examples. Your own statement will be unique to you.

Outline Your Personal Statement

Even after extensive research, many applicants struggle to figure out how to begin a personal statement for medical school. 

Before writing your personal statement for med school, construct an outline. 

Create a plan for how you want to tell your narrative. Using an outline, you may organize your essay and ensure that it contains what your audience needs.

One method of structuring your personal statement is as follows:

  • Choose two to three attributes. Create a bullet for each quality you intend to discuss in your essay.
  • Select an experience. Determine which experience(s) best illustrate(s) each attribute listed. Make a note of a few noteworthy critical moments.
  • Consider your career path. Explain how your traits and past experiences led you to wish to learn more about medicine. 

Make Your Unique Qualities Known

Each year, admissions committees for medical schools evaluate many personal statements. So, naturally, you want yours to stand out.

Aim to differentiate yourself from other applicants by concentrating your statement on specific and unique experiences, motivations, and ambitions rather than making general generalizations.

Select Key Traits and Experiences

A list of your achievements is not what your personal statement is. Instead, select a few standout qualities that you want to emphasize. Never stress about getting everything covered.

Consider your professional and personal achievements. This includes extracurricular activities like travel, volunteer work, hobbies, and group affiliations. 

Next, decide what features you want in an application. Finally, determine what will work best for you. 

Pick the qualities about yourself that you are most proud of. Then, what do you want the admissions committee to remember about you if they only recall one thing? 

Experiences that demonstrate empathy, a love of patient engagement, an intellectual interest in medicine, discipline, and commitment, or interpersonal and professional skills are frequently included in personal statements.

Be Clear and Direct

The flowery words and fillers you used in high school English are unnecessary when writing your personal statement for medical school. Instead, make sure to weave your story effectively with your words.

Using thesaurus words will not help you sound more intelligent throughout your writing. Instead, it gives the impression that you used a thesaurus. Again, this is something that will not impress the admissions committee. 

Be Mindful of the Word Count Limit

You may need to know the word count or character limit for your medical school personal statement depending on the medical school you are applying to. However, you are unable to exceed the predetermined limit.

For instance, the AMCAS application only permits 5,300 characters in the section designated for your medical school personal statement.

A second medical school personal statement of no more than 3,000 characters and a 10,000-character essay outlining important research experience will be required for MD-PhD schools. 

Ensure you know your writing capacity if the medical schools you select request other essays.

7 Mistakes to Avoid When Writing a Personal Statement for Medical School

On the other hand, you must be aware of the mistakes most medical school applicants make when writing their personal statements. 

To avoid committing the same mistakes, these are the things that you must avoid as you draft your medical school personal statement.

Don't Use Clichés 

Avoid using clichés to describe your motivation, such as wanting to help others. 

Your personal statement will not impress the committee if you repeat tired justifications that have been used many times before.

If you are pursuing a medical degree for one of these overused justifications, attempt to make your experience stand out. 

For instance, why do you want to be a doctor rather than a social worker to help people? 

Don't Tell…Show

What, why, and how about the experience(s) you discuss should be addressed. 

Do not just mention that you helped out at a hospital. Instead, please describe why you found that an essential experience and how it inspired you to seek a medical career. 

To convey these details, use simple, direct language. You should write clearly and succinctly and avoid overly verbose terminology. Remember that you only have around a page to write about yourself, so each word counts.

Don't Focus on Others; Focus on Yourself

A personal statement is simply… personal.

Writing in your personal statement about patients, role models, or other people is expected. It can be helpful, but you should ensure it ultimately says something about you.

You do not want the reader to feel more informed about someone else after reading your personal statement than they did about you.

Don't Forget to Get Feedback from Others

You must allow enough time for your personal statement to be read and commented on by persons with experience. Unfortunately, your good concept could not work out as planned. 

Avoid focusing too much on a single idea. Instead, be receptive to the criticism you hear from colleagues, mentors, and experts.

Do not stress about coming up with the perfect concept first. Instead, decide on doing your study and thinking back on your life. Starting early is crucial since it will give you time to review, modify, and occasionally alter the course entirely.

Don't Explain to a Doctor What Medicine Is 

More often than not, this will show only a cursory knowledge of the subject. The admissions committee is already familiar with medicine but unaware of you.

Do not tell them something they already know. Instead, share with them who you are as an applicant and what drives you to be a doctor in the future. Furthermore, prove to them that you are worthy of admission.

Don't Lie

You should not include a story in your personal statement that you would not feel comfortable discussing during an admissions interview for medical school.

Additionally, do not put it in a statement if it is too personal or if you are too emotional and you do not want to talk about that.

Don't Make Your Personal Statement a Repetition of your CV

While it is acceptable to go into further detail about a couple of extracurricular activities, the primary goal of your personal statement should not be to reiterate your CV or resumé. 

Asking yourself what you took away from experience and how that knowledge affects your objectives and motivations is an effective way to refocus on who you are. But, unfortunately, the task is less attractive to the reader than learning about you.

Step-by-Step Guide When Writing a Personal Statement for Medical School

Writing a personal statement for medical school is an iterative process that might take months. 

Hence, you must ensure you give your best on your first draft. Otherwise, you risk wasting your time and effort editing and changing what you have written.

Here is a step-by-step guide to help you write your personal statement for medical schools.

Read the Prompt Aloud

Reading the assignment and spending five to ten minutes loudly responding to it constitute the first stage in creating a personal statement for medical school.

Employ the Sticky Note Approach

In essence, you are going to have some notions that are reasonable while you speak. 

But after that, you will encounter some that will make you pause and will make you include that in the essay. Use sticky notes to record these ideas that suddenly come to mind.

Start With an Amazing Hook

The hook will be how you begin your essay, but you want to do it captivatingly. You want to make an impression. 

Be descriptive if you choose the plotted route. Imagine going back to your initial experience. Do your best to assist the reader in "imagining" that situation.

Organize Your Experiences

Select the experiences most likely to address the prompt and guide the reader to your conclusion by looking at your sticky notes. 

No matter which experiences you choose, start by considering which ones you do not intend to use.

Elaborate Your Experiences

Talk aloud for two to four minutes about the lessons you learned from each of your experiences. 

Explain how these experiences made you decide on the career path you want to take.

Create Your Transitions

Some personal statements do not have any 'flow.' Unfortunately, this is a typical mistake in most medical school personal statements. 

While you might have beautiful experiences to share, we neglect to transition the reader from one to the next.

Draft Your Conclusion

These 2-4 lines will summarize your response if the question asks why you want to attend medical school. 

Figure out what your ultimate objective is. Too frequently, students attempt to write their conclusions after finishing their writing. However, they often come off as far too generic.

Polish and Review

Make sure your writing is error-free. Check the grammar and spelling once your draft is complete. 

Finish your personal statement for medical school by addressing it to several respected peers and mentors and asking them for feedback.

Sample Personal Statement for Medical School

Your application to medical school may succeed or fail based on your personal statement. Therefore, investing time and energy into creating a solid personal statement would be beneficial. 

The personal statement example that helped a medical school candidate get accepted is below.

Hearing of Hillary's drunken father's incarceration, I went to her home. She was sobbing, and I didn't know what to say, so I held her hand for comfort. She gently squeezed in return and said, "Thank you." My nonverbal gesture conveyed an audible message of consolation, inspiration, and support.

I have formed deep connections with people of different ages through mentoring, including seven-year-old Hillary. Since many of my mentees come from underprivileged backgrounds, working with them has forced me to grow in compassion and empathy. I felt incredibly privileged to help Hillary even though she could not control her father's alcoholism. 

My minor successes, such as the assistance I provided to Hillary, contain a lot of personal significance, even though they are not always evident. 

Similarly, becoming an influential doctor involves empathy, dedication, curiosity, and a passion for problem-solving; medicine goes beyond comprehending concrete things like the science of disease and therapy. I've acquired these abilities from my work as a teacher and a motivational doctor's aide.

My interest in medicine was stoked by my work as a teaching assistant since I discovered that aiding students required more than just an understanding of organic chemistry. Instead, it was after I looked for their underlying concerns and feelings that I could solve their problems.

Azra, one of the students, had difficulties despite frequently coming to office hours. She came over and asked for assistance. As we collaborated, I realized that she was frustrated because she felt overwhelmed by issues. I assisted her by acknowledging her as a fellow student and listening to her concerns. I was working on a problem when I commented to Azra.

"Despite studying hard, I remember doing poorly on my first organic chemistry test." 

"Really? You're a teacher's assistant; shouldn't you be flawless?"

I said that I had worked hard to raise my grades as I looked up.

"If you could do it, then I can too," she added, instantly sounding more optimistic. She passed, earning a B+, and I thought I had also succeeded. That B+ meant so much since it represented the visible results of Azra's labors, our commitment to one another, and the relationship we developed while working together.

My curiosity and love of learning fuel my passion for imparting knowledge and teaching others. In particular, my shadowing experiences have piqued my interest and motivated me to study more about the globe. How can platelet-rich plasma promote the growth of tissue? How is the proximal convoluted tubule impacted by diabetes? I kept asking questions. I strongly desired to learn everything, and using my knowledge to solve clinical issues felt incredibly fulfilling.

I learned from my experience shadowing doctors that practicing medicine not only stimulates my interest but also tests my capacity for problem-solving. I appreciate the linkages that can be made in treatment when knowledge from one field may help solve problems in another.

For instance, observing Dr. Steel, I was questioned about varicose veins and their problems.

“What would it be?”, I asked myself. 

Since I shadowed Dr. Smith in the operating room, I knew that veins contain valves. She had amputated a patient's foot because ulcers prevented blood flow in the veins.

"Veins have valves, and valve issues could result in ulcers," I retorted. You're right, but it doesn't end there, Dr. Steel said with a smile. It is not about interventional cardiology or orthopedic surgery. In actuality, collaboration and intertwining in medicine. My true attraction to medicine is the capacity to integrate knowledge from several fields and connect seemingly unrelated ideas to create a coherent picture.

Science and medicine are closely related; in fact, medicine is science. Medicine is also about people—their emotions, difficulties, and worries. Humans are not pre-programmed machines with identical issues, and physicians should be kind and wise toward patients.

Humans want incredibly inquisitive physicians who are constantly challenging advances in medicine. They deserve someone who enjoys the challenge of solving problems and developing unique, creative solutions. I aspire to be that doctor.

I want to address every case as a distinct entity and use my advantages to give each patient the individualized care they deserve. Until then, you can see me in the operating room on Friday mornings, gazing over my shoulders and daydreaming about the day I get to handle the drill.


The personal statement above opens with an intriguing hook in the first paragraph and has a firm conclusion towards the end. The essay's hook makes it difficult to put down. The conclusion presents the author as devoted and passionate about their work.

The utilization of personal narrative by the writer in the middle and at the end is superb. 

The tales selected illustrate the writer's reaction to the frequently asked question, "Why do you want to be a doctor?" while also projecting the qualities of compassion, curiosity, and reflection. 

The essay outlines several essential traits and skills that go well beyond the cliché, "I want to be a doctor because I want to help people."

For more medical school personal statement samples, please visit the link below:

Personal Statement Examples

Final Thoughts

Your med school personal statement is your chance to show the admission committees who you are beyond your GPA and MCAT score. It also enables you to identify the crucial influences and backgrounds that have shaped your interests and values. 

You must make sure you stand out. You must carefully consider how you wish to present your "big picture" while proving that you possess the skills and abilities medical schools look for.

However, remember that your personal statement is just one part of your application. The primary application, letters of recommendation, med school interviews, etc., must all be weighed equally. 

The best chance of becoming the doctor you have always desired is by ensuring you give it your best when submitting all the necessary requirements for medical school. Good luck!


You're no longer alone on your journey to becoming a physician

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