Qualifications for and commitment to medicine Your chance to "sell" yourself beyond the mcat & gpa numbers

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Writing the Personal Statement


  • Provides the committee a “picture” of you
  • Demonstrates unique qualifications for and commitment to medicine
  • Your chance to “SELL” yourself beyond the MCAT & GPA numbers

Possible Topics (Pick only a couple!!)

  • Motivation
    • Why a physician?
    • Why NOT a teacher, nurse, scientist, etc?
  • Family Background
    • What individuals or incidents shaped your life?
  • Extracurricular Activities and Work/Volunteer Experience
    • What did you learn?
    • How did you contribute to getting the job done?
    • How have you matured as a result?
  • Future Plans (long/short term)
  • Explain/Clarify any outstanding issues

Keys to Success

  • Focus on a few illustrative incidents
  • Unite with a theme or thesis
  • Outline what you want to say and the order
  • BE SPECIFIC! Use concrete examples and experiences that distinguish you from others
  • Write about what interests & excites you
  • End your essay with a conclusion that refers back to the lead and restates the thesis.

The Personal Statement Should:

  • Use one or two specific incidents to show what has been learned from these experiences.
  • Discuss the experiences, people and events that influenced your decision to become a physician or prepared your to enter this field.
  • Discuss your motivation for medicine
  • Describe what you have learned from extracurricular and work accomplishments. Describe these clearly and succinctly.
  • Discuss any disciplinary actions during college
  • Explain how have these experiences provide for personal growth
  • Explain what makes you uniquely suitable for this professional school.

Start and End with a Bang

  • I – lead
  • II – thesis
  • III – body
  • IV – conclusion (but no “in conclusion” – don’t waste words)

Things to Remember

  • No inconsistencies between essay and interview
  • Don’t re-list things that are on AAMCAS or other application.
  • Use specific incidents to show what has been gained and will be brought to program.
  • Secondary essay provides supplementary details; ties into themes and activities; answers specific questions if any; add to what was on application

Most Common Errors

  • I was born… or my parents came from…
  • Autobiographic, itinerary, or resume prose
  • Excessive vocabulary, verbose, complex words
  • Generic statements and platitudes
  • NO Prevarication!!

More Possible Errors

  • Too many I’s may indicate arrogance
  • No sense of direction
  • Don’t use Robert Frost “The Road Less Traveled”!!
  • Refer to writing guides (but do not copy!):
    • Writing for success - Jackson and Bordot
    • Elements of Style - Strunk and White
    • Others (first year English, Biology Sophomore Seminar, etc.)

Helpful Hints

  • Revise, revise, revise, hone to as near perfection as you can get, eliminate as many useless filler words to have space for the important words.
  • Carefully check spelling, punctuation, grammar.
  • Make an effort to make it interesting by good use of language, a literary effort yet meaty.


  • List the things that you have done that illustrate your:
  • Outline a draft of a potential personal statement
  • Write a couple of paragraphs

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