Personal Statement Writing Style
Writing a good personal statement for Medicine is not just about what you say; it’s how you say it.
Obviously, spelling and grammar mistakes are to be avoided at all costs. But there is much more that you can, and should, do to really stand out.
One thing you must never do is get someone else to write the personal statement for you. It should be your words. Admissions panels want to hear the voice of a young person – not their parents, or a family friend.
Everyone has their own writing style, and rightly so. But this section provides some key pieces of advice that you can apply without compromising your individuality.
How Can I Avoid Spelling And Grammar Mistakes?
Everyone makes mistakes. The best way to guard against these is first to write your personal statement in Microsoft Word, making full use of the spellchecker, before cutting and pasting it into the UCAS Form, which does not have a spellchecking tool.
By reading your personal statement slowly and out loud, you will catch more errors than you will by reading quickly and silently in your head. Try it: it also helps you get the best wording, with the best linguistic flow.
Finally, get others to check your work. Since they have a bit more distance than you do, parents and teachers will be able to pick up more errors. They also have more experience!
How Can I Get The Right Tone?
Use short, punchy sentences, rather than long meandering ones. You only have a short space to make your point, so you want to be clear. Using unnecessary words will only detract from the power of your personal statement.
Keep language simple. Bear in mind the words of Enrique Jardiel Poncela, who said that ‘when something can be read without great effort, great effort has gone into its writing.’
Avoid unnecessary complications, like excessive semi-colons, and difficult language.
Keep to the advice of Kings College London’s Director of Admissions: ‘don’t write your personal statement and then use a thesaurus to make it sound more grandiose.’
Use powerful, active language that shows you are proactive and make things happen. For example, instead of ‘a lot of difficulty was posed by the advanced chemistry involved in my EPQ’, say ‘I rose to the challenge of tackling more advanced chemistry to write a high-scoring EPQ.’
What Language Should I Avoid?
Avoid negative language on your personal statement. Keep everything active and don’t use passive forms.
You shouldn’t be too colloquial. This can make you seem quite casual and set the wrong tone for your application.
Is There A List Of The Best Words To Use On Your Personal Statement?
Yes! Courtesy of a friend of The Medic Portal, here is a table of ‘power words’ that can help with your Personal Statement: