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5 Tips for Writing a Stand-Out Personal Statement

Personal Statement Tips

Staring at that blank white page not knowing where to start can feel overwhelming.

Medical schools receive countless personal statements a year, so how do you get yours to stand out? Read on for my tips on how to transform your personal statement from boring to high-scoring!

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1. A first draft

To start, write a list of what you want to include in your statement and then get everything down into a draft. Don’t worry about the character count, the flow or the nitty gritty details just yet.

If you’re a slight perfectionist like me, the product of a first draft can be disheartening and a bit all over the place. A good personal statement takes time and many drafts, so it’s not perfection that we’re striving for at this stage. The key is to have something solid that you can start to work with!

Read how to write about your motivation for medicine>>

2. It’s not cool to be cliché

The opening lines are undoubtedly important. It sets the mood for the entire statement and is the very first impression the reader will have of you.

Keep in mind how many statements medical schools will be reading and how many start with “Since a young age” or “I want to do medicine because…”.

This isn’t the time to blend in! Make sure you grab their attention and show them you’re different by creating an interesting, genuine (i.e not taken from a forum) and snappy opening line.  

P.S this will take time, keep adjusting and changing it until it’s right for you.

Read about the writing style of medicine personal statements>>

3. Reflect

The most important aspect of a personal statement is not what you’ve done, but what you’ve learnt from it. Play to your strengths and focus more on the experiences that you’ve gained the most from.

A basic but effective rule of thumb is: describe an experience, explain the skills you’ve gained, and explain why that skill is important for medicine. If you can, also explain how you know that skill is important, e.g. because of something you’ve seen in a clinical setting.

Read exactly how different medical schools use your personal statement>>


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4. Be concise

The only waffles we like are the kind with bananas and syrup on top! Put simply, your personal statement needs to flow whilst also being to the point. Once you’ve got everything down, go through every single sentence and ask yourself:

This way, you ensure that every bit of your statement is fighting for your place, without boring your reader with lengthy, unremarkable sentences. The ultimate goal is to “wow” your reader.

Read how to write about your exploration of medicine>>

5. Too many chefs…

Finally, it is tempting to show your personal statement (AKA your pride and joy) to everyone under the sun, just to get opinions and advice.

Of course a fresh pair of eyes is always useful (especially for proofreading), but too many opinions can mean you’ll end up changing a perfectly good personal statement for the worse! Choose a few people who you trust to be your spelling checkers, inspiration and thesauruses for the next couple of months.

I hope this has been useful. Remember it’s a slow and long process, but the reward at the end is having something that you are proud to send off to the medical schools (and fingers crossed an interview or two as well)! Good luck with your applications!

Words: Katie Burrell

Katie is a third year medical student at Lancaster University. She also documents her journey through medical school on her personal blog – hopefulmedic.wordpress.com

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