Writing your personal statement can be a tricky stage of the application process. Many prospective medical students write up to 10 or more drafts before they finalise their personal statement that they are happy to submit.
It is helpful if you know someone who will review your personal statement for you, but there are lots of things you can do to critique your own personal statement before asking someone else to have a look over it.
Being critical of your own personal statement can be tough, but if you can get the hang of it, you can massively improve your personal statement before asking someone else to review. Here are our top tips for reviewing your own personal statement:
Wait before reviewing
Reviewing or even just checking something that you have just written to see if it makes sense is really hard.
As you know what you are trying to say, you will be unlikely to pick up on any mistakes or anything that sounds not quite right.
Wait a day or two before reviewing your personal statement so that you can look at it with fresh eyes.
Read it out loud
Reading your personal statement out loud might feel strange but hearing the words you have written rather than being tempted to skim read, will help you to pick up on any mistakes.
This is the best way to fix syntax issues or pick up anything that does not come across the way you intended it.
It is even better if you can read it out loud to a friend or family member who is hearing your personal statement for the first time, as they will be more likely to pick up on different things.
A new perspective can be very useful for helping to perfect your statement.
Take a different colour pen to it
Print out your personal statement and grab a different colour pen so that you can annotate your personal statement.
This is a good way to look critically at your personal statement and be really focused on the small details. You can even annotate on parts that you feel you should expand on, or note down things you want to add in certain sections.
Imagine you are an admissions tutor going through your personal statement – do you portray yourself accurately and say everything you want to say?
Using a different colour pen to annotate and change sentence structure can be especially useful for reducing the character count if you are over the limit.
Score your personal statement across different categories
Giving a numbered score to your personal statement can help you to be more objective across multiple drafts. Decide what aspects of the personal statement you think are important. 3 key things that your personal statement needs to get across are:
Motivation: why do you want to study medicine?
Exploration: what have you done to learn about medicine?
Suitability: why are you a great fit for medicine?
Try scoring each aspect out of 5 and giving yourself a total score. Be critical and consider how some sample successful personal statements that you might have read would have scored.
You may want to use a different scoring system to look at different aspects you want to cover, such as work experience, extra-curriculars, academics and more.
Whatever scoring system you use, try to be consistent across multiple drafts so that you can see the difference.
Compare your personal statement to a plan
Think about what you want to achieve from your personal statement and what you are reading in front of you.
Does this represent the best of you and truly express why you want to do medicine and why you are well suited?
If you created a plan for your personal statement, compare it to that, to check that you have included everything you were hoping to.
Where there are discrepancies, use this to improve your statement, or restructure certain parts to express yourself better.
Reviewing your personal statement yourself can be really useful for helping you to improve across many drafts.
Try to look critically at your statement before asking someone else to review it for you as there are many improvements you can spot yourself.
Written by Safiya Zaloum
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