Our new blog and video series is created by Alex, who applied to medical school and is now a medical student at Leeds. In this series he will share his tips for each stage of the medical school application process.
Your personal statement is your opportunity to express your willingness and desire to study medicine. Many med schools put a lot of emphasis on the personal statement aspect when deciding who to invite for an interview – so sell yourself! Getting started with writing it is often the hardest part (beside sticking to the character count) – so here’s my step-by-step guide on how to write a killer personal statement.
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Now it’s time to collect everything which is relevant to why you want to study medicine. Mind maps make this nice and simple, so jot down a few headings which come to mind. If you’re feeling a little stuck in the mud, here are some to get started with: volunteering, work experience, extra-curriculars, reading, roles of responsibility, motivation to study medicine etc.
When you’ve brainstormed and written every possible thing which may be relevant on the mind map(s), start to link different points which relate together. For example, you may have witnessed something on work experience which intrigued you and inspired some research or reading.
Make sure you’ve thoroughly reflected on any work experience or volunteering. If you created a log during your work experience now is a good time to look back at it. Have a think about what you believe are the qualities of a great doctor and if you’ve seen these in practice/have them too.
If you know which universities you’re applying to, have a look at the medicine course details as some publish what they look for in a good personal statement.
Read about books to check out before writing your personal statement
Now for the writing bit! If you’re struggling with an intro – come back to it later. It’s likely that by the time you’ve written the main body an intro will have already popped into your mind.
Don’t write a list. The reason I suggest grouping points together is to create some flow. You should be able to sculpt your personal statement to include your main topics and from this the admissions tutors should be able to see why you are a strong applicant.
When writing your first draft, don’t worry too much about the character count (which is 4000 characters, including spaces!). Refine this later.
Read about what makes a good doctor
When you’ve written the main bulk of your personal statement, ask people to read it for you. This can be family members, careers tutors, teachers etc. Don’t take one person’s opinion as fact – remember it’s your personal statement and it should stay this way, so pick and choose which adjustments to make. Grammatical corrections should be welcomed however!
Read how to interview-proof your personal statement
When all of the comments are in, it’s time to wrap everything together. It’s likely a lot of deleting is going to have to take place. A good tip I was given is look at the longer sentences. Make it to the point – get rid of any waffle.
When you think you’ve finished, have a final check of grammar – your personal statement is also an advertisement of your communication skills! Then head over to one of the length checkers as the number of lines of text matters too. A good one is this one here.
You may need to play around with paragraphing and sentences to make your personal statement fit, even if you’re on or under the character count.
Words and video: Alex Randall
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