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How to Start Writing Your Personal Statement

Writing your personal statement

You know exactly why you want to study Medicine and you’re super excited to start applying, but when it comes to writing your personal statement your mind goes blank and you have no idea what to say. If this sounds familiar, then here are some tips to help get the personal statement ball rolling.

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1. Pre-reading

Try to find some example personal statements to help you see what one should look like. Although it’s helpful, the personal statement example doesn’t need to be for medicine. You can also read other people’s perspectives on what it’s like to study medicine or be a doctor.

This should help you get into the right mindset to write your personal statement. Do not copy anything you read but rather notice the tone and how other people talk about themselves without sounding self-centred.

It’s also equally important to find things you didn’t enjoy reading, so you can avoid making those mistakes yourself.

Read Personal Statement: Tips on Writing About Suitability

2. Be honest

It’s hard to start writing for so many different reasons. There is a lot riding on your personal statement and you might be worried you’ll say the wrong thing. It might seem difficult to sing your own praises without sounding big-headed but it’s possible and it’s important to be confident in your application.

Think honestly to yourself about why you’re avoiding writing your personal statement, then think of what could help you overcome it. Whether it’s thinking about the end reward (getting into medical school) or simply getting it done, you might decide to tackle it head on or leave the difficult parts until the end.

Read Personal Statement: Five Tips on Writing About Work Experience

3. Write down your thoughts

Sometimes you’ll get your best ideas for what to include in your personal statement when you least expect it.

Instead of leaving these ideas in your head and risk forgetting them, make a note of them on your phone or in a notepad as soon as you think of them.

This will make writing your personal statement easier, as when you sit down to write you will have something immediately to start with.

Read How to Write About Your Motivation for Medicine

4. Plan

Part of what makes starting your personal statement daunting is the pressure to write in prose from the get-go, but this doesn’t have to be the case!

Instead, fill that scary blank page with bullet points, mind maps and random words that you think need to be in your personal statement. Scribble out things if you change your mind and number your bullet points in order of priority for inclusion.

You can then fashion this into a plan of sorts. No matter how messy it is, it’s still better than staring at an empty page for hours.

Once you’ve got bullet points for everything you want to say start considering links between them. This will help you build paragraphs and a structure for your personal statement and, more importantly, help you write about your own personal experiences.

Read How Different Universities Use Your Personal Statement

5. Write a bad first draft

Whilst it’s difficult to start writing a personal statement it is much easier to write down your thoughts as if thinking out loud.

Write down everything you want to say, even if you don’t know how to word it well. You will end up with an awful personal statement that is way over the word count, but that’s okay and trust me, it’s far better than nothing.

Think of this first draft as a block of wood, which you can carefully chip away at until you end up with a perfectly sculpted personal statement. Go through each paragraph and find phrases which can be replaced with one strong word (hello thesaurus!).

Also, look for sentences which are purely descriptive and passive and consider how you can shorten them or if they could simply be deleted. Finally, check the flow of your personal statement and see if you need to rejig the order of your paragraphs.

Read 10-Step Checklist for a Medicine Personal Statement

Words: Ateka Gomaa

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