You only have 47 lines (or 4000 characters) to get across everything you want to show the admissions tutors.
Universities use the personal statement differently – check out how medical schools use your personal statement here.
There might seem to be slightly less emphasis on the personal statement as part of your application in the early stages due to the admissions tests. However, at interviews, knowing your personal statement inside out is essential as anything you have written about may get asked.
This can be an advantage if you are well prepared. It is important to consider this when editing and finalising your personal statement.
Ensure that anything the interviewers could ask you from your personal statement will allow you to really show that you know your stuff. Here are our top tips for interview-proofing your personal statement.
Ensure Everything Is Completely True
Honesty is a key quality in a doctor and medical student. Do not be tempted to bend the truth or elaborate on things you have done as you will be easily caught out if questioned at your interview.
Don’t say you’ve read a book if you have only read half and definitely do not make up any hobbies or parts of your work experience.
There may be a temptation to elaborate to try to make your application more impressive, but honesty is more important; be yourself and avoid getting caught out later.
Set Yourself Up To Shine
If there are topics relevant to why you want to do medicine and why you are well suited, include them in your personal statement!
For example, if you have done some long-term volunteering or done really well in a science olympiad this is well worth a mention. Talk about things that make you stand out and show you to be an impressive candidate.
Not only will this help you to shine when your personal statement is read by admissions tutors but also could create questions that you are happy to answer in an interview.
Know Any Specifics Inside Out
Anything you mention is fair game. Be prepared to face an expert in your interview, as you have no idea where your interviewers’ expertise or interests may lie.
If you have mentioned a book or a paper in your personal statement, however improbable, one of your interviewers may know about it in a lot of detail.
Be prepared for them to ask a question on any of the specifics. Knowing the main concepts may not be enough if they pick a specific chapter of the book for example.
The same goes for anything you say you saw on work experience. If you mention that you observed a coronary artery bypass surgery, be prepared to explain in detail what the operation involved.
Revise Anything You Mention Before Your Interview
You will write and send off your personal statement months before your first interview, and the things you talk about in your personal statement will have happened even longer ago.
Review your personal statement and anything in it before your interviews.
Specific details might come up so re-read that book or your work experience notes to refresh your memory on the content of your personal statement.
Extract All Possible Questions
Go through your personal statement and come up with questions that you could be asked, based purely on the information in your statement.
For example, if you talk about volunteering in a care home you could be asked many questions such as ‘describe a challenging situation you found yourself in and how you dealt with this’, ‘what skills did you build upon during this time?’ and ‘tell me a little about how social care impacts the NHS’.
Not all questions will be directly linked like ‘describe a procedure you saw whilst shadowing a surgeon on your work experience’ but can be more subtle.
Comb through your personal statement on more than one occasion and come up with as many questions as you can. Even swap with a friend for a fresh pair of eyes. These questions will be great practice, even if none of them come up in an interview.
Don’t script answers to these questions in the hope of one being asked as this would sound rehearsed and it is important you are genuine at the interview and learn to think on your feet. This gives you a great bank of questions to practice based on your personal statement.
You will have a question on every key area, so if there is an area that you are not great at answering questions on, you should consider whether to write about that topic/ experience/ book differently in your personal statement or make sure to seriously brush up on your knowledge before interview season.
Be sure to interview-proof your personal statement before submitting it to UCAS.
This way you will avoid as much as possible facing questions on topics you aren’t so strong and give yourself a chance to shine at interviews.