Are you currently writing your personal statement for medicine? Read this post for my top tips for writing a perfect and successful medical school personal statement.
1. Start writing early
The medical school application deadline along with dentistry/veterinary science/Oxbridge applications is much earlier than most other courses.
Every year, the deadline falls on the 15th of October, which is 3 months earlier than for other courses (which is the 15th of January). So it is important to get a head start to make sure you have your personal statement ready in time.
A great time to start writing your personal statement is in the summer term. Aim to have it finished a few weeks before you go on your summer holiday at the latest. This allows you to easily have your drafts checked by your school teachers and tutors. If you start in summer, they may not be available to give your personal statement the attention it needs.
2. Put all of your ideas on the page, edit later
It can be really hard to get started on your personal statement. It is easy to want to get it perfect first try but that won’t happen. A great method to get started is to just write. Write everything you can think of that may be relevant on your blank page and watch it fill up. After you have done this, you can get started on the editing and perfecting process.
When I was writing my personal statement I had word vomit and my personal statement started off being 8000 characters which double the characters allowed. But I found that it gave me a perfect starting point in being able to visualise everything that I wanted to include in my personal statement. In the end, I was able to cut unnecessary parts and was left with only the best bits.
3. Be original
Every year, there are thousands of medical school applicants (over 20,000 in 2020). As you can most likely imagine, the majority of the candidates study the same subjects (biology + chemistry) and have the same predicted grades, so what sets the successful applicants apart? How are you going to stand out from the crowd?
The key things that you can use to stand out are your experiences. After all, it’s called a “personal” statement for a reason!
If you have a unique reason you want to study medicine try your best to highlight it. However, if the reason you want to study medicine is quite generic, you need to work on phrasing it in a non-cliché way.
Your work experience is perfect to help you stand out. What you witnessed in your work experiences and took away from it is likely going to be different to other applicants. Make sure you pick your best part to help you stand out even more.
4. Keep your writing as concise as possible
Your UCAS personal statement is only allowed to be 4000 characters and 47 lines, which you will probably come to find out is really not enough. You want to show off as much of yourself as possible, but to do this you need to keep your writing CONCISE.
Remove all the unnecessary filler words. Avoid lengthy sentences because they tend to ramble on and are in general harder to regulate.
If it’s isn’t improving your personal statement it can go!
Example: In summer last year, I was able to attend a renal clinic… (12 words). Last summer, I attend a renal clinic… (7 words)
If you have a lot of and buts, try and replace them with a comma.
5. Include Buzz Words
Buzz words are words or phrases that will impress the medical school, admission officer.
Examples of these words include: multi-disciplinary team, empathy, communication, holistic approach, commitment etc.
6. Talk like you
Don’t try to write like an Oxford dictionary in your personal statement. It is very common for applicants to use the thesaurus on every other word to try and make themselves sound smarter. The problem with this is, it often takes away the message you are trying to convey. As well as the fact it is usually pretty obvious when you do this.
Remember you are writing a personal statement for your university application, not a PhD dissertation.
7. Avoid cliches
Cliché phrases are so common in medical school applications so naturally they have become washed out. They don’t align with originality so avoid them as much as possible.
One common cliché to avoid is stating that your desire to study medicine was from when you very young, kind of an innate instinct for medicine. Even if this 100% honest, it just isn’t very believable. Instead explore the events that confirmed your desire to study medicine, notably your work experience. This could also be from being inspired by medical students or doctors you spoke to, from books you have read, the list goes on but find something that is true for you.
8. Avoid writing too much about your A level Subjects.
There is not much point in focus a lot on your A level subjects. Unless there is something really relevant to medicine that you want to write about, they’ve heard it all before. Most people that are applying to medicine take biology and chemistry so talking about it won’t help you stand out from other applicants.
9. Keep it relevant, Only talk about medicine related things
In the UK, you can only choose a maximum of 4 medical schools (or dental schools). Leaving your 5th choice to be either blank or a different course. If you have chosen something unrelated to medicine, let’s take forensic science as an example, don’t try and make your personal statement fit both courses.
Writing about both courses will take away from proving your motivation to study medicine. The moral of the story – don’t start talking about another course halfway through your personal statement.
When I was applying for medicine, I chose Maths as my “back up” course. I didn’t mention maths once in my personal statement and much to my surprise I still got an offer!
Want to know more about my journey into medical school? Read my story into medical school here.
10. Don’t lie!
Never make anything up in your personal statement!
It may be tempting to do so, especially if you find you don’t have any juicy anecdotes, but it will truly not be worth it. It is likely that the things you make up don’t come across as genuine. As well as you may be asked about specific points in your personal statement at your medical school interviews. And being tripped up for lying will be very embarrassing…
11.Pick your most important points to include
Remember your personal statement has a limited amount of characters you can include, so it is very important to put in your best parts. Don’t waste space talking about things that won’t improve your application and make you sound good.
A way to get around this is to remove any repeating points, if two of your medical school experiences are very similar, chose one.
You may have to sacrifice some point that you really wanted to put in but remember if your personal statement is successful you will still have an opportunity to talk about it at your interviews!
12. Read your personal out loud
To gauge the flow of your writing, reading it out loud is key. You want to get a feel of how your personal statement will sound to your reader. If you have sentences that don’t quite sound right when you are reading your personal statement out loud that is a sign to change it! Rearrange the sentence or change a few of the words until it sounds better.
13. Don’t plagiarise anything
UCAS checks your personal statement against various factors to ensure it isn’t similar to others out there. It is your responsibility to make sure you are honest and have integrity (key qualities of a medical student).
14. Don’t ask too many people to read/edit your personal statement
Getting other people to read your personal statement is key in perfecting it. However, avoid getting more than 2-3 other people to give you their opinions. Too many different opinions can become conflicting and confusing.
If you get in a situation where your editors have contradictory ideas about your medicine personal statement it can take it in two different directions.
I recommend getting your family members and at least one school teacher to read your personal statement.
15. Never introduce any new points in your conclusion
Your personal satatement conclusion should be your opportunity to tie together everything you have spoken about so far. Ideally, you want it to be short and snappy.
If you introduce new points in the conclusion, you honestly won’t be able to do them justice. Save them for the main body of your medicine personal statement.
Instead, consider writing about how you have weighed up the pros and cons of studying medicine extensively and have come to the conclusion that is the perfect course for you.