Medical school is certainly not only about academics. The personal statement also plays a vital role in selection for Medical Applicants. In fact, some Medical Schools place MORE emphasis on the personal statement than they do academics. It is therefore important that you take it seriously, and don’t leave it to the week before. Doing so will cause you a great deal of stress, and is not worth it.
Note – Please DO NOT post your personal statement on here, or any other public site, for review. It will be flagged for plagiarism and you will have to rewrite it.
It is important to remember that there is a limit of 4000 characters or 47 lines (whatever comes first) on your personal statement. Microsoft Word is NOT an accurate representation of lines – I would strongly advise writing it on Word, but then copying and pasting it as you go to UCAS. This will give you an idea of how much space you have left. When writing it originally, I personally wouldn’t worry about the limit. It is not too difficult to cut things out after. It’s also far better to have too much to write about than too little.
Whilst it can be tempting to list everything you have done or seen, there is really no need. It won’t say anything about YOU as a person if you simply list everything you’ve done. It is far better to reflect on what you have gained out of your experiences. That is what admissions tutors will be most interested in.
Also be wary of what you are told at school. Teachers always mean well and do a fantastic job, but Medicine applications are very different to other subject applications. What may be good for another subject’s personal statement may not be so good for Medicine personal statements. Your school may not know this (mine certainly didn’t!).
Finally, make sure you take it seriously. There are some Medical Schools that place lots of emphasis on the personal statement so it’s important not to get arrogant with it.
How to begin
Before diving straight into writing your personal statement, my advice would be to simply bullet point everything that you have done. This can include things like your extra curricular activities, work experience, voluntary work and anything else you can think of. You may be surprised by how much you’ve got down. That’s not a bad thing – as I said, much better to have too much than too little.
In term of what your paragraphs could be about, the subheadings below are my suggestions for each paragraph. Of course, you don’t need to follow it and it’s in no specific order.
I can’t decide what’s harder to write – the introduction or the conclusion. Both were the parts which I found hardest to write. Don’t expect to be able to write these flawlessly first time. It is likely that you will simply have a “Eureka!” moment one day when writing it and be able to perfect it. Some people suggest writing the introduction right at the end. I personally disagree. I prefer to write everything in chronological order – you can then make it flow properly too.
In terms of what you can put in an introduction, there are plenty of options. Many applicants start off with either talking about how they’ve wanted to study Medicine since they were a foetus or there abouts, or about how the intricacies of the human body fascinate them. Both these things are used so much to the point that it doesn’t really tell anything new about you. It is far better to think of a unique way to start. Of course, it is probably impossible to be completely original but you don’t need that.
Instead, think about an eye-catching way to open it. You don’t need to write a novel-type beginning, but something that is succinct, to the point and captures clearly why you want to study Medicine. Was there some sort of unique experience that you can talk about? Anything personal that you can mention which brought about your intestest (be careful though – you don’t want it to turn into a sob story)?
Ultimately, I would start off by talking about why you want to study Medicine. Tell it in a unique way, however.
You should have at least a paragraph dedicated to work experience. It is vitally important to get work experience – I don’t know of any applicant who has gotten in without any. In fact, when I first applied for Medicine, I was rejected because I had a severe lack of experience. For more information, please see the Work Experience/Volunteering page.
As I have mentioned before, it is FAR more important to say what you got out of your work experience rather than simply list what you saw. An applicant who saw and reflected on how consent was taken for something relatively trivial would be looked upon more favourably to a candidate who simply said they saw open-heart surgery. Talk about how you things like teamwork, communication skills, workload and whatever else you learnt.
If you feel as though you have too much work experience and can’t fit everything in, don’t feel pressured to include everything. Instead, only put in what you feel you gained the most out of.
The same principles for work experience apply for voluntary work. You want to show what you learnt, and how that can help you as a future doctor. The difference between the work experience and voluntary work paragraph is that in the voluntary work section, you talk more about what skills YOU have rather than the skills you saw OTHER people have. Use it to demonstrate things like your interpersonal skills, patience and so on.
Motivation for Medicine
If you feel as though you have done other things in addition to work experience/voluntary work that demonstrate you have a motivation to study Medicine, mention that. In my own personal statement, I had a separate paragraph for that.
Thing you could potentially mention include:
- Any society you joined at school that is related to Medicine.
- Any research you were part of.
- If you did one, an EPQ related to Medicine.
- Any further reading you did. No need to mention things like textbooks – you don’t need to read those. It’s more for other, basic medical books. Make sure you’ve actually read the books if you mention them!
There is much debate about whether or not you should mention extra curricular activities or not. I would include them personally – you want to show you have a life outside of Medicine. However, I wouldn’t spend too many characters on this. As I have harped on about in this article, it is again about what you gained through your activities rather than simply listing things.
If you’ve done things like Duke of Edinburgh, being a prefect, music, sport and so on, mention it. Many schools say that these aren’t things worth mentioning. Whilst it may be true for other courses, these things could be useful for a Medical personal statement.
Gap year (if applicable)
If you are going to take a gap year, I would throw in a small paragraph mentioning what you plan to do during it. Whether it’s more work experience, travelling or a job, it is worth putting down. In this case, put down what you HOPE to gain out of it. It is slightly speculative, but you can expand on it during your interview if they ask there.
Again, this is probably the hardest thing to do alongside the introduction. Many applicants finish with something like: “Although Medicine has long hours, tough scenarios and hard work, I feel like I would enjoy the challenge.” To me, this is basically saying: “Medicine is crap, and I love things that are crap.”
Instead, I would briefly summarise the skills you have that would help you in a Medical career, and reiterate why you want to study Medicine. It is difficult to give any more information than this. As I said, it is difficult to write one – but you will get there.
Can you review my personal statement?
Yes, but on a first come first served basis. You can submit your personal statement and see the terms here. It is all free of charge.