By reviewing hundreds and hundreds of med school personal statements, I have noticed several recurring themes. Mulling these over, I have devised a recipe for writing personal statements that will help you avoid the pitfalls that many pre-meds face.
Although this is a creative essay, you still need to obey the conventional organization that you were taught in high school. This revolves around your thesis, which I like to view as the roadmap to your entire piece. Therefore, you should start by writing this crucial sentence. Your thesis should answer two very important questions. First, why do you want to be a doctor? Second, why will you be a good one? Beyond that, it should contain the evidence for your argument, which again, is the answer to the two previous questions.
This evidence is where you truly convince the reader of the argument outlined in your thesis. Therefore, choose wisely. If you say you are drawn to medicine for its naturally challenging nature, you better have something that supports you thrive in such an environment. Moreover, if the humanistic element is what captivates you, then the reader better not have any doubts about this based on your chosen evidence. Be hard on yourself, as the personal statement is your opportunity to really jump off the page and be far more than a set of metrics and experiences. Ultimately, the evidence you choose will be expounded upon in your body paragraphs (I would not recommend more than four given the character constraints you have to work within). As I said above, the thesis is your roadmap. That is why you should begin here.
When we review medical school personal statements, we often use the phrase show, don’t tell. This refers to the fact that it is much more powerful and convincing to convey a trait through a story, rather than merely telling your reader you are compassionate, hard-working, or whatever it is you want to say. Each element that you choose to support your thesis has to be tied to a heartwarming and convincing story. Don’t speak in generalities from a bird’s eye view, hone in on one particular experience with perhaps just one individual. Maybe you really connected with someone you were tutoring, propelling them to new heights. Maybe you went the extra mile to put a patient at ease. Find your stories and I can assure you that you will not be disappointed with your end product.
Getting back to organization being crucial, do not neglect to write a concluding paragraph. Many students wonder, “How do you conclude a personal statement for medical school?”. The conclusion is generally the easiest to write, as you are merely bringing all of your thesis evidence back together. Then, you close with a powerful, rewritten version of your thesis. Voila!
I hope this has provided you with the tools necessary to start your medical school personal statement. We look forward to working with you more on it!