The Personal Statement
I think the most time-consuming part of the application is the personal statement. I believe that the character limit is 5,000. I suggest starting a few months ahead and researching how to write a good personal statement. If you are anything like me (left-brained, Asian, nerdy, basically a bad writer) then you should get help from other people.
BYU’s pre-med office holds seminars on how to write personal statements, and even has an editor that looks over statements. Take advantage of this!!! This helped me immensely the second time I applied–I didn’t even know we had an editor in the office my first time applying. The personal statement in my first application was really bland, and I think it really had an impact on why I was not accepted the first time.
I am not a great writer, but here are some tips I have for writing a personal statement:
1. Think about an experience or experiences that made you want to be a doctor. What did those experiences teach you? Then write about the experience and include vivid imagery to make it memorable for the reader. Always be accurate in your story-telling, however, and do not stretch the truth.
2. Find a theme that you can take from the experience and implement it throughout your essay. For example, maybe you realized something about yourself that changed your perspective. My second personal statement included a theme about conquering my fears. A theme helps to link different experiences together and makes the essay flow a little easier.
3. Make sure the beginning and ending really stand out. You want the beginning of your personal statement to really grab the reader from the get-go. Don’t start with a boring thesis of “I want to become a doctor because…” Start with some action and end with a conclusion. With the ending, you want to really stand out. Bring in elements you mentioned at the beginning of your essay to create a sense of closure. Make the end satisfying.
4. Avoid cliches. Your reviewers will be reading literally hundreds if not thousands of personal statements. Almost everyone applying to med school want to help others, make a difference in the world, and use their talents for the betterment of mankind. You can’t simply say these things, you have to show the reader how you came to these conclusions through your experiences.
5. Think about attributes of yourself that you want to portray to the reader. Did your experiences adequately tell enough about yourself that the reader is able to get a better picture of who you are? Do not write about how you learned from someone else’s experience–that does not tell the reader anything about you!
6. Write in the active voice, not the passive. The passive voice is when you say “He was eating the donut veraciously.” Active voice is “He gobbled the donut veraciously.” The key is taking out the “was” and changing the verb to past tense in this case. Your experiences will sound much more exciting in the active voice!
7. Have others read your statement. The more the better. Have people who know how to write well read them especially. A fresh pair of eyes will catch a lot of things you missed! Of course, make sure that others do not write portions of your essay for you.
Those are the biggest tips I have for writing a personal statement. If anything, make your statement stand out and be memorable. You want the reader to have an image of something in their mind after reading your essay.
For more tips, here is a website I found helpful: