2017 KGI Student at Commencement 06

How to Write a Personal Statement for Medical School

Don’t leave anything to chance when applying to medical school. Every part of the process requires you to be more competitive than other applicants. That includes studying hard to get a high MCAT score, asking professors to write you letters of recommendation to evaluate your readiness for the rigors of medical school, and submitting your applications as early as possible during the application window. All centralized application systems for medical school will require a personal statement. Your personal statement is just that—personal—so you won’t be able to study for it. But there are a few tips and tricks you can use to write a personal statement that may give you an edge over the competition.

What is a personal statement?

The personal statement is an essay, of sorts, that establishes who you are and what drives you. In it, you’ll offer a narrative to describe your personal journey toward medicine. You should also elaborate on a few personal traits that will help position you as a suitable candidate among the many applicants that the school will be reviewing.

The initial screening process for your application will likely be based on raw numbers – specifically, your MCAT score and GPA. But, even a stellar MCAT score and flawless GPA aren’t going to be enough for you to get into the programs of your choice. Med schools need to know that you have the characteristics and resiliency to handle the rigors of a med school program and residency. They also need to be able to humanize you in a way that allows them to get to know who you are – above your measurable statistics.

A good personal statement will accomplish this for you. It’s also going to be the first opportunity that med schools have to understand your “voice.” In most cases, the individuals reviewing your application and reading your personal statement are some of the same medical school faculty members that you’ll be learning from and working under. They want to know that you’ll be a good fit – not just for their program, but also for the medical profession.

How to write your personal statement

The word “personal” is integral to how you craft the personal statement. It’s easy enough for someone who knows you well to write about you. But nobody can tell your story from your perspective. And, indeed, the best and most successful personal statements are written in the form of a story, are conversational in nature, and are told in a way that a third party could never express.

To that end, there are several important do’s and don’ts you should follow before you begin writing your personal statement.

Do this in your personal statement:

  • Consider your defining and positive personality traits that are best for medical professionals.
  • Think of life events in which those traits shone through.
  • Retell one of these events in a compelling and narrative way.
  • Weave those defining traits into your narrative.
  • Establish how those defining traits influence your future goals as a medical professional.
  • Develop a thematic concept that is established in the beginning and summarized at the end.

Don’t do this in your personal statement:

  • Don’t just summarize or rehash your CV or resume.
  • Don’t write anything that could be offensive.
  • Don’t include negative comments about other people, or use it as a space to express why you’re better than others.
  • Don’t turn it into a chance to excessively boast about your intelligence.

Try to avoid thinking about your personal statement as an extension of your CV, resume, or other application documents. Instead, treat it as a separate and unique piece of the application.

Spelling, grammar, syntax, and other writing errors can significantly hurt your personal statement’s appeal. Have your statement read or revised by a professional before you submit it during the application process.

Best personality traits for a medical school personal statement

Your personal statement is the only part of your application that allows you to talk directly to application reviewers. Letters of evaluations will help create an image of your human side, but they don’t come from you. Success during the med school application process could well hinge on the personality that shines through in your personal statement.

Your medical school personal statement is all about how your personality fits with your goals and viability as a future medical professional. However, not all personality traits are good to elaborate on or show in your statement.

As you plan your statement, consider focusing on one or more of the following traits:

  • Empathy
  • Humility
  • Ambition
  • Resourcefulness
  • Grit
  • Resilience
  • Altruism
  • Integrity
  • Responsibility
  • Accountability
  • Scholarship

Avoid making the personal statement all about the traits you’re trying to show that you possess. For example, don’t go on a long rant about your empathy. The way you write about yourself will also give the application readers an understanding of your personality. So, even as you write about a life event that shows a personality trait, understand that your writing style and choice of words will also convey your personality. Writing about humility won’t work so well when your written voice shows too much pride.

Do your research and create multiple versions

Keep in mind that the people reviewing your medical school application are other medical professionals and professors in the medical school. Before you write, do a bit of research about the faculty and medical schools you’re applying to. You may not know who will ultimately read your personal statement, but you can try to align the subject matter and voice to best fit with your potential audience and the school’s mission statement. Just do so without overtly pandering to them.

You may find it necessary to create multiple versions of your personal statement, as well. Creating different versions of your personal statement could help you create a more polished end result.

Are you still getting writer’s block? US News and World Report interviewed several medical school professors and deans to get a better idea of what medical schools look for in a successful personal statement

KGI loves medical school applicants and personal statements

Your medical school personal statement can help you get noticed during the med school application process. KGI’s Postbaccalaureate Premedical Certificate program (PPC) can help give you something to talk about.

Our PPC program will help you develop a stronger pre-med background to use for later med school applications. You’ll hear from medical professionals, interact with medical school representatives, and network with alums – plus, you’ll receive individualized pre-med coaching that will make you a solid candidate during the medical school application process.

Earn valuable credits in graduate-level science courses. Then, apply that learning and experience into your personal statement and other parts of your med school application.

Contact us today to learn more about our PPC program, including financial aid opportunities, and how KGI offers post-graduate assistance for our premed graduates.