How can I make my personal statement stand out?

Advice & Insight From Personal Statement Specialists

It is widely acknowledged that medical school places are competitively fought for. Your personal statement gives you the opportunity to stand out and clinch those limited places. You want to create a statement that makes you a memorable candidate showcasing your abilities and talents. It’s called a “personal” statement for a reason, university admission tutors want to know about you and what core values, attributes and skills you have to make an excellent doctor.

Up until this point your academic ability and aptitude has probably been enough to move over hurdles in your education. However, being a doctor is more than this; medical students need a high emotional intelligence and a variety of skills and attributes to be able to understand people and their situation providing kindness and compassion.

Common pitfalls when writing a unique Personal Statement

When trying to make their personal statement stand out some students can be tempted to include personal or family health experiences. It is advised to avoid this. You do not want to set the wrong tone in your personal statement seeming desperate. Admission tutors will not be persuaded to offer you a place based upon sympathy. The stereotypical “lifechanging event” rarely is linked to learning experiences. Similarly making hyperbolic statements and elaborating excessively on achievements is inappropriate.

On the other hand, poor personal statements may be too generic and not reference the specifics. You want to add “meat on the bones” – each extracurricular activity you mention needs to be linked to a skill or learning point otherwise you are simply wasting characters. Listing experiences can make it difficult to expand and explain why you are an ideal candidate. Admissions have access to your UCAS application forms so are aware about your achievements on paper, they want you to bring these achievements to life succinctly and with clarity. To achieve success, be targeted in your writing and make every point have a purpose.

There are certain words and phrases that admissions tutors will see time and time again that are notoriously over used in personal statements. “Passion” is an excellent example of this. It can be difficult to think of ways to convey your interest in alternative words without just turning straight to a thesaurus. You want your personal statement to be easy to read to avoid loosing the attention of the reader. Cliches such as “ wanting to be a doctor since the age of 7” should be avoided. Ensure your writing style is honest.

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Showing and not just telling in your personal statement

Perhaps your worried that your experiences and skills aren’t exceptional enough or that you’ve not done enough unique “stuff”. You don’t need to worry; provided you have concrete examples and life experiences to draw upon, the exact nature of these is much less relevant. Consider what you have learnt. To make your personal statement striking and successful discuss specifically what you learnt about yourself and what insight into the career you got. The key to an excellent Personal Statement is showing, not telling. The achievement is only part of the story, it is the attributes that you demonstrated and what you learned that is of importance.

How to stand out on your personal statement?

To stand out you need to consider what you are trying to achieve in your personal statement. Your personal statement should concentrate on reflections, what are your strengths and how will yoy use these to guide you in your career of lifelong learning. Reflecting on experiences shows that you can develop your skills in self -directed learning, improve your motivation, and increase your emotional intelligence. Within the statement you may reflect on how an experience has cemented your desire to study medicine and has informed your decision. There is no point having lots of work experiences with little genuine enthusiasm nor do you want to be overly enthusiastic with little justifying evidence. 

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Adding detail to your personal statement

When reflecting on experiences add detail; what did you do, when, where, who was involved, what were your goals, how long did it take? Referencing certain patients or clinical encounters shows individuality but remember to maintain confidentiality. Most importantly to avoid seeming superficial you need reasoning. Why did you do the activity you did, what made you get that experience or stick at that hobby? Lastly consider a reflection; not all experiences will apply to your example so consider what is appropriate to discuss: why has your experience made you want to do medicine? Through your experience what insights into the career have you gained? How will the skills you’ve gained make you a better doctor? You want to show that you have gone beyond initial encounters. Show your proactive and keen to learn more. Talk about what you did to further improve yourself following experiences. 

Remember everyone has a unique motivation to study medicine. Stay truthful in your ambitions and worldviews. Avoid cliches and generalisations to write an individual, outstanding Personal Statement.

How can I make my personal statement stand out?

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