Medicine Personal Statement: Academic Achievements

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It might be tempting for many students to highlight their academic achievements in the Personal Statement, especially if they’re particularly exceptional. For many, being a very high-achiever will be part of who they are; as such, it might feel strange to completely avoid mentioning grades. However, you should be very careful with academia and academic achievements in the personal statement – very few things ought to be included.

What Academic Achievements Should I NOT Include in the Personal Statement?

Simply put, you should miss out almost all of your academic achievements from your personal statement. The assessors will already have access to the following through your UCAS form:
– AS Level Grades
– GCSE Grades
– Predicted A Level Grades

Additionally, your teachers will include the following in your reference:
– Overall academic performance at school
– Work ethic in context of that academic performance

Lastly, you should not make any reference to the specific subjects that you’re studying if they’re required for Medicine (i.e. do not make reference to the fact that you have chosen Biology or Chemistry – tutors will be aware of this and it does nothing to differentiate you from others).

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What Academic Achievements could I include in the Personal Statement?

It’s only worth specifying achievements that go beyond the traditional syllabus or that won’t otherwise be noted by tutors. The following therefore ARE of use to include in the personal statement:

– Academic scholarships
– Research that you’ve taken on outside of school or above and beyond the A Level syllabus
– The EPQ is also worth mentioning, especially if you can use it as a segway to introduce further research
– Prizes that you’ve won; this could be in the form of specific prizes at school or national competitions
– Essay-writing competitions that you’ve won or similar, e.g. team-based academic competitions

– If you’ve studied a particularly interesting subject (e.g. you chose to study Arabic at A Level rather than Physics / Maths for your third subject) you can make reference to this and explain the context for it.

What other forms of academia are worth considering?

Remember that you’re applying to a highly competitive course, and that demonstrating a desire to read and learn beyond the A Level syllabus is therefore very sensible. You should therefore mention, if applicable and if you have the ability to reflect suitably on them:

– Books that you’ve read that have developed your interest in Medicine, Human Biology, Psychology, etc
– Journals that you read
– Outside courses that you’ve taken which have developed your learning in a particular area

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How should I write about academic achievements and my academic background?

– Research the universities that you’re applying to and see how relevant academic achievements are to them, and what they might be looking for in particular. As an example, if you’ve applied to Cambridge and Imperial then you’d do well to emphasise academic achievements and your interest in research. On the other hand, if you’ve applied to schools with a particular emphasis on the human side of Medicine and well-rounded doctors, like Dundee, then you’d do well to focus more on work experience and your personal attributes, and less on academia.

– Remember that information in your personal statement can be assessed at interview. Therefore, if you do decide to mention specific research, projects, books or subjects – ensure that you are very confident on them. You’ll likely need to discuss them at some point, especially if you are sitting a panel interview rather than an MMI.

– Consider the teaching style of the universities that you’re applying to. If you’re applying to Cambridge and a group of universities that still place more emphasis on traditional teaching, than you’d do well to not use a significant part of your personal statement explaining why you’re a great learner in ‘team learning environments’ – whereas if you’ve applied to four universities that all use case based learning and few lectures, then emphasising that your learning style is cooperative and hands-on would be sensible.

– Lastly, if you’ve already studied an undergraduate degree and are now applying to Medicine as a postgraduate, then you will need to make suitable references to your undergraduate degree. This should involve both linking it to Medicine, illustrating how it has laid the foundation for your further study in academic terms, and demonstrating how it’s prepared you in terms of personal attributes.

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