The Medicine Personal Statement: Extracurriculars
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The extracurricular section is often neglected by students – in search of extra space, they choose to reduce it or even skip it entirely in favour of writing more on their work experience, reading, or academic achievements. However, you must remember that a doctor needs balance; both the degree and career are stressful and demanding, and the easiest way to show that you have the right attributes is through reference to your extracurricular achievements.
The Medicine Personal Statement Extracurricular Experience Paragraph: Tips
This paragraph is a great chance to show how exceptional you are, on the one hand, and simple attributes like resilience and team working, on the other. Remember that universities are looking for well-rounded students who will be an asset to the wider medical school and the university as a whole.
Students will commonly choose to focus on sports that they play, music, DoE, prizes they have received, and responsibilities that they have taken on. Throughout, try to highlight extracurriculars that you have a verifiable or evidenced level of achievement in – this is a shortcut which allows you to advertise yourself much more easily. For example, if you can say ‘my determination, and resilience in the face of adversity is shown by making national trials in athletics, despite suffering a severe injury at the start of the season’ this is far superior to simply saying ‘I enjoy running, which I find to be a great way to test one’s motivation.’ The mention of national trials immediately allows the admissions tutor to picture the amount of work and dedication in the background; adding this to the narrative being told creates a powerful impression.
Throughout, ensure that you reflect on the activities – just as you would reflect on work experience. Try to link them to the skills and attributes that are essential for studying Medicine.
Consider the effect that you are looking for through talking about each extracurricular, and what you want the tutor to take away. Their takeaways will likely be influenced by three factors – the type of activity, the level of achievement, and your personal reflections.
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Medicine Personal Statement Extracurricular Section: Two Examples Analysed
Although I have a strong work ethic, I do have outside interests. I am a keen rugby player, in a table-topping side, so I know the value of discipline, application, training and commitment. Rugby has a lot of cross-over attributes: the ability to think clearly under pressure, to operate as part of a team and to take responsibility when required.
I also enjoy, and have had weekly lessons in, horse riding and the piano for many years. Both suit different aspects of my personality. My equestrian ability comes from my empathy with the animal, whereas my musical abilities are more a product of diligent practice.
Juggling these commitments with studying has honed my time management and will continue to contribute to a healthy work/life balance through my university years and beyond.
This example could be improved in two ways – there is an element of apology at the outset, where the student writes ‘Although… I do’ and the mention of weekly lessons, although presumably designed to make the tutor consider their staying power, might not have much impact. Beyond this, the first part of this section in particular is excellent. The assessment of rugby, the skills that it requires, and crucially how these cross-over to Medicine, is very clear. It shows that the student understands the importance of activities like this. The second section does well to break down the student’s attributes again; the use of ‘diligent practice’ in particular shows someone who is willing to work hard to ensure that they succeed. They make it clear that they understand exactly why extracurriculars are important in the final part here, explicitly mentioning time management.
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I was awarded the Jack Petchey award in recognition of my commitment to school life such as being House Captain. This meant I attended numerous meetings with teachers, led student conferences and gave house assemblies to the lower years, all requiring thorough organization and teamwork. Outside of school, I am an avid chess player and my interests have led me to win first place in Research and Chess competitions within the national Coptic Festival for three years running. Being a member of my church’s football team, I attend weekly training sessions which is a great way to relieve stress.
This example begins with a clear example of achievement – the Jack Petchey award. This is excellent as it allows the reader to immediately understand their level of dedication. They then expand on this and reflect on it appropriately. The next section focuses on chess; again, they evidence this with a clear example of achievement. They finally focus on a team sport. Whilst this final activity isn’t one which shows ‘high achievement,’ it does make reference to the need to relieve stress – and we’ve already had evidence of achievement.