What makes a good personal statement for medicine?

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We’ll work through each part of the personal statement in turn, and find what can allow you to stand out.

What makes a good introduction for a Medicine Personal Statement?

– A good introduction should focus on you as a proactive, high achieving student whose empathy and ethics are driving them towards a career in Medicine. It should not focus on personal experiences in the past, although it may be tempting to include these.

– A good introduction should begin with your motivation. You should look to grab the reader with a clear example of something you’ve done, for example, that has particularly informed your desire to study the degree.

– A good introduction should be succinct. It should not waste words – it should set the scene for the rest of the statement through the use of clear evidence.

– A good introduction should be iterated with your teachers, to ensure that the message that you are trying to convey is clear from the start.

– You should ensure that you touch on anything truly exceptional as soon as you can – for example, if you rowed for GB, then finding a way to include this in the introduction would be recommended. Thread it into your narrative.

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What makes a good work experience section for a Medicine Personal Statement?

– You need to have work experience in order to write about it. You must therefore secure a range of work experience in good time, before you begin writing the statement. Ideally you should have at least two examples of secondary and tertiary care, one example of primary care, and additionally work in a voluntary setting, like a care home.

– You must reflect on your work experience. Link it back to Medicine, to the attributes of a good doctor, to reading that you’ve done about Medicine. Ensure that you show that you are thoughtful, and that you have given due thought to the career.

What makes a good research section for a Medicine Personal Statement?

– The research section is becoming ever more important as students increase their exposure to research before university, especially with the EPQ now being a feature of so many personal statements. If you’ve done an EPQ, ensure that you reflect on it and appropriately link it to Medicine and your future hopes in the career.

– Further research will set you apart here. That could be work done at a particular place or organisation outside of school, research projects that you took on beyond the EPQ, or even essays that you have written for a national competition that required extensive scientific research. Ideally, you’ll have something published, which you can reflect on and use to show your true passion for research.

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What makes a good extracurricular section for a Medicine Personal Statement?

– This section should be centred around attributes and attainment. The activities that you do should be seen as a way of demonstrating your attributes, or showing how exceptional you are.

– When demonstrating attributes, ensure that your activities highlight some, or ideally the majority, of the following core attributes: resilience, empathy, team-working, leadership, motivation, and communication. This means that you need to reflect on activities, rather than just mention them. If you play rugby, for example, then link it to Medicine and the required attributes – you need to be a team player, you need to be a leader in certain situations, you need motivation to train hard, etc.

– Remember that specific achievements are the best way of convincing an admissions tutor that you are a standout. That means being able to evidence your achievement: a simple example would be that Grade 8 Violin is evidently more impressive than ‘play violin in the school orchestra’ as your level is made clear. Equally, writing ‘I’ve played ITF tennis, having represented my school from the age of 8 and the UK in my age group from the age of 11 – it’s a great way to relieve stress at times, as well as a chance to push myself at others’ is far better than ‘I enjoy tennis, and find that it provides a great chance to unwind after a stressful day.’

What makes a good conclusion for a Medicine Personal Statement?

– A good conclusion is typically a short section, perhaps only a couple of sentences, which flows from the previous section that you have written. Ideally, you should already have provided the admissions tutor assessing the statement with an overview of your attributes, and what you know to be important for Medicine. Now, you just need to emphasise your desire, emphasise you understand how difficult it is, and bring together the narrative that you have created.

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