So, you’ve picked your universities, you’ve sat the entrance examinations and now you’re tying up all the loose ends with your application… which leaves the personal statement.
Applying as a postgrad, I think universities are highly concerned with the amount of experience you’ve got and how that’s changed you, so bear that in mind if your statement is beginning to start like a list of academic qualifications!
Here are some tips I found helpful when writing mine:
- Don’t start at the beginning. I think the worst part of writing a personal statement is knowing where to start: in my opinion I think it’ll save you a lot of time (and agony) if you write the introduction of your personal statement once you’ve written everything else.
- Try structuring your statement in some kind of order. There are loads of ways you can do this. You can split up your statement into sections (e.g. one on experience, one on academics, one on skills and personality etc.), but what I did was to structure my personal statement into chronological order. I started with the work experience I did during sixth form, then followed that up with my degree in Biomed, and then my experiences from working at the hospital before closing off on my skills and personality and a quick conclusion. That way, my personal statement ended up being more of a story rather than a list.
- Don’t talk about everything! Choose a select few experiences that you want to discuss and elaborate on them in a bit more detail. Pick the ones that meant the most to you and shaped you into who you are today. This links in with the next tip which is to….
- Reflect on your experiences. The Medical Admissions Teams don’t care if you’ve spent weeks with orphans in Timbuktu if you haven’t learnt anything from it. You need to describe how each experience made you feel and how it made you realise you want to be doctor.
- Start early. The personal statement isn’t something you can rush. Start it early on and work on it a little bit each day, that way you won’t stress out as the deadline approaches.
- Too many cooks spoil the broth. Decide whose feedback you want and stick with those people only. I only showed my personal statement to about 5 people: my parents (they count as one), one of my colleagues at the hospital, my university tutor (who also happens to be an honorary consultant) and a medical student who I met by chance during work experience. It’s always good to show your statement to at least one person who doesn’t know you well as their feedback will be the most critical and honest.
- Draft, draft, draft! By the time I reached the final product, I had 15 drafts of my personal statement! If you compare Draft 1 to Draft 15, you would think they had been written by two completely different people! It helps to save each draft separately as well in case you end up going back and reusing something you had deleted before.
- Mention your hobbies, BRIEFLY. They do always say it’s great to show how well-rounded you are by writing a whole paragraph on your hobbies and past-times, but if you’re applying as a postgraduate I wouldn’t write too much on this, a couple of sentences will do – and try your best to relate them to medicine if you can.
- Make your conclusion short but sweet. This goes without saying, but make sure your conclusion has the ‘wow’ factor. Be confident and sassy, yet humble and hopeful. All you really need is one sentence to tie everything together!
Good luck and happy writing! I’m more than happy to read over your personal statements if you want to send them across 🙂
“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” – Ernest Hemingway