The Personal Statement
Refer to the AMCAS Instructions for specific guidelines and procedures for completing the Personal Comments section. This is a critical component of your application to medical school (or to any other health profession program); as the personal statement can either significantly help or harm your chances for success, it is important to take it seriously. Please plan to submit a draft to the Health Professions Advisor by February 15.
- The statement must be well written, with an introduction, body, and conclusion. A poorly written personal statement can quickly discount a strong performance on the Writing Section of the MCAT.
- The statement must be personal. This is your chance to let the Admissions Committee hear from you and understand who you are. Take advantage of the opportunity to express your commitments, motivations and values.
- Do not simply discuss a series of activities that the Committee can learn about from the rest of your AMCAS application. Use this opportunity to provide information that is not otherwise available to the Committee in the materials you will submit.
- Think about the stages in your decision-making to pursue a career in health care. Are there events, people, experiences along the way which were formative? Is there a story you can tell which will explain your decision?
- The statement must in some manner answer the question of why medicine is for you. This may be the part of the application that the committee turns back to if your motivation and decision are not fully evident them after interviews or after review of the supplemental application. It is, therefore, important that you make clear your commitment to working with people in crisis, as well as a passion for lifelong learning in the sciences.
- Do not merely lecture about what you feel is wrong with "the system" or be overly critical of physicians with whom you have interacted. Keep in mind that may of the readers will be physicians! Instead, present, in a positive manner, your own goals and aspirations.
- Avoid extensive references to childhood or high school experiences. You must show that you have made an adult, well-informed decision to pursue a career in medicine. There are obviously exceptions, but in most cases, childhood experiences are not especially convincing.
- Turn negative experiences into positives. Discuss what you have learned and how these challenges will make you better prepared in the future, and more sensitive to the struggles of others.
- Plan on writing several drafts. You may want to try a couple of different approaches to determine which one represents you most effectively. It is often helpful to set the essay aside for a while before you work on a final draft, and see how you feel about it when you return to it.
- Solicit the reaction of both those who know you well and those less familiar with you to see how clearly you have managed to convey the message you are trying to deliver. Be prepared, though, for conflicting opinions! Remember that the purpose of this statement is to reflect you, in your own words.
- Perhaps the best advice is simply to write from the heart. Be yourself, and be sincere.