How to write a knockout Personal Statement

Although each institute, medical school and employer will have different requirements, some aspects of the perfect personal statement are universal.

Know Your Market
When you’re writing a personal statement, you should personalise it to the institution you’re applying for. You don’t want to send something vague; make sure it is written with the specific audience in mind. The information you need will be there on the form, the website or Google if you look hard enough. It’s just plain stupid not to research what they want. You’d kick yourself if a shoddy personal statement ruined your application.

Be Yourself – But Not Too Much
Your personal statement must be written in your voice. Don’t overuse the thesaurus to impress and appear wordy– if that’s not you, it’ll be immediately apparent at interview. However, you want to present yourself in a mature and professional manner, so refrain from using slang or colloquialisms.

Draft, Draft and Redraft
Do your first draft, proofread, ask for opinions from tutors, family, your worst critics and, if at all possible, people who’ve successfully been through the process. Then tweak and redraft. Repeat ad infinitum – or until you’re 100 per cent happy with it.

Avoid Tragedy, Sentimentality and Sensationalism
Do not go for the sympathy vote with tragedies – even when true (applications should never include X-Factor “sob story” tactics). The same is true for overtly sentimental statements. Like we mentioned previously, you want to present yourself in a mature and professional manner.

Be Honest
Say exactly how and why you love medicine, and how you will be able to cope with this, the toughest, most demanding and almost unbelievably competitive course.Perhaps describe relevant challenges you’ve successfully overcome and don’t be afraid to show that you’re very well aware of just how tough it’s going to be. One offer – that’s your goal, just one; but more than that and your belief in yourself is justified. Keep a copy so you know exactly what you’ve said.

Make the Most of Past Experience
Don’t just list work experience, gap year achievements, and holiday employers. This is not a chronology, but an unarguable statement as to why you deserve this place. Show what you’ve achieved, changed, organised – working in a supermarket at night demonstrates independence, a willingness to get your hands dirty, reliability and honesty plus an ability to deal with people.Volunteering shows all of the above plus selflessness and ability to care. Refer to any clubs or societies you’re part of, and don’t be afraid to say what you brought to them rather than just referencing them as an interest.

It’s not a test, a trick or a trap – a personal statement is your chance to say why you should have your place. If in doubt, keep it simple – it’s you they’re going to want, not some shiny, supercharged imaginary version. You know you’re going to make a wonderful doctor – all you have to do is tell them that.

If you’re already at university studying for a medical degree, visit PasTest for online revision courses and other study materials.