Your personal statement should be a self-reflective article that deals with why you want to be a medical student. It should convey the reasons why you will thrive in medical school.
To cut down on endless re-drafts, focus on maximising the time spent planning what you are going to write. This is not to say you will write the perfect statement first time around; no one will. But instead, spend a while thinking about what you want your statement to get across by writing out ideas and forming a rough plan of how you can effectively fill the limited space.
One way to start is to use a checklist of what you think a great personal statement should include; what would you want to see if you were on a selection panel? Write down key relevant experiences, extra-curricular activities and key motivations to study medicine and use them to generate a working mind map, which you can later link and tie together. If you get stuck, start by jotting down whatever excites and inspires you about medicine and some ideas about the transferable skills you have developed which support why you would be a great medical student and doctor. You can then develop these ideas into a plan and gradually form your first draft.
Use the following questions to help you think of ideas:
The following outline is a simple way to begin to structure your personal statement. It will result in a basic but functional personal statement you can then re-edit as you see fit.
You should take care in writing and editing your personal statement as there is a lot riding on it. Show it to your teachers for their input and advice. Then rewrite it again and again until you have perfected it.
Cecilia – University of Liverpool
‘After writing my personal statement, I gave it to several people I trusted to read it, such as my parents, close friends and my career advisor. I received generally positive feedback. However, since they were people who knew me well, they observed my PS was too rigid and wooden, and my enthusiasm for this career path wasn’t shining through. I scrapped my initial PS, only retaining the salient points which I was confident about. I took a step back and reflected on my work experience more deeply and went on to produce a more heartfelt personal statement which embodied my passion leaps and bounds more than my first version. Needless to say I felt more confident speaking about my experiences during my interview, which was based on the new and improved version of my PS.’
Seth – University of Southampton
‘It will take several drafts to get to your final personal statement. It is hard to squeeze in all of those key points about why you’d make a great doctor and why medicine is right for you within the tight constraints of the word count. Remember you don’t need to give everything away on that one page, instead just provide key pieces of insight into who you are as a person and why you are motivated and well-informed to follow this career choice. My best and final draft was when I ruthlessly took out much of the bulking and left just a few key messages I wanted to come across about myself. You can always talk about those other things you want to discuss in your interview. I had a fairly dramatic opening describing a medical emergency which I had witnessed, which was a poignant moment for me in deciding to pursue a career in medicine. This greatly helped to capture the reader’s attention straight away.’
Write Your PS