Personal Statement: an Introduction
A vital and often the most challenging part of your application is the writing of your personal statement. Your personal statement must stand out from the crowd and distinguish you in some way from the thousands of other high-quality students applying.
Consider the aims of your personal statement before you begin writing. You need to demonstrate firstly that you have the attributes to be a great medical student and secondly the ability to develop into a competent member of the medical profession. This requires not just good personal attributes and good experiences but, more importantly, an understanding of the reality ahead and a passion to learn more and to develop into the best possible doctor you can be for your patients. It may seem daunting but is also exciting and the chance to really draw together and summarise your motivations.
This is the starting point of your journey to a medical career. It’s about compiling the skills, experiences and achievements that you have gained over the last few years and relating them to your aims, giving solid evidence and justification to your statements. Try to demonstrate insight from your experiences and your excitement about studying medicine. Maturity is important and you need to show commitment to the challenges of the course and vocation ahead.
Your personal statement can be a maximum of 47 lines and 4000 characters. This is not much space for summarising your life so far, so use it wisely to give an effective summary of who you are and why you should be invited to interview.
Remember that your personal statement is just that: personal. The admissions panel want to see bright and independent thinkers; thus, you don’t need to follow any particular template to secure success. Invest in explaining the relevance and the value of the skills and activities that you have undertaken and your understanding of what medicine entails.
Besides the advice given on this and the next page, Medify offers more extensive guidance on completing your personal statement. See the Personal Statement Writer & Course and Personal Statement Reviews.
How is the personal statement used?
The personal statement serves a few main purposes:
- Selection for interview: the personal statement is used to rank students prior to being selected for interview.
- Getting to know you: admissions tutors want to know why you want to become a doctor and why you think they should select you. They will see applications from hundreds of people, and the personal statement is a way for you to stand out.
- Information for interviewers: the personal statement is a resource for interviewers, giving them material for questions about your experiences and activities that you have mentioned.
How is it marked?
Medical schools will differ in their methods of marking a personal statement. However, each school’s markers will use fixed marking criteria to ensure that applicants are marked fairly. This means that the marking criteria can be predicted.
- Commitment to medicine: they will look for your motivation to study medicine, your understanding medicine as a career and your work experience.
- Aptitude for medicine: They will look at community activities, leadership qualities, evidence of working in a team and your general interests.
- Academic ability: they will look at your GCSE results, predicted/actual grades and academic distinctions.
When should I start?
Good things do not always come to those who wait. Preparing a good personal statement takes time and repeated re-drafts. With applications for medicine being due in October, you should start drafting your personal statement in the summer before year 13 (perhaps after your UCAT exams). It may take several drafts to refine your statement, and the earlier you start, the more time you will have to make improvements.
Personal statements can be hard to write (we have all experienced writer’s block!), so start by listing all the things you want to mention and work from there.