My Guide to Writing The Personal Statement

The hardest part of the AMCAS application, in my opinion, is the personal statement section. Why? You may ask. This is because I knew that I wanted to become a physician, but I just did not know WHY I wanted to become one. The prompt may be “Use the space provided to explain why you want to go to medical school” or “what motivates you to go into the field of medicine”, but in that answer, you have to explain why you want to pursue medicine.

It was difficult for me to come up with an answer. I initially thought writing the statement would be easy but in actuality, it’s the reason why I submitted my application four weeks later than I intended. Because I do not want you all, my readers, to go through what I went through, here are some tips on writing your personal statement:

1. Start Early

The one mistake I made was starting this process late. I had this mindset that this essay should not be too hard. I was also studying for the MCAT at the same time as I was applying so I kept pushing it in the backburner. But it bit me later on because when I finally had time to start writing, nothing came to mind. Please take this more seriously than I did because if you wait to start it, it can delay your application submission.

2. Journaling

I cannot emphasize this enough. Free write in a small journal. Write about all of your experiences and how each one of them made you want to pursue medicine. It does not even have to be medical school/medicine related. In fact, I started my final draft with a story about one of my students (I was a teacher’s assistant). I would have never come up with that idea if I did not journal. If you are frustrated, write it down. If you get a sudden idea, write it down. That way when you sit down to start your prompt, you at least have some things to type up.

3. Answer the Prompt

For the love of God, please answer the prompt. There are some beautiful essays out there but just one major flaw, they do not answer the question. At one point, you are going to have to address that. I would recommend writing it explicitly. I wrote mine towards the end of my essay, but it would be nice if you could answer it in the beginning of the prompt, just so the admissions committee can see it when they first lay eyes on it. Which leads me to my next point…

4. Start off with a Hook

The admissions committee goes through sooo many applications. They can be tired and might not want to read another statement. However, if you have a hook, it would make them want to read it until the end. You could start off with a personal experience or a quote or anything that’s interesting. Be in their shoes for once and think hmm, if I were on a committee, would I want to read this?

5. Talk About Yourself

Please, please, please talk about yourself. This is YOUR personal statement. This is your chance to shine. Talk about your experiences, what you have learned, anything about YOU. Many times, I see essays in which people talk about a patient they interacted with, a family member with an illness etc. These are great but please bring this back to you. How were YOU impacted? What did YOU learn? Why did that make YOU want to become a physician? Keep sentences about others to a minimum and focus on yourself. You want to get that interview so show the medical school you are the student that they would definitely want to have.

I know I struggled with talking about myself (I tend to be very humble) but imagine you and your most annoying sibling got into competition and you beat them. Would you be shy about that and not tell anyone? I think not! You would be going from family member to family member, telling them how you won. Have some of that same mentality when writing this. Make yourself a champion because you are (basically have confidence, do not be too humble and do not be overly cocky).

6. Make it a Story not a Resume

This is another mistake I see. People write their personal statement like a resume. No, no, no! Big mistake!

There is already a section in the application where you can list all of your activities. This however is your chance to talk about yourself. What I did was I chose three experiences that I found were important to and my journey and then wove them into my essay. It read like a story. Instead of listing what I did, I talked about those experiences and how it motivated me to pursue a career in medicine.

7. Have Others Read It

Yes, to this tip! Have others read it!  You may think that it reads well but someone else may catch a mistake you made. Or let you know that you could write the essay way better. I would recommend these types of people reading it

  • Someone who knows you: so, when they read it, they can tell it’s from you
  • Someone who does not know you: so, when they read it, they learn more about you and can be impressed (or not haha)
  • A professional writer (like a teacher or someone at the writing center): so, they can fully know if what you wrote is good for submission.
  • A medical student or physician: they have experience with this so it’s best to ask them

It’s a weird feeling having people read it but think about it, the admissions committee is eventually going to read it. So, get used to it. Besides, you do not want your essay to end up in some personal statement class in which teachers use it as an example of what not to write (yikes). It’s better to get the feedback now than later.

8. Authenticity

Finally, make sure you are being true to yourself. I said this before, but this is your personal statement. Do not worry about what others are doing or how they seem more “qualified” than you. You are at this point in your pre-med journey, so you deserve to become a physician. You are unique and you have experiences and characteristics that no one else has. Make sure to always remember that and be you!

That’s it. I have attached a link of example personal statements I have looked at to help me. I also used the PreHealth market and paid $30 for someone to help me as well (this is not needed if you already have people who could help you!)


PreHealth Market:

Also, if you want to see how I improved, check out my first draft (do not judge me, it’s aight) and my submitted draft (waaaaay better). Good luck future physicians, you got this!

1st Draft:

Final Draft:

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