5 Common Medical School Personal Statement Myths
There are several personal statement myths circulating about writing admissions essays for medical school. This results in many medical school applicants being confused and writing essays that are not as effective as they could be. The medical school personal statement is a vital portion of the AMCAS application package. If executed properly, a personal statement can be the deciding factor in offering a candidate an interview. This article will present some of the more prevalent personal statement myths which hinder prospective medical students from reaching their goals.
Personal Statement Myth #1: Choose a Topic That You Think Will Impress
It is not necessary to write a personal statement about your desire to help people, or how you have wanted to be a doctor since you were very young. Admissions committees are inundated with personal statements of every topic. They will not be automatically impressed by any particular subject. Admissions officers are much more likely to respond positively to a well-written, passionate essay on a topic that is important to you, rather than a lackluster piece about your longstanding goal of becoming a physician. Instead of writing about what you think they want to hear, write about something that is important to you. This will result in a much more interesting, persuasive, and personal essay.
Personal Statement Myth #2: Use Your AMCAS application as a Template for Your Essay
Medical schools have full access to your AMCAS application and will read it thoroughly. Repeating all the information contained there in your essay is not an effective use of your personal statement. Instead, the medical school personal statement is the ideal medium to make medical schools aware of your skills and characteristics that are not evident in your AMCAS application. The personal statement provides the opportunity for an applicant to tell medical schools about their values and who they are as a person. This is very important. Schools want to admit people, not test scores. Therefore, the personal statement provides the perfect opportunity for students to tell schools about who they are.
Personal Statement Myth #3: Ignore Red Flags
Although it is unwise to rehash your AMCAS application in your personal statement, it is also not a good idea to ignore any major irregularities in your application. If your application contains a leave of absence or a period of poor academic performance, it should be addressed in your personal statement. Most admissions officers will forgive some missteps on the path to medical school, provided that the applicant shows that they have learned from the experience and have taken steps to ensure that the problem does not occur again.
Personal Statement Myth #4: The Personal Statement is for Explaining Your Shortcomings
Although it is a good idea to mention any glairing irregularities of performance in your personal statement, it is not a good idea to use your medical school admissions essay solely for this purpose. Your personal statement is an opportunity to tell the admissions committee about the things that make you a special person and a wonderful candidate for admission. Do not waste this opportunity by writing long excuses for what you perceive to be your failures or inadequacies.
Personal Statement Myth #5: Do Not Write About Topics Unrelated to Medicine
Medical schools want to admit well-rounded people. Your AMCAS application provides ample information about your academic prowess. Your personal statement is the perfect opportunity to discuss aspects of yourself that are not related to medicine. If you have a hobby that you would like to write about, it could make for a very unique personal statement that stands out from the others. No matter what topic you decide to write about, you should always discuss what you learned from the experience or how the it affected you. You should also mention how this knowledge will help you during medical school or during your career as a physician.
Ultimately, there are no absolute rules when it comes to writing your medical school personal statement. Your goal should be to tell the admissions committee who you are as a person and why you would be a fabulous addition to their school. Write about a topic that is important to you, an experience that you found meaningful, or something that you are passionate about. It is readily apparent to a medical school admissions officer if a student is being genuine in their personal statement. Personal statements that truly reflect who the author is as a person make the best impressions.