Make a Good First Impression
Many medical school applicants struggle with writing their AMCAS essay for their medical school application. The majority of these people lament that they have no idea what they should write about. Others complain that they do not know how to start their personal statement. Although it is true that there is a technique for starting a medical school personal statement, it is not difficult.
AMCAS Essay Format
Although AMCAS does not give any format requirements, there is definitely a correct format for writing a personal statement. A good quality personal statement should have an introductory paragraph, a few body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph. While alternative formats are not expressly forbidden, they are generally not a good idea. The medical community values tradition. You will not get extra points for creative styling of your essay. You will do fine if you stay with the the traditional formula and execute it well.
How Do I Start My Personal Statement?
One of the most common complaints from medical school applicants is that they are unsure how to start their essay. The most effective way to begin an AMCAS personal statement is with a story. The purpose of the story is to gain the interest of the reader and to present the main points of your essay. Therefore, there are a few requirements for the opening story. Your opening story should be:
Your AMCAS essay is about you. Therefore, it must be about things you actually experienced. Although it is acceptable to embellish slightly, your opening story must be based on fact. Many times, interviewers will ask questions from an applicant’s personal statement. You may create a very uncomfortable situation for yourself if you write a fictional opening paragraph and are asked to elaborate on it during your interview. Instead, stick with reality- write about something that actually happened to you.
Choose an Interesting Story
It is important for your opening paragraph to be interesting. If you bore the admissions committee, they will be less likely to take notice of your application. Therefore, write about something that will spark the readers’ interest. Try to avoid overused topics. For example, many medical school applicants choose to write about an illness that they or their family member experienced. Although it is acceptable to use this sort of topic, you will have to ensure that it is exceptionally written in order to be noticed.
Highlight Your Positive Attributes
Your goal for your AMCAS essay should be to make medical schools aware of your desirable non-academic characteristics. For this reason, the opening story of your personal statement should introduce the attributes that you intend to highlight in your essay. You do not need to discuss all of your good qualities. Pick an opening story that demonstrates 2 or 3 attributes that you will discuss further in the remainder of your essay.
How to Choose an Opening Story
You should now understand the reason and the requirements for your opening story. However, you may still be having difficulty thinking of a story for your AMCAS essay. Here are some prompts that may make thinking of a story easier. Go through the questions slowly and answer them carefully. If you do so, you should be able to come up with several options for an opening story for your personal statement. Remember, your story does not need to be about medicine, it just must be mostly true, interesting, and showcase your positive attributes.
- What is your favorite thing to do?
- Who do you most admire?
- Discuss the scariest thing you have ever done.
- Think about what you are most proud of.
- What is something that you are not very good at, but you enjoy doing anyway?
- Where is the farthest place to which you have traveled?
- What is a skill that most people do not know you have?
As you work your way through the above questions, you may think of related questions or ideas. This is good- pursue those also. Eventually, you should come up with the ideal opening story for your personal statement.
Writing the Opening Paragraph
After you have identified your opening story, it is time to begin writing. Your goal should be to provide enough detail to maintain the readers’ interest and to conserve space. Medical schools do not permit personal statements longer than 5,3oo characters. Therefore, it is important not to waste space and to make every word count. As you write your opening paragraph, focus on clearly telling your story and emphasizing how the experience affected you.
The AMCAS essay is one of the most important parts of the medical school application. Unfortunately, many applicants submit essays with weak openings. As a result, their personal statements are often overlooked by medical schools. If you understand how to craft a strong opening for your personal statement, you will have a distinct advantage over many of your peers.
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