Do Personal Statements Matter?

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The personal statement is an often neglected portion of the medical school application package. Many people falsely believe that it is a formality and is unimportant. This is a dangerous idea that can have negative effects on the outcome of your medical school application. In reality, the admissions essay is a vital part of your application. Although an excellent personal statement will not excuse failing grades, neither will good grades negate a badly written personal statement. However, if it is executed properly, a personal statement can improve your chances of being granted admission.

Here are three reasons why you should focus on writing an effective personal statement:

  • There will be thousands of other applicants with similar grades and test scores. Approximately 40,000 people apply to medical schools in the United States each year. The personal statement is one of the few opportunities to differentiate yourself from the crowd. Use your essay to share information about yourself that is not apparent in the remainder of your application. Focus on positive personal qualities and experiences that will be useful in your future career.
  • Basic literacy and communication skills are an absolute requirement for the practice of medicine. A badly written personal statement will cause the admissions committee to question your ability as a future physician. It is therefore important to present a clearly written essay that is free of grammatical or spelling errors. Ideally, your work should be professionally reviewed before submitting your final product.
  • Many schools will use the personal statement as a reference for interview questions. You can set yourself up for a positive interview experience by writing an engaging essay that people will want to discuss further.

In other words, your personal statement does matter. Give yourself plenty of time to write a coherent, interesting, and persuasive essay.