Personal Statement Examples and Discussion


Personal Statement Examples - Picture of a typewriter with pen & paper.

Using Personal Statement Examples to Write a Better Essay

When preparing your application to medical school, it can be helpful to look at personal statement examples. The personal statement is a vital portion of your application. It provides a unique opportunity for you to tell the admissions committee about skills or talents that are not evident in your grades or test scores. If done properly, a personal statement can greatly improve your chances of getting invited for an interview.

Unfortunately, many prospective medical students do not use their personal statement to their advantage. Under these circumstances, their essays provide them with no benefit, or in many cases, hurt their application. This article will present some personal statement examples and discuss tips for writing an admissions essay. It is recommended that your read each of these personal statement examples a few times until you understand what makes an admissions essay successful. 

Personal Statement Example #1

I have always wanted to be a doctor. My favorite toy as a child was a doctor’s kit. I remember regularly giving my dolls, pets, and family members “check-ups”. I have never had any other career aspirations other than pursuing medicine. Throughout my academic career, I have chosen classes that will ultimately benefit my aspiration to attend medical school.

I have the talent necessary to be a physician. I have always been a strong student, and I excel in science. I received A’s in all my science classes throughout my entire high-school career. I found Biology to be especially easy for me. I quickly picked up on all the material and easily earned top grades. I was the president of the science club in my senior year of high-school. In addition, I was awarded the Science Scholar award for my school due to my strong academic achievement. In my spare time, I volunteered at my local hospital where I was exposed to the daily work of physicians.

My superb high-school grades earned me offers of admission to the top colleges and universities in the country. Ultimately, I chose to attend Prestigious University due to its strong premedical program.  Upon enrolling in college, I have continued my strong academic career. I have maintained a 3.7 GPA and continue to receive strong grades in my sciences courses. The one exception to my otherwise excellent grades, was in Biology 204, in which I received a C. In that case, there were extenuating circumstances and that grade does not represent my academic ability. I developed a bad case of the flu during mid-terms and did poorly on that exam. That low grade dragged down my average in that course.

I have always wanted to be a doctor. I am an intelligent person who has achieved high grades, therefore, I believe that I would be an excellent physician. My goal is to attend Top Medical University and pursue a career in Neurology because I find the human brain fascinating.

Personal Statement Example #2

During the summer of 2012 I had the opportunity to volunteer at Downtown Children’s Hospital. My primary responsibility was assisting the Child Life Specialists in providing entertainment for hospitalized children and distracting them during difficult procedures. During my volunteer time, I had the opportunity to get to know an 8 year old patient who was undergoing treatment for leukemia. I could tell that she was very afraid of the things that were happening to her. We bonded over a mutual love of coloring books. I would visit her room each day with a new page for us to color together. Gradually, she began to talk to me about questions about her treatment and expressed fearfulness about not knowing what was going to happen. I did my best to empower her with knowledge; I began to ask the medical personnel to explain the procedures and treatments to me so that I could provide the patient with accurate answers to her questions. Over time, I found that I not only wanted to know about the procedures so that I could help the patient, I wanted to know for myself as well. I found the practice of medicine fascinating and it solidified my desire to become a physician.

Since my time volunteering at Downtown Children’s Hospital, I have remained committed to my desire to become a physician. I was given the opportunity to shadow physicians at Happy Family Practice and had the opportunity to learn about preventive health care. One of my most memorable experiences was counselling an obese patient with hypertension about his health risks. Although he was concerned about his health, he seemed to have little hope that it could improve. After some discussion, I managed to convince him to make a few small changes in his diet. When he returned for his follow-up appointment six weeks later, his weight and blood pressure had improved significantly. Furthermore, he thanked me and said that my encouragement had motivated him to begin exercising again. It felt good to have a positive effect on someone’s health.

I am fascinated by the workings of the human body and its ability to heal. I look forward to attending medical school where I will learn how to be a champion for my future patients’ health. I am committed becoming a high quality physician who will be an asset to my patients and the medical community.

Discussion of Personal Statement Examples

The first of the personal statement examples shows an essay which is not effective. Although the person writing the essay likely has the intellect to be a successful medical student, this essay does not do a good job to show why this student should be chosen above the thousands of other medical school applicants. In the opening paragraph, the author talks about how s/he has “always wanted to be a doctor”.  Although this may have been the case, it suggests that the author has narrow interests. In general, medical schools prefer applicants who come to understand their desire to be a physician through experience. This author may have had a more successful opening paragraph if s/he mentioned the early affinity for medicine, but went on to describe experiences which solidified the desire to become a physician.

In the second paragraph of the first personal statement example, the author writes about high-school grades and achievement. This is an ineffective paragraph for multiple reasons. Most medical schools are not interested in their prospective students’ high-school grades. In addition, the author provides a very superficial narrative of his or her activities during that time. What was learned as president of the science club? What valuable experiences were obtained during the volunteer time?

The third paragraph is problematic because it does not provide any valuable information. The author talks about his/her grades and provides and explanation for a disappointing score. The personal statement is not an appropriate time to discuss your grades. If there is a discrepancy in your record that requires explanation, there will be the opportunity to discuss it during the interview.

The closing paragraph reiterates the problematic theme that the author “always wanted to be a doctor”. In addition, the author names a specific school that they are hoping to attend for medical school. Although the author may have a preferred school, it is wise not to reveal school preferences in the personal statement. Doing so may alienate other schools who may otherwise have offered an interview. Finally, the author mentions career goals in the final sentence. This could be interesting information for the admissions committee, however, the author does not provide enough details for the statement to be effective. Ideally, the interest in the field of Neurology would have been mentioned earlier, and discussed in more detail.

The first personal statement example is not an effective essay because it does not show who the author is. Other than an explanation for a low grade and a brief mention of an interest in becoming a neurologist, the essay does not provide any information that could not be found in the author’s general application. Unfortunately, this essay will not provide this applicant any advantage in the application process.

The second personal statement example is much more effective than the first. The author provides interesting narrative which demonstrates that s/he is an empathetic person who cares about the health of others. In addition, this author not only mentions volunteer experience but makes it very clear what s/he learned from it. Of the personal statement examples provided, the second applicant would be more likely to be offered an interview.

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