Writing Your Personal Statement
If you are planning on applying to medical school, now is the perfect time to begin writing your personal statement. AMCAS will be opening for medical school applicants on Tuesday, May 3rd. Over the next few weeks, Code Blue Essays will be presenting advice and tools to help you prepare your essay. In this post, we will focus on brainstorming.
Before you start the process of writing your personal statement, it is helpful to plan what you will write about. Successful personal statements are well organized and give solid evidence that the writer should be granted admission to medical school. Ideally, you should plan to begin the brainstorming process four to six weeks before the essay is due. This will give you adequate time to prepare your thoughts and write your essay.
Brainstorming for a personal statement should accomplish three things. It should establish theme characteristics, identify experiences that should be shared, and develop a compelling story to engage the audience. As you begin the brainstorming process, it may be helpful to write down your ideas so that you have a reference for later.
Theme characteristics are the personal attributes that you will highlight in your essay. Obviously, you will want to choose positive traits to highlight as your theme characteristics. Admissions committees are unlikely to react positively to an essay that showcases an applicant’s laziness or selfishness, even if the applicant was able to overcome these negative qualities. Instead, choose two or three of your positive characteristics and write them down.
Once you have chosen your theme characteristics, it is time to think about any experiences that would enhance your essay. Examples of supporting experiences include volunteer positions, travel, or hobbies. An ideal supporting experience should allow you to provide evidence of your theme characteristics. Be creative, your personal statement is an opportunity to share the things that make you unique. The experience itself is less important than what you learned from it.
The last step before writing your personal statement is to develop an introductory story. Although not strictly necessary, an interesting anecdote is a simple way to engage your reader. Often, a good introductory story is within one of the supporting experiences.
Now that you have a guideline to prepare for writing your personal statement, it is now time to begin your brainstorming process. Give yourself adequate time so that you do not feel rushed during this process.