Making the Personal Statement Personal

March 22, 2011
Kaplan Test Prep

By Patrick Boyle, Kaplan Elite MCAT Teacher

The AMCAS application opens in early May and thus begins another excruciating application process for hopeful premeds across the country. Number after number defines them – AMCAS ID, GPA, MCAT – and the application seemingly becomes a very cold process. Students are characterized by years of undergraduate work in their GPA and the one day exam of the MCAT. But are you really the person that your numbers paint you to be? Do you think you can effectively show your personality through statistics alone?

Absolutely not! While many students look at the personal statement as just a formality in the application process, it is a great platform to ensure that you stand out from your peers. The most important part of the personal statement is to utilize it as a way to convey who you are as an individual! Now how do we make the personal statement more personal?

There are three key points you’ll want to remember when writing your personal statement:

1) Don’t make it a rehash of what you have already stated in the application.

Remember the admissions officers that are reading your personal statement have your entire application next to them. There is no reason to tell them again what they already know, and it wastes valuable space that you can put to better use!

2) Talk about things that make you unique.

Pre-medical students are strikingly similar these days. If you consider the average pre-med student, all of them have taken the courses required to apply, taken the MCAT, participated in research, and volunteered in some sort of capacity. What did you do that can set you apart from your peers?

3) Try and find a central theme within the essay.

A theme is a great way to unify your personal statement. By having a theme you can incorporate a number of different aspects of your character and personality, and it is going to help engage the reader. Remember that admissions committees are reading hundreds of these essay – you need to have something to draw in your readers and hold their attention.

A great way to personalize is to simply tell a story. One thing to remember is that your story does not have to relate to medicine! Admissions officers know that you are not fully immersed in medicine yet; hopefully, everyone has a life outside of the MCATs and studying, and you want to convey that idea.

For example, consider a student that was very involved as a lifeguard during undergraduate studies. Lifeguarding, while not exactly related to clinical medicine, can still reflect a number of personal skills that will help show how you will be a successful medical student and physician. Lifeguarding is a great example of showing responsibility in a leadership position and working amongst peers in a team environment. These are two excellent qualities that a hopeful medical school applicant would want to highlight; it shows that they are a real person above and beyond their academic studies and have a skill set that will help them to succeed in a medical career.

So how are you going to convey your personality and explain why you want to be in medicine? Remember that your numbers are your numbers – they’re more or less fixed. The personal statement, on the other hand, is something you can still utilize to help you. You have personality traits that will lead to a successful career in medicine. By remembering the points above and giving your essay the attention it deserves, you’ll be able to make your personal statement personal!

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