Personal Statement

Does anyone know of any sample personal statements that work? what worked for you? As a nontrad, I have a decent narrative but I am not sure exactly how to put it down - too much or too little detail, etc. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.


terevet -

I’m pretty sure that a “sample” personal statement wouldn’t help much, because of course you’ll have your own story. I do suggest trying to tell a story or paint a picture - use vignettes to illustrate what attracts you about medicine or what were significant turning points on your path. They should be intrigued and want to hear more about your story.


Definitely stick to your own story. At least in my case, I had to be very careful about what was included just to meet the space requirements.

There are books out there that have nothing but personal statements from people that were accepted. I think something like that is only useful to get an example of the format someone else used, because their stories are going to be very different from yours.

Keep it all in your own “voice”, and remember, this is a big part of how a school will judge your communication skills. It needs to sound like it’s coming from you though. I firmly believe a strong personal statement can get you in the door even with average stats…at least at some schools.

This is sort of what I am talking about. I am 34 years old now, will be 35 by the time I start. I have worked in another career for 10 years, got married, had children, suffered illness with wife and family - lost everything we owned in a flood, presented at conferences and am successful in my current career. . . well, there is a whole to tell. I’ll need to pare it down. Frankly, I think I could write an autobiography and have it be a decent read. So, just wondering how to focus. . . you know? Would be nice to see some samples. I’ll look for that book you mention. Maybe that will help.


They sell an ebook on the following web site which I used and found very helpful.


One thing I kept in mind when deciding what to include in my PS was “How will this highlight one of my personal qualities that med schools are looking for?” There’s a lot more that I could have written, but either those additional things didn’t add new information about what I will bring to med school, or it was redundant, or it just didn’t fit with the general flow that eventually developed. I also had no idea where to start, so I just started writing about my life - the difficult stuff, the funny stuff - anything that came to mind. I worked on that for many weeks. Then I gradually just revised, revised, revised, a little bit at a time, always looking for ways to say the same thing but with fewer, more succinct words. Then I had several people take a look to help me see areas that weren’t clear.

Although I’m not a fan of Kaplan, they do have a book Getting Into Medical School: A Strategic Approach. In the section on PS, they give sample essays and then have 3 different adcom members critique each. I found this helpful, obviously not for specifics of what to say, but for how to say it, things not to say, etc. Good luck! I think you’ll feel a bit better once you get something down on paper

Also, keep in mind that you might have additional chances to tell your story. Focus on what happened in your life that made you crazy enough (partially kidding) to want to do this, and why you think you’d be good at it. If you’re like me, this will take up the space.

If the school is interested, or just wants the money, they’ll send you a secondary application, and a lot of the time, there is a space to tell them “anything additional you would like us to know about you”; and there, you can focus on something else.

One of my secondary asked me four short essay questions, that almost looked chosen to fit my personal statement. It was actually fun writing them, but also allowed me to share a few more things.

As non-trads, one of the most important things to focus on in your PS is “Why Medicine, and Why NOW?”

If you can manage to answer that question using life stories that set you apart and make an adcom think, “I want to meet this person. I want to know more…” then you’ve got yourself a successful personal statement.

No pressure, right?

Sometimes, if you find yourself talking with an adcom at a school you are interested in, they’ll actually guide you on this. Pay attention as you are talking–what grabs their attention about you? What do they ask additional questions about?

I got lucky. I had an adcom literally tell me, “You must put these two things in your statement. You simply must.” But looking back, even if she hadn’t been so direct, I would’ve known what she found the most interesting by the direction she took our conversation!

So I’ve been working (since this summer) on finding a way to tie those two different lifelines together in a way that makes sense and gets under that 5300 character limit. It’s almost there… but it’s a challenge!

Every story is unique, and you have to find just the right way to present yours. Just keep at it, and it will slowly begin to emerge (like a sculpture from a stone, right?)

Good luck!