personal statment

Currently, I am working on my personal statement. I originally thought the personal statement had to be 5300 words, not 5300 characters (with spaces). After 2800 words, I am now roughly at 5300 characters and finding it difficult to condense my story. My story is very dense. Any tips? Thanks!

General advice, less fluff, more content. It should flow and be detailed enough to give someone the big picture you’re trying to portray, but don’t get wrapped up in detail that someone who doesn’t know you and has minimal time to read wouldn’t really care about.

Your goal should be to give them enough to find you interesting but not overwhelming. If they really want the details, it’ll come up in an interview.

I took the old high school English approach to writing mine. Very broad outline first, then a list of what I think they should know, then write it out and delete the extraneous. It’s definitely a process.

Thanks! I’ll work on that for sure. I’m having a hard time finding the fluff in my story though. I’ve experienced a lot on the last 13 years which has influenced my decision for medicine. I’ll work on deleting the extras. Basically, I need to give them enough to be interested and wanting more aka an interview.

Yes and no. You need to make them interested, but I still think it’s important to have a “conclusion” to your little tidbits of information as well so they know you can coherently put together a story.

Instead of trying to include every little detail, try to combine some of the details into an overarching topic that you can discuss broadly while interjecting the “evidence.” I guarantee no one has the time nor the desire to read about every single step of your path to medicine. In essence, don’t leave anything out, but don’t get too into the weeds on things that definitely matter to you but don’t really strengthen why the reader is supposed to think you’re awesome. Imagine if someone was going to look at your application in 5 minutes, what would you want to stand out to them (5 minutes might be generous). As with most skimmers, the intro, topic sentences, and conclusion should make them want to learn more or it’ll just get glossed over with the 1000s of other applications they have to look at.

If you really want to get into the details as to what you’ve done along the way, the “activities” section of the application is where this would be more applicable. Those are also character limited though, and you want to make sure you include the “why I did x” and “what I learned from x” and not just “this is what I did.” Again, in most cases people won’t care as much about the details as they will about the introspection.

Find an unbiased 3rd party to give it a read over too. If possible, it might be good if someone familiar with the process looks at it as well as someone who doesn’t know anything about the process.

I wish there was a good way to give advice on personal statements. That’s the positive and negative of a personal statement…it’s yours to do with as you please but still has to appeal to an unknown audience.

Thank you! That is incredibly helpful. I am in a post baccalaureate program and they are going to review my personal statement. My goal is to make the least amount of errors on my third draft. I have a busy semester with MCAT review and class. You’ve given me some great insight.