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Medical School Personal Statement Do's and Don't's

Since medical school admission is so competitive, most applicants are happy to find anything that can give them a competitive advantage. AdmissionsConsultants' Senior Consultant Dr. Greg Goldmacher has some important do's and don't's about the personal statement – which is an absolutely critical part of the application process.

First, decide how your personal statement will be organized. There are two major options. 1) A chronological essay describes in chronological order the experiences that led you to the decision to enter medicine – and what you have done to prepare for your future career. 2) A theme-based essay outlines your personal characteristics and then describes experiences that illustrate those characteristics.

Once you've made that decision and have started writing, there are a few things not to do. Avoid clichés in general and, in particular, avoid describing how you love science/medicine or want to help people. Although those things may be true of you, they are true of most applicants and won't help you stand out. Also, don't wax poetic about how great medicine is; since you're applying to med school, those sentiments are a given. This personal statement is about you, not about medicine.

Also, avoid statements such as "A doctor should always..." or "In medicine it's important to..." Remember that the people reading your application are mostly physicians. Don't lecture them. Or, in the immortal words of Dr. Goldmacher, you run the risk of someone saying, "I've been practicing cardiology for 30 years. Who is this pipsqueak applicant to tell me how to be a doctor?"

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