This article will help you write the opening paragraph of your Medicine personal statement. It contains tips which will help you if you are struggling to start writing your Medicine personal statement opening paragraph, but the tips will still help you to improve a Medicine personal statement opening paragraph that you have already written.

Tip 1 – Decide what exactly it is you are trying to say in your opening paragraph before you write it

Good writing reflects good thinking. You will find it hard to communicate your points clearly if you do not fully understand your own position. An impactful paragraph rarely writes itself. Waffling is often the result of an applicant being unclear on what they want to say and not planning out their sentences and paragraphs. They are writing before knowing what message they are trying to convey and hope that some meaning will come together if sentences are put onto paper. Properly planning a sentence and paragraph before you start writing will make it more meaningful and concise, greatly improving its impact and clarity.

Tip 2 – You don’t need a fascinating story or highly original reasons for studying Medicine

Usually, the opening paragraph explains why a candidate wants to study Medicine. You do not need a fascinating story about how you first realised you wanted to be a doctor nor do you need highly original reasons why you want to study Medicine. If you have these then great, use them if it fits, but don’t let trying to think of them hold you back from starting to write your opening paragraph. In fact, most candidates will not have highly original reasons for studying Medicine or a unique story about how they first realised that they want to be a doctor. Strong, genuine, well-considered but typical reasons for studying Medicine are good enough as long as you avoid sounding clichéd. Have a look at our example of a strong Medicine personal statement which gave the candidate four interview offers, and ultimately four places at these medical schools. There is no fancy opening line, no fascinating story about how they realised they wanted to become a doctor and the reasons they cite for wanting to study Medicine are typical but do not sound clichéd.

Tip 3 – Start somewhere else

The opening paragraph is sometimes the most challenging part of your personal statement to write. Don’t let this be an excuse for you to procrastinate starting your Medicine personal statement. If you are struggling to write your Medicine personal statement opening paragraph or line, then try starting with different parts of your statement first. This can get the ball rolling and ideas flowing.

Tip 4 – You don’t need the perfect opening paragraph at the early stages of drafting

You can change your personal statement as many times as you like until you decide it is ready. Don’t be afraid to try different openings and testing if they work. You can always change them later. There is a saying that “perfection is the lowest standard” as trying to be perfect means that people don’t even start a task in the first place as they don’t think their attempt will be “perfect” enough. So really perfectionism is a lie because perfection isn’t the high standard it is perceived to be. It is a low standard or even no standard at all if it paralyses you from even starting something. Don’t let perfectionism stop you from starting your medical school personal statement or trying new ideas. Set your standard to be excellent, not perfect and get started.

Tip 5 – You don’t need to go looking for that perfect quote to start your personal statement

In fact, you should generally avoid using quotes in your Medicine personal statement. They take up valuable characters, and assessors want to read what you have to say not someone else. Quotes are consistently cited by admissions tutor’s as one of their biggest pet hates, particularly at the start of a statement and when candidates include them without explaining why they have done so. If you think you can make a quote work as it is needed to make a crucial point, then consider it but remember that it is usually difficult to get right without coming across as cheesy, unoriginal or clichéd. Therefore, most applicants should avoid using them.

Tip 6 – You don’t need to go looking for that perfect joke to start your statement either

It is not that humour is a bad thing; it is just very hard to get right and very easy to get wrong. It can alienate a reader who may not share your sense of humour. It is best avoided but if you do use it be extremely careful. Make sure you test it with multiple people, but even then you cannot predict what your assessor will make of your attempt at humour.

Tip 7 – You do not need a very original opening line but avoid clichés

It is good to try and be original and impactful with an opening line, but this is not something to obsess over. As one admissions tutor put it; ‘be succinct and draw the reader in, but not with a gimmick. This isn’t the X Factor.’ Remember, an opening line is not as important in a Medicine personal statement as it is in other pieces of text, where sometimes a gimmick is needed to entice someone to continue reading the whole text. Your personal statement will definitely be read in it is entirety, so you do not need gimmicks or headlines. It is your Medicine personal statement as an overall piece of writing that is important not just the opening line. This includes:

1) The structure of your Medicine personal statement. How well does your personal statement flow?

2) How well your personal statement displays that you have robust, sustained motivation, interest and reasons for studying Medicine

3) How well your personal statement shows what experience and achievements you have, e.g. work experience, part-time jobs, extracurricular activities and most importantly what meaning, and insight have you gained from these things.

4) How well your Medicine personal statement shows the personal qualities you possess which make you suitable for studying Medicine, e.g. teamwork, leadership, communication skills, empathy, conscientiousness etc.

That being said, try to avoid clichés and common opening lines. If it genuinely fits in your case, then that should be fine but be mindful of how you come across as clichés tend to sound cheesy and unconvincing.

UCAS have published the top 10 most common opening lines used in the 700,000 personal statements (for all courses including Medicine) sent to them in 2015. While limited to 2015, it still serves as a good reference for future years. They are:

1) From a young age, I have (always) been [interested in/fascinated by]… [1,779]

2) For as long as I can remember, I have… [1,451]

3) I am applying for this course because… [1,370]

4) I have always been interested in… [927]

5) Throughout my life, I have always enjoyed… [310]

6) Reflecting on my educational experiences… [257]

7) Nursing is a very challenging and demanding [career/profession/course]… [211]

8) Academically, I have always been… [168]

9) I have always wanted to pursue a career in… [160]

10) I have always been passionate about… [160]

How can Medicine Answered help you with your Medicine personal statement?

Medicine Answered offer one of the highest quality Medicine personal statement review services available. A professional editor and a fully qualified doctor, who themselves received all four UCAS offers to study Medicine, will check and correct your personal statement. This is unlike many other providers who use untrained students or people with no medical or admissions background and who do not have professional proof-reading skills. We go beyond the typical reviews of just grammar and structure. We discuss the overall strength of your entire Medicine application and ways to improve it.