This article will help you to submit an excellent final version of your medical school personal statement. It outlines a checklist of criteria every Medicine personal statement must meet. It is comprised of two parts:

Part 1 – Making sure the content is excellent

This part is a checklist of things your Medicine personal statement must do or include in terms of content. We explain why you must include each item of the Medicine personal statement checklist, so you have a deeper understanding of what you are doing and are not just trying to tick boxes.

Part 2 – Making sure the grammar, punctuation, spelling and writing style are excellent

This part of the article provides advice on proofreading your Medicine personal statement to make sure the writing style, grammar and so on is perfect.

Part 1 – A Medicine personal statement checklist to make sure the content is excellent

Ask yourself if your statement meets each element of the below Medicine personal statement checklist.

Checklist Item 1: Does your Medicine personal statement have a consistent and logical structure?

Regardless of what structure you decide to use, it should be consistent and logical. A common mistake candidate’s make is that they do not group together sentences which are making a similar point. Instead, they disperse them all over the document. If you put things which are making a similar point together, then each point reinforces the last point, making the overall message clearer and more memorable. It also gives a structure and flow to your medical school personal statement. A practical way to do this is to create themed paragraphs. For example, one paragraph or half paragraph could be composed of several sentences demonstrating your intellectual curiosity. By putting these sentences together in one place it makes it more apparent to the reader the point you are trying to convey. If the same individual sentences were dispersed all over your statement, then a reader may not pick up on the point you are making.

Checklist Item 2 – Have you shown strong, well-considered reasons why you want to study Medicine?

For some courses, admissions tutors are mainly checking if candidates have the right grades and some interest in the course. This is not the case with Medicine. Medicine is such a significant commitment and a challenging career that admissions tutors must delve much deeper into a candidate’s understanding of what a career in Medicine entails (is it realistic?) and their motivations for pursuing a medical career (are they genuine and robust?). Admissions tutors need to see that your motivation and interest in Medicine is based on real experience and research over a sustained a period and not something that is based on unrealistic ideas or is just a phase which may pass or crumble if faced with some adversity. Motivated candidates with a real interest in Medicine are far more likely to pass a medical degree and have a successful career which is why admissions tutors need evidence of this.

Checklist Item 3 – Have you included solid examples of work experience in caring or service roles, and crucially reflected on these experiences?

Admissions tutors require this for several reasons. As mentioned above it provides evidence of your interest and commitment to Medicine. It also means you are more likely to have a more realistic idea of what a career in Medicine entails than somebody with no work experience. Work experience can demonstrate essential traits which are needed to study Medicine such as reliability, self-reflection, self-awareness, organisation, communication skills, empathy and more. Medical schools appreciate that it can be difficult for applicants to acquire work experience in medical roles and your roles will usually be limited. Most value caring/service-based work experience equally. Most medical schools will encourage applicants to try and speak to a doctor if they cannot arrange formal medical work experience.

Checklist Item 4 – Does your medical school personal statement include the insights and meaning you gained from activities such as work experience, extracurricular activities and not just lists and descriptions of activities?

This is one of the most fundamental things your personal statement must include. Being able to do this effectively is the difference between an excellent Medicine personal statement and a mediocre or poor Medicine personal statement. Admissions tutors are not looking for long lists of achievements, work experience and extracurricular activities. The meaning and insights that you gained from these experiences is even more important than what you actually did.

Writing an account of the events of your work experience or the facts of an event, achievement or award, is necessary to some extent as the reader must understand what you are writing about and the context. However, this is just the first step. The next step is illustrating your account. In this vital step, you describe what meaning you have derived from the events and/or what attributes you demonstrated or developed. This is what excellent medical school personal statements do. This would include things such as what motivated you to do these things? Did you have to overcome any challenges to do them? What have you learned about yourself and others? How do these experiences show that you have the attributes of a good doctor?

Checklist Item 5 – Have you shown evidence that you possess the core values and attributes needed to study Medicine?

The key is showing that you have these traits instead of merely claiming to possess them. For example, you can talk about how working once a week at a nursing home for one year shows your personal responsibility, commitment and skills in working with the elderly. For more information about how to do this have a look at our analysis of a successful medicine personal statement which received 4 offers to study medicine.

Checklist Item 6 – Does your Medicine personal statement have excellent spelling, grammar and punctuation?

Anything less is not acceptable. The overall tone and style of your medical school personal statement must also be excellent.

Part 2 – Making sure the grammar, punctuation, spelling and writing style are excellent

Part one of this guide included a medical school personal statement checklist to ensure that the content was excellent. Part two of this guide gives you advice about proofreading your Medicine personal statement to ensure things such as the grammar, spelling, punctuation and the writing style are perfect.

Allow some time to pass between completing your Medicine personal statement and proofreading it

How did you do in the picture? The reason these types of tricks work is because the human mind is continuously making assumptions and filling in gaps based on its past experiences rather than what exists in reality. It does this the most on things it perceives to be familiar. It pays much more attention in new situations. Similarly, people become accustomed to text which is familiar to them, and their brains start to miss errors. Avoid this by allowing some time to pass between completing your personal statement and proofreading it so you can see it with a fresh pair of eyes. Do other work in the meantime.

Make sure you are in the right mindset to proofread your personal statement

Proofreading requires high levels of alertness and patience. Ensure that you are not tired, distracted, or rushed.

Make sure you have selected the correct homonyms

Words that are identically spelt and/or pronounced but have different meanings are known as homonyms. Examples include; compliment and complement as well as there, their & they’re and your and you’re.

Make sure you are using British English not American English

Be aware of the differences in spelling of medical words between the two languages. For example; paediatric vs pediatric; orthopaedic vs orthopedic; gynaecology vs gynecology. And, of course in everyday language too. For example, metre vs meter, realise vs realize; centre vs center.

Do not rely on spelling and grammar software

These are great tools but are limited. They are prone to false positives and they miss many errors. They are also unable to give reliable advice on the tone, consistency and structure of your personal statement. A skilled human is far superior at this.

Proofread a printed copy

Some people will find it easier to proofread a printed document rather than text on a screen and vice versa. Either way, a printed copy will be a change for your brain, putting it in a more attentive state and making it easier for you spot errors.

Read out loud

Several studies have shown reading out loud helps you to spot mistakes. It uses different areas of your brain to silently reading and will give you a different perspective. Sometimes when you read things out loud, you realise that they do not sound quite right and should be phrased differently.

Make sure your personal statement meets the UCAS requirements

A UCAS personal statement does not have a word limit. Instead, it must meet two conditions. Firstly it must be no more than 4000 characters. This includes spaces, lines, tabs etc. Secondly, UCAS set a limit on the number of characters permitted per line and limit the line count to 47. This means it is not as simple as a 4000-character limit or 47 lines, both criteria must be satisfied. This will mean a typical personal statement is between 500-700 words. UCAS recommend using a word processor for your personal statement and then transferring it to the UCAS system where you can still make changes, save drafts and check if you have satisfied the character and line limits.

There are clever ways to shave off a few characters from a personal statement that is slightly too long. However, do not do this by resorting to using incorrect grammar or spelling. If your medical school personal statement exceeds the character limit by more than a small amount, then it is still possible to reduce characters and convey the same message by writing in a more concise manner (we have a blog about writing techniques to help you do this). This will make your writing more powerful. If this is still not adequate, then you will have to consider more fundamental changes. Our blog article 4 things to not include in your Medicine personal statement and various others may be useful for you.

Need help with your Medical school personal statement?

Medicine Answered provide one of the highest quality Medicine personal statement review services available. A professional editor and also a doctor will both look at your personal statement. Our services go beyond simply proofreading your personal statement. A doctor will comment on your entire medical application, suggest areas of improvement and things which may come up at interview based on your personal statement. Unlike many competitors, our services use professional proofreaders and qualified doctors not students or people with no medical admissions background or professional proofreading skills.