This article is about striking a balance between avoiding coming across as arrogant in your Medicine personal statement but not selling yourself short either. Some institutions such as Manchester medical school ask applicants to fill in a form asking questions about your work experience, extracurricular activities and other things. It asks the same kind of things people write in Medicine personal statements but in a structured format that the medical school controls. The advice given here about how to avoid sounding arrogant in your medical school personal statement also applies to documents such as these. You can also apply these tips to writing CV’s and cover letters for work experience and other purposes.

Why do candidates sometimes worry about sounding arrogant in a personal statement?

Writing your Medicine personal statement could be the first time you have spent considerable effort writing to convince people that you are smart enough, motivated enough, skilled enough, experienced enough and basically worthy enough to be something, in this case, a doctor. So far you have probably been used to making progress based on your grades which are objectively measured. Now you have to rely on your ability to sell yourself to progress to the next stage, i.e. medical school. You need to demonstrate how you are better than thousands of other candidates.

It is, therefore, no surprise that many candidates are unsure how to get the balance right between stating their achievements without sounding arrogant or boastful but also not coming across as underqualified or lacking confidence either. Especially as arrogance is a bad trait for doctors and something that you do not want to appear to be to admissions tutors, whilst not showcasing your attributes well enough could result in a failed application. Luckily, with a few simple strategies, you can easily strike a balance between clearly conveying your strengths and not appearing arrogant as we highlight in our analysis of a Medicine personal statement we helped to improve.

Tips to avoid coming across as arrogant in your medical school personal statement

The first thing to keep in mind is that a Medicine personal statement is supposed to be about you and a piece of work which demonstrates your skills in the best possible light. Writing in such a way is not arrogant in itself. You merely need to follow a few principles.

Firstly, back up your claims. Blanket statements, such as “I would make a good doctor; I am likeable; I have excellent communication skills etc.” can appear as grand, arrogant claims if not backed up with examples. Specific examples are usually best. The basic principle is to show not tell. It is better to say that working as an editor for the school newspaper shows you are able to work to strict deadlines than just claiming you are good at this. It is better to say that juggling your part-time job, a committee position at the college photography society and your studies helped develop your skills in time management and prioritisation rather than simply claiming you have these skills without evidence.

Another tip is, where it fits, use feedback that you have received. It would be better to say “My mentoring trainers gave me positive feedback on my ability to rapidly gain rapport with people from all types of backgrounds. I developed a plan on how I could improve this skill even further as I believe it is important to develop not only your weaknesses but things which you are good at also” than to just say that your mentoring work shows you possess excellent communication skills.

While trying to avoid sounding arrogant, applicants often make the error of depersonalising their answers and not saying what they as an individual contributed. For example, “the team successfully raised £2400 worth of transactions”. In many situations, things are a team effort, but your Medicine personal statement is about you so focus on what you individually contributed.

In a similar vein, when explaining what you did, you should say what your actions achieved. Instead of saying “I used excellent communication skills and self-awareness to calm the angry customer down” – which gives no specifics; say what you actually did. Talk about how you could identify from the customer’s body language and tone that she was visibly angry and upset. Talk about how you gave her space to talk, was respectful and sympathetic but remained neutral as you did not know the full picture. Discuss how this, as a result, helped to reset the interaction and allow you to both have a more meaningful discussion from that point onwards.

As a final tip, remember that everything you claim in your personal statement should be truthful and accurate. You must be prepared to talk about anything you discuss in your statement at interview. Do not say that you are fluent in Spanish if you only know a few travel phrases and do not claim to have read a book if you have just read a few pages. It will be damaging to your application if it emerges after some interview quizzing that you have not been truthful in your personal statement. You should paint things in the best possible light but that stops at the point where exaggeration and lies start.

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

Countless people gain a place at medical school without using any editing service. Rest assured, an editing service is not essential to write an excellent personal statement and earn a spot at medical school so do not believe any companies who tell you otherwise. We believe, however, that our editing services offer real value to your application.

We are different to many competitors as we go beyond merely checking for spelling and grammar. A professional proof-reader, as well as a doctor (who successfully received all four UCAS offers to study Medicine), will both review your Medicine statement. This is different to many other services who use untrained students or people with no Medicine admissions experience or professional proofreading skills. After making enhancements to your statement, we comment on the strength of your application, we can consider your UKCAT, academic grades, work experience and extracurricular activities and suggest ways to enhance your application further. We suggest things which may come up at interview specifically as a result of your personal statement.