How To Write A Medical School Personal Statement In 10 Steps

This guide covers how to write your Medical School personal statement in 10 easy to follow steps. It will take you from step 1; with nothing written down and no structure or plan all the way to step 10 – a finished, excellent Medicine personal statement ready for submission.

Like our other application guides, this guide on how to write a Medical School personal statement is entirely free as part of our commitment to making high-quality information about a career in Medicine free and easily accessible.

Step 1 – Understand the basics of the Medicine personal statement and its purpose

The Medicine personal statement is submitted electronically alongside your UCAS application by the October 15th annual Medicine application deadline. The same Medicine personal statement will be forwarded to all your chosen medical schools and your 5th non-Medicine choice (if you decide to have one). You should contact your 5th non-Medicine choice and ask them if they want a separate personal statement tailored to that course to be sent directly to them. A minimal number of medical schools ask for additional information on top of your Medicine personal statement to be sent directly to them. For example, Manchester Medical School asks candidates to submit a questionnaire to them which asks questions about their work experience and other things.

The Medicine personal statement must meet two conditions: It must be less than 4000 characters (including spaces, tabs and paragraph spacing) and a maximum of 47 lines on the UCAS system. This equates to about 500 words. UCAS use sophisticated plagiarism and similarity software on all submitted personal statements.

Medical School personal statements are used differently by medical schools. Some score your personal statement and use it to decide which candidates should be interviewed. Some do not use it in scoring. Instead, they score applicants in other areas such as grades and UKCAT scores but still read the personal statement to make sure a candidate is suitable. Even in medical schools which do not score Medicine personal statements, it usually acts as a basis to ask candidates questions in interviews and learn more about them.

Step 2 – Know what admission tutors are looking for from a Medical School personal statement

To produce a successful Medicine personal statement, you cannot just start writing and hope for the best. You must know who your audience is (i.e. admission’s tutors) and what they are looking for from a medical school personal statement.

Admissions tutors are looking for strong reasons a candidate wants to study Medicine; evidence that these reasons are well thought out and based on research and experience, not just a burning desire; and evidence of a sustained commitment to studying Medicine, that is not just a passing phase. These should be backed by evidence (e.g. your work experience) and not just something you claim.

Admissions tutors are looking for evidence of specific traits and attributes such as excellent communication skills, reliability, resilience etc. Our free article on what qualities are needed to study Medicine and why will be useful. The key is to show that you possess these attributes by backing them up with examples rather than just claiming to own them.

Admissions tutors are also looking for examples of work experience and extracurricular activities. This is not a box ticking exercise – admissions tutors are not looking for long lists of events. This is a common mistake of weaker medical school personal statements. Instead, admissions tutors are looking for the meaning and insight that you derived from these activities as well as the attributes and traits that your activities “show” that you possess. “Show not tell” is an important rule to follow. Using experiences to show or infer that you possess certain traits is much better than merely claiming to possess them.

If you are a graduate student applying to Medicine, then there are specific things which admissions tutors will want to see. We discuss this in our free guide on how to write a graduate Medical School personal statement.

Step 3 – Look at other examples of medical school personal statement

You can gain inspiration by seeing how other people have approached elements of the medical school personal statement. For example, seeing how others have approached writing about their motivation to study Medicine or about their extra-curricular activities. This important step is for inspiration only – your Medicine personal statement must be your work. UCAS use sophisticated similarity and plagiarism detection software on all personal statements sent to them.
See our free complete analysis of a successful Medicine personal statement which received all four offers. This is much better than merely reading another statement as we give a full analysis of this personal statement paragraph by paragraph and explain precisely why it was effective in gaining the candidate four interviews.

Step 4 – Learn about common mistakes in medical school personal statements

We have a range of entirely free articles which will help you to avoid some common mistakes applicants make in medical school personal statements.

• How to avoid waffling and write more concisely in your Medicine personal statement. Read More
• Four things to avoid including in your medical school personal statement. Read More
• How to avoid sounding arrogant in your Medicine personal statement. Read More
• Eight tips for proofreading your medical school personal statement. Read More

Step 5 – Brainstorm your medical school personal statement

Why brainstorm your medical school personal statement instead of just starting to write it?

With such limited space in your Medicine personal statement, every single word counts. Every single sentence must add value. To write a document like this with such “high yield” where every sentence has a purpose, you must know precisely what to put into your statement and what to omit. To do this, you need a wide selection of things that you can choose from, and this is where brainstorming helps.

Brainstorming will generate far more ideas than if you immediately started trying to write within the restrictions of the personal statement format and its character limit. Brainstorming will leave you with a selection of many things which you can then actively choose from if you want to include or want to omit. This purposeful selection of what to include and what to exclude is better than just starting to write your statement before knowing what message you are trying to convey and hoping that something will stick if sentences are put to paper. This is why the brainstorming is done even before the planning phase of your Medicine personal statement. This is also why you brainstorm many things about yourself (not just about personal statements) even though many of these things will not make it to your final Medicine personal statement.

How brainstorming your medical school personal statement will also help you in your Medicine interview

Brainstorming about yourself, i.e. your motivations; personal attributes; achievements; strengths and weaknesses; compliments; the feedback you have received etc. will remind you of things you have forgotten and help you to think of new things you have never previously considered. It will help you to link things to each other and group them. It will develop the skills of taking fuzzy, not fully formed thoughts in your head and expressing them on paper. This level of introspection about your personal attributes and achievements in writing is something you may have never had to do before the medical application process. This will, of course, help you with your Medicine interview, as an interview is another format where you must take ideas in your head, shape them and then express them.

A skilled interviewee is not someone who memorises answers. Instead, they have an internal database of experiences, achievements etc. that they can bring together and apply to any question posed to them. In this way, their answers are tailored to exactly what is asked (candidates who memorise answers have difficulties in answering unexpected questions or questions worded slightly differently to the one they memorised) and appear more natural and spontaneous than candidates who memorise set answers to set questions. Brainstorming gets you into the frame of thinking where you can generate many ideas and select the ones you want and then shape them into an expressible form.

Tips on how to brainstorm for your medical school personal statement:

Before you start brainstorming things on paper do the following:

1. Look at your CV if you have one to jog your memory and get ideas flowing
2. Look at your portfolio/reflective diary of work experience to remind yourself of previous experiences
3. Speak to trusted friends and family – ask them what traits they think you have. Importantly ask them to give examples of you demonstrating these traits, i.e. if they say empathetic or excellent communication skills then try and see if they can provide specific examples.
4. Start your brainstorming

Here are some ideas for things you can start to brainstorm. Remember, you are brainstorming about yourself, not just your Medicine personal statement. Also, most of what you brain storm will not make it to your final personal statement. This is fine as the purpose of brainstorming is to get ideas flowing and to make connections between different ideas.

• People, teachers, authors, mentors, parents, etc. that have influenced you
• What feedback have you received from others? What compliments have you received? What good things do people who know you say about you?
• In what situations have you shown leadership, teamwork, resilience, excellent communication skills?
• What positive attributes do you possess? What are your strengths and weaknesses?
• Any significant/ formative life experiences. Things which changed your outlook
• Times you were out of your comfort zone/ experiences which have made you grow or pushed you.
• A mistake that you made/ things which have made you learn about yourself or change.
• Reasons you want to study Medicine. Experiences which have led to or confirmed this wish.
• Memorable moments from your work experience. Things you learned. Things which changed your perspective.
• What skills did you gain from your work experiences, other activities and achievements?

Step 6 – Refine your brainstorm and write a plan for your Medicine personal statement

You can start to put your brainstorming points into groups or themes. Start highlighting things from your brainstorming notes that you want in your Medicine personal statement. Next, plan your Medicine personal statement. By being clear on what you want to cover instead of just writing things and hoping something fits, your writing style will be more impactful and concise. Waffling is typically the result of a writer being unclear of their own position and not planning what message they want a paragraph or sentence to convey before writing it.

Step 7 – Learn more about grammar and writing style

Your Medicine personal statement must be concise, impactful and interesting. It must have a logical structure and a consistent writing style. Anything less than excellent spelling, grammar and punctuation are not acceptable. To achieve these things, you must be knowledgeable and skilled in grammar, punctuation and writing styles (being concise, how to write convincingly etc.) Don’t mistake this for thinking you need to train to become a scholar in English. All you need to know is some focused and specific things which will help you in the specific task of writing you medical school personal statement. We have several free articles with grammar and writing tips for your Medicine personal statement. If you opt to use our Medicine personal statement review service, all Medicine personal statements are checked by a professional editor and also by a doctor who received all four offers to study Medicine.

Step 8 – Start writing your medical school personal statement!

Don’t let perfectionism prevent you from starting – have a plan in mind, but you can still try new things to see how they work and change them if you don’t like them. Also, in the early stages do not worry too much about the character limit as things can be cut things down and perfected later.

If you are struggling with procrastination, then use the 5-minute rule – just say to yourself that you will spend 5 minutes sat down, with no distractions (e.g. TV, music), focused and ready to write. Often the biggest hurdle is just starting. Once you finally do start, you will probably work for much longer than 5 minutes, but all you need to commit to is 5 minutes. Also, remember that you do not need to start from the beginning of your medical school personal statement. Often the beginning is the hardest part, so you can start from a different paragraph instead. Read our free blog on tips on how to write an opening line and paragraph for your Medicine personal statement

Step 9 – Perfect and proofread your medical school personal statement

Leave some time between completing your medical school personal statement and proofreading it so you can view your Medicine personal statement with fresh eyes. This is because it is very easy to miss errors in text that you are very familiar with. Also, make sure you are alert as proofreading requires concentration and patience. You can ask for feedback from teachers and careers advisors. Our free blogs include personal statement final checklists and tips for proofreading.

• Eight tips for proofreading your medical school personal statement. Read More
• Final checklist before submitting your Medicine personal statement. Read More

Step 10 – Consider a personal statement review service

Many candidates write excellent and successful personal statements without using any Medicine personal statement review services. They are not essential so do not believe any company trying to convince you otherwise. However, we think our Medicine personal statement review service will add significant value to your Medicine application. A professional editor and a fully qualified doctor, whom themselves received all four UCAS offers to study Medicine, will both check and correct your Medicine personal statement. This is unlike many other providers who use untrained students or people with no Medicine or admissions background and who do not have professional proof-reading skills. We go beyond the typical reviews of just grammar and structure. To find out more visit our Personal Statement Review page.