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Writing the Personal Statement - Princeton Medical School

Writing the Personal Statement - Princeton Medical School

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Published by: Widfdsafdsa on May 07, 2012
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Health Professions AdvisingPrinceton University
Writing the Medical School
Personal Statement
 The personal statement is your opportunity to
your medical school application.Your essay – or “personal comments,” as the AMCAS officially calls it – should revealsomething about yourself that is not discussed at length elsewhere on the application, and itshould make Admissions deans and directors want to meet you. They often use this part of your application to sort through their “maybe” piles and determine who to invite for an interview.Ultimately, the personal statement is one of the only parts of this process that you still havecontrol over at the time you’re actually applying. Your GPA and MCAT are behind you at this point, but you can still improve your chances by
writing well 
What do I write about?
Make it personal. Your audience should get a good idea of who you are and what you arelike
in person
. Most applicants’ essays are not personal enough.
Tell a story or anecdote. Don’t tell your 
life story
, but instead focus on one or twoexperiences that you believe distinguish you. Meaningful events and people who haveinfluenced you are also topics to consider. Think about what hasn’t already been includedelsewhere on your AMCAS.
Be positive. The personal statement is not the best place to explain problems with your academic record unless poor grades are directly tied to a pivotal period in your life. If youlearned important lessons from past mistakes, you may mention the transcript, but keep thefocus positive.
How do I begin?
Start at any time during your career as a pre-med, and devote as much time to writing as possible. You will need a polished version of the personal statement when you completeyour AMCAS application in May of the year you are applying.
Keeping a journal during a clinical experience is always a good idea. Record memorableconversations with doctors and patients, general impressions, reactions, etc.
Consider making lists of your influences, goals, achievements, and personal history. Look for themes in these lists and use them to generate ideas for your essay. You might also make
Writing the Medical School Personal Statement 2a list of adjectives that describe your strengths as an applicant, focusing on personality traits,then match those traits with experiences that demonstrate these qualities—to use as evidencein your essay.
Consider your reasons for becoming a doctor. What other professions also match thosemotivations? Why do you want to be a doctor instead of having those other jobs?
Make an outline to keep your thoughts organized. Write your first draft quickly. It doesn’thave to be perfect, so don’t worry about the length.
Once you have finished your first draft, put it aside for a while, ideally several weeks. Whenyou return to it, you will have a fresh perspective.
Revision is an ongoing process. Go back and revise your essay often.
After you have completed a draft,
work on your introduction. Keep in mind that you donot have long to catch your reader’s attention; Admissions personnel sometimes read 50 to60 essays a day, spending only 3 to 15 minutes on each. But at the same time, remember thatthe whole essay needs to be well-done, not just the opening. Applicants tend to spend far toomuch time on their introductions and neglect the body of the essay.
Keep it to two double-spaced pages or one single-spaced page. The AMCAS limits you to5300 characters (including spaces). Note: If you plan on cutting and pasting your essay intothe application, you should draft the essay in a text-only format, such as Microsoft Notepad.Copying formatted text into the application will result in formatting problems that aredifficult to change and cannot be corrected after submission. It’s best to type the finalversion of your essay directly into your AMCAS.
Use varied sentence lengths, active voice, and strong verbs.
Include details. Give specific examples that illustrate what you’re trying to say aboutyourself. Details make your essay more personal, and you more memorable.
Have many people read it, both those who know you well and those who don’t. Your finalaudience will not know you well, so find out what those who know little about you learnfrom your essay.
Read it aloud. Hearing your essay helps detect poor transitions and tone problems.
Common Mistakes
It is very important to illustrate your commitment to the application process through anerrorless essay. Grammar mistakes and typos look careless. Make sure you proofread. No changes are allowed after you have submitted your AMCAS.

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