Before discussing how to organize your AMCAS personal statement, let’s consider some ideas that can be discussed in your statement. Here are some questions you can address while thinking about what to include in your essay.
- Why have you selected the field of medicine? Why do you want to be a doctor?
- What motivates you to learn more about medicine?
- What do you want medical schools to know about you that have not been disclosed in other sections of the application?
In addition, you may wish to include information such as: Special hardships, challenges, or obstacles that may have influenced your educational pursuits. Commentary on significant fluctuations in your academic record that are not explained elsewhere in your application is also applicable.
Here are some further questions and ideas you can consider to include in your AMCAS personal statement.
- Where you were born, how you grew up, and what type of childhood you had growing up (include any interesting and fascinating stories about your siblings, parents, grandparents.
- Early exposure to the medical field that left an impression on you as a child.
- How you became familiar and interested with the field of medicine at an early stage of your life.
- What steps did you take to further familiarize yourself with the medical profession? Did you shadow a physician? Did you volunteer or work in a clinical setting? Did you get involve in medical research?
- How did you finally solidify the decision to apply to medical school?
- Any future plans as a physician? What specialty are you considering and why?
The perfect AMCAS personal statement not only shows the admissions committee that you have great communication skills through your excellent writing style, but more importantly, conveys a sense of maturity, professionalism, and self-reflexivity (i.e. essential non-cognitive skills) that is expected of a medical school candidate, while clearly demonstrating your motivation for the medical profession.
Now, the first step to writing the perfect medical school personal statement is to start as early as possible. Look at this medical school application timeline -- a good personal statement takes months to create. You will need time to first think about the question and reflect on it daily in order to brainstorm ideas. It is also important that you discuss the question with others who may be able to shed some light on the deeper intentions behind the questions being asked.
When writing the first draft of your essays, it is important to keep the following in mind: The essay should read like a chronological narrative, and have good structure and flow regardless of how long or short it has to be. This means it will need an introduction, a body content, and conclusion.
The introductory paragraph and more importantly, the introductory sentence or opening sentence of your essay, will most certainly make or break your overall statement. Thus, ensure that you have a creative and captivating opening sentence that draws in the reader. This is your first and only chance to really capture the attention of the committee. Your introductory paragraph should also serve as a road map to the reader and allow them to understand where the remainder of the story is headed.
Once you have produced a good opening or introductory paragraph, it is time to focus on the remainder of your essay. In the body of your essay, you essentially want to elaborate on the ideas that you have introduced in your opening paragraph by drawing on your personal experiences to provide evidence.
Lastly, the conclusion of your personal statement should not be a simple summary of the things you have discussed. It should be insightful, captivating, and leave the reader with an impression. Although you want to re-emphasize the major ideas of your essay, you should try to be creative and captivating much like your opening paragraph.
Now let’s go through an example of a great opening paragraph from a previous year’s cycle.
Excellent AMCAS personal statement example:
“I was convinced I was going to grow up to be a magician. This was not just another far-fetched idealistic childhood dream that many of us have growing up. There was a sense of certainty about this dream that motivated me to devote countless hours to its practice. It was mostly the wonder that it brought to others and the way they were left in awe after a trick that I recall enjoying the most as a young magician. But when at the age of 13, my grandfather was diagnosed with stage four renal cancer, I realized that sometimes magic is not enough and quickly learned about the vital role physicians play in the life of everyday people like my family and myself. Although my grandfather ended up passing away from his illness, the impact that the healthcare team had on him, my family, and myself will always serve as the initial starting point of my fascination with the medical profession. Since that time, I have spent my years learning more about the human sciences through my undergraduate studies and research, have developed a deeper understanding of the demands and challenges of the medical profession through my various volunteer and extra-curricular experiences, and although it has been difficult along the way, I have continued to forge a more intimate fascination with the medical field that has motivated me to apply to medical school at this juncture of my life.”
Note how in the above AMCAS personal statement example, the applicant has followed all of our tips above. Here are some other AMCAS personal statement examples.
Once you have completed your first draft, ensure that you have someone who has the expertise required to review your work so that you can make appropriate revisions prior to submission because you only get one chance to make a first impression.
Of course you can ask a professor or a medical doctor, but more often than not, these individuals are too busy with their own work, and may take weeks to get back to you, and may not even have the experience or expertise to give you appropriate feedback.
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