Your AMCAS personal statement is one of the most important components of your AMCAS application. This is your best chance to share information about yourself with the admissions committee that they might not learn from reading the other sections of your application. But your AMCAS personal statement won’t write itself, and synthesizing all your ideas, experience, and background into about 5,300 characters is no easy feat. Consider the following AMCAS personal statement example along with expert advice from real MDs who’ve graduated from some of the best medical schools in the US and Canada to get a good idea of what's expected.

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AMCAS Personal Statement: What to Write – Advice from Experts AMCAS Personal Statement Tips AMCAS Personal Statement: Requirements and Guidelines AMCAS Personal Statement Examples FAQs

AMCAS Personal Statement: What to Write – Advice from Experts

 On how to stand out in your AMCAS personal statement:

“The personal statement is an opportunity for you to shine and really impress the committee to invite you for an interview. In order to stand out, it is important to answer the main questions well: a bit about yourself and what led you to medicine, why you would make an ideal medical student and future physician, what attracts you to this particular institution, and what sets you apart from the other candidates.” - Dr. Neel Mistry, MD, University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine

“What I did was start with a story. Like any good novel, the stories first lines are meant to hook the reader. This can be about anything if you can bring it back and relate it to your application... It is important that the story be REAL... While in my opinion it is OK to slightly embellish some details of story to make it more interesting, straight lying or overly unrealistic situations should be avoided.” - Dr. Jamie Cazes, MD, University of Toronto Temerty Faculty of Medicine

“I focused on my journey to medicine and opportunities that I sought out along the way. Everyone’s path and validation is unique, so walking the reader through your growth to the point of application will naturally be different.” - Dr. Monica Taneja, MD, University of Maryland School of Medicine

AMCAS Personal Statement Tips

Tip #1: The Essay Is a Story, not a Resume

Your AMCAS personal statement should NOT be a recitation of your medical student CV. Your CV is just data: it does not tell the story of why you want to become a doctor, or why you are particularly suited to medicine. As Dr. Jaime Cazes pointed out, you want to think of yourself as a character in a story, and you don’t want to give a “cookie-cutter” answer that almost every other person has written.

You don’t only want to think of yourself as a character in your story, but you also have to consider your audience. One of our students, Alison Edwards, who is now a student at the Dell Medical School, one of the newest medical schools in Texas, remembered that when she was brainstorming for what to write for her personal statement she thought about “what is the theme, basically, going to be of my application.”

Ashley thought of a theme because she wanted to “create an element of consistency”, which “makes it easy for the reader to be able to work their way through.” Because, as Ashely says, if there’s one thing to remember when brainstorming what you’re going to write about for your AMCAS personal statement it’s “thinking about who was going to read this application.” Understanding that there are human eyes that are going to read your AMCAS personal statement and a hundred other AMCAS personal statements should be a guiding factor, as the “more digestible that you can make it for them, it kind of gives you a little win.”

Tip #2: How to Write Without a Prompt

It’s always easier to write an essay if someone assigns you the topic. For instance, maybe you had to research diversity and inclusion in medical education at some point and think you know the “secret” to writing an excellent diversity secondary essay. But what do you do when there is no prompt – or the topic is you? Where do you start? How do you choose? What do medical schools want to hear? How do you come across as unique when the purpose of the essay is so generic?

The fact is, there is no one like you, and if you are applying to medical school, chances are you’re already pretty fantastic. All you need to do is reach back into your experiences and identify a moment that really defined your view of medicine and your potential place in the profession.

Or as our expert, Dr. Neel Mistry says,

“The key here is answering ‘why this school?’ and ‘what sets you apart’. Most candidates simply highlight what they have done, but do not reflect on it or mention how what they have done has prepared them for a future medical career. The personal statement is your chance to be reflective and go beyond what is stated on your CV and sketch. In addition to this, remember to use specific personal examples throughout your statement to make it more impactful and memorable for the readers. Often, painting a picture in the reader’s mind in the form of a story helps with this.”


Tip #3: Get an Early Start!

“I have been working with Matthew Triolo on my AMCAS application over the last few weeks. He has provided me with insightful feedback to my essays and has made the application process significantly less stressful. He has provided feedback in a timely manner and helped me to create a strong application.” - Anonymous, BeMo student


While American medical schools usually have rolling admissions process, applicants who make it into the pool early have a better chance at both interviewing and acceptance. When the AMCAS application service opens in May, your brain will be overloaded with lists upon lists of requirements and data to collect, such as medical school recommendation letters, verifiers, contact information, and transcripts. 

So, get to work soon on your essay draft and have it ready for upload when application season opens. You should allow yourself about eight weeks to reflect on and write your AMCAS personal statement. It’s not a task that should be rushed, and you’ll be glad you took the time to prepare it properly, to effectively convey why you want to go into medicine.

Tip #4: Address Setbacks; Don’t Dwell on Them

Basically, your essay is meant to be an authentic expression of you as a person – and as the saying goes, bad things happen to good people. One student might lose their parents in their second year of university. Another might get injured in varsity sports. Still others might see their grades fall drastically after they migrate during high school to escape war and famine.

If you experienced any event that negatively impacted your GPA, AMCAS expects you to mention it before it is raised as a red flag or becomes one of the 5 mistakes to avoid while writing your medical school personal statement.

“Portraying yourself in a negative manner can be tricky. It is important to stick to what is asked but also be diplomatic in your response (i.e., be careful with the example you choose). For instance, you could highlight a situation in which you were working on a group project, but the stress and pressure of the deadline affected your behavior and communication with the members. It is not only important to highlight the situation in detail but to also reflect on your actions. Drawing upon lessons from this experience and how you used what you learned to make changes the next time around is key to demonstrating a growth mindset.” - Dr. Neel Mistry, MD, University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine, on how to address negative qualities.

And this may seem like a huge challenge. You want admissions committees to know that you are strong, capable, and resilient. You want them to consider all that you have come through when they note that your GPA is less than 3.8. But you don’t want them to take pity on you or think you’re asking for favors.

Do you need inspiration for your AMCAS personal statement? Check out this video with examples:

Tip #5: Remember that Writing Is a Craft

Knowing how to write a compelling introduction and opening sentence for a medical school personal statement is a skill that can be learned. It’s really as simple as that. Become a good – even great – writer in the process of applying to medical school, and you can rest easy that you’ve given this particular part of your application your best shot.

“I found it helpful to give schools a ‘punch-line’ as in I wanted them to remember 1-2 things about me that are my differentiators and I reiterated those throughout.” - Dr. Monica Taneja, MD, University of Maryland School of Medicine, on a writing technique that helped her stand out in her AMCAS personal statement.

Getting behind the idea of creative writing may not appeal to science majors, but believe us, it’s a skill that will serve you in medicine in more ways than you can imagine. However, at this stage, right before applying, it may seem like just another chore to get out of the way. If that’s your mindset, you should change it – because your AMCAS personal statement is a real opportunity to reflect on and distill your passion for medicine. Whatever else we say or advice we give, if you know how to answer the medical school personal statement and interview question: “Why do you want to become a doctor?” with clarity, conviction, and confidence, that’s half the task of applying to medical school.

Great resources on writer’s craft include Phillip Lopate’s “The Art of the Personal Essay” and “To Show and To Tell”, as well as Stephen King’s “On Writing”. For a fulfilling experience and a break from reading, listen to the latter on audiobook.

And why not take advantage of our free offer to acquire BeMo’s Ultimate Guide to Medical School Personal Statements & Secondary Essays? This 300-page guide with tips, strategies, and sample successful personal statements promises to “help you learn to write captivating essays, even if you are not a natural writer.”

Tip #6: Get Expert Feedback

“I met with Dr. Nagra to review my AMCAS experiences. It was an amazing session that helped me tailor what I wanted to express in this section of the application. I appreciated her to-the-point feedback and criticism for my paragraphs. Many times, I am frustrated with reviewers who do not offer meaningful comments; however, Dr. Nagra found the holes in my paragraphs that I knew were lacking and gave me helpful ideas on how to patch them up. Overall, the session was insightful and efficient, which is crucial for people using consulting services.” - Anonymous, BeMo student

Get an expert second set of eyes to look at your AMCAS personal statement draft and provide you with objective feedback. That means your mom is probably not the best person to ask (even if she’s an accomplished writer) because your family and friends cannot remain objective and will be afraid of hurting your feelings.

“Dr. Trevor Blanchard consulted me for my first AMCAS personal statement (PS) brainstorming session. He patiently listened to everything I had to say and asked questions to help me reflect upon my experiences. Then, he assisted me in compiling together a story to paint for my PS. He also helped walk me through the process of writing a PS and the important components of it. I really appreciated all the advice and help he provided me with!” - Phong, BeMo student


The reality is that every great writer has an editor, and you will need one. Given the importance of the AMCAS personal statement, there’s really no reason not to consider medical school personal statement editing services to help you out. In addition, these editing services offer far more than simply proofreading and language enhancement. Because our specialists who edit medical school personal statements are admissions experts who are intimately familiar with the application procedure for medical schools, they can also advise you on content, structure, and what schools look for in your AMCAS personal statement. There’s no question that a medical school application tutor is worth it to radically improve your personal statement and other components that can highly influence your admission chances.

“Reza helped me with some ideas for my opening essay in the AMCAS application. It was nice to hear what types of things they are looking for and the types of stories that could be useful for applying. Having a third party listen to your ideas and getting feedback can be quite useful when you are stuck or just beginning.” - Chris Czarnecki, BeMo student


AMCAS Personal Statement: Requirements and Guidelines

  •  You must enter all information directly into the various sections of the AMCAS form.
  • You cannot make any changes to your personal statement after submitting your application to the AMCAS program.
  • You can’t run a spell check either, so proofread all your texts carefully before entering them into the forms.

The following are some reminders from AMCAS:

  • Use US English characters; others may not be recognized.
  • Use normal writing practices: avoid using all uppercase or all lowercase letters.
  • Don’t repeat information added elsewhere on your application.
  • Your personal statement will be sent to all the medical schools you apply to.
  • Plagiarism or misrepresentations will result in an investigation.
  • Remember: You are allotted 5,300 characters, or about one page, for your AMCAS personal statement. It’s not necessary to use every word you are allowed but do show that you have enough to say to fill a few paragraphs (about 1 page).

AMCAS Personal Statement Example #1

916 words (5,181 of the maximum 5,300 characters with spaces)

My mother grew up as one of 14 children in a very poor home in rural Ontario, where both parents, while loving and warm, suffered from alcoholism. She and her siblings experienced significant childhood adversity, the legacy of which still looms large. Later, as the matriarch of her own family, she ran a small business, supported my aunts, uncles, and cousins, and provided stability for all of us. She modelled, and I internalized, compassion for my loved ones as they lived through uncertainty, conflict, illness, and loss.

You might wonder why I tell my mother’s story, rather than my own. I could say that my mother inspired me to go into medicine and leave it at that. However, to call it inspiration would be a discredit to the profound influence my mother has had on my life and the lives of everyone around us.

They say, “it takes a village,” but my family basically made up half the village where I lived. I’m exaggerating, but it’s almost true. In such an isolated place, the few families that existed formed a close, interdependent community. When someone fell ill, it was often the family who stepped in, since the nearest clinic was 40 minutes away.

That is not to say we were completely helpless. We had a doctor who actually did house calls for many years. It wasn’t always the same doctor, but the service was set up to come to us. These doctors in my family’s story buffered the effects of poverty and social exclusion. For example, when my uncle Elvin was dying of liver cancer, our family doctor regularly stopped by our house to manage his palliative care, even as he continued to drink alcohol. I still recall how the doctor treated him with such humanity and with full recognition of his life arc.

You will have noticed that I said, “our house,” which is where my mother comes in again. Indeed, when her brother got sick, there was no question of where he would stay or who would look after him. He was not alone; my mother was already looking after her ailing father and several young children. Moreover, before my uncle Elvin arrived, she had offered our neighbor’s son, who was studying to be a nurse, a job. She didn’t stop there. Those of us siblings who were old enough to take on greater responsibility were assigned new tasks: more cleaning, more cooking, more laundry.

With dozens of relatives who could potentially drop in at any moment, our home had never been empty or quiet, so at first, I didn’t notice the change. Gradually, however, the house was transformed. As my uncle’s condition and that of my grandfather grew more serious, we had more visiting physicians and twice the number of nurses. Someone was always knocking into someone else with a basket of laundry, and everything smelled like disinfectant.

This state of affairs eventually prompted the oncologist to suggest a more private arrangement for our two patients, but my mother had insisted that they would stay in their rooms, on the first floor, where they were comfortable and where no one was ever too far away. There was something about the matter of fact approach my mother took to the reality of having sick people in her home that impressed me. In her mind, it felt perfectly normal, and even to be expected, that they would remain with us, as part of the family, until the end. And although I wasn’t given a choice about it – and maybe even because I was given no choice – my mother’s decision made perfect sense to me and even reassured me. As she argued for the security of her “patients,” she made us feel more secure ourselves as kids.

I won’t lie, there were many difficult moments after that, and we couldn’t have done it without the visiting health care team, but the year my mother ventured into hospice care changed the course of my life, as I am sure you have gathered by now. As I embarked on my undergrad in social sciences, I was certain I wanted to follow my mother’s example of community care, but all my extracurricular interests have centered around health care. I have volunteered in other nursing homes – not my own – and served as an intake worker at a local rehabilitation day center, registering clients for their medication. These and other similar positions have only confirmed my attraction to the field of medicine.

I’m seriously considering family medicine because I appreciate that patients’ social, economic, and biological narratives are critical to their primary care experiences. Family medicine is where the lives of patients are wholly expressed. However, I’m equally interested in oncology because I witnessed first-hand how these specialists work to improve treatment, alleviate suffering, prolong life, and enhance quality of life.

What I am certain of is that I want to be of direct, longitudinal service to my community through innovative and solutions-oriented work that helps people live well – in other words, I want to be just like my mother. At the core of my service vision is health equity, or the elimination of avoidable, unfair differences in health status experienced by different groups. My dedication to health equity is clearly reflected in my academic and work life, but it is rooted in the lived experiences of my family.


1. What is AMCAS?

AMCAS stands for American Medical College Application Service. Most medical schools in the US use this centralized application service.

2. How long does my AMCAS personal statement need to be?

You have 5,300 characters, including spaces, to work with.

3. Should I talk about my MCAT score in my personal statement?

You would not discuss your MCAT score or academics in your personal statement, but if you have used an MCAT score calculator and found that you fall short or have had to retake the MCAT, you may want to address the issue in your personal statement to explain how your grades and/or other achievements offset your lower score and why you remain an excellent candidate for medical school.

4. How long should I spend writing my AMCAS personal statement?

We recommend giving yourself about 8 weeks to brainstorm, draft, polish, and revise. Don’t hesitate to get medical school application help if you are struggling with any aspect of admissions.

5. If I have to go through another application service, can I re-use my AMCAS personal statement?

If you’re applying to medical schools in Texas, you will use TDMSAS, and if you are applying to medical schools in Canada, you might use OMSAS. Moreover, certain medical schools may have their own distinct application procedures, so be sure to research the specific medical school requirements for the schools to which you are applying. 

6. Do I use a standard academic essay structure for my AMCAS personal statement?

Yes, we recommend a standard academic essay structure with an eye-catching introduction, three body paragraphs, and compelling conclusion.

7. I did really well in English classes and composition. Will I need help with my AMCAS personal statement?

Writing skills are a big part of producing any application essay, but what you include and why are just as important. Admissions advisors can guide you with their advanced knowledge of medical school application processes.

8. Should I explain why I want to go to a certain school in my AMCAS personal statement?

No, your AMCAS personal statement will be sent to all the schools you apply to, so it should focus on you and your interest in pursuing medicine, not the specific schools that interest you.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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Nadia mourtada

Thanks for providing us with some good ideas on how to write a good statement. That helped with my personal statement, however, I have a question: Do they really read our personal statement? Please let me. Thanks


BeMo Academic Consulting

Hello Nadia! Thanks for your comment. Yes, admissions committees do read your personal statements. After your grades and MCAT score meet the requirements, your personal statement is usually one of the most influential components of the application. It can really help you get the interview invite, so we strongly recommend spending time and effort on it!