5 Mistakes to Avoid While Writing Your Medical School Personal Statement

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A list of "Don'ts" for Writing Your Medical School Personal Statement

Writing your personal statement for medical school certainly isn’t easy. As an admissions consultant, I’ve watched several students struggle to describe exactly why they decided to pursue a career in medicine. It's not a simple task, given the limited word count and the enormous amount of pressure.  The key to writing a strong personal statement is reflecting on where this initial desire came from, the steps you took to explore it, and what you learned about yourself and medicine along the way. A good personal statement leaves the reader with a sense of how you became interested in pursuing medicine in the first place, what you did to explore that interest, and how you finally decided that it was the right career for you. Sometimes these things are difficult to put into words. If you're struggling, then be sure to also read:

Even worse then not knowing what to say, what if you write something that will actually hurt your chances of getting in? No one wants their application cycle to end before they even get to the interview phase!

 To help you answer these questions, I’ve decided to put together a list of common mistakes that you should avoid while writing your personal statement for medical school. Most of the mistakes I’ll be outlining demonstrate a lack of professionalism or poor self-reflection. All of these errors outlined below can dash your chances of securing an interview, leaving you with an inbox full of rejection letters.

FIVE things you should absolutely avoid doing while writing your personal statement: 

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Top 7 Pro Tips For Turning Your Average Med School Personal Statement Into An Interview Invitation Magnet

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Personal statements are a blessing and a curse for admission committees: on the one hand, they give them a better glimpse of who the applicant is than simple scores. On the other, they are long and time-consuming to read. And often, they sound exactly alike. On occasion, however, a personal statement really makes an applicant shine. Here's how to turn any average medical school personal statement into an instant interview invitation magnet:

Pro Tip#1. Tell a good story. 

Admissions committees don’t want your resumé in narrative form. The most boring essays are those of applicants listing their accomplishments. Remember, all that stuff is already in the “activities” section of application. Rather, this is where you should discuss interesting or important life events that shaped you and your interest in medicine (a service trip to rural Guatemala, a death in the family, a personal experience as a patient). One suggestion is to have an overarching theme to your essay to tie everything together, starting with an anecdote. Alternatively, you can use one big metaphor or analogy through the essay. Read more…

Sample Med School Secondary Essay Questions

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In a previous blog post we discussed specific strategies for tackling medical school application secondary essays. Today we are going to list several past sample secondary essay questions so you can get a sense of the type of questions you may actually receive. 

First a very important note: The following are questions from previous application cycles and secondary essay questions change frequently. Therefore, we highly recommend that you always check with each school's official admissions office directly to make sure you have the correct set of questions.

Sample Secondary Med School Essay Questions:

Baylor College of Medicine Secondary Essay Questions:

  • "Indicate any special experiences, unusual factors or other information you feel would be helpful in evaluating you, including, but not limited to, education, employment, extracurricular activities, prevailing over adversity. You may expand upon but not repeat AMCAS application information." (2000 character limit.)

Boston University Medical School Secondary Essay Questions:

  • "Did you go on to college directly after high school?" (1400 character limit) Read more…

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