Here is a quick and dirty list of the top 10 errors for med school essays, secondary essays, personal narrative & personal statements. Before you submit your final draft, critically review your statement to ensure that you commit none of these deal-breakers.

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Top Mistake #1. Re-list your entire CV or activity sketch. 

Top Mistake #2.  Be pretentious. Every applicant is extraordinary, and so are you. Use your story to imply your excellence; don’t hit people over the head with it.

Top Mistake #3. Criticize other applicants. This is unprofessional.

Top Mistake #4. Use very fancy words to make up for insecurities around writing skills. This is confusing.

Top Mistake #5. Ramble. This shows you submitted at the last minute.

Top Mistake #6. Rely on clichés. This shows you don’t read widely.

Top Mistake #7. Describe a time you met a disadvantaged person briefly and use this as a rationale for why you want to be a doctor. This demonstrates a lack of self-awareness and limited understanding of the social determinants of health.

Top Mistake #8. Cast you as a victim. Even if you’ve been through terrible things, like escaping persecution or violence, the victim narrative is not one that will convince medical schools of your capacity. Cast yourself as an agent in your own life.

Top Mistake #9. Submit to the wrong school. Before you submit, triple-check your profile.

Top Mistake #10. Violate the character count. This is lazy. 

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