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Personal statements for medical school

Personal statements for medical schoolApart from achieving the required grades at A-level, your personal statement is the single most important factor on the road to medical school. Here’s how to get it right.

Make it look the part

Let’s start with the basics. Your UCAS form gets shrunken down to half its size before it is handed over to the assessors so make sure that it is NEAT and LEGIBLE. Word process section 10 in no less than font size 11. Spelling and grammar mistakes reflect badly so check, check and check again before you submit it. Also, get your teacher to have a look over it for a second opinion.

Be an early bird

In terms of timing for your UCAS application, there is evidence to show that early applicants are more likely to get an offer. It is hard to tell whether this is because the applications are sent off early or simply that the better applicants send their form in early.

Whichever may be true, there are obvious benefits to sending off the application early. Firstly, careers teachers tend to be less busy at this time (they get busier as the deadline for submission looms) and therefore they should be able to afford you much more time and energy for help and advice. Secondly, the earlier the application, the earlier the interview and (hopefully!) offer which allows you to get the whole process out of the way before starting to revise for your A-levels.

Say it with style

It is important that your personal statement reads in a logical manner. Here is an example of a good format:

  • Why you want to study medicine
  • Work experience you have completed
  • Voluntary/community work
  • How you have researched into a career in medicine
  • Hobbies, activities and achievements
  • Areas of responsibility including paid employment
  • Conclusion about why you should be picked

Don't be average...

Here is an example of a pretty standard submission:

I want to study medicine because I really enjoy my science A-levels and I like working with people. I recently spent one week shadowing doctors at St James’ hospital in Leeds where I had the opportunity to see procedures such as keyhole surgery, endoscopies and suturing. Also for the last year I have visited an old peoples home one afternoon per week.

I regularly read the student BMJ and have attended a Medlink conference at Nottingham.

I play hockey for my school team and have recently been promoted to captain. I also take part in a mentoring scheme at school where I help year 7 pupils with their reading. I am currently working toward my silver Duke of Edinburgh award.

I work in McDonalds every Saturday morning.

I am a dedicated, hard working pupil and I believe that I will make a good doctor.

The above example demonstrates that the student does a lot of extra-curricular activities but does it really show anything about their personality or their insight into the career?

Remember that admissions tutors have to read hundreds of UCAS forms like this and they (quite rightly!) can get a bit bored of them!

...be brilliant!

Don’t be afraid of showing a little bit of your personality in the form. Make sure that you outline what you have learned from everything that you have done rather than just writing a boring list. For example:

I spent a week shadowing doctors at St James’ hospital in Leeds. I was lucky enough to be able to observe various procedures which I found fascinating and I also noted the importance of the trust involved in the doctor patient relationship and how important it is that a doctor is able to work as part of a team.

So, try brainstorming exactly what you have gained from everything that you have written down and mention anything that you were particularly interested in (but be prepared to mention it at interview). Even a part time job in McDonald’s can demonstrate responsibility, organisation and teamwork!

Related links

(Information taken from Want To Be A Doctor)