How to write a Compelling Medical School Personal Statement

By | September 3, 2016

Many people can feel intimidated when they need to write something. The feelings of anxiety increase exponentially when their writing will help determine their future. Writing a medical school personal statement is extremely important, however, it need not cause undue stress. The purpose of a medical school personal statement is to give the admissions committee an idea of who you are as a person. Medical schools receive thousands of personal statements each year, so it is important to write a memorable essay if you want to maximize your chances of receiving an acceptance letter.


Medical schools seek students with strong characters. They want to admit people who are passionate, empathetic, mature, and determined. The personal statement provides a unique opportunity to show the admissions committee how you embody these (and other) desirable characteristics. The secret of writing a successful medical school personal statement is to be compelling. Admissions committee members are more likely to pay attention to your personal statement (and the rest of your application) if it is interesting. This article will give you some tips and suggestions for making your personal statement more compelling.


Although there are no exact rules for the structure of a personal statement, the most successful essays are typically concise and consist of 4-5 paragraphs. The introductory paragraph contains an interesting story or vignette introducing the purpose of the essay. Next, there are two to three body paragraphs which give supporting evidence to the essay’s purpose. Finally, there is the conclusion paragraph which summarizes the ideas presented in the personal statement, and reiterates why the author would be an ideal candidate for medical school admission.


Suggestions for getting started:


  1. Briefly describe who you are, what you believe in, or an important lesson that you have learned.
  2. Describe your journey to pursuing medicine- You should be able to explain what initiated your interest or goals to become a medical student. You should also discuss what has sustained the ambition; and what makes you think that you are ready to undertake a medical career
  3. Write about your interests or hobbies. Discuss what you have learned from that pursuit. You should also explore how the things you learned from participating in that activity will help you in your future career.
  4. Describe an experience in which you were unsuccessful. Discuss what you learned from failing and discuss how it will help you be successful as a medical student.
  5. Discuss courses, books, people, or events that had a positive impact on your life.


In writing the above, you should strive focus on the narrative; use the experience to tell a story of personal growth. If you are able to get the reader to become interested in your story, they are much more likely to respond positively to the remainder of the personal statement.


Things to keep in mind.


  • Personal statements are read by many people with various life experiences. Avoid anything that may be too controversial.
  • Be descriptive and provide examples to support any assertions you make.
  • Be truthful. Although it may be tempting to exaggerate your accomplishments, this is a recipe for disaster.
  • Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Medical schools want to admit interesting people.


The process of writing an excellent and compelling personal statement is time consuming. In most cases, it requires several months to produce a quality essay. Therefore give yourself ample time to create your masterpiece. Do not risk missing out on your ideal career because of an essay. Instead, start early and take your time with your writing. Although it can seem like a difficult task at first, writing a personal statement does not have to be stressful. After all, you are writing about a topic you should know better than anybody else- you are writing about yourself. So take some time for some self-reflection, and then begin writing the essay that will start your medical career.