Part of preparing your application to medical school includes writing a personal statement, which must be submitted as part of your application via the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS).
Every year, the prompt remains the same:
Use the space provided to explain why you want to go to medical school. The available space for your response is 5300 characters.
This is your opportunity to not only share your story of how you decided on medicine but also show admissions committees who you are beyond your GPA and MCAT scores.
Trying to summarize your life in 5,300 characters is no easy endeavor! Start by reading general resources to help you with brainstorming:
- AMCAS Section on the Personal Statement
- UH Manoa Pre-Health Advising Center’s Personal Statement Workshop PowerPoint (Fall 2012) and article
- Student Doctor Network’s Essay Writing 101 provides a great step-by-step walkthrough on how to draft your personal statement, while the official Personal Statement Guide thread includes more personal advice from past applicants.
- A program director’s take on what NOT to do when writing a personal statement
Advice from Major Universities
Check out advice on writing personal statements from the pre-health advisors at major universities:
- John Hopkins University Personal Statement guide
- Claremont McKenna College Personal Statement advice
- Harvard Office of Career Services Personal Statement overview and Powerpoint
- Carnegie Mellon University’s Personal Statement advice
- Yale University Personal Statement advice
Examples of Personal Statements
Before we jump into examples, recall that plagiarism is unacceptable and can easily spotted by admission committees. You should use these examples merely as a guide of what a good or bad personal statement looks like; do not adopt others’ words or experiences as your own.
You can find some free examples here:
- Carnegie Mellon University’s Sample Personal Statements
- University of Pittsburgh’s Sample Personal Statements
- Accepted.com examples
- MyEssay.com examples
If you are willing to invest in a book, you can consider purchasing Baron’s Essays That Will Get You into Medical School
Need help with writing?
Looking for someone to bounce ideas off of? Trying to get over a writer’s block? Or just looking for someone that will read over a recent draft to provide you with some feedback? There are many resources you can consider to help you with all these things:
- The UH Manoa Writing Center is available to all UH Manoa students and sessions are completely free of charge. You do not have to be enrolled in any courses to receive help from tutors at the Writing Center, and they will willingly help you with drafting your personal statement.
- ADVICE: There are many tutors available at the Writing Center! Don’t be afraid to work with a couple of them to figure out who you are most comfortable working with. Try to set up a routine and regularly schedule appointments with your tutor to keep yourself motivated with drafting your personal statement!
- If you have an MSMP mentor, ask them if they can review your personal statement for you! Current JABSOM medical students can provide great insight into the qualities needed to succeed and thrive in medical school as well as JABSOM.
- If your mentor is unable to review your personal statement for any reason, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will make arrangements for your personal statement to be reviewed.
- It is also beneficial to have your personal statement reviewed by someone who does not know you at all; after all, admission committees won’t know you either and first impressions will be important. Therefore, you can use these experiences to ensure you are conveying the right message to your readers. During each application cycle, forum users on Student Doctor Network will volunteer their time to read personal statements. You can contact these volunteers through the Personal Statement Reader List thread.