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**The Official Personal Statement Guide and PS Readers List **

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by braluk, Mar 2, 2007.

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  1. braluk

    braluk SDN Surgerynator Moderator Emeritus 5+ Year Member

    Apr 30, 2006
    The Big Easy
    Seeing that there is a rise in questions about the personal statement and how to go about writing one since its time that students should have already begun to write one for this year's cycle- these tips on how to write one should be fruitful for the up and coming applicants for the Class of 2012.

    Before I go on- I suggest reading through published literature about how to go about writing a personal statement. There are myriads of books that come to mind. Two come to mind:

    SDN's own official medical school admissions guide


    Essays That Will Get You into Medical School (Barron's Essays That Will Get You Into Medical School) by Daniel Kaufman.

    Both are helpful to read through. On that note- feel free to add your own tips into the thread :)

    Additionally if you want readers for your PS please visit this thread:
    The Official Personal Statement Reader List 2015-2016

    Writing a personal statement is a bit like a defendent accused of a crime he or she did not commit, and has to convey to the jury that he is innocent. That is, a personal statement must reveal everything that you want to tell medical school admission's committees to convince them of your goals to become a doctor. Having written two entirely different drafts of personal statements over the course of several months- I understand that the hardest part is finding a way to start one, and finding a way to end one. Here are some tips to begin to write one

    Before you begin- I suggest taking some time out of your day, and just freeflow a personal statement and see where that takes you. Believe it or not, this works for many people to get ideas written down for later brainstorming. Write your thoughts and feelings out. They're more helpful than you can possibly imagine, as they are personal after all.

    1) Plan and organize: As with any good paper, one must learn how to organize a paper in order to allow the task at hand, to flow in a coherent, efficient, and eloquent manner.
    2) Figure out the general theme: Many good personal statements tend to follow some type of theme. Some of these themes are centered around things such as life changing experiences, personal problems, profound research that you are involved in, family, grades, anything you find interesting really.
    3) Structure: How will you write your personal statement based around this theme? Are you going to write it in a chronological manner? In a flashback type of way. Perhaps describing in vivid detail about a particular day as you remember it? Break down each paragraph and structure each of them. Make sure each paragraph can flow with each other and aren't random tangents.
    4) Begin Writing: Follow some of the suggested pointers below
    5) Revise and Rewrite: Have others look over it, and revise revise revise.

    Remember to address any insufficiencies or lapses in your grades (or any major weaknesses in your application)
    B) Do not make excuses, provide explanations and acknowledge your shortcomings. Stay positive not negative.
    C) BE HUMBLE. Hints of arrogance and entitlement are grounds for rejection at many schools.
    D) Try to describe vividly. People tend to remember better when stories are visually described, not textually.
    E) Start off with something interesting. Not a catch phrase, cliche opening line, but something that can grab the reader and keep them interested without having them roll their eyes.
    F) Keep in mind that medical schools see over thousands of applications and you are only one. Everyone, in one form or another, will talk about why they would make a good doctor, the qualities they have as a doctor, and will most likely talk about very similar things that you will talk about. BE UNIQUE. If you have a talent or trait or expertise in some area that you believe makes you unique, write about it.
    G) If you talk about research, do not write about it like a journal article. Remember, this is a personal statement. Write about how it is significant to YOU and how you feel about it and why. Do not talk in detailed specifics.
    H) Try to tell a story- stories make things interesting. Stay away from writing a personal statement like it is a personal ad.
    I) Make the things you talk about relevant in one shape or another.
    J) Stay away from cliche. That is... "I want to become a doctor because I want to help people", "I am compassionate", "I am a hard worker" are things that are cliched and are better demonstrated by storytelling and through examples rather than explicitly saying so. Actions speak louder than words.
    K) Try not to exaggerate (and of course, do not lie). One statement Ive come across before talked about the profoundness of a particular shadowing experience and how he wanted to become a doctor because of it. Granted this may be true, but most adcoms would smell it as BS a mile away. One doesn't want to suddenly enter into a lifelong, rigorous profession, while going through hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, with no sleep, 80+ hour workweeks, at least a solid decade of schooling with just one short-lived experience. Going into medicine requires that the applicant is well informed, and had built his or her passion for medicine as time went on. Some build it by having relatives, or themselves, go through a significant and painful medical experience, some build it by shadowing. To only focus on one experience without elaborating on further methods to come to the conclusion that you want to be a doctor may be counterproductive.
    L) If you have a family legacy of doctors, make sure you convey (without explicitly saying so) that you are going into the career not because of pressure to fill someone else's shoes, or because you have to, but because this choice rested on your own shoulders. Family is a great influence, and many have built their desires on medicine because of it, but make sure if that is the case, that you let the adcoms know, that you are going into medicine for your own personal reasons.
    M) Do not hold the adcoms' feelings hostage. That is, its one thing to talk about a significant, emotional experience (family death, illness, tragedy, etc..), but its another to lament it in order to try to capture the emotions that you know should make the adcoms feel guilty and sad. For example, continuing to talk about the death of a close one for the entire personal statement may not be advisable. Instead, talking about its significance to you, its effects, your methods of coping, moving on and becoming stronger is a better way to frame this.
    N) Again, don't make excuses- sounding whiny is not the way to go.
    O) Have several people read it over and give you constructive criticism. Have people from all spectrum read it, but try to have objective readers.
    P) Do not write what you think you want the adcoms want to hear. I made the mistake of doing this for my first personal statement. After getting torn apart by my advisor I completely rewrote my personal statement (with what I wanted to say, not what I thought I wanted to say) the night before with glowing remarks by the committee and my advisor. Since then, at interviews, my personal statement has always been brought up with glowing remarks. You don't necessarily have to make a laundry list of all the medically related things that you've done to prove that you more qualified than even a doctor.
    Q) Write about something that may not be covered in the rest of your applications. Keep in mind that you will have the opportunity to write about your extracurriculars on the AMCAS in a separate section. You will be allowed to write about a paragraph about each and can discuss why each is important to you. Try not to overlap, you want to convey as much information about you as possible.
    R) Do not sound preachy. Again modesty is probably the best policy. Humility (this does not mean you cannot be confident) is a quality that seems to be a good one. Remember, adcoms will often roll their eyes at students and often ask "what does this kid know to make such an assertion?". Personally acknowledging that you are only premed (albeit informed about the profession) is a good way to stay away from the label of the "know-it-all".
    S) You can write about "controversial" topics such as religion, politics, beliefs, abortion, etc..etc.. but understand that you are treading on dangerous grounds. You do not want to express strong opinions that may offend the reader or rub the adcom the wrong way. It's one thing to say that religion or politics has helped me find peace and guidance, but another to write something that can be argued with heatedly. Remember, keep in mind, try to stay away from assertions on topics that are hot topics of debate. As long as you frame things correctly, you should be safe.
    T) Do not be a suckup. Writing about how you admire doctors for their hard work and nobility is not getting you anywhere. This goes for secondaries too when answering questions that deal with each particular school.
    U) Make sure you end your personal statement by wrapping up everything you've said in a manner that gives closure. Stay away from things like "in conclusion" and other various conclusion disasters. Keep the conclusion concise, but interesting. To end something is just as important as starting it. You want to leave a good aftertaste after the adcom has digested it. Sometimes, it may be helpful to refer back to something you started with so that you come full circle.
    V) Try not to be gimmicky. I think this is self explanatory but writing a PS like it were a movie may be considered gimmicky. Or having your PS written as a series of flashbacks as part of a dream and then waking up at the end is gimmicky.

    AND FINALLY, Last but not least,

    W) DO NOT WRITE IN ANYTHING MORE THAN YOU NEED TO. Writing for the sake of writing, or "filler", is most likely not going to get you anywhere. You want to get your point across and not have it lost or diluted in things that are "empty calories". If they have no value, and are things that people can pick up on without having to be told so, then you probably do not need it.

    Finally when done writing (keep track of length) revise revise revise. And then revise again. Have it be seen by multiple readers and have professionals look over it (there are writing centers at colleges for example). Take their comments into serious consideration but remember, this is your own piece and not someone else's.

    Anyhow, I hope to add on more information and tips to this as time goes on. Feel free to add more comments in :) Good luck to everyone! Hopefully by the end of it all, you will have convinced the "jury". :D
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2009
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  3. DrZeke

    DrZeke yzarc gniog ylwolS 10+ Year Member

    Apr 25, 2005
  4. armybound

    armybound future urologist. Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Jan 1, 2007
    this needs to be a sticky so bad.

    great advice, braluk.
  5. 45408

    45408 aw buddy 7+ Year Member

    Jun 13, 2004
    I can't emphasize this enough. NOT A CLICHE! And don't just launch into a story, like "One day on the beach..."

    I've proofread personal statements for SDNers for two years now, and it's not even funny how often I'll see one or all of the following statements in each PS:

    1). My <relative> lay there dying/gravely ill.
    2). This doctor was so kind/smart/thoughtful, that I knew I wanted to go into medicine.
    3). I find the human body fascinating.
    4). I've always known I wanted to be a doctor....

    And so on. There are two personal statements (out of about 50) that I remember. One was by a person changing careers from business, and how the two fields compare, and how that person's strengths in business would translate to strengths in medicine. The other was by a person who was initially interested in exercise phys or something, so they worked with a sports team, and the medical aspect pulled them towards going for an MD. Both were written very well, but in the absence of the utilization of substantial but gratuitously obfuscating vocabulary ;)

    EDIT: please don't send me your personal statement (someone already asked within 15 minutes of posting this :p). If I'm in the mood to proof them in May, I'll post in the thread that I'm sure will be around. Too busy now.
    gryph1 likes this.
  6. silverlining1

    silverlining1 7+ Year Member

    Oct 9, 2006
    Bumping because this thread is helpful and important!
  7. braluk

    braluk SDN Surgerynator Moderator Emeritus 5+ Year Member

    Apr 30, 2006
    The Big Easy
    Why thank you. Its in my signature so it will always be technically "bumped" since I post too much :D
  8. BigRedPremed

    BigRedPremed Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jul 20, 2005
    Thanks for posting this. My first draft of my PS is due next week. :)
  9. Surf Rx

    Surf Rx 7+ Year Member

    Sep 20, 2006
    Linda Abraham likes this.
  10. gujuDoc

    gujuDoc 10+ Year Member

    Feb 21, 2004

    Yeah there are maybe 3-4 personal statements that I've reviewed which stood out. One of them from someone who grew up in a rural village overseas, another from a student talking about sociocultural issues of medicine from her home country (actually 2 people sort of weaved into this theme a little bit in different ways), and a couple other ones here and there.
  11. gujuDoc

    gujuDoc 10+ Year Member

    Feb 21, 2004
    TIC's post was to be taken in stride. It was Panda Bear MD's parody on personal statements not an actual personal statement. Oh and I don't like that website you pointed out because most of those aren't your typical personal statement.

    A good book I found was by The Princeton Review and was a guide to personal statement writing and several samples not just samples of the Harvard accepted types but the type of people who may have had a 3.3 GPA and 29 MCAT type of people. In other words, it had a lot more actual avg applicant samples which is better to look at especially if you are a person who needs help understanding how to talk about your weaknesses.
  12. sirmalcs

    sirmalcs 5+ Year Member

    Mar 2, 2007
    thanks this is real helpful!
  13. diosa428

    diosa428 SDN Angel 5+ Year Member

    Feb 24, 2005
    This is some advice I posted last summer after reading a ton of PSs:

    After revising my PS multiple times last year, listening to comments from many people, and editing at least 15 different personal statements for SDNers this year, I have some general comments for those of you struggling with this:

    1. For those of you who haven't already, check out the Essays 101 link on the SDN homepage. It has good advice on how to start your PS, what to include and what not to include and also has some sample statements.

    2. A general comment about writing an essay - the first sentence of each paragraph should give an overview/summation of what you are going to talk about in that paragraph. It should not be a conclusion of the preceding paragraph, and it should not contain subjects/thoughts that are not addressed again in the paragraph.

    3. Your experiences do not have to be put in chronological order. In fact, it often makes more sense if you group them according to what you did/learned. Put research experiences together, volunteer experiences together, etc. It also makes it easier to transition from one to the other without repeatedly saying "and then I decided to...".

    4. Including a brief story is always more interesting and often more informative about you than a laundry list of characteristics that you have or value. Talking about how you perfected a protocol for you lab shows determination, talking about how you worked with a patient that hated everyone else shows compassion and your ability to work with others, etc.

    5. Do not describe your research in detail. Chances are, whoever is reading your PS will not understand. Just write a brief and very general sentence about your research - "our lab works on xyz", "my project was to understand lmnop". If you want to go into detail about what you were doing or what techniques you were using, write them in the activities section of your AMCAS. Of course, sometimes you will need to go into a little more detail, but try to keep it simple.

    6. After describing an experience, always mention what you learned from it and/or reflect on how this affected your decision to become a physician or how it will affect you as a physician. Also, please try to give some detail in these explanations. Repeatedly saying "and this experience verified my desire to become a doctor" is bo-ring. A little detail goes a long way - "I watched surgeries ranging from laproscopic gall bladder surgery to a hip replacement" is more interesting than "I saw many surgeries, which were very interesting".

    7. Many people seem to be writing their personal statements in a very formal tone. For some reason this seems to require the use of very large words that are not often used in daily language and phrases that are extremely wordy. Whoever is reading your PS will probably scan it in a few minutes. Therefore, you want it to be clear and concise. Use words that are easy to understand and phrases that are to the point. Do not use words unless you are POSITIVE that you know what they mean. I am not saying not to use a varied vocabulary (the thesaurus is your friend), but if you had to look it up in a dictionary, then you don't know what it means, so don't include it. Also, beware of sounding obnoxiously know-it-all. No one wants to invite you to interview if they think you are an uptight a**, even if in real life you are the sweetest person ever.

    9. Remember to include WHY MEDICINE. This is the purpose of the PS. The answer to this does not have to be "I want to help people". If you are not sure, think long and hard about it. You will be asked this on interviews, so you might as well figure it out now.

    10. Do not make negative comments about anything. If you didn't like an experience, either don't include it or just say what you learned and move on. Also, do not say you did not enjoy doing research. Many physicians do research, many medical students are interested in research, and many schools like to have students that are interested in research. These people are going to be reading your PS. Again, if you didn't like it, fine. Mention what you learned and move on. But don't say that doing research convinced you to go into medicine, because the two are very much intertwined.

    This is all I can think of for now. Others, feel free to add. Good luck everyone!
    camaka35, gryph1 and steeno like this.
  14. diosa428

    diosa428 SDN Angel 5+ Year Member

    Feb 24, 2005
    One of my favorites (and by favorites I mean pet peeves) is when people think that they're clever and start off their statement with something along the lines of "Growing up, it was never my intention to enter medicine..." or "I always though I'd be a xyz, but then...." and then go into detail about their amazing epiphany that medicine was for them. Not to belittle anyone, but it's been done before, guys. Come up with something new.
  15. Nonnahs

    Nonnahs Today is the greatest day 5+ Year Member

    Oct 18, 2006
    Sunny Florida
    Or, if you follow the theories of some, there is no such thing as original thought.

    "Original thought is like original sin: both happened before you were born to people you could not have possibly met."
    ~Fran Lebowitz

    "Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren't very new at all."
    ~Abraham Lincoln

    "Many a man fails as an original thinker simply because his memory it too good."
    ~Friedrich Nietzsche

    Oh, and thank you very much for the information about personal statements! I think I need to throw out my original draft. It's too gimmicky. But I thought it was cute. :(
  16. braluk

    braluk SDN Surgerynator Moderator Emeritus 5+ Year Member

    Apr 30, 2006
    The Big Easy
    Heres an original thought. Hmmmm

    A goldfish eating a beer bottle while highlighting information from a BRS Biochem review book while listening to his black and green ipod.

    ;) :laugh: Take that Lincoln! :)

    Med school's don't know the definition of cute lol. But you don't have to throw it out in the same way I did with my first personal statement. Just continually edit it or take material from your old one (namely the factual stuff and its significance) and incorporate it into a new one. Remember make yourself unique, but dont do it at the expense of being too unique. Yes i know, this is a ridiculous chess game but in the end you'll find the right balance of echoing the necessary (though cliched) components of wanting to become a doctor by exemplifying them through stories.
  17. MedStudentWanna

    MedStudentWanna Banned Banned 5+ Year Member

    Apr 14, 2006
    In fairness, hasn't it ALL pretty much been done before when talking about such things like what you posted above? I bet that many people DID have an epiphany about medicine (how do you explain career changers otherwise) and surely you're not saying they shouldn't talk about that.
  18. gujuDoc

    gujuDoc 10+ Year Member

    Feb 21, 2004
    That is an interesting point you brought up. I don't think its easy for anyone to have some unique reason that hasn't been brought up by other people as a reason for going into medicine.

    I mean let's all face it, there is always going to be those people who were inspired by:
    the death of a loved one, an illness they themselves or a family member/close friend went through the struggles of, science course(s), medical mission trips in underserved areas, volunteering and/or working in a hospital or clinical setting, research project that made them realize they wanted to be involved in clinical research, and then some.

    I'm sure I missed a few key points there but that about covers the basics and I don't think its easy for people to come up with other ideas about why medicine.
  19. MedStudentWanna

    MedStudentWanna Banned Banned 5+ Year Member

    Apr 14, 2006
    I agree. IMO, as a pre-med, I think people should just be honest and if that means using the old "my loved one died," they shouldn't be told not to do it. They should be told to do it well.
    VanEman likes this.
  20. braluk

    braluk SDN Surgerynator Moderator Emeritus 5+ Year Member

    Apr 30, 2006
    The Big Easy
    Agreed. After all it is a personal statement- just make sure you do not write about it in a way that holds the adcoms' emotions hostage. We all can write about these types of tragedies in a more "mature" way that highlights your character.
  21. gujuDoc

    gujuDoc 10+ Year Member

    Feb 21, 2004
    Yeah I agree with you and Braluk right on!!!
  22. mdgrl2001

    mdgrl2001 7+ Year Member

    Jan 28, 2007
    This is very true. All personal statements are going to have some of the same themes. The trick is to be honest about your reasons for entering medicine but still make it interesting, even though you may not be the first to have those reasons.
  23. Kfire326

    Kfire326 7+ Year Member

    Mar 2, 2007
    From my experience, the most important thing is to be personal, and to write something real about YOU. After all, you are writing a PERSONAL statement! Write honestly. I wrote about how I love learning and teaching, why I love it, and how I saw each relating to medicine. I'm not sure, but I think that's relatively unique...

    Like Braluk, my first personal statement was complete garbage. I revised and revised and revised 10 times (literally). My girlfriend, my sister, my pre-med advisor, my English professor (and author of 5 novels) all kindly revised my PS for me, multiple times each. Go have it read and revised time and again until you feel comfortable with it. Submit it when you feel comfortable with it. I realized that no matter how much I worked on mine, there could have always been improvements. I stopped at my 10th draft because I got tired of it, felt pretty good about it, and wanted to submit my AMCAS already (and cuz my English prof gave me the OK).
  24. gujuDoc

    gujuDoc 10+ Year Member

    Feb 21, 2004
    I agree with revising and revising some more. I even think a good trick might be to do it in parts.

    First write everything that comes to mind regarding why medicine and then make it smooth flowing from there by revising each section from top to bottom. Get friends who are good writers to help you, if you know no one in your personal life then SDN often has a lot of people help. Get people advisors if they are any good to look at it. More importantly, get English professors and people who can be objective and are good to help.

    Most schools have a writing center. I'd take advantage of that because it can be helpful. A good friend of mine is a great writer but even she went to the writing center at her school before each and every secondary was turned in as well as her personal statement. At least that's the impression I got from her.
  25. braluk

    braluk SDN Surgerynator Moderator Emeritus 5+ Year Member

    Apr 30, 2006
    The Big Easy
    Good tips folks. My personal best tip up there, at least for me, was writing "freestyle"- that is without any prior planning I just busted out an essay in about 1-2 hours. Gave me alot of material
  26. gujuDoc

    gujuDoc 10+ Year Member

    Feb 21, 2004

    I think you hit many of the high points.

    I'm going throw some more out there.

    1. You DO NOT HAVE TO LIST EVERY SINGLE EXPERIENCE on your personal statement. I emphasize that first point a lot to anyone I've edited personal statements for. One of the worst things to do is to try and cram your entire resume in your personal statement. This leads me to point number 2.

    2. Be concise and talk about a few key experiences that helped shape you and which you'd either like to expand upon from your 15 EC list or which you were not able to mention elsewhere in your application.

    3. From the USF COM ppt on personal statements. Develop your talents. Think about what is important to you and know that it is ok to talk about some of your non medical activities.

    4. This is sort of along the lines of point 2. But I'd like to say that it is important to be able to create a theme that flows throughout the essay.

    example: You are a classical indian dancer and wish to convey a story about the thrill and rush dancing gives you and then wish to relate it back to medicine and go on from there with medicine. You are an EMT and wish to discuss the experiences you start with a story about your background and then bring it back to how your goals of being a physician relate back to your childhood experiences growing up in poverty and wanting to make a difference in the lives of others and why medicine specifically will help you achieve this. You also bring in current experiences that have helped to reinforce this decision but only those that are most significant.

    Those are a few for now. I'm going to try to attach the individual slides of the powerpoint that USF COLLEGE OF MEDICINE gave us on personal statement advice.
  27. gujuDoc

    gujuDoc 10+ Year Member

    Feb 21, 2004

    - research your interests and develop your talents( if you play music, write poetry, sing, play sports)

    - feeling confident in front of a group will make your med school interview a much easier and relaxed experience

    - valuable in terms of classroom performance, research experience and letters of recommendation

    - admissions committees want evidence that you have a good idea of what you’re getting yourself into.
    How To Prepare Your Personal Statement
    But what should I say?
    There is no secret formula for writing a statement that will guarantee your acceptance into medical school, but there are certain topics to consider including in your personal statement.

    Admissions Committees like smart people. So if you’re smart in an area, let them know. IF you have unique example of how you excel or a challenge you’ve taken on and succeeded in, that’s even better.

    A genius in the classroom doesn’t necessarily translate into a star in the examining room. Show the committee that your heart is in medicine for the right reasons. For example, if you’ve volunteered in a homeless clinic, by all means describe that experience and how you feel it affects your ability to be empathetic to patients.
    You know why you want to be a physician. However, the admissions committee members don’t know anything about you except what shows up on the application. Don’t just tell the committee about your desire, show it. Tell how you think, how you feel, not only what you have done. They will relate and feel like they know you better.

    Remember, these people are pros. Any attempt to cover up a weakness in your application (academic or other wise) almost certainly will be discovered. Be honest. Offer brief explanations for the event(s), talk about what you learned from it and then get quickly back to focusing on the good stuff.

    The Dos
    -Unite your essay and give it direction with a concise and uncomplicated thesis. Generally the thesis should answer the question: Why me? Why medicine?
    Avoid the mistakes of making jokes or using cliches or pretentious generalities that don’t come directly from your personality
    Use concrete examples from your life’s experiences to support your thesis. Discuss what these experience mean to you as a future physician
    Start your essay with an attention grabbing lead. However, don’t be overly creative and don’t step outside your character.
    Revise your essay at least three times. In addition to your editing, ask someone else to critique your personal statement. Proof-read it by reading it aloud or reading into a tape recorder and playing back the tape.
    Avoid the common mistake of thinking that more is better. While a hastily written few paragraphs indicate sloppy thinking and an unwillingness to get things right, a wordy, redundant essay may get put in the bottom of the stack.
    Be conservative and precise with grammar and conscientious about typos.
    If you don’t do anything else, remember to write CLEARLY, SUCCINCTLY AND SINCERELY

    - Don’t include information that is superfluous to your thesis. Stay on track with the main point of your essay so that your conclusion is logical.
    - Don’t begin your essay with, “I was born in … or “My parents came from….”
    - Don’t be too philosophical in you essay.
    - Don’t write an autobiography, itinerary or resume in prose.
    - Don’t be afraid to start over if the essay isn’t working or doesn’t answer the question, “why medicine?”

    - Don’t try to be a clown. Gentle humor is okay, but remember that your subject- becoming a doctor- is a serious one.
    - Don’t try to impress your readers with your vocabulary and don’t make things up.
    - Don’t rely exclusively on your computer to check your spelling.
    - Don’t give mealy-mouthed, weak excuses for your GPA or test scores.

    Express yourself in positive language. Say what is, not what is not.
    Use transitions between paragraphs. A transition can be word like, later, furthermore, additionally, or moreover.
    Vary your sentence structure. It’s boring to see subject, verb, object all the time. Mix simple, complex and compound sentences.
    Understand the words you write. Do not try to impress your reader with your vocabulary.
    Look up synonyms in a thesaurus when you use the same word repeatedly.
    Be succinct. Compare: “During my sophomore and junior years there was a significant development of my maturity and markedly improved self-discipline towards school work” to: “During my sophomore and junior years, I matured and my self-discipline toward school improved tremendously”
    Make every work count. Do not repeat yourself. Each sentence and every word should state something new.
    Avoid qualifiers such as, rather, quite, somewhat, possibly, probably, etc. Equivocating reveals a lack of confidence. If you do not believe in what you write, why should the Admission Committee.
    Use the active voice. Compare: “The application was sent by the student”. Passive voice. “The student sent the application”. Active voice.
    Read and reread, “Elements of Style” by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White. Paperback, only 85 pages long.

    "This information is provided by,Inc. Further information is available at or via e-mail at [email protected] "
    DeeCandee, Linda Abraham and steeno like this.
  28. diosa428

    diosa428 SDN Angel 5+ Year Member

    Feb 24, 2005
    In regards to what was said above, obviously you can't change what made you decide to go into medicine. And you can certainly include whatever that is in your PS. But I think the beginning of the PS is where you really need to stand out (if you don't want your reviewer to think "here we go again...") and starting with "I never wanted to be a doctor until..." is probably about as cliche as starting with "I've wanted to be a doctor since I can remember". Obviously you can do it if you want, just realize that you're not being original. I included that comment because I'm not sure premeds realize how often that opening is used, which is quite frequently, at least from the PSs I've read.

    Also, with regards to mentioning a loved one dying - beware. If it's not included in a very careful and appropriate way, the adcoms may think you're looking for pity. I didn't make up this rule, this was discussed on the SDN personal statement FAQs by an actual adcom member, who said that the personal statement is not a place for emotions like that. Take that as you will...
  29. UnderdogMD

    UnderdogMD Blow the Whistle!!! 7+ Year Member

    Jun 7, 2006
    1. Is it okay to address/acknowledge the reader/adcom member? Not as in ‘how are you doing sir’ but in the way of rhetorical questions for example.

    2. Has anybody looked into or has experience with essay editing services such as essay edge? I looked into it and it is ridiculously expensive. I for one do not have that kind of money. Any opinions?

    3. Is it correct to assume that a personal statement is more informal writing than formal? Is it okay to include humor or wit (tastefully I might add)?

    BTW I have come to the conclusion that unless I number my questions it is entirely possible that at least one of them will not get answered.:laugh: Hence, the numbers.
  30. gujuDoc

    gujuDoc 10+ Year Member

    Feb 21, 2004

    I don't know the answer to question 1, but in regards to 2 and 3:

    2. Essay edge is both a waste of money and completely useless. My personal recommendation is that the preallo thread do what they did last year and sticky a thread where previous applicants will review your personal thread. It is free and probably equally good if not better then essay edge. Other resources I'd use are your writing center and peers who are good at writing who may be able to review and give feedback on your essay. I'd also talk to old highschool or college english professors.

    3. It is possible to include humor but make sure to speak with people and get feedback whether it comes off as appropriate or not.
  31. gujuDoc

    gujuDoc 10+ Year Member

    Feb 21, 2004
    Yes in that powerpoint that I posted the out line of, one of the key points was never ever ever start your essay with

    "I was born in.." or "My parents were born in..."

    Only one time have I seen an essay where there could have been an exception to the rule I just stated. In this particular case, the guy in question is a recent medical graduate or soon to be graduate at Temple school of medicine. He was a farmer who was born during one of the worst times in Vietnamese history and his essay came off as very very powerful when I read it from a friend who had a hold of it.

    It, however, is not a common occurrence or good habit to start with "I was born in" kind of introductions.

    Use complex sentence structure.
  32. Ari Gold

    Ari Gold ..... 5+ Year Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    that link is a parody too
  33. gujuDoc

    gujuDoc 10+ Year Member

    Feb 21, 2004
    Ohh. Oops!!! :laugh: :laugh:

    Thanks for clarification.
  34. chriserc


    Mar 15, 2007
    I posted this in the adcomm advice but I figured I would ask here also

    Thanks for the help

    I am currently writing my PS and I need a little advice. I am a SDA (Seventh Day Adventsit) who is applying to Loma Linda (a SDA affiliated school that accepts alot of SDA's) and I am also applying to my state school (UAB) and a variety of other school at which I feel that I am a competitive applicant. My question is, will adding something about being a christian and how that adds to my desire to become a doctor hurt me at the non religious schools to which I am applying? Since I live in the "bible belt" I don't feel like this should be a problem, as long as I don't come off as a crazy cultish person, but I was just wondering your imput.

    Thanks again
  35. gujuDoc

    gujuDoc 10+ Year Member

    Feb 21, 2004
    I am not sure but my guess would be it depends on how you wish to approach it because you don't want to sound like you are preaching to someone or close minded about other people's religious views.
  36. SpartanBlueJay2

    SpartanBlueJay2 5+ Year Member

    Mar 15, 2007
    gujuDoc, do you know how we could get one of these threads started? I've already had one previous applicant read my PS and it was extremely helpful, but I would really like more feedback, as most of the people around me at home don't have the foggiest idea what a PS should even say, let alone what a good one is.
  37. gujuDoc

    gujuDoc 10+ Year Member

    Feb 21, 2004
    Ask Doctor Pardi and Braluk the preallo board mods to see if they are willing to start such a thread. I'd be willing to look at it and give feedback if you want. i reviewed a lot of Personal Statements last year for people.
  38. akinf

    akinf Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Apr 24, 2004
    What is considered a lapse in grades? If you have all As and A+s and there is a B+ and a B, are those considered lapses? Or are we talking about Cs and below?
  39. gujuDoc

    gujuDoc 10+ Year Member

    Feb 21, 2004
    The latter statement not the former statement. C's and below.

    If someone is worried about a few B's that's just sad in my opinion, unless those few B's was like going from a 3.9 one semester to a barely made 3.0 the next semester.
  40. diosa428

    diosa428 SDN Angel 5+ Year Member

    Feb 24, 2005
    Yeah, and by lapse we're talking all your grades in one semester were significantly below your normal performance - like you usually get all As and ended up with all Cs. Not like you took Ochem and it was hard so you have one C.
  41. diosa428

    diosa428 SDN Angel 5+ Year Member

    Feb 24, 2005
    If your religion is important to you and you feel that it influenced your decision to become a doctor, then include it. However, I agree that you should be very careful not to sound preachy - have a couple of people who don't necessarily share your religious views look it over and tell you what they think. If your religion isn't super-important to you, then I wouldn't mention it in the PS, but most schools have essays on the secondary (not sure about Loma Linda, but I'm sure you could find that out here somewhere) - you could include some stuff about your religion there for schools that you think it would be relevant to.
  42. Dr.Watson

    Dr.Watson 2+ Year Member

    Oct 11, 2006
  43. Spikester

    Spikester Junior Member

    Aug 7, 2006
    As a premed advisor in the bible-belt (Georgia), I see a lot of personal statements that emphasize religious belief. Here's my take on it. Leave religion out of it - If you feel it is important for an adcom to know about your religious faith, the best way to do it is to document church-related activities elsewhere on the application. Adcoms are not anti-religion; it is just that the more you mention God in your personal statement, the more you come across as a flake. Consider the following statement, “Becoming a doctor is part of God’s plan for me.” Saying so denies responsibility for choosing a career in medicine. It’s because of that kind of flakiness that religion is best left out of the personal statement. Here’s another, “I only got through the experience with God’s help.” That suggests a lack of strength from within. Adcoms are not anti-religion, but they are generally composed of secular humanists. Deal with it.
  44. montessori2md

    montessori2md Member 10+ Year Member

    Oct 1, 2005
    On the Road Again
    Maybe I'm wrong, but I sort of take the PS part of the app as a "do you belong in our club?" personality test :D So the goal is to write something that sounds enough like you belong with every other member of XYZ SOM class of 2012, without being boring.

    I like all the picky bits of advice on construction and grammar, BTW.
    axol0tl likes this.
  45. mongrel

    mongrel Assoc. Prof. Dogsuit 5+ Year Member

    I once shadowed a thoracic surgeon who said, "I know I'm not responsible if I make a mistake because my hands are in God's control."

    Even though I know this doctor was a very intelligent person, to see his personal outlook on the profession just sent shivers down my spine (and still to this day). It took every ounce of will power to shut my mouth and politely change the subject.

    Moral of the story: All things aside, leave religion with those things.:thumbup:
  46. moto_za

    moto_za Member 10+ Year Member

    Jan 16, 2006
    I am planning on getting a LOR from a doc I shadowed and was wondering if I should or it is better for me to mention the shadowing experience briefly in my PS? THANKS A LOT!
  47. braluk

    braluk SDN Surgerynator Moderator Emeritus 5+ Year Member

    Apr 30, 2006
    The Big Easy
    Its worth mentioning if it has relevance in terms of learning about your interests in medicine, and had helped you develop a greater sense of what the field is like. Just remember to not focus or dedicate a large chunk of it to that one experience
  48. I had a question regarding the context of how the "I don't want to be a doctor" line is used. Do most people use the not wanting to be a doctor line in the following fashion: I never wanted to be a doctor until my mom bought me an anatomy set in the fourth grade/I shadowed a doctor in high school/ watched ER/etc. Or is it used more often in the non-traditional student sense in a statement such as: I did not want to be a doctor until a few months ago. And more importantly do you think its cliche in both instances?
  49. ChaChaDocta

    ChaChaDocta Member 5+ Year Member

    Dec 15, 2005
    Any advice to someone with a written and revised personal statement who wants more honest opinions of it? It's difficult to find people who really understand what the Adcoms are looking for. Those online essay services are obscenely expensive, and my writing center at my grad school is nice but clueless when it comes to med school personal statements. I've tried professors, advisors, and a few connections in various admissions offices... anyone know of someone willing to review a personal statement?:D
  50. Queenshawtii

    Queenshawtii 10+ Year Member

    Feb 18, 2004

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