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Typical length of PS

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Femtochemistry

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hey


I was just wondering, how many words do you guys have in your PS or what is the "norm." I am a subscriber to the "quality not quantity" school :cool:
 

sestamibi

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I was told to keep it to a page.

2 pages if I had Nobel Laureate type writing skills. (I do not)
 

John Deere Gree

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one program director at my school said "I don't read beyond the first page"
 

Dr McSteamy

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they only read the first and last paragraphs.

so you can just cut and paste a Harry Potter excerpt in the middle paragraphs.
 

atsai3

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hey


I was just wondering, how many words do you guys have in your PS or what is the "norm." I am a subscriber to the "quality not quantity" school :cool:

If an application makes the PS longer than 1 page then I start to resent him/her for making me read all that.

Cheers
-AT.
 

dragonfly99

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For surgical specialties, I have heard they really really like it to be a page or less.

For internal med and medical subspecialties, mine was very slightly >1 page I think. Nobody complained. I consciously tried to trim it down though...they really don't like reading much >1 page.
 

Acherona

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is that one page double or single spaced??
 

Doctor Grim

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Mine was 3 pages. Everyone told me it was the longest paper they've read during my interview trail.
 

Dr McSteamy

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Mine was 3 pages. Everyone told me it was the longest paper they've read during my interview trail.

that's nuts

how were you able to keep their attention for 3 pages?

did you have that many accomplishments, or are you just a gifted writer/hypnotist
 

Winged Scapula

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that's nuts

how were you able to keep their attention for 3 pages?

did you have that many accomplishments, or are you just a gifted writer/hypnotist

I suspect its the latter...hell, even his sig file is 4 lines long (and includes stuff that can be found in the User Profile). ;)

A page is good. More than that, IN MOST CASES, is unwarranted and overkill. MUCH less than a page is just as bad, IMHO.

I read a PS from a surgical candidate once that was literally one paragraph long. It appeared to me that he didn't care about, probably wrote it 5 minutes before uploading it to ERAS and it told me a LOT about him (negative things I might add). Then again, once I interviewed him and saw there was nothing more to him than his stellar academics, I realized how fortelling his PS really was...the guy had absolutely nothing to say, no personality, etc. :yawn:

So we do pay attention, but 3 pages is generally stretching it, even for medicine residencies.
 

PeepshowJohnny

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Haven't you guys ever heard the saying "There's nothing you've written that wouldn't be 10% better if it was 10% shorter?"
 

Nuriko

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So far, my PS is longer than a page. I have change my font to courier size 10, used 4-5 spaces for the start of each paragraph, and will not be using full line spacing between each paragraph, similar to the style i will be doing this post in.
Given that format, my PS is about 1.3333 pages long. I am definitely keeping the size of the essay in mind. However, I am also banking on the fact that my essay is more exciting and memorable (in a non-controversial way, no religion or politics) enough to keep them reading the extra 1/3 page and help me stand out.
 

Femtochemistry

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thx for the feedback guys! I was planning a 4-5 page essay! lol
 

John Deere Gree

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that's actually a lot, like 1000 words?

No, not really. Courier is one of the longest/largest fonts, if not the largest/longest. My PS is just barely under one page, has 611 words, and 3,400+ characters.
 

wire

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hey all,

would you guys mind proof-reading my personal statement? here it is:

"i like science and people. they make me happy. i want to be a doctor someday just like my dad."

what do you think?
 
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I was debating a personal statement that said "My favorite color is blue," but then I couldn't decide if my favorite color was actually green. I've obviously been spending too much time around five year olds.
 

sestamibi

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hey all,

would you guys mind proof-reading my personal statement? here it is:

"i like science and people. they make me happy. i want to be a doctor someday just like my dad."

what do you think?

Verbose.

Remember, a picture is worth a 1000 words.

I'm just uploading this as my ERAS personal statement.

4189.jpg


Short. Succinct. Simple. Open for interpretation. Everyone wins.
 

Nuriko

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I suspect its the latter...hell, even his sig file is 4 lines long (and includes stuff that can be found in the User Profile). ;)

A page is good. More than that, IN MOST CASES, is unwarranted and overkill. MUCH less than a page is just as bad, IMHO.

I read a PS from a surgical candidate once that was literally one paragraph long. It appeared to me that he didn't care about, probably wrote it 5 minutes before uploading it to ERAS and it told me a LOT about him (negative things I might add). Then again, once I interviewed him and saw there was nothing more to him than his stellar academics, I realized how fortelling his PS really was...the guy had absolutely nothing to say, no personality, etc. :yawn:

So we do pay attention, but 3 pages is generally stretching it, even for medicine residencies.

So youre telling me someone wrote a 1 paragraph PS and STILL got an interview?! That he might have actually been ranked had he interviewed well??? :eek: What could have possibly driven you guys to still consider him for admission???
 

Nuriko

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Update: I was finally able to get my PS within a page w/ size 10 courier due to lots of editing and fat trimming Do page margins matter? I left an inch on all borders.
 

NotAProgDirector

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So youre telling me someone wrote a 1 paragraph PS and STILL got an interview?! That he might have actually been ranked had he interviewed well??? :eek: What could have possibly driven you guys to still consider him for admission???

I've seen very short PS's that are good. Once someone submitted a poem.
 

jouneih

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i'm wondering about the margins too... anyone know?

also, how do you print out your PS so you can see it how the PD's do? Mine prints out less than a page at work, and more than a page at home! I think i'm not doing it right.......:(
 

Law2Doc

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i'm wondering about the margins too... anyone know?

also, how do you print out your PS so you can see it how the PD's do? Mine prints out less than a page at work, and more than a page at home! I think i'm not doing it right.......:(

If you are cutting and pasting from a text file into the ERAS application box, you won't be in charge of margins. So I wouldn't spend much time with that. Just keep it around 750 words and you're done.
 

jouneih

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If you are cutting and pasting from a text file into the ERAS application box, you won't be in charge of margins. So I wouldn't spend much time with that. Just keep it around 750 words and you're done.

i know that, but i want to know how to make sure when they print it out it will just be a page... so playing around with word, i'm not sure what margins to use to make sure of that.

is 750 definitely less than a page? it seems like a lot?
 

xthine

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I was wondering the same thing. Would < 750 words in MS word translate to < 1 page in myERAS? Also, how does the print PS in myERAS work? Is there supposed to be a hard copy printed out automatically or should we still use our web browser's print command?
 
D

deleted219479

I'm at 662 words (3428 characters w/o spaces, 4088 characters w/ spaces) and have 1 page and 10 lines in Courier size 10. I think this 750 rule is not necessarily true...

And a quick poll for residents/fellows/attendings/anyone who reviews apps: how annoyed are you if a person is just barely over a page? (especially given that it's hard for us to know exactly where the page demarcation is)
 

Law2Doc

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I'm at 662 words (3428 characters w/o spaces, 4088 characters w/ spaces) and have 1 page and 10 lines in Courier size 10. I think this 750 rule is not necessarily true...

And a quick poll for residents/fellows/attendings/anyone who reviews apps: how annoyed are you if a person is just barely over a page? (especially given that it's hard for us to know exactly where the page demarcation is)

I think you guys are focusing too much on the "over a page" notion, and not enough on the "keep it brief" notion. The number of words is going to have some variation in length because not all words have the same number of characters. So the word on the street is that you should keep it under 750. That doesn't mean 700 is ideal or that they will throw it out at 800 -- there isn't a hard and fast rule, just gamesmanship. They will print it in whatever format they want it, so you really can't micromanage margins, where a page ends in ERAS, etc. Bottom line, they want it short and sweet, because if they are going to read hundreds to thousands of these, they don't want it to take forever. If you can do it in 750 words or less they are going to be considerably happier than if you try to give your whole life's story in two pages. If you are well over 750 words they will see it as too long (because it takes them more than the 3 minutes they are allotting to it).
 

NotAProgDirector

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Many PS's are more than 1 page long.

The longer it is, the more likely I am to skim it. Let's face it, PS's are, in general, really boring. They usually tell me:

1. Why you want to do IM. Really? Are your reasons any different from anyone elses?

2. Your own personal / family / friend illness that made you want to go into XYZ field.

3. Rehash your CV, in prose format.

4. 75% of PS's start with a quote. Why?

5. 90% of PS's talk about a patient. Again, why?
 

DarthNeurology

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Many PS's are more than 1 page long.

The longer it is, the more likely I am to skim it. Let's face it, PS's are, in general, really boring. They usually tell me:

1. Why you want to do IM. Really? Are your reasons any different from anyone elses?

5. 90% of PS's talk about a patient. Again, why?

I would think that applicants to IM have much more a variety of responses as to why they wanted to do internal medicine. I have seen more than one IM resident who did IM sort of by default or because they had to scramble into something. I am sure there are some who want to do a specialty like nephrology, some who want to do primary care, some who want to do research etc. . . So I would suppose that an IM personal statement would give more information about what type of applicant the person is in conjunction with the interview.

Now, say someone is going into a general surgery residency, you have to be pretty sure of yourself that you want to be a surgeon and really in love with surgery. So I would think that the candidates to surgery residency are more homogenous than internal medicine candidates who like IM for different reasons. As an extreme I guess most plastic surgery residency candidates would have super high board scores etc . . . whereas in IM there is a broader range of knowledge/ability?

I think everybody talks about a patient/patients as a way to humanize their application and stand out as an empathetic physician.
 

deuist

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My personal statement is 485 words, and I'm applying for emergency medicine. Everyone I showed it to within the field thinks that the length is appropriate and that my simple writing style gets the point across. I spent the bulk of the essay talking about not knowing what I wanted to do with my life up until my junior year of college and then mentioned a trip to Nicaragua in the middle paragraph. I think it's worked well for me so far during my military interviews.

I don't quote anyone and I don't mention any particular patients. When I went to the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, one of the program directors mentioned that he spends only a few seconds skimming over the personal statement. I really don't think that it's that important, especially for my field.
 

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AProgDirector,

Not to beat this to death, but when you print out a PS, is it in Word format? When I interviewed pre-meds for medical school admissions last year, I remember that the PS the school had printed out for me was not in Word or any kind of format. It just looked like the text box that the student had cut and pasted into.

As far as the whole "one page" thing. I wonder if one page as a text box allows for more content, hence ~750 word = one page.

My school tells people to use font that is no less than 11 point. And considering most people are using times new roman, that's going to put some in the 1.5 page (skimming) range...
 

NotAProgDirector

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I don't see it in "word format". ERAS simply prints it out in plain text.

I played around with last year's ERAS this AM. It appears that if you set the font to Courrier 10 pt, and set the margins to 0.3 on the left and right, and 0.8 at the top and bottom, that's just about what I'd see. I cut some of the PS's from last year, and it's accurate to +/- 1 line.

Whether ERAS 2009 will be similar is unclear, but they didn't announce any changes to PS's.
 

Winged Scapula

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So youre telling me someone wrote a 1 paragraph PS and STILL got an interview?! That he might have actually been ranked had he interviewed well??? :eek: What could have possibly driven you guys to still consider him for admission???

I think you have to realize that PSs aren't always very important in determining who gets an interview.

A guy with a 250 on his Step 1 (back in the day when that was a rare score), from a very well regarded program is doing to get a closer look-see even if his PS sucks.

OTOH, someone with average scores might benefit from a great PS.

BTW, residents aren't "admitted", they are ranked and matched. And yes, there are some people who would rank an applicant with great scores despite a lousy PS. I wouldn't necessarily say that a short PS is an awful one; fortunately, this guy's interview only served to verify his lack of interest expressed in his PS.
 

staphaureus

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I don't see it in "word format". ERAS simply prints it out in plain text.

I played around with last year's ERAS this AM. It appears that if you set the font to Courrier 10 pt, and set the margins to 0.3 on the left and right, and 0.8 at the top and bottom, that's just about what I'd see. I cut some of the PS's from last year, and it's accurate to +/- 1 line.

Whether ERAS 2009 will be similar is unclear, but they didn't announce any changes to PS's.

:wow: When I did this, the extra four lines on the second page disappeared, AND it looks like I can go for another four lines if I want to (I don't want to). All that trouble taking out a word here, a sentence there.. 750 words seem to follow the rule well. Thanks for the info.
 

docjolly

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wow. 1 page? I have some major editing to do!

same here.

i just had my senior dean's meeting, and my personal statement, going in, was close to two pages. i'm a strong writer, but oftentimes, i can be very wordy. looks like i'll be spending a severe chunk of time within the next couple of days copying, pasting, deleting...you name it.
 

ranmyaku

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Many PS's are more than 1 page long.

The longer it is, the more likely I am to skim it. Let's face it, PS's are, in general, really boring. They usually tell me:

1. Why you want to do IM. Really? Are your reasons any different from anyone elses?

2. Your own personal / family / friend illness that made you want to go into XYZ field.

3. Rehash your CV, in prose format.

4. 75% of PS's start with a quote. Why?

5. 90% of PS's talk about a patient. Again, why?


I am taking your advice so I hope it works out. My PS for IM contains none of these 5, and is 500 words.
 

txguy

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I don't see it in "word format". ERAS simply prints it out in plain text.

I played around with last year's ERAS this AM. It appears that if you set the font to Courrier 10 pt, and set the margins to 0.3 on the left and right, and 0.8 at the top and bottom, that's just about what I'd see. I cut some of the PS's from last year, and it's accurate to +/- 1 line.

Whether ERAS 2009 will be similar is unclear, but they didn't announce any changes to PS's.

So if our PS is one page with these settings in MS Word, we should be okay?
 

NotAProgDirector

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So if our PS is one page with these settings in MS Word, we should be okay?

I guess that would depend on whether your PS was any good, now wouldn't it? :laugh:

Really, folks. You're all taking this PS thing way too seriously.

It's very unlikely that interview decisions will be made based on your PS. I can't even tell if you actually wrote it, or hired someone else to do so.

A frankly insulting PS, or one full of grammatical errors, will hurt you.

Your PS will help drive your interview. It gives me subjects to talk about.

The longer your PS is, the more likely someone is to skim it.

There is nothing magical about 1 page.
 

txguy

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I guess that would depend on whether your PS was any good, now wouldn't it? :laugh:

Really, folks. You're all taking this PS thing way too seriously.

It's very unlikely that interview decisions will be made based on your PS. I can't even tell if you actually wrote it, or hired someone else to do so.

A frankly insulting PS, or one full of grammatical errors, will hurt you.

Your PS will help drive your interview. It gives me subjects to talk about.

The longer your PS is, the more likely someone is to skim it.

There is nothing magical about 1 page.

Good one! =)

Thanks as always for your advice!

-tx
 

deuist

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Really, folks. You're all taking this PS thing way too seriously.

You have to understand that the same OCD pre-meds that hyperventilated over every detail when applying through AMCAS become OCD med students who hyperventilate over detail when applying through ERAS. The moment admissions committees lower the GPA/MCAT standards for admissions is the moment that more type B personalities become doctors.
 

NotAProgDirector

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You have to understand that the same OCD pre-meds that hyperventilated over every detail when applying through AMCAS become OCD med students who hyperventilate over detail when applying through ERAS. The moment admissions committees lower the GPA/MCAT standards for admissions is the moment that more type B personalities become doctors.

Trust me, I know. They become OCD PGY-1's and then they're my problem. I get three years to fix them.
 

irishlaydi

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hey all,

would you guys mind proof-reading my personal statement? here it is:

"i like science and people. they make me happy. i want to be a doctor someday just like my dad."

what do you think?

Ha ha! Thanks for the laugh...its been a LONG day!
 
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