Personal Statement

What is a personal statement?

One of the first steps to your medical school application will be your personal statement, which is sent to the university admission teams. Essentially, this is a 4000-character document that introduces yourself, outlines the reasons you wish to apply to medicine, touches on work experience and mentions your extra-curricular reading or activities.

Some students find the personal statement process daunting, so here are some tips on how and why to stop worrying:

  • Unless applying for Oxbridge, usually your personal statement will be a supporting factor not a deciding one
  • Some universities do not even use the personal statement anymore so check the university websites that you are applying to see how and if they use this document.
  • Don’t worry about sounding like an ‘ordinary’ person, you just need to sound like you T– so you don’t need to find ways to be imaginative or make up things that aren’t true.
  • More on point 3, some universities will highlight your personal statement and question you on aspects of it, so don’t give yourself a reason to struggle in your interview prematurely by adding false information.
  • Give yourself time, this will allow you to write your statement at your own pace whilst also having enough time for several drafts and feedback from teachers, peers, professionals, etc.

Step by Step guide on:

How to start

  • Applicants need to demonstrate characteristics important for dental profession including being able to:
    • First get a blank document and outline a list of things you want to include in your statement that encompasses you as an individual applicant. I would put down several headers such as work experience; volunteering; A levels; extra reading; hobbies; reasons you want to apply, etc.
    • Under these headers, I would then jot down extra information on how these elements of my statement shaped my interest and inspired me to read medicine.
    • Under the work experience header for example, put down the memorable moment during your time there that made you want to study medicine, or gave you a new perspective on the degree, or taught you something.
    • For volunteering, if you’ve done volunteering at a charity or with people, focus on the people - many applicants forget that as much as being a doctor it is about talking and observing patients, it’s also about being able to understand and empathize with them so you should show how you have tried to understand medicine from a patient’s perspective in this section.
    • In the extracurricular section, as much as it is important to show you are well rounded, you need to focus on what you learnt. It should not simply be: I play the piano. Instead, it should be by playing the piano, I learnt how to balance my workload alongside my personal life - something I believe will be crucial in such a demanding career.
    • Now that you have your initial brainstorm, you need to decide what will make that final cut into the statement. Now you should tick the things that are most important for you to get across, put a question mark on things you will include if you have the space and then cross out things that don’t add to your statement.
    • It is time to string all your notes together now, and I would recommend doing so in designated paragraphs because it gives a better read and more coherent flow. For example, you could have a paragraph on work experience, one on your school achievements, like A level influence, EPQs, extra reading and a small one on hobbies or extracurricular. Every time you write a paragraph, you need to be clear on what you are trying to communicate and how you want to come across.
    • After you’ve completed your first draft, print it off, get a pen and then start crossing out sentences that aren’t adding purpose, words that aren’t accurate or rearranging parts.
    • Rewrite up your edited version, keep repeating the process, asking others for their advice, amending things and then whittling it down to your 4000 characters.
    • In terms of an ending, I would suggest finishing with a line just confirming why you want to study medicine or what you understand about the career. If you’ve already said this though, don’t risk sounding repetitive or wasting characters.

Final tips:

  • Applicants need to demonstrate characteristics important for dental profession including being able to:
    • You want to showcase yourself, but be careful, you don’t want to come across as cocky or arrogant.
    • Ask others for advice, and importantly, ask different people, for example, a biology teacher to check your facts are correct and then an English teacher to make sure your grammar and syntax is correct. Remember though, you don’t have to agree with all the advice you get, so don’t ask too many people and selectively review what you are told.
    • Ensure you don’t glamorise the idea of being a doctor - your work experience should have made it clear that the career demands commitment, hard work, and sacrifice - so you need to make sure that somewhere you put across that you haven’t made a light hearted and misinformed decision to commit to medicine.
    • Don’t make it fancy by adding ambitious vocabulary or phrases that you don’t understand or you risk communicating something wrong and there could be a suspicious difference between your interview speech and personal statement writing.

And finally, don’t copy other people’s statements.
For the video step by step guide demonstration, see:

For personal statement examples, see: ement-examples