Medical School Admissions Statistics
The application essay is your only opportunity to speak about
yourself. Your essay should show that you have ideas, are able to
think logically, and can express yourself clearly, with economy and
Clear writing is the result of clear thinking. The first and most
important task is to decide what you want to say. This is a short
essay. You must be highly selective. Consider carefully what two or,
at most, three points you wish to impress upon the reader. Remember
the nature of your audience. It is composed of people who are
probably as intelligent as you are, well educated and vastly
experienced in this work. Do not try to fool or second guess your
reader; you will seem silly if you do. Decide which aspects of
yourself you wish to present and then stick to those few points.
Each paragraph should deal with one main idea, each sentence lead
inevitably to the next. The logical flow of ideas should be crystal
clear, with movement and progression from one sentence to the next,
throughout the piece.
When you have written a first draft, start the work of refining,
simplifying, and polishing. Did you say exactly what you meant and
mean exactly what you said? Is any section, sentence, or word
superfluous, ambiguous, apologetic, or awkward? Are your verbs
strong and active? Have you removed most of the qualifiers? Are you
quite sure that each activity or interest you mention supports one
of your main ideas? Remember that the reader has lists of your
activities and your transcript at hand. Don't duplicate information.
Do not apologize. Do not lie! Do not bore your reader by whining.
You are writing as an adult who wishes to join the community of
physicians. You must write as an adult, a peer, and potential member
of the profession.
At this point you are the application. Correctness and style are
vital. Neatness counts. Keep uniform margins; you do not wish to
create a crowded and breathless impression. Check and check again
your spelling, the agreement of subjects and verbs and syntax. Your
thoroughness demonstrates that you have learned and mastered this
art and that your future faculty will not be troubled by illiteracy
The technical aspects of essay writing are important. Outstanding
books to consult are: On Writing Well, William Zinisser, Harper and
Row; Manual of Style, University of Chicago; Elements of Style,
Strunk and White, Macmillan.
Remember to think positively about yourself. You are a serious
student, and a thoughtful and interesting person. You have enjoyed a
splendid undergraduate education and will be an asset to your
graduate program and to your chosen profession. Your beautifully
prepared essay will confirm this without a doubt.