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Medical School Personal Statement

Conscientious use of black ink and careful attention to instructions should get you through most of the application form unscathed. However, the AMCAS application (and most non-AMCAS applications as well) requires a personal essay, and you should devote considerable time and effort to this section of the form. Many medical school admissions committees place significant weight on your personal comments; they use your essay both to improve their understanding of you as an individual and to assess your ability to communicate clearly and effectively. Your essay should also include any information needed to clarify or explain answers given elsewhere on the application form. If, for instance, you are a non-science major, you might want to explain how your choice has better prepared you to be a doctor. If you have dropped out of school for a period of time, explain why you did so and what you did during that time. If you flunked Organic Chemistry, you may need to get creative . . . . The primary goal of your personal essay should be to establish yourself as an individual, to make you distinguishable from the thousands of other applicants besieging the gates. Discuss your special interests and activities. Explain your background if it has contributed to your knowledge of and dedication to the practice of medicine. If you have done research work, discuss it briefly. If you have hobbies that are important to you or any special talents, mention them even if they don't seem particularly relevant to your interest in a medical career. Medical schools are looking for diverse, well-rounded human beings. You might mention contributions you could make to medicine. Why would you be a good doctor? What motivates you?

When writing your essay, be specific and avoid platitudes and jargon. The admissions committee knows that "Doctors have to care about people"; they don't know that you volunteered your time to teach retarded children to ski. Don't say that you learned a lot from your science courses; explain how genetics deepened your understanding of inheritable diseases. Use simple, straightforward language. Don't say "at this point in time" if you mean "now." Don"t talk about your "significant employment experience" when you mean you had a job. Use the active voice as much as possible and do not be afraid to use the pronoun "I." You are the subject of the essay, and you want your personality to come through. Simple, honest language will make a far better impression than convoluted phrases and technical jargon.

Good organization is essential; you only have one page with which to make an impression. A careful outline will help you avoid repetition and will insure that there is a clear, logical progression from one paragraph to the next. You should, of course, be absolutely certain that your essay is free of spelling, grammatical, and typographical errors. It is advisable to have your Pre-Health Professions advisor or someone whom he suggests go over your finished essay. It is an important part of your application, and you want to make the best possible impression.

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