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Personal Essay . .

Essays are an important way to express yourself to the people reading your application. Try to make it interesting, even entertaining, to read and include a great deal of things that will set you apart as a person from other applicants. Check it for grammar and spelling and have other people read it (like an English major for example). Some of the best essays are personal stories that are different and reveal a lot about the writer's personality and way of thinking. You'll get extra points for being creative and for not making it too long. The best thing is to start writing 3 or 4 different essays a few months before the applications are turned in. Write one essay about your goals, write one about the experiences that helped you decide to become a doctor and write one or two more essays about personal themes. When the time comes to fill out applications you can combine parts of these different essays to tailor a different one to each school.

How to Organize Your Personal Essay

Your personal essay is the only means an admissions committee may learn what kind of person you are before interviewing you. As mentioned earlier, GPA + MCAT provides an objective measure of deciding which applicants are worthy of further review. After that, it's your personality, life experiences, and inner convictions that will help you gain an invitation to interview. There is much to accomplish in this one page statement since you're faced with the task of demonstrating why your unique qualifications for and commitment to a medical career make you more worthy than your peers to become a physician.

The best approach to this is to focus on a few personal experiences to illustrate how these experiences exemplify your personal qualifications, rather than giving many, superficial examples. The following guidelines will help you get started on this important document.

  • The Thesis of Your Essay

Before you even begin writing, brain storm with your premed advisor. Examine your credentials and past experiences and really evaluate why you have a strong desire to enter medicine. There are many reasons why people want to become a doctor, some are bad and some are good, for instance: intellectual curiosity for medical science, self-gratification when working with others, desire to feel needed and important, security in employment, money (which has always been a fallacy, if you don't know why, you should really rethink if medicine is for you), a desire to combine research and patient care, and the list can definitely fill this page. After thinking about this, make sure you are going into medicine for the right reasons. If not, then you should seriously consider other programs that may provide you with what you need. Your reasons for entering a medical field will be the foundation of your thesis. It may be unique from others (which would be the most ideal) or it may be similar to numerous other applicants, which is fine. Even though your thesis is not unique, the life experiences and personal convictions you use to illustrate and support your thesis will be unique. Also keep in mind that the primary purpose of the essay is to illuminate your personal strengths supported by your unique life experiences. Stay away from the approach of starting the essay with "These are the reasons why I want to become a physician..." or "I will be a good physician because my GPA is 3.9 and I have MCATs that are...". This is boring and too generic.

  • Supporting the Thesis

For those who are not sure why they want to be doctors or haven't really thought about it until now, they will have the most trouble supporting their thesis. For those who have been well prepared, participated in volunteering and extracurricular activities, and have thought about why they have a drive to enter medicine, this part is easy. Just keep in mind to provide concrete examples from your life experiences. This may be experiences that exemplify your dedication (e.g. a distinguished athlete or successful undergraduate research), demonstrates your desires to help others (e.g. food drives and soup kitchens), or your thirst for knowledge in medical science (e.g. research in a particular medical field or being a tutor for students seeking help in the sciences). You may even write about a personal hardship that you were able to overcome and learn from. Be sure to write about experiences that you find exciting and you're proud of.

Some guidelines of what NOT to do: don't get side tracked and talk about tangential stuff, no resume or CV formats, avoid using big words that you don't know the meaning (this may convey the wrong meaning to the reader or he/she may simply think you're an idiot), don't be lazy about spell checking (this means do it yourself with Webster's), never give weak, whining-like excuses of why your credentials may be less than desirable, never make things up, and don't be afraid to start over with a new thesis.

  • The Conclusion

You need to restate your thesis and summarize the personal experiences that support your reasons for becoming a physician. This summary should be concise and brief. You want to leave a good impression with the reader and provide him/her with a better understanding of your personality.

  • Style

There are nearly a hundred styles in which you can apply to your essay. You can be either creative or traditional. Just make sure that the above three objectives are met when writing your essay. It's a good idea not to make your personal statement "too" strange. Humor is fine, but too much could convey your lack of maturity or focus.

  • Revise... revise... and revise!!!

This is so important. You need to make sure your essay is concise and flows smoothly. Proof-read for grammar and spelling mistakes. Have other people look at your essay. You may also try reading it out loud to yourself and see how it flows. Have your roommate help you or use a recording device. You should at least revise your essay 3-4 times. Some students spend up to 6 months on the essay! It's that important.

  • Secondaries

Many schools require applicants to fill out additional information in the form of short essays. Some schools, however, just want to collect an application fee from you. Writing these are tricky. You have to come up with a thesis and supporting evidence in about 3 sentences. It's hard since you want to make it flow but be as complete as you can. Try to use the above guidelines but cut down on the depth.


Can you ever start composing your Medical Schools essays too soon??

It seems better not to rush the essays and to do them while you are relaxed. If you do them over a six month time period it will allow you to do multiple edit revisions and solicit the opinion of others. This would allow you to put together true quality efforts for every essay.

These days applicants designate an average of over 20 AMCAS schools, many with automatic secondary applications and essays. After you apply to 15 schools the essays and their subject contents get repetitive. Building a selection of essays and writing frameworks in advance may prove helpful to you. In examining the below question database you'll begin to see repetition of question themes. Be ready, some programs are now requesting you answer up to six essay questions per application submission.


ADVICE FROM A LOCAL MED SCHOOL & Admissions Committee Dean "When we request additional essays from you on a secondary application, NEVER ever send us the same essay from the AMCAS application."


Guidelines - Recommendations Type it - Almost all asked for or prefer typed essays. Only a couple ask for handwritten application essays, probably to analyze your script. Font Size 10 or 12 - You won't be told, but use a font size that the reader doesn't have to magnify in order to review it. Essay Size - Essay formats generally tell you to either limit the essays to the space provided or to attach additional sheets, if necessary.

Med School Essay Samples

These essays are similar for both M.D. & D.O., Ph.D. Institutions

1)Open Essay - Whatever the applicant wants

2)Has your education been continuous other than for vacations? If no, or not now in college indicate what you have done while out of school?

3)What person(s) or experiences(s) has been most influential in your life in the last three years?

4)In your intellectual development and preparation for a medical career, which non-science course has been most valuable? Why?

5)Indicate why you chose (Our School) ? **Catalogs could be helpful here**

6)Indicate your reasons for your specific interest in (Our Medical School)

7)Expand on any part of your application which you feel would be helpful in appraising you as an individual

8) Briefly respond to the following topics. Do not repeat information from one topic to another. Please limit comments to the space provided. Please type. A) What aspirations, experiences, or relationships have motivated you toward a career in medicine? Transfer application should use this space to enumerate reasons for wishing to transfer. B) Describe your most significant non-scientific extracurricular activities and how you use your leisure time.

9) In the space below, please describe you career plans, your past work, if any, in your proposed field, and your goals in taking combined degree work. Be as specific as you can. Include any research or teaching experiences you have had, giving titles, publications, research sponsors, institutions, and dates. (Attach additional sheets, if necessary.)

10) Below is a description of my education and professional goals, my reason for wishing to undertake graduate study at this time and my academic and experimental preparation for further study in the proposed field. ( Include comments on any research and/or teaching experiences, any scholarships/fellowships, and any scholastic/professional awards or honors received.)

11) Please give your reasons for your interest in this division. Include areas of research interests. You may word process this essay using a point/ font size of 10 or 12; use tape to attach essay securely to the page below.

12) Please discuss in the space below, those circumstance and experiences in you background which bear on you choice of medicine as a career. Please comment on any extracurricular activities(work experience, special project, or interest) which you consider to be particularly important. If there are unusual feature to your preparation, such as discontinuity in you education, please record and discuss them.

13) Please state the reasons for wishing to pursued a combined study program a the (xxxx ) Medical School. Describe in detail specific research in which you have been involved and include what kind of research you would like to do.

14) Describe any previous research experiences an list publications( Include copy if possible)

15) Describe your current or future research interests

16) What are your career objectives?

17) How will the (XXX) med school MD/Ph.D. program assist you in attaining these objectives?

18) What satisfactions do you expect to receive from your activities as a physician?

19) In what collegiate extracurricular activities did you engage?

20) List collegiate honors, awards and memberships in honorary societies?

21) About how away hours per week, if any, did you spend in work for which you were recompensed during the college year? What sort of work did you do (include summer employment)?

22) If your education has been interrupted (for more than four weeks) for any reason, please indicate briefly the reasons, the duration of the interruption and how you time was spent.

23) Please list any consideration or condition which could significantly or adversely affect your performance as a medical student; if there are any such considerations or condition, state why you believe they would not in fact prevent your successful completion of the medical school program and requirements.

24) Have you been subject to disciplinary action by any college, been convicted of a criminal offense, or are there disciplinary or criminal charges pending against you? If yes, please give specific details.

25) Present any additional information you wish to bring to the attention of the Admissions committee. You may discuss you significant activities and accomplishments, employment, hobbies or interests, unusual aspects of your preparation and record, interest in medicine, and future goals.

26) Please identify areas of medicine which may be of particular interest to you and your reasons for their selection.

27) Please type or attach a statement setting forth any information about yourself which would be of interest to the Committee on Admissions.

28) Describe briefly how you selected you undergraduate school and current major area of study.

29) If there is any information you wish to bring to the attention of the Admissions committee regarding a physical or emotional condition or a family problem which you feel may have affected your scholastic performance, please indicate below or on a separate sheet.


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