Writing a personal statement

*This document is still being edited… please be patient :)*

The Personal Statement…

The main barrier between you and that all important medical school interview and then that offer. The personal statement is there to show the admissions tutors who you are and why you deserve a place at medical school.

Personal statement basics…

4000 Characters (With spaces!) approximately 1 A4 page on word at size 12 font
-It is to show off WHO you are and WHY you want to study medicine
Start Early!!
– it WILL
take many drafts, cause tears and bloodshed 



Before you start writing you need to…

Understand what the medical schools are looking for

Each medical school will release a prospectus for you to look through, this will give you an idea of what each medical school wants to see in a medicine applicant.
They want to see that you have the qualities of a good doctor,

What are the Qualities of a good Doctor you ask?? Well….
– Communication
– Teamwork
– Empathy
– leadership
– Confidence (Note: NOT arrogance)
– Good humour!! <- one of my own
– Interest in teaching – Medicine is an art AND a science
– Dealing with pressure
– Respectful and mature – have you ever been to A&E on a friday??

But also think why are these good qualities to have? 

Screen shot 2013-06-26 at 15.15.04

They want you to reflect on your work experience – Do not list achievements
Pick a few experiences that you can relate to and where you have shown the              k  skills that a good doctor needs, always REFLECT not list.

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They want to see WHO you are and how YOU are a well-rounded person

Academics are all well and good but you need to be a well-rounded person to succeed at anything in life. Show them in your personal statement you have some hobbies.

You don’t have to be a whizz kid winning hundreds of awards and playing rugby for England and having grade 8 in 20 billion instruments. Just have something to show them what you do to relax and how it makes you a grounded well-rounded person.

Anything from music, sport, scouts, guides, youth groups, scrapbooking, running, writing, photography. It can be anythingwell maybe leave out your love for s&m

Screen shot 2013-06-26 at 15.04.52

Don’t be put off by other applicants
I was put off by other applicants! Lots of them will have the 1000 A*’s, play hockey for England and be a world chess champion

While I on the other hand, was slugging at the back with B’s and C’s in school, no fancy sporting achievement – I don’t run unless I’m being chased – Or awards/grades etc. I was just myself.

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Most importantly….Be confident!

Note: I had a guy from a unamed university *Cambridge* tell me my degree wasn’t a real degree at one of my interviews and asked me “How did you manage to get an interview?”
And lets just say i didn’t see him on the offer holder day…


How do I start writing my personal statement?

Each person is different but this is how I found really helped me write my personal statement

Spider diagram or a brain storm or whatever politically correct way you call it…

1. Put medical school in the middle
2. Write around outside the various qualities you need to demonstrate in your personal statement (Teamwork, empathy etc…)
3. Look at the universities you are applying for and look on their website it will give you a HUGE clue to what they look for in candidates use those BUZZ WORDS
4. Brain storm the different idea’s you have for each one

You will find you will get something like this…

Example of mine

Example of mine

You will find once you start thinking about the different experiences you have and how you can interlinks them you will begin to write sentences and paragraphs.
Don’t worry about length, just keep writing about your experiences. 

The first draft
It will NOT be any good – trust me…
I took 19 drafts until my final one was sent, this is normal! Expect to generally do at least 5+ drafts, if not more until it’s any good.


The general generic structure of a personal statement


Paragraph 1 – the introduction
This is where you need to grab attentionDO NOT  start with a cliché – hundreds of applicants will start theirs either with:
“From a young age…”
“My fascination with the human body…”  Sounds like you’ve just learnt to masturbate
“ever since I burnt holes in my PJ’s with my chemistry set…”
ALSO, starting with a quote is also risky… and takes up valuable space
Don’t worry too much about the introduction, I wrote mine at the end of writing the rest of my personal statement… It’s easier to do last.



Paragraph 2: Work experience
Work experience is the norm when applying for medical school. You will need some, not only for your UCAS but to also see if medicine is in fact an avenue you want to explore and not just another academic conquest Seriously look at biochemistry if you want academia…

You will need to REFLECT on your work experience and how you have experienced what it’s like to be a doctor then REFLECT how you have those qualities yourself.
So think of questions like this

1. When you saw the Dr’s/nurses/HCA/cleaners/physio’s etc etc working together as a team, why is it important? What did you learn from observing? Whose role did you gravitate to the most?

2. How was the Doctor communicating with the patient? Was the patient difficult to communicate with? What was he doing well?Have you ever demonstrated these skills? Why are they important?

3. What are the pro’s and cons of medicine? Do the pro’s out weigh the cons?

By answering those questions you have just reflected on why you want to study medicine and how you have the skills in place to do so… Rinse and repeat!



Paragraph 3 – Volunteering

This is the section to show the uni’s what you have done volunteer wise:
St Johns/Red Cross
Care home
Hospital volunteering
Assisting in a school
Charity shop etc…

This is where you can demonstrate a commitment to medicine, show what you have learnt from you volunteering and what skills it has given you to assist you with a career in medicine.
What has it taught you?
Communication? empathy? confidence?
Screen shot 2013-06-26 at 16.01.41



Paragraph 4 – Hobbies

This section is about how you are a well-rounded individual
As mentioned above it is the section to show off your hobbies and relate them to medicine.
If you play on a team do you show leadership skills? teamwork?
Have you achieved anything outstanding?
How do you balance your work/life? why is that important?

Screen shot 2013-06-26 at 15.59.59



Paragraph 5 – conclusion

This is where you need to conclude you personal statement.
You will need to round up everything you’ve said and think of a final statement to why you deserve a place at medical school and how you are suited to medicine.
This section will pull together once your main body of text is complete.

It should be the smallest section of them all.

Other stuff

Lots of people ask about writing about certain things in their personal statement:
Yes you can write about a certain book you’ve read, but be warned at interview the interviewer can catch you out and probably will know more about it than you – this has happened to many applicants, so if it’s in your personal statement make sure you’ve actually read it!

Mentioning a specific disease etc
This is all well and good, but again you are not in medical school yet and the interviewer can quiz you on this heavily.

Name dropping
Dropping the name of the consultant you know or worked with wins NO brownie points, just don’t do it at all.

Good luck… Any questions find me here: Twitter 


10 thoughts on “Writing a personal statement

  1. Thank you soo much… I am just starting mine now. Planning on applying for the 2017 graduate entry route.
    your page has actually helped alot. thanks once again.

    • What was your previous degree in? Where would you incorporate this into the ps?

      Im also a graduate applying for 2017 GPEP!

  2. Hi Lauren,

    Thank you for creating this blog! It has been extremely helpful and you have really explained the daunting components of the application in a humorous way. I have my UKCAT mid September.. Currently in the process of writing my PS for Medicine GPEP.

    I like the structure you have suggested here (i.e. Intro, Experience, Volunteering, Hobbies, Conclusion). Where/how did you discuss your previous degree? If at all.. (I graduated in Biomedical Science).

    Congrats for getting in btw!

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