The medical school personal statement is your best chance to sell yourself to the medical school admissions committee. If they’re reading your personal statement it means you’ve probably cleared the initial numbers screen. That means your MCAT scores and GPA are competitive — or perhaps there is something about your application that made them ignore the numbers.

Your job is different in the primary and secondary application stages.

The AMCAS application essay

In the AMCAS personal statement you need to make a general sell: explain why you will make a good physician. You must tell your personal story in a compelling, unpretentious way.

Every application reader will be looking for something different. My general rule is explain why you love what you love. For example, if you are a serious athelete, talk about your dedication to the sport. Explain how you have excelled. Make it clear that these are the same qualities that will make you excel as a physician.

Explain why you want to be a physician

What’s your motivation, what are your goals?

This is also your chance to explain your unique situation. If you are coming back to medical school from a career, explain why you’re making the transition. There are a lot of benefits to making this transition — make sure you are emphasizing the positive.

There are common pitfalls when you’re writing such an essay. You must walk a fine line between selling yourself and overselling. While you should show your positive attributes, don’t pretend you’re the best thing since boxed cereal. Admissions committees read hundreds of applications a year, and they know immediately when an applicant is blowing smoke. A little restraint can be a good thing.

The secondary application essay

Your job in the secondary application essay is very different. Here you have to show that you are a good fit at the specific school. For example, if the school requires a lot of medical student research, make sure you show how that interests you.

Take the time to find out about the school to which you are applying. Know the kind of students they accept, and the kind of physicians they make. If you match that profile, let them know in the secondary medical school personal statement.

Write well and edit

Keep the writing crisp and clean. Edit thoroughly. Typos hurt, bad grammar hurts more, and tedious writing kills.

The reality these days is that most application essays are professionally edited. We recommend EssayEdge, but there are many other companies that will do a good job. Seriously consider this option.

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