Whilst the deadline for applying for medical school is not for a while, it is worth considering what has to be covered in the personal statement so you can plan ahead. For example, if you need work experience, wish to attend lectures or join a medical society, it is very useful to look at the time required and you can plan early and effectively.
To help you, our expert tutor, Stephanie, has put together an excellent set of guidelines primarily written for those students applying for Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Medicine. It may also be useful for related disciplines such as Biomedicine and Biochemistry.
Make sure your personal statement is within the character limit (4000) and the line limit (47). Visit the UCAS website for more information if needed.
This should be quite short, 4-6 lines. The main purpose of the first paragraph is to inform the reader as to why you wish to pursue a medical career. Seek to be genuine here and do not just write what you think is expected or what you think somebody wants to hear.
Personal experience(s) that inspired you to pursue this career can be included, but these must serve a clear purpose and must not be long-winded accounts. Every word is taking up precious space!
Talk about your academic interests and what experiences or topics have motivated you.
- Has there been a particular subtopic of interest that has caused you to go away and do further research
- Or a lecture that you have attended that has provoked curiosity?
- What do you do to pursue your interest in Medicine outside of the classroom?
- Do you regularly attend a medical society?
- What do you spend your time reading?
- Do you eagerly seek out opportunities to enhance your learning and skills?
It would be worth briefly mentioning if you have completed any Olympiads in your chosen subjects.
This should detail work experience, what you have observed and your reflections (what you learned from it).
This is arguably the MOST IMPORTANT PART of your personal statement as it gives insight into your character and your ability to be a good student.
Can you develop the important skills required in your chosen field? Again, be as concise as possible; there should be a lot of ground to cover in this paragraph. If you have managed to complete a lot of work experience, it would be worth focusing on a few of these in depth, rather than writing a big, long list that doesn’t go into any detail.
This should be much shorter, you can describe activities you partake in that are outside of your academic work. This may include sport, musical instruments, roles of responsibility at school, Duke of Edinburgh etc Don’t go into too much detail, there isn’t enough space.
You will write a couple of final lines stating why you would be a good Medical careers student and future Doctor/ Vet/ Dentist. (5 paragraphs in total)
Other important guidelines
As written above, be concise as possible.
You are aiming to give all the highlights of your capabilities, interests and experiences, and given that there are so many and that you have limited space, you must use the limited characters carefully.
- The admissions team will most likely initially scan through your personal statement and won’t appreciate long winded stories.
- Try to use language that you would usually use so that it sounds natural, avoid using a thesaurus.
Above all, you want to show that you are academically able, genuinely interested in the field of Medicine, self-motivated and a good learner.
- Bear in mind that during interviews you will be expected to confidently discuss any books, topics you have mentioned in your statement.
The bulk of your personal statement will be the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs – the academic and work experience paragraphs. It is these areas that give the most practical based evidence that you will be a good candidate for the course.
A note on work experience
Students often struggle to undertake a variety of work experiences and worry that their personal statements will fall short. Universities are aware of these difficulties and understand that many students will have limited opportunities.
If you have been unable to spend time in a GP surgery but have managed to undertake some regular volunteering at a local care home, for example, there is still a wealth of learning that can be obtained from this experience.
Your observations and reflections on your experience are more valuable than the details of what the work experience entailed. There is also value in dedicating time to something on a regular basis, whether this is volunteering at a care home or mentoring a group of students in a lower year group. It shows that you are committed and willing to stick at something. You will need a lot of grit as a Junior Doctor, for example!