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Personal Statement

What Do You Write About?

Take time to think about who you are and what experiences have shaped your life.  Admissions committees view an open-ended essay as an opportunity to get to know the applicant over and above the facts conveyed by other parts of the application.  The main theme of your personal statement should be why do you want to be a doctor, dentist, optometrist, veterinarian, podiatrist, etc.

To Get Started

Answering some of the following questions may reveal some insights that you can share in your personal statement:

  1. Who are the most influential people in your life?
    • What did they do for you?
  2. What have been the pivotal moments in your life?
    • Looking back, what can you recall having changed you?
  3. Do you feel a passion for medicine?
    • What is the source of that passion?

Tips on Writing Your Personal Statement

  1. Do not re-write your resume in paragraph form.  There are other areas on your application where you can explain extracurricular activities.  If you have stated it somewhere on your application you do not need to repeat it in your personal statement.
  2. Use a single detailed example and illustrate how it adds to your passion to wanting to be a doctor, dentist, etc.
  3. Do not tell admissions committees what you think makes a good doctor or med student and then explain all of those qualities that you have.  You do not want to assume what makes a good doctor.  Their job is to define what makes a good doctor.  You can explain your good qualities but let them connect the dots.
  4. Represent yourself well.  Do not dwell on the negative aspects.  You received a C in BIO 203 but your science GPA is a 3.5. Don't dwell on the C.  Talk about the positive things and what drives you to pursue a career in medicine.
  5. Keep an open mind.  You can have a general idea of the area of medicine you want to pursue but narrowing down your interests is what medical school is for.  You are likely to change your mind a few times while in medical school as you learn about different specialties.  

  6. Cliches: Yes, avoid making cliche statements, but you don't need to pretend you're going into medicine because you think your reasons might be cliche.  Most pre-meds are motivated for the same reasons (wanting to help people, love science, early experience with medicine, etc.)  You don't need a unique reason, just try to discuss it in a way that is unique as possible. 
  7. Seek feedback from trusted friends, faculty and the Writing Cetner.  Some of the most valuable feedback that your reader can provide comes in the form of questions that are raised when your essay is read.

Still Having Trouble? You might want to try the following:

  1. Visit the Writing Center
  2. Take WRT 303 - The Personal Essay
  3. Purchase a book with several essays to read (Essays That Will Get You into Medical School)
  4. Keep a Journal (about your everyday experiences or just about your health-related and research experiences)


  1. Use a single line between paragraphs and don't worry about indenting.
  2. Don't use more than 1 space between paragraphs.
  3. Re-read it for any sentences that could be re-worded more efficiently, then have someone else do it.
  4. Have everyone read it for feedback, parents, writing center, faculty, friends, etc.  You want good honest feedback.

Character Limits (with spaces):

  • AMCAS: 5300
  • AACOMAS: 5300
  • AADSAS: 4500
  • OptomCAS: 4500
  • VMCAS: 3000
  • PTCAS: 4500
  • CASPA: 5000
  • PharmCAS: 4500
  • AACPMAS: 4500


Personal Statement Reviews

Please contact the Writing Center for additional help: 631.632.7405.  

 * Some information on this site was adapted from the Student Doctor Network.