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    Personal Statement Advice & Questions Thread for Medicine 2013 Entry

    This thread is for dedicated discussion on personal statements and related issues for applicants applying for 2013 entry. All further threads about personal statements will be merged with this one and the FAQs will be updated as and when other questions come up. Most of the information in this post comes from the TSR Medicine Wiki 'Personal Statement Advice' page, which is a good read if you are starting out with your statement.

    WARNING

    DO NOT post any sections of your personal statement in this thread, or PM it to any user on TSR. This is very dangerous: it may cause UCAS to flag up your personal statement as plagiarised and you may face very severe circumstances, including your application being withdrawn. If you want somebody to review/have a look at your personal statement, consider using the TSR Personal Statement Helpers. They are a verified group of current students who will give you their expert advice on your personal statement, free of charge, and in confidence. For more information, have a look at the PS Help forum. Click here for more information.

    General Information

    IntroductionIt needs to be original and interesting. Explain what initially attracted you to medicine and why. Write concisely- it must be interesting from the first sentence. Don’t try to lead the reader in- just talk about what you feel is important in your desire to become a doctor. If you say that you find X interesting, try to talk about why this is.

    Remember- you don’t just “read” medicine- the course is vocational and you are studying it because of the career it leads to. Of course, being original doesn't necessarily mean writing something no one has come up with before if its not true, its the wording that's important. Also every reason you want to be a doctor is going to be a cliche, as thousands of applicants over the years will have the EXACT same reasons as you. Even if they are related to personal experience the underlying reasoning will be the same, so don't spend too long worrying about either your reasoning's are good.

    Honesty is also very important (however mentioning money/status/prestige aren’t likely to get you very far!)


    General AdviceStart writing your personal statement early as many people will get through a huge number of drafts before they are happy with their PS. This is the general format for a PS and some good advice (you don't have to use this format, just make sure you include all the sections). If you know where you want to apply, make sure you have a look on the websites for any specific advice on what they want to see in your personal statement as different universities may have different things they want you to include.


    Personal Statement Structure

    General Structure and Content
    Please note: the structure given here is only a suggested structure but can be used to help make sure you cover all the important points.
    • Introduction: Explain why you want to be a doctor. Be honest and try to attract the readers attention right from the start.
    • Work experience: Focus on what you learnt from your work experience rather than what you did/saw - this could include skills you noticed doctors need, the team work involved in medicine etc. Think about the negatives of being a doctor as well as the positives.
    • Voluntary work: Talk about what you've done/currently do but make sure you mention what you learnt from your experiences and how these skills might be useful for you in the future (their relevance to medicine).
    • Extracurricular activities: Talk about your hobbies, what you do outside school/university and what you do to relax and relieve stress.
    • Conclusion: Sum up why you want to be a doctor and why you think you're perfect for the career.
    • Other things some people like to include are an academic paragraph, either talking about the subjects they study or a particular area of medicine that they find interesting. Talking about specific articles or books that you've read would also go in this sort of paragraph.


    Advice for Specific Paragraphs

    Work Experience ParagraphDon't mention specific places (I helped out at a hospital, not I helped out at Birmingham hospital). Mentioning that you arranged it yourself (by starting the sentence with I arranged... or something similar) is a good way to show personal organisation. Don't list the procedures you saw or places you went. Instead focus on reflecting on what you learned about the reality of life as a doctor. Discuss the pros and cons and why you want to be a doctor despite the cons. Quality is better than quantity. Don’t just say that there are negative aspects- talk about them, but not in too much detail. Afterall this document is your way of showing you want to be a doctor.
    Another good thing to include in your work experience would be any skills you realised it was useful for doctors to have, and why these were so important. For example: don't just say 'i realised the importance of teamwork,' talk about why it's important.

    If you have experience in both hospital and general practice, then think about comparing them.


    Voluntary Work ParagraphIncludes peer mentoring, prefects. Remember to keep your sentences short and snappy. If they're long, people get bored and stop reading. Cut out all unnecessary words. Don't start your sentences with verbs unless absolutely necessary (e.g. “Being a prefect” is too informal). Say what you did/do, then what you learned from it, and sometimes explain why that is useful, but not at the expense of it being interesting. Don't repeat things you learned- you only need to demonstrate characteristics once each throughout the statement. You don’t need 3 examples of how you can handle responsibility! Other characteristics- team work, importance of empathy, communications skills, leadership, confidence… there are probably others but you can think of them. Don’t worry if you don’t include them all. If it is just going to sound fake and boring, it’s probably better not to bother.


    Extracurricular ParagraphThis paragraph is for telling us what you do in your spare time, and why you enjoy it. We want this paragraph to teach us something about you- it is important. You can mention listening to music, socialising, the gym, as long as you can say how these have helped you. This paragraph is important because medical schools want students to contribute something to their school life- through drama, sports, whatever. You also need to recognise that hobbies are important to relax and unwind away from medicine. People often write about skills they've learnt, that don't really relate to medicine, such as improved hand-eye coordination or the ability to use computers. If you do a hobby just because you enjoy it, fair enough, but don't try to justify it in a way that doesn't correspond to medicine.

    Another opinion: People will probably disagree with me on this one, but I don't think it's always necessary to say how it's helped you. I mean, if you're a Prefect, it's pretty clear it'll have taught you leadership skills etc etc etc. Sure, it shouldn't just be a list, but there's no need to explain each one to a pointless degree of detail, at the expense of writing about other impressive ECs you have done.

    If you have a choice, put ones in which demonstrate communication skills, leadership, teamworking, compassion, coping with challenges.


    Gap Year PlansIf you are applying for deferred entry or applying during your gap year, it might be a good idea to include a short paragraph on what your plans are for the year and what you hope they will teach you. Alternatively, you can slot in this information within other paragraphs of your personal statement.


    ConclusionIt needs to sum up why you want to be a doctor and why you're perfect for the career. It must not assume you're going to get into medical school- don’t be arrogant (e.g. 'I look forward to seeing you at interview.'), but sound confident. Don't suddenly bring in things if you've never mentioned them before, such as "I can cope with the stresses on a doctor" when throughout the statement you've never addressed them. Avoid the phrase 'ideal candidate' as each medical school will have a different idea of what this is. Don't refer to the university directly ('your university') as this comes across as very insincere considering you're applying to 4 or 5 universities.


    Misc

    Optional ExtrasSome people choose to include something about the A Levels/IB they're doing, explaining how they're relevant to medicine and why they chose them. Some people discuss an area of medicine they particularly like and explain why. Never say you definitely want to be a certain type of doctor though- you don’t want to come across as naïve or closed minded. These points often go in a paragraph before the work experience is mentioned. A lot of teachers/tutors are hot on telling students to write about every subject they study and why- a big paragraph on your A Levels doesn’t tell us much about you so don’t bother.

    Instead of talking about what you study, we recommend an 'Academic Paragraph' to include an area of medicine that interests you- it will demonstrate that you've read around the subject and will make you look more original.

    This would be the place to put in an extended science project or out of school science lectures you have been to. It is important to demonstrate scientific curiosity and a love of learning especially for the more academic medical schools.

    If you have read a specific book or journal, then this would go in here. However, there is no point in just saying you've read something as anyone could do that. Instead, talk about what you found particularly interesting (about the book) or an article you found particularly interesting (from a journal) and why you found it interesting.

    Don't have ANY sentences that put yourself down- even if you try to turn it round, it's better not to say anything negative to start with.


    Writing Style AdviceYou are writing formally- “Can’t” should be “cannot”. “Doesn’t” should be “does not” etc. Do not include digit numbers- write them out. "I did two weeks..." not "I did 2 weeks". Do not include brackets- (...), they are too informal. Be careful not to miss out words like "have", "I", and "that", like most people do in spoken language. It is safer not to use exclamation marks at all. Look up 'how to use commas and semi-colons'. Spelling and grammar can make or break a PS.
    Some words and phrases are extremely cliché: Passion, fascination, love, aspiration, intrigued by, broadened my knowledge, enhanced my skill, affirmed/confirmed my decision. Use these words with caution. If you're using alternatives, be careful not to sound like a thesaurus.

    Using phrases such as "quenched my thirst for" or "sparked up my interest" also don't read anywhere near as well as you think they do.

    There's a tendency to use "also" all the time, when it's not needed. Be concise! Unnecessary linking words like "Futhermore" and "As a result" get used too often. A few of them are OK, but only a few. Remember to use commas after these linking words and phrases.

    Don't use complex words in extremely long and convoluted sentences. People lose interest (and it makes you look somewhat pompous). Keep it short and make it flow.

    Capital letters: NOT needed for subject names, doctor, nurse, hospital, hospice, medicine etc. Be careful where you use them.


    Hints and Tips
    • Don't put yourself down
    • Write concisely and avoid complex words and long, convoluted sentences - keep it simple
    • If you say you find something interesting, try to explain why
    • Try to avoid sounding arrogant/over confident (e.g. some people say 'when I'm a doctor' or 'I look forward to seeing you at interview')
    • Avoid the phrase: 'the ideal candidate' as each medical school will have their own idea of what this is
    • Write formally
    • Avoid clichés (this isn't always possible but specific words such as 'passion' and 'fascination' appear far too often)
    • Pay attention to where you use capital letters - it's common for people to use them incorrectly



    Some FAQs

    • 1. Q: Should I leave a line between each paragraph?
      A: This does make personal statements a lot easier to read and would be appreciated by admissions tutors, though some people find it difficult to fit everything in even when they don't leave extra spaces.

      2. Q: How long does it need to be?
      A: 4000 characters or 47 lines long, whichever comes first. If your personal statement is longer than this, then anything over the limit won't be seen by the universities. You don't have to use all the space provided, however, a lot of medicine applicants do struggle to cut their statements down to the right size.

      3. Q: Should I mention my parents/aunt/uncle/grandparents/siblings/cousins are doctors?
      A: You can if you want to. I've seen statements where it works well and others where it really doesn't work at all. If you do talk about them (maybe because they were part of what inspired you), the risk is that it may sound like you're only going into medicine because they're pushing you into it or because it's 'the family trade.'

      4. Q: Should I mention specific places where I did my work experience?
      A: Different people have different opinions on this one. Personally, I think they aren't needed and you can save a few characters by leaving them out (as you can always mention them specifically during interview). Other people think that adding the names of places can add a more personal touch to the personal statement so ultimately, it is for each individual to decide whether to include them or not.

      5. Q: Should I capitalise subjects in the middle of sentences?
      A: Only if you're referring to a specific course like 'A Level Biology.' If you're just talking about how much you like biology e.g. 'an aspect of biology that particularly interests me...' then it should not be capitalised.


    If you have any questions, please post them in this thread.

    More Information



    For more information and advice on writing your medicine personal statement, check out the TSR Medicine Wiki:
    Personal Statement Advice - Hints and tips for writing a successful personal statement.
    TSR Medicine Wiki Personal Statement Bank - Over 60 real example personal statements for applicants to use for inspiration.
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    Hi Guys,

    I'm applying to study Medicine this September/October for the 2013 entry and realise that a personal statement is probably one of the most important piece writing I will ever have to do. The universities I'm thinking of applying to are Imperial, Leicester, Queen Mary and one from Newcastle, Leeds or UCL. (I'm not sure about UCL because everyone I've spoken to has said BMAT is the hardest entrance exam ever!) Any suggestions??

    AND when should I start writing my personal statement- during the holidays or now?

    If you have any other tips about the UKCAT or BMAT please post them.

    Thanks for all the help!
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    (Original post by 29SJ)
    Hi Guys,

    I'm applying to study Medicine this September/October for the 2013 entry and realise that a personal statement is probably one of the most important piece writing I will ever have to do. The universities I'm thinking of applying to are Imperial, Leicester, Queen Mary and one from Newcastle, Leeds or UCL. (I'm not sure about UCL because everyone I've spoken to has said BMAT is the hardest entrance exam ever!) Any suggestions??

    AND when should I start writing my personal statement- during the holidays or now?

    If you have any other tips about the UKCAT or BMAT please post them.

    Thanks for all the help!
    You're not sure about UCL because of the BMAT yet you're applying to Imperial?
    Also with regards to Barts, I would only apply there if you have a high UCAS tariff score.
    You should start deciding what to include and how you'd structure your paragraphs. You'll find that you will get through plenty of drafts before you're satisfied with the finished product.
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    Hi there,
    I would try writing one before the summer holidays so your teacher can have a look through it and tell you whether it's on the right lines
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    The earlier the better :yep:
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    Start now and keep on re-drafting until you have it 'perfect'
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    As early as you can. I left mine for a few days before the application deadline and regretted it majorly. I'd suggest start practicing now, making rough drafts.
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    As soon as possible - what you end up submitting will rarely look anything like what you start with, so give yourself as much time as you can to get it perfect. Once you've got a draft that you're reasonably happy with, get it reviewed by the PS Help service here on TSR.
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    Thanks guys.. yes I'm starting from today! But the really hard thing is.. I dont know where to actually start from- I'm thinking of just jotting some points down- almost like a set of bullet points to get me going. Thanks once again for all the help.
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    (Original post by 29SJ)
    Hi Guys,

    I'm applying to study Medicine this September/October for the 2013 entry and realise that a personal statement is probably one of the most important piece writing I will ever have to do. The universities I'm thinking of applying to are Imperial, Leicester, Queen Mary and one from Newcastle, Leeds or UCL. (I'm not sure about UCL because everyone I've spoken to has said BMAT is the hardest entrance exam ever!) Any suggestions??

    AND when should I start writing my personal statement- during the holidays or now?

    If you have any other tips about the UKCAT or BMAT please post them.

    Thanks for all the help!
    Hi,

    start writing the personal statement as soon as possible, and don't be scared of it. I enjoy writing them because it's a chance to rant about how awesome you are!

    What I would suggest doing to start with is writing two lists:
    List one is a list of everything you have ever done, including the obvious ones like the work experience and the youth groups, but also the ones that on the face of it, don't seem that important (you don't realise how much useful stuff you have done in your life until it comes to times like these)

    List two is a list of the kind of things the medical school wants its students to be, if you need inspiration try reading the GMC Duties of a doctor documents (this stuff comes up in interviews) and the information that the medical schools give you on applying.

    I think once you get to that point its like a domino effect and the rest will work itself out. Also get someone who's good at english on the case to make it well presented. I hope this is helpful
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    Owing to the hastened deadline of UCAS forms for medicine, I suggest you get cracking on it pretty quick. And even once that's done, get your teachers to review it for you nice and early so that your application isn't the 2000th application that someone had to read on deadline day (which incidentally is roughly how many UCL gets annually for their course).

    It just helps, and having spoken to admission tutors before at my uni (UCL), it puts you at an advantage to get it in early.

    I've just graduated this year, and I can tell you that it's a brilliant course, but by no means a doddle. I had to repeat a year (as did a great cohort of people, and they were all AAA students etc), but its worth it in the end. No feeling quite like it.

    BMAT is really tough, but then there are books and online material you can use to help hone your skills. :P Don't get put off just yet mate.
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    (Original post by myyrh)
    You're not sure about UCL because of the BMAT yet you're applying to Imperial?
    Also with regards to Barts, I would only apply there if you have a high UCAS tariff score.
    You should start deciding what to include and how you'd structure your paragraphs. You'll find that you will get through plenty of drafts before you're satisfied with the finished product.
    What's the UCAS tariff score?
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    (Original post by medictobe)
    What's the UCAS tariff score?
    You get UCAS points for certain qualifications e.g. A levels. An A* grade at A level is worth 140 points and an A is worth 120 points for instance.
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    Isn't the deadline in October?

    I'd have a nice break for now and get cracking around Aug/Sept time!
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    Ok so ive finished my personal statement and had it checked by a few people, I am 500 characters over the limit at the moment and im wondering how to get it down to 4000 without destroying my personal statement.

    I am going to send it to the PS helpers tonight, Will they be able to help me solve this problem?
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    Well no, they'll only give you advice.

    What I'd say is, cut out the waffle. You might have put in little phrases that take up 10+ characters, that don't actually add anything to the quality of your personal statement. Be harsh on yourself, just cut the crap and get to the point.

    Keep trying. You definitely can cut it down to 4000 characters. Get it down as far as you can, then tell yourself, I must reword this or completely omit some things here. Prioritise your points if you must. Get a parent to read it, teachers, CV helpers here try their best to help.

    And another thing, don't do it all in the same sitting. Walk away, come back the next day and re-read. You'll find you'll want to reword it, say something differently. You're more likely to look at your work differently when you come back to it at another time.
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    Agree with all of the above points, especially the final one.
    I did a post a this which you may find helpful (link is in my sig) and click on the "too long" spoiler.

    If you do submit to PS help, we can help tell you what we think is unnecessary etc, but we won't necessarily work towards getting <4000 characters, and will work purely on the content of the statement.
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    Pressure!

    Now even started mine! :eek3:
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    PS Helper
    In addition to what has been said, think long and hard about what you really need in your PS. I had a lot I wanted to talk about but some of it just wasn't as strong as other parts - just not as important to medicine compared to other parts. You also can ommit hospital names or placement titles etc... (although I left mine in). For me it aso came down to thinking about each individual word choice: could I change a word for something better/shorter/more striking? Could I change the grammar in a sentence into something more fluid/abbreviated/better? Oh and it goes without saying not to put a space between each paragraph right?
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    (Original post by Banishingboredom)
    PM it to me and I'll help.

    No.

    Thanks everyone for help, Would positive you all up but ran out.
 
 
 
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