23rd June 2020
Top Tips To Improve Your Personal Statement Score
- How to improve my personal statement?
- What qualities should I write about in my personal statement?
- What qualities do universities look for in a personal statement?
- How do I make my personal statement stand out?
1. Get The Basics First...
There are certain attributes that are assumed to be acquired by a physician, or an aspiring medical student.
✅ These include but are not limited to: leadership, resilience,
intelligence, discipline, team members, extracurricular activities (where
academic involvement, empathy, communication skills, motivation and
Of course, it is almost impossible to include all of these in 4000 characters! However, make sure you have a few down. You may have the opportunity to show off (some of) the rest during your interview.
2. Make It Interesting!
There are two ways to make a piece of writing
interesting. Writing about
interesting events and
writing in an interesting way.
The former is probably not possible. Simply because the admissions staff reading your personal statement has probably read thousands of personal statements before. Plus, you may have had the chance to do interesting things that other students did not have the chance to do. This could make the admissions staff reluctant to be impressed by what countries you travelled to or how many hospital placements you’ve been to abroad.
The latter way is usually the more efficient one. This is basically based on writing in a way that grabs the attention of the reader. You don’t have to be a novelist for this, just follow certain steps.
- ✅ For example, avoid being descriptive and try to
- ✅ Write how certain events made you feel.
- ✅ Write about moments that made you question a
or thought you have always held etc.
💡 For example, “I found the GP’s empathy striking. The fact that the patient feels like there is someone who listens to them and understands their pain makes me feel that the GP’s empathy is part of the treatment”.
Remember: it’s all about what you learnt from doing something, rather than doing the thing itself. For example, an honest reflection of your 2-day GP placement is likely to be more impressive than a mere description of your 3-week hospital placement in South Africa.
3. Don't Forget Evidence!
This is straightforward. Never think that it is enough
to make a
claim just to impress
the reader. Always back it up with an event or an experience that
you’re claiming. For example, don't write,“I have the qualities of a
“I use my leadership skills to manage my local cricket team.
My duties include
organising events and ensuring the wellbeing of the players.”.
The lack of evidence may either make your statement go unnoticed. Or, even worse, some admissions staff may be annoyed by too much lack of evidence!
You can find free UCAT resources and free practice questions here on our website.
4. Make It Personal...
This may seem too obvious since it is called ‘personal
however, a lot of
students forget the personal aspect. Some applicants may be too
keen to include generic
qualities and stories that they have heard of. Whilst this may work for
some people, it
certainlywon’t work for most. The best way to impress the
reader of your personal
statement is by making it specific to you. Talk about your life
stories, your qualities.
This silly trick might help you achieve this goal. After you finish reading your statement, ask yourself:
- 💕 Will you impress a first date if they read it? 💕
If so then you’re not in a bad place. However, please remember that this is one aspect of the personal statement only. I.e. a first date might not even care about academia. So using this trick is potentially counterproductive for Oxbridge applicants.
5. Know Your Statement!
During your interview, you may be asked to elaborate on something in more depth. Be sure that you know your personal statement enough to talk about certain points when raised. This does not mean memorise your statement off by heart but just be aware of the things you claimed about yourself.
- 💡 For example, you may be asked to talk a little
about some of the challenges you have faced as a
leader for your local cricket team in
6. Two Birds In One Stone...
Make sure you have read and understood, ‘Tomorrow’s Doctors’, published by the GMC. Not only will this be more preparation for the UCAT Situational Judgement section, but it’ll also give you a good idea of the qualities and the attributes of the doctor you are expected to be at the end of your training. You will most definitely be able to bring up this guide in your interview. Doing so will surely impress the interviewer in front of you.