Personal Statement Tips

The personal statement is tailored to tell a professional program about yourself in your own words. It can be thought of as a cover letter for the application. There is no one correct way to write a personal statement, but in general those who will read your essay (the Admissions Committee) are looking for two important things. They want evidence of achievements that aren't reflected in other parts of the application and why the events described have shaped your attitude, focus, and intellectual vitality. Why do you want to be a health professional? Why will you be a good health professional? This cannot be because you "say so".

Identify skills

All premed students are encouraged to use the AAMC core competencies to self-reflect. It is important to identify what competencies are gained from specific experiences. To get started, print out the Am I Ready? exercise developed by NAU premed advisors. 

Offer the evidence

Provide specific examples when  describing strengths and what you bring to the program. This can include a brief story that shows you have experience in the field or community outreach. It is important to reflect on experiences gained and what was learned from those experiences. How will competencies gained be applied to the future?

Don't repeat information

Take this unique opportunity to provide insight into who you are; don't regurgitate the application.

Keep it simple 

Admissions committees are not looking for flowery language. It is important to be concise (get to the point). They want to know that an applicant can communicate clearly and effectively. 

Maintain proper tone

There is no need to be overly formal, but remember that this is a professional document, not a blog. Skip the outrageous stories and casual slang.

Edit and get feedback

One of the best possible pieces of advice is to read the essay aloud. This is a good way to catch mistakes that may have been missed before. Have another person ready the essay: a professor, premed advisor, or friend whose judgment and writing skills are trusted and valued. All premed students are welcome to send personal statement drafts to for edits and suggestions. 

Approaches to avoid 

Avoid generalities. Admissions officers read an enormous number of essays. Use specific incidents and examples from your life.

Don’t revisit grades or test scores. They speak for themselves. Trying to explain away bad credentials just draws unnecessary attention to them.

Be aware of plagiarism.