Medical School Application Guide

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The Personal Statement


General requirements

With many more qualified applicants than places available, the personal statement is used heavily by many schools to differentiate between students. Doing well in this requires significant planning and effort, as it is your chance to highlight your motivation and preparation for the field of medicine in a much more personal way than test scores and grades alone. Although there is no formula for a good personal statement, this section teaches you what makes an effective personal statement and what common pitfalls to avoid, to help you be successful in this important part of the admissions process.


Applicants are often required to write at least one essay or personal statement discussing why they want to become a doctor or why they believe they will make a good doctor. This is the essay required by the AMCAS application, the UCAS application and applications to other schools in several other countries.


In addition to this essay, some schools, particularly those in North America require additional essays. Here are a few examples of what the schools ask for:


    The HST Division represents a unique environment that draws on the combined resources of Harvard University and MIT to provide a distinct preclinical education tailored to preparing students for a career as a physician-scientist, with an emphasis on quantitative and analytic approaches to areas of critical importance to medicine. Please explain your interest in HST, including how your prior experiences, including research, have prepared you for this challenging opportunity.


[Approximately 1 page, Harvard HST programme, 2011]


    Describe a significant experience that you consider a success in your life. Reflect on the factors that led to this success.


[Approximately 150-200 words, McMsater University, 2010]


    What makes you special, someone who will add to the Mount Sinai community.


[250 words, Mount Sinai, 2008]


    Tell us about a difficult or challenging situation that you have encountered and how you dealt with it. Identify both the coping skills that you called upon to resolve the dilemma, and the support person(s) from whom you sought advice.


[2400 characters, University of Chicago, 2008]


    Please use this space to write an essay in which you discuss your interest in the Yale University School of Medicine.


[500 words, Yale University, 2010]


For details on specific essay requirements at schools in Canada, see the canadian section. For more information on the UCAS application essay in the UK, see the UK section. For more details on admissions essays in the US, see the US section. Additional details on each school’s requirements are also listed in the school specific sections.


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