When should I start writing my personal statement?
The dreaded personal statement. In a few (4) thousand characters, you are expected to profess your love for medicine and your willingness to dedicate your life to the cause. How exactly do you fit in your reasons for pursuing a career in medicine, your achievements, work experience anecdotes AND demonstrate that you have a life outside of medicine? TheMSAG will be covering all of this in a series of blog posts, but for now, I’ll try my best to give you some tips on how to start your literary masterpiece.
When should you start drafting your statement? Most people start writing theirs during the summer holidays before the deadline where there’s not much distraction from studies but in reality, you can start any time you want. Rather than sitting down and writing a whole statement from the word go, I found it easier to jot down my thoughts on certain things I encountered throughout the year which I could then put together when writing my personal statement.
For example, I kept a log during work experience of what I did and wrote a short sentence or two on what I found interesting. Then when it came to drafting my personal statement, I already had a topic complete with a few lines which I could work into the statement. Aside from your work experience, you can also jot notes about:
- Books or articles that you have read
- Part-time jobs
- Moments which made you realise that you want to pursue medicine
- Achievements in other areas of your life for example in sport or music
- Experiences during summer schools or volunteering
By doing this consistently, you’ll find that you have a number of topics which are relevant and that you can include in your personal statement with a little bit of further development.
The trick is that if it made you think, write it down. In reality, this is the basis of what is known as ‘reflective practice’ and is an important part of modern medicine. And now also a useful thing for prepping material for your personal statement.
A game of drafts
If you’re like me, you’ll go through a lot of drafts. Personally, mine was a bit excessive with more than 10 drafts (which I wouldn’t recommend). I especially struggled with mine because I expected myself to write a complete draft in one sitting. This meant that I got stuck at right at the opening of my statement, expecting it to be perfect before I could move on to the next section. However, I quickly learnt that if I just put any opening line down and ignored it until the end, the whole statement was a lot easier to write. I also found that instead of trying to plan a statement straight away, it was easier to look at all my experiences and develop those into full paragraphs that I could build into a statement.
The most important thing to remember is that writing your personal statement will not come quickly and so it’s important to start early and to take this into account.
The school influence
Speaking of deadlines, check to see if your school or college has an internal deadline for personal statements. Some teachers or careers advisors may want to have a look at your personal statement and give you some advice about it. You can also use these internal deadlines when it comes to starting your personal statement, as some schools also expect students to submit the first draft of their personal statement, usually at the end of year 12 or at the very start of year 13. If this is not the case for you, then don’t worry – with a little bit of planning and organising, you can have a draft ready with plenty of time to spare.
Don’t forget that you can always ask your teachers or careers advisors for help with your personal statement by having them have a read through your drafts.
How can we help?
Don’t forget that the MSAG also provides two different types of personal statement services that you may find helpful. The tutoring service helps you get started on your personal statement by having a 1:1 session with a personal statement tutor. Once you’ve got a draft ready, we can also help you further through our reviewing service. If you have any questions, then let us know!