Tips for Writing a Personal Statement
In answering the prompt “why do you want to become a clinician?“
- Seek to illustrate rather than merely tell your story.
- Incorporate examples from your experiences that capture your commitment to serving in health care. For example, discuss an experience:
- shadowing a clinician,
- volunteering at the ER, hospice center, or inpatient clinic
- volunteering at the local medical, dental or vet clinic,
- working as an EMT,
- serving as a translator at a free clinic
- Incorporate examples of service outside the clinic, to help further illustrate your commitment to service and desire to help others.
- Incorporate examples of leadership and overcoming hardship, to demonstrate perseverance, resilience and grit.
- Be succinct in illustrating your examples.
- Create smooth yet strong transitions throughout your story.
How to SHOW and not tell
- Use sensory details to help set scenes. Note what the sky looks like, what color a child’s dress is, how the food smells. Make sure your reader is right there with you.
- Share your personal emotions and indicate how your surroundings affected you. This will give the reader a better idea of your individualism and make experiences that are common seem unique.
- Be anecdotal and use examples to illustrate your observations.
- Write with the intention of communicating something original. Don’t just put down what you think the reader wants to hear.
- Avoid general commentary.
Things to avoid
- Overly flowery language
- Controversial language
- Reference to longing to be a clinician since a very young age
- Discussing why you don’t want to do research
- Discussing why you don’t want to become a health care provider other than your intended career path
Final items to keep in mind
Style refers to how you choose to use words to say what you have to say. There are a lot of different styles, and many of them are acceptable for a personal statement. However, make sure your grammar (syntax) is correct. Proofread for errors, spelling, and subject-verb agreement. Make sure that you don’t have sentence fragments or run on sentences. Use punctuation correctly. Always have someone proofread your statement, and if grammar is not your thing, have someone who is good at grammar check your statement for errors.
If you bring raise issues, follow through on them and offer explanation or background. A common mistake is to make a statement and then assume that the reader will be able to place it as relevant. You must be explicit, and make sure that you round out the issues you raise with supporting details. For example, if you introduce the fact that you are a single mother, you must make sure that it is relevant to your focus, and you should offer details about how it is relevant. If you say that your desire to become a doctor started after your trip to Mexico, you need to tell why this is so. Sometimes writers rely too much on meaning that they believe to be implicit and leave the reader with questions. Remember, the person reading your essay knows very little about you, your life experiences, your character, or your personality. Be clear.
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Tips for writing a UCAS personal statement
A personal statement is a short, reflective piece of writing that you submit as part of your UCAS application to universities. We use it during the admissions process to decide if you’re suitable for the course you’re applying for – and so we can understand why you want to study your chosen subject.
Alternatively, you can see our advice for writing a Masters personal statement.
Your personal statement
A good personal statement can mean the difference between receiving an offer and being unsuccessful, so it’s important you take the time to consider what you want to include in it.
Your personal statement is where you highlight you have what it takes to study on one of our undergraduate courses.
The personal statement is one of the most important parts of your UCAS application and gives you the chance to tell us how you stand out from other candidates.
For some of our courses you may be invited for interview, but for the majority the personal statement is the only opportunity that you will have to sell yourself.
Plan your personal statement
You can only submit one personal statement for the five courses and universities you apply for, so it is a good idea to plan out what you want to say before writing your personal statement.
There is no one-size fits all method when you are writing your personal statement, so try to be original and engaging.
We are looking for evidence of your interest in, enthusiasm for, and understanding of your chosen course.
- why you are interested in the subject
- your ambitions and how taking the course will help you achieve them
- why you are interested in progressing on to higher education.
It is also important to tell us about:
- your reasons for choosing the course (this is the most important part of the statement)
- your skills (and their relevance to your chosen subject)
- wider reading you’ve undertaken
- work experience (especially where this is relevant to the subject)
- any achievements or prizes you have won during your study or work
- your wider interests and hobbies (providing they are relevant)
- any career plans you might have.
You may want to apply for a variety of different courses – if this is the case, write about common themes relevant to all courses.
If you are a mature student you can use your personal statement to talk about your wider experience and the skills and knowledge you have gained; as well as why you are now thinking about returning to education.
Structure your personal statement:
Use a clear structure in your personal statement and make sure each paragraph logically follows on from the one before. You are limited to 4,000 characters (and 47 lines).
Start and end your personal statement by highlighting your positivity and passion for the course and your future career options (if you have any at this stage).
When writing your personal statement, you should:
- be honest and write in your own words – the best statements are always the most genuine
- use clear language and avoid extravagant claims
- be analytical rather than just descriptive – don’t just tell us what you’ve read or what you’ve done, we want to see what you gained from this, or how it changed your perception of your chosen subject
- explain your motivations in choosing the degree you’re applying for and demonstrate your existing passion for the subject (whether that’s from studies you’ve already undertaken in school or college or wider reading you’ve pursued)
- where you are applying to courses linked to a particular profession (such as Teaching or Social Work), also reflect on your understanding of that vocation. For example, this may be reflections on what you gained from relevant work experience or it could be other research you’ve undertaken which has given you an insight into that profession
- draw on your other experiences – for example, are you a member of a society, have you won any awards, scholarships or prizes?
- provide evidence of your transferable skills, including research, critical thinking, communication, organisation, planning and time-management
- highlight any career aspirations you might have and show how the course will help you achieve them
- use accurate grammar, punctuation and spelling
- proofread your statement and ask a friend or relative to read it.
Make sure you allow enough time to plan and structure your personal statement, ensuring you include everything you want to say. You may need to redraft your statement a number of times.
If you are invited to interview, go back to your statement so that you can familiarise yourself with the information you have given us.
Use our UCAS personal statement checklist to make sure you haven’t missed anything.
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