Your personal statement is one of the most vital pieces of your medical school application. You may have scored a perfect 528 on the MCAT, but it won’t matter if your personal statement is an uninspired rehash of your CV. How do you ensure you tell your story in an engaging way? How do you ensure your writing is faultless? Learn how to edit your personal statement and make revisions in order to impress admissions committees.
It only takes one mistake to sink an otherwise excellent personal statement. Keep in mind that you’re going up against thousands of other medical school applicants, many of whom have the exact same qualifications as you. Do not allow simple mistakes to ruin your chances of acceptance. Below we’ll break down seven review tips you can use to edit your personal statement to ensure you earn the acceptance you’ve been working toward for so many years.
Why the Personal Statement is Important
Your personal statement is the most intimate piece of your medical school application. It’s your opportunity to show an admissions committee who you are, what drives you, and what you have to offer; in other words, it’s your chance to sell yourself.
While your MCAT score and scholastic accomplishments may be impressive, the numbers don’t actually speak for themselves. Anybody can do well in school; admissions committees want to know who you are beyond your grades in order to determine if you fit the mold of the kind of student they want to join their program. Do you have the kind of passion and dedication needed to not only get by but to flourish in medical school? This is where the personal statement comes in.
Why do you want to be a doctor? What makes you uniquely qualified to attend medical school? What about your past makes you stand out as an applicant? How do you know you have what it takes to win acceptance and one day become a practicing physician?
Your personal statement is your chance to define who you are in your own words. Admissions committees look at personal statements very closely, so it’s important that you start early and give yourself plenty of time to conceptualize, write, and revise your personal statement.
Read our complete Personal Statement Guide, which outlines 11 steps to writing a personal statement.
How to Edit Your Personal Statement
1 | Give Ample Time to the Editing Process
Crafting and editing your personal statement is going to take a great deal of time. This isn’t something you can slam out in a few hours—it’s not even something you can complete effectively in a few days. Getting your first draft done is excellent, but the work is far from over.
Get started on your personal statement early so that you have plenty of time to edit your work. It will likely take several drafts before you land on something that will impress admissions committees. You will also need to get other people to read and edit your personal statement, and this takes time too. You may think your personal statement is ready to submit until your mentor comes back and tells you that your central theme doesn’t work, and it might be best to look for another angle.
But don’t be discouraged—it’s all part of the process. A half-baked and rushed personal statement could completely derail your chances of acceptance. Your personal statement is one of the most vital pieces of your medical school application, so devote as much time as possible to the process.
2 | Take Time Away From Your Work
Once you complete a draft of your personal statement, step away from your laptop and do something completely unrelated. Go for a walk, read a book, go to the gym, or hangout with your friends or family. The personal statement needs time to sit.
After a break, come back to the personal statement with a clear head and fresh perspective. You may discover that the opening line you were so proud of an hour ago doesn’t sound quite as spectacular as you thought it did. By contrast, you could also find that one of the anecdotes you weren’t sure you should include actually ties the whole thing together.
Take time away from your personal statement and come back to it so that you can evaluate your work as objectively as possible.
3 | Read It Out Loud
Read your personal statement back to yourself out loud. Reading it out loud will slow you down and force you to look at each word individually.
This process will help you feel confident about what you’ve written while also pointing out areas of the personal statement that don’t sound quite right once said out loud. How does the personal statement flow? Does one point lead into the next? Are there any areas that are difficult to read?
If you have trouble reading or comprehending your own writing, other people definitely will too. Use reading your personal statement out loud as a chance to experience your personal statement as someone else would. Look for inconsistencies, errors, pacing, and anything else that detracts from the quality of your writing.
4 | It’s Okay to Start Over
Premeds often get attached to the first draft of their personal statement. When in the editing and revising phase, be open to any and all suggestions you receive. You don’t have to take every suggestion, but you should consider each one.
Don’t let pride get in the way, especially when receiving advice from people who have succeeded in writing a personal statement or have served on admissions committees before.
It’s okay to start over—in fact, most premeds go through multiple iterations of their personal statement. Some applicants write multiple different personal statements entirely before reaching the best direction to take their essay. Don’t get disheartened if you need to start over or switch to another idea. This is part of the process. It doesn’t mean you’re doing a bad job if you have to start again; it means you’re committed to writing the best personal statement possible.
If someone with admissions committee experience or a reputable paid editing service suggests you take your personal statement in another direction, take that advice to heart. These people have a deep understanding of the medical school admissions process. Your personal statement could be extraordinary, but the story you choose to tell may be generic and overdone. Or you may mention something that could leave a negative connotation, such as mentioning anything that reminds adcoms of drug-seeking behavior.
Starting over is not a failure. It’s part of your journey to perfect your personal statement.
5 | Use Editing Tools
You have come too far to let a simple spelling or grammar mistake ruin your chances of acceptance. Doctors must be patient, precise, and exacting—spelling mistakes make you look either careless or out of your depth intellectually, both of which are terrible messages to convey to an admissions committee.
6 | Don’t Rely on Editing Tools Exclusively
While editing apps are effective at catching most spelling and grammar mistakes, what they don’t understand is context. Do not rely on editing apps exclusively, as their capabilities are somewhat limited.
Consider each suggestion before accepting it. Don’t assume that the spellchecker is making an accurate suggestion. These tools can misunderstand your context, which will cause them to make an incorrect suggestion. This doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable—you should definitely take advantage of these tools—but you can’t rely on them alone.
Human editors are able to take context into account. Ask friends, family, or mentors you trust to edit your personal statement as well. When you ask someone to edit your essay, be clear about what they are editing for. Are they simply editing for flow and grammatical errors because they don’t have a deep understanding of medical school personal statements? Or are they editing the content, context, and narrative of your personal statement?
7 | Get Advice From People With Adcom Experience
Editing your personal statement yourself or having friends and family give you feedback is not enough. You must have your personal statement edited by people who understand the medical school application process—ideally, people who have actually served on admissions committees before.
These people can edit beyond spelling and grammar, providing you with an insider’s perspective on what will actually impress admissions committees. This type of feedback will help you produce a unique and stand out personal statement that goes above and beyond what other candidates produce.
We don’t need to remind you that there is steep competition to get into medical school, and gaining every edge you can on other candidates is a must, especially if you have competitive programs in mind. Even a good personal statement can fall short if the content is too similar to what admissions committees see over and over again.
If you don’t have a mentor, advisor, or family member with adcom experience to edit your essay, seek out a reputable admissions consultant service. Ensure the service you choose is run by real doctors who have admissions committee experience. If you are unsure—ask. You don’t need another grammar edit; you need professional advice from people who intimately understand how the admissions process works and what schools are looking for in medical school candidates.
The Extra Mile: Personal Statement Editing Services
You’ll never receive a cookie-cutter approach from Med School Insiders. We are made up of a vast team of industry-leading physicians who have years of experience serving on admissions committees, so you’ll receive key insights from people who have been intimately involved with the selection process.
We offer a range of personal statement editing packages, including in-depth editing with a physician who will be there to advise you every step of the way.