The medical school personal statement is one of the most important pieces of your application. It’s your opportunity to tell your personal story beyond your grades and accomplishments. Who are you? Why do you want to become a doctor? These questions aren’t necessarily difficult ones to answer. You know why you want to be a doctor. But the medical school personal statement can only be about a page and a half long. How do you engagingly cram your life’s story into that limited space?
In this post, we’ll break down the differing lengths and requirements of the AMCAS, AACOMAS, and TMDSAS personal statements. We’ll also cover other medical school application essay lengths and share tips on how to write clearly and concisely.
Length of Medical School Personal Statement
AMCAS Personal Statement Length
An AMCAS personal statement has a 5300 character maximum, which is only about 1.5 pages of single-spaced 12-point Times New Roman font.
This is not a lot of space to tell admissions committees why you want to devote your life to the study and practice of medicine. That said, it’s all the space you have, so it’s essential that you make brevity your friend.
Choose a few key moments and personality traits that exemplify your strength of character, maturity, and dedication to the pursuit of medicine. Why do you want to become a doctor? What events and people in your life have informed this desire? What sets you apart from the other candidates? The key to success is explaining this in an engaging, informative, yet succinct way.
Learn How to Write a Medical School Personal Statement in 11 Steps, and save our 25 Personal Statement Prompts to Spark Ideas that can get you started.
AACOMAS Personal Statement Length
Osteopathic (DO) medical schools also have a 5300 character limit, but the personal statement must be about why you want to become an osteopath specifically. You must choose key moments from your life that have informed your desire to study osteopathic medicine, earn your DO, and become an osteopathic doctor.
Why have you chosen the osteopathic approach to medicine over the allopathic approach? Do you have an osteopathic mentor who inspired you? How do your past actions illustrate your alignment with osteopathic principles?
Learn how to write an effective osteopathic personal statement with our comprehensive AACOMAS Personal Statement Guide, which includes tips for success and mistakes to avoid.
TMDSAS Personal Statement Length
If you’re planning to apply to Texas medical schools, you’ll have even less space to write your personal statement. The TMDSAS personal statement has a 5000 character maximum. If you’re planning to apply to both AMCAS and TMDSAS schools, know that you will either have to write two personal statements or keep your AMCAS statement to 5000 characters instead of 5300.
Texas schools are looking for the same criteria from your personal statement. What fuels your desire to become a doctor, and which events or people from your life crystalized your ambition? What sets you apart and makes you a unique candidate?
Learn how to write an effective Texas medical school personal statement with our TMDSAS Personal Statement Guide.
Length of Other Medical School Application Essays
On the AMCAS application, you may need to complete additional essays. Each of these essays is 1325 characters in length.
Complete these essays if you answer “Yes” to the following questions:
- Have you ever matriculated at, or attended, any medical school as a candidate for a medical degree?
- Were you ever the recipient of any institutional action by any college or medical school for unacceptable academic performance or conduct violation, even though such action may not have interrupted your enrollment or required you to withdraw?
- Were you dishonorably discharged from the military? Please explain the circumstances of your discharge, including the circumstances leading to your discharge, your period of service and your rank at the time of discharge.
- Have you ever been convicted of, or pleaded guilty or no contest to, a Felony crime, excluding 1) any offense for which you were adjudicated as a juvenile, or 2) convictions which have been expunged or sealed by a court (in states where applicable)?
- Have you ever been convicted of, or pleaded guilty or no contest to, a Misdemeanor crime, excluding 1) any offense for which you were adjudicated as a juvenile, 2) any convictions which have been expunged or sealed by a court, or 3) any misdemeanor convictions for which any probation has been completed and the case dismissed by the court (in states where applicable)?
- Do you wish to be considered a disadvantaged applicant by any of your designated medical schools that may consider such factors (social, economic or educational)?
AACOMAS applications offer a 500 character limit for mini-essays relating to each of the following questions:
- Dishonorary discharge from the military.
- Have you ever been convicted of a Misdemeanor?
- Have you ever been convicted of a Felony?
- Have you ever been disciplined for academic performance by any college or school?
- Have you ever been disciplined for student conduct violations by any college or school?
- Were you ever denied readmission to any academic program due to academic conduct or performance?
- Have you ever had any certification, registration, license or clinical privileges revoked, suspended or in any way restricted by an institution, state or locality?
On the TMDSAS application, the character length for additional mini-essays varies from 600-1000 characters.
- Describe how your military experience prepared you for a career as a healthcare provider. (1000 characters)
- Have you ever been arrested or charged with any violation of the law regardless of outcome? (600 characters to provide details.)
- If you indicate that you consider yourself a non-traditional applicant, the following essay prompt will appear: “Describe the factors that have defined you as a non-traditional candidate and how they impact your application.” (1000 characters)
TMDSAS offers students two additional essays, one of which is optional. Both essays have a maximum character limit of 2500 characters.
The first is called the Personal Characteristics essay, where you have the opportunity to describe how your background, talents, skills, experiences, etc., would add to the educational experience of others.
The second essay is optional and provides the admissions committee more information on anything you do not feel you were able to cover in the rest of your application. You are strongly encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to share more about yourself.
Tips for Clear and Concise Essay Writing
5300 characters is not a lot of space, so it is vital that your personal statement be concise, engaging, and to the point.
- Choose clear words that get your point across concisely.
- Avoid flowery language that confuses rather than adds clarity. The thesaurus can help you find a clearer word, but using it to find a more complicated one will only make it sound like you used a thesaurus.
- Your personal statement is not your complete life story. It’s your answer to the question, “Why do you want to be a doctor?” Select a couple of specific moments from your life that exemplify the personal qualities you want an admissions committee to know you have.
- Don’t try to rehash your entire CV. In fact, your personal statement shouldn’t mimic your resume or list of experiences. Use the personal statement as an opportunity to add new information and insights to your application.
- Review and edit for clarity. As you refine your personal statement, ask others to review it for clarity. Are there any aspects that were confusing? Are there any parts that could be clearer?
Take Your Medical School Personal Statement to the Next Level
You don’t have to face your personal statement alone—and you shouldn’t! Med School Insiders offers a range of personal statement editing services and packages. We provide everything from general editing to in-depth, unlimited editing with a one-on-one physician advisor who will be there to guide you every step of the way.
Our doctors, MDs and DOs included, have years of experience serving on admissions committees. You’ll receive key insights from people who have intimate knowledge of both sides of the selection process.
Utilize our Comprehensive Medical School Admissions Packages to succeed in every step of the application process, regardless of which application service you apply through. Choose from AMCAS Application Editing, AACOMAS Application Editing, or TMDSAS Application Editing tailored to the schools you’re applying to.
For more on personal statements and all other aspects of the medical school application process, follow the Med School Insiders blog. It’s a vast library of resources for premeds, applicants, and medical students, with the latest how-to advice, study strategies, and industry trends.