Medical School Reapplicant Personal Statement Guide


As a reapplicant, you’ve already gone through all of the motions of applying to medical school before, but something didn’t work the first time around. It’s now up to you to figure out what improvements you need to make to land yourself an acceptance. A reapplicant personal statement, while much the same as one for a first-time applicant, gracefully acknowledges the previous rejection.

Admissions committee members will know you are a reapplicant, and they expect you to address it by illustrating what has changed since you first applied. The personal statement is a huge opportunity to tell your story and share why you want to become a doctor. As a reapplicant, why do you feel this is still the ideal path for you?

In this post, we’ll focus on what admissions committees are looking for from a reapplicant’s personal statement. We’ll cover what’s expected of reapplicants, how to determine what changes you should make, and strategies for crafting a successful essay.

If you haven’t already, save our comprehensive personal statement guide, which includes eleven steps to writing a successful essay.


Is a Reapplicant Personal Statement Different?

Yes, your reapplicant personal statement must be different from your original personal statement. After all, your story has changed, and your new personal statement must reflect that.

This isn’t to say that you should delete your last personal statement. Keep your core reasons and motivations for wanting to become a doctor. If your reasons change from one personal statement to the next, admissions committees could easily question the validity of your story.

Admissions committees expect you to intertwine your reapplicant story with your personal statement. How have you grown? How are you a different applicant now? What have you learned during this extra time? Do you know what went wrong the first time? Have you made the necessary improvements to your application? Do you have new anecdotes or new experiences to add?

Your reapplicant personal statement must convey the notable improvements you’ve made to your qualifications as well as your continued commitment to medicine. Why are you staying the course after your initial rejection? What since your rejection has shown you that you do actually have what it takes to succeed in medical school and beyond? Admissions committees are looking for maturity and growth here.


The Purpose of the Personal Statement—What Schools Are Looking For

Your personal statement is your opportunity to tell an admissions committee who you are, what you stand for, and why you want to be a doctor. Medical schools already have your transcripts and your CV. They know your accomplishments. This is your chance to dig deeper and provide insight into your personality and values, highlighting in detail the experiences that have crystalized your ambition to commit your life to medicine.

What’s your story? What fuels your pursuit to become a physician despite the setback of not being accepted the first time? Why are you still convinced this is the path for you? What recent experiences exemplify this? You are a more mature and more qualified candidate than you were last time. Admissions committees want to see that maturity throughout your personal statement and across your entire application.

You’ve written a personal statement before, so you know you must do more than simply state qualities about yourself. It’s not enough to say you’re more mature now. Demonstrate your maturity through tangible examples from your life. How specifically have your values and dreams kept you going through this difficult time? What concrete steps have you taken to right the wrongs of your previous application?

Admissions committees want to see, with clear examples, how and why you’re a more qualified candidate this time around.


Determine What You Can Keep and What You Need to Change

In order to achieve success with your reapplicant personal statement and reapplication as a whole, it’s imperative you understand where you went wrong the first time.

Which aspect of your application held you back? Was it your personal statement that was the problem? Or was it your grades and MCAT score that kept you from gaining any interviews?

If you had a few interviews but didn’t receive any acceptances, you likely didn’t impress your interviewers, which means your application may not require as much revising. It’s your interview skills you need to improve, which means it would be wise to practice well in advance of interview season and take advantage of the unbiased feedback given in mock interviews.

If your personal statement was one of your weaker areas, you might need to scrap the whole thing. On the other hand, if your previous statement was successful, you may only need to tweak your personal statement to address being a reapplicant.

Don’t analyze your application alone. Assess your own strengths and weaknesses, but be sure to get advice from people who have actually worked on admissions committees before. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. If anything, it shows a great level of intention and maturity. It shows you understand the value of feedback and want to use your time effectively. Plus, at this point, you can’t risk another failed application attempt.

If you don’t have someone like that in your network, it may be prudent to invest in one-on-one advising to pinpoint where you went wrong. An assessment of your previous application by an unbiased expert on the application process is invaluable. It is vital to your success this time around that you make calculated, smart decisions about where you place your focus. What changes will make the greatest impact for your effort?

If you can’t determine where you went wrong with your previous application, it’s very likely you’ll make the same mistakes this time, which will result in the same lack of acceptance.


Personal Statement Strategies to Remember

Read Personal Statement Examples

Remember, you’re far from the only person who has written a personal statement before. As a reapplicant, it’s time to once again take a step back and look at both successful and poorly written personal statements.

What makes a great personal statement so great? How have others seamlessly weaved in their story of resilience? What makes for a bad personal statement, and did your previous essay share any common mistakes? After reading other personal statements, does yours still stand out? If you were on an admissions committee, would you find your personal statement interesting after reading 100 others?

Read these successful personal statement examples and learn from these bad personal statement examples, which include key insights into what to do instead.

Create a Cohesive Narrative

It’s critical that your personal statement tells a clear, cohesive narrative. Your reapplicant story shouldn’t feel tacked on or like an afterthought. It should naturally weave into your personal statement in a way that also complements the rest of your application.

Remember, you are trying to engage admissions committee members by telling a consistent story about why you want to pursue medicine and why you, in particular, will make an ideal fit for their medical school. The many components of your application will be viewed together to create a complete picture of who you are, including your personal statement, letters of recommendation, experiences, mini-essays, MCAT score, and grades. Each piece should complement the other, not repeat what’s already been said.

Use your personal statement to complement the other aspects of your application while bringing something new to the table that hasn’t already been covered elsewhere.

A narrative-based approach to your application will entice admissions committees and make them want to learn more about who you are. Learn How to Develop a Cohesive Narrative for Medical School Applications.

Acknowledge the Past While Looking to the Future

Tread lightly when speaking about your previous rejection to medical school. You should address it in your reapplication, including how you have improved as a candidate, but you don’t need to say harsh phrases like, “when I neglected studying for the MCAT and was rejected…” Or, “I made mistakes last time I applied…” “since I failed the last time I applied…”

For example, here’s what not to include in a reapplicant personal statement.

Although I failed to gain admittance to medical school, I’ve remained steadfast in pursuit of achieving my dream to be a physician. Instead of accepting failure, I continued to foster these kinds of meaningful experiences with my patients and develop the traits necessary to forge the desired relationships I hope to foster as a physician, like those my father had with his patients.”

Don’t directly call out a “failure.” Instead, look to the future and illustrate how you have improved. Acknowledge the past with a focus on the future. What have you been doing differently? What did you learn? What has your experience as a reapplicant taught you? Why are you continuing your pursuit?

Here’s an example of how to improve that personal statement paragraph.

“Directly witnessing the eternal illumination my father left on the world has shown me the incredible impact physicians can achieve in patients’ lives and their communities. My struggles with his passing forced me to further develop the resiliency necessary to not give up on this path when faced with setbacks and instead to redouble my efforts to be a pillar of luminosity as a future doctor.”

Simple word choice changes can make a big difference in how your personal statement is received. Acknowledging your rejection does not mean you have to put yourself down. Find a way to spin the situation into speaking about what has changed and what you have learned instead of drawing attention to the negative. In doing so, ensure you still sound genuine and sincere throughout your essay.

Refine, Review, Edit

Don’t let a simple mistake ruin your chances of acceptance. It only takes one error to sink an otherwise excellent personal statement. You’re going up against thousands of other medical school applicants, many of whom have very similar qualifications to your own, except you’ve already been turned down once before.

Take your time! Reflect on and brainstorm your ideas early on in the year you are applying. If you’re a reapplicant who is applying again in the immediate next cycle, prioritize writing your personal statement as soon as possible. Assess the time you have as well as what you need to accomplish in order to notably improve your application. You may have to come to the difficult but realistic decision to delay your reapplication by one year.

You absolutely must save time for the editing and refining process. Ensure you make time to receive adequate feedback from those who have been intimately involved in the application process.

Learn how to edit your personal statement to impress admissions committees.

Med School Insiders offers 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.

How to Write a Personal Statement List of 11 steps


Personal Statement Resources

The Med School Insiders blog is filled with personal statement resources and how-to guides that can help you no matter where you are in the essay writing process.

If you’re stuck for ideas, begin with our Medical School Personal Statement Prompts, which will help you reflect on your past to remember the experiences, people, and setbacks that made you who you are today. Next, read The Anatomy of a Stellar Personal Statement and Personal Statement Dos and Don’ts.

As you complete the rest of your reapplicant application, here are 9 Reapplicant Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make and 6 Steps to Reapplying to Medical School.

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