Composing a personal statement for any degree is a challenge but for medicine, this is your chance to illustrate your academic prowess and work experience alongside a genuine passion and fascination for the medical subjects you love. A personal statement can support your application if your exam results are slightly below your expectations or can enhance a strong set of grades for the best chance of acceptance.

Make the most of your words

UCAS, the admissions service for universities in the UK, describes a personal statement as “your opportunity to sell yourself to your prospective school, college or training provider.” Students are given a 47 line, 4,000 character limit (which roughly equates to 500 words) in which to show off their appeal to the institutions of their choosing. 

Here, it’s important to get into the mind of the member of admissions staff that will be reading your statement – what do they want to see? 500 words may seem like plenty, but you’ll likely find that space is at a premium when you’re trying to find the perfect formula to impress your chosen university.

Research a career in medicine before you apply

The key things that medical schools will be looking for are evidence of motivation, explorative work experience and suitability for fitting into their learning environment.

Your personal statement is not only an opportunity to demonstrate your motivations for studying medicine, but also to convey a sense of insight into medicine as a career. It is a chance to reflect on your experiences thus far and outline your personal qualities which will enable you to excel as both a medical student and future doctor.

Developing an understanding about the roles and responsibilities of a doctor will help you prepare your personal statement with ease. Volunteering in your local community and undertaking work experience placements are examples of activities which may allow you to gain a deeper insight into medicine. However, reading official resources such as those produced by the General Medical Council (GMC) before you even begin to think about the content of your personal statement, can help to give your writing a clear focus and direction.

Check how universities will use your personal statement 

Your personal statement may be used in the selection process for interviews to a varying degree by each medical school. Having said this, on the whole, personal statements do not feature heavily in the selection process for interview. Whilst this is the case for most medical schools in the UK, a few medical schools will utilise a scoring system to assess the personal statement at some point in their selection process; either before interview (for interview selection) or at the interview itself.

If this is the case for one or more of the universities you intend to apply to, pay careful attention to any details on their website which discuss exactly what the admissions team are looking for in a personal statement. For example, the University of Oxford place a larger emphasis on showing an interest in medical science and academia.

Where to find this information

It is important to check exactly how the medical schools you intend to apply to will use your personal statement both before and during the interview. To access the most relevant and up-to-date information you should check the websites for each of the medical schools you may apply to. If you have any queries about how your personal statement will be used, or if anything you find on their websites is unclear, email the admissions team directly.

Key things to remember about your personal statement 

Writing a personal statement can be daunting, but we are here to help make the process less stressful. To break it down, we have listed some essential factors you should remember to focus on when writing your own personal statement:

  • Structure and flow: Creating a clear and organised structure allows the reader to follow your thought process and enables you, the writer, to include the most relevant information about yourself, given the restricted word count.
  • Authenticity: The clue is in the title; your personal statement should be personal! Be genuine and honest about your experiences and skills and let your personality shine through your writing. 
  • Relevance: With the limited word count, you need to include only the most relevant experiences and skills you have that are directly relevant to medicine. 
  • Specificity: Provide details about your experiences and give examples. Avoid any vague and general statements. 

Goals and aspirations: You should mention your goals and aspirations and what you want to get out of a degree in medicine. What are your short-term and long-term goals?