How I got interviews for all my choices: Medicine/Dentistry Personal Statement Tips
Updated: May 23, 2021
How to structure your PS
Content and How to Start
How to structure your PS
So obviously there's multiple ways to structure your personal statement. Personally, I used a variation of the 'standard' structure, having experimented with some less traditional structures. Of course, using a less traditional structure could help you stand out a bit more but it is important that the structure is very vigorous and I found that people prefer one with more discrete paragraphs rather than continuous ones. Basically, I think it's a good idea that you follow a structure where each paragraph talks about something different rather than a mush of different themes per paragraph.
How I initially tried to structure it was to trying to take the reader on a journey of how I decided to study dentistry. I tried to show the reader that coming to the decision to study dentistry was a very considered and mature decision. As a result, I sort of dotted themes like work experience, extra curricular activities throughout the statement rather than having discrete paragraphs about each. I took inspiration for this from someone else and I thought this was a very good, unorthodox way to write the statement and people I've spoken to thought this was a good idea. Unfortunately, my skills in writing creatively and about myself are pretty average so I did not execute this very well. The feedback I got mainly revolved around that my structure was very convoluted. I think this was a very good idea (and many teachers also thought so) but my problem was poor execution. I'm sure this would be a great structure of other people. As I said, I ended up using a more traditional structure.
So this is the structure I ended up using:
Why have you chosen the course?
What have you done to demonstrate your passion?
As you can see this is a very tight structure. However, it is important that you do have some sort of transition between paragraphs so it does seem like you're reading something completely different when you move onto a different paragraph.
Of course it's important that you have a good opening and conclusion. There's pretty standard advice like have a good opening, avoid using classic and predictable opening phrases and phrases like 'I'm passionate about' and yes this is all good advice. The most common opening lines in personal statements include (from timeshighereducation.com) :
1. From a young age I have (always) been [interested in/fascinated by] Used by 1,779 applicants
2. For as long as I can remember I have… Used by 1,451 applicants 3. I am applying for this course because… Used by 1,370 applicants 4. I have always been interested in… Used by 927 applicants
5. Throughout my life I have always enjoyed… Used by 310 applicants 6. Reflecting on my educational experiences… Used by 257 applicants 7. Nursing is a very challenging and demanding [career/profession/course]… Used by 211 applicants 8. Academically, I have always been… Used by 168 applicants 9. I have always wanted to pursue a career in… Used by 160 applicants 10. I have always been passionate about… Used by 160 applicants 11. Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world… Used by 148 applicants
For your conclusion, I think it's important to restate the overall theme of your statement. Throughout mine, I tried to show how dedicated I would be as a student and how interested I am in dentistry. I think something along the lines of 'I will be a.... student' is a good way to conclude your statement.
Content and How to Start
The hardest thing to do in writing anything is figuring out how to start. The strategy here is just to write anything with no filter, knowing it will be bad and it will be wrong. This is just to get ideas on the page and once you start, things will become easier. One thing that's really easy to do is to bullet point or mind map ideas- write a list of stuff you want to conclude. I found that starting with my interests and extracurricular activities was a good and crucially easy place to start. Having listed ideas for each section, I would then just start writing whatever came into my head. I think it took me about 3 or 4 complete refreshes (not minor editing) to be satisfied with my statement.
An important thing to note with content is that you only get 4000 characters (including spaces) and 47 lines- just whichever comes first- so it's important you only get the most important things down. But as I said, when starting to write, just list everything and anything.
Some crucial points to cover include:
Understanding about the demanding nature and requirements for a successful career in medicine/dentistry
Committed to studying medicine/ dentistry (enthusiasm)
Committed to helping people
Along with typical skills of dentists/ doctors like empathy, teamwork, patience etc
Find a list of these and figure out which activities you have done correspond to which trait
A really important thing to cover that is often underestimated is the scientific aspect of medicine and dentistry.
Fundamentally, health is a science and so it is really important that you emphasise your love and interest for science.
A decent link to give you more ideas can be found here.