Personal Statements Or Essays

The personal essay is the only truly personal statement you make prior to your interview. Use the essay to present yourself. An effective essay will distinguish you from all other candidates, most of whom will have credentials nearly identical to your own. Some counsel:


  • Catch the reader's attention from your first sentence. Skilled journalists know the power of a short, compelling lead. Keep your reader's attention with a well-organized, concise personal essay. A strong close will further convince your audience that it is in their best interest to interview you.
  • Describe specific accomplishments, giving the reader a well-focused and articulate view of who you are, your interests, experience and history.
  • In presenting your major achievements, do so within the context of gratitude for the opportunity rather than as a testimonial to your greatness or conquests.
  • Explain information in your application that might be viewed negatively by an admissions committee. This includes course failures, withdrawals, low MCAT scores, or unusual personal circumstances.
  • Focus on honest, concrete, original, biographical information. Use your own voice. If you do quote someone, make sure the quote is highly relevant and invigorates your message. Hackneyed quotes, no; fresh, witty, wise and pertinent, yes.
  • Make your essay visually inviting to read. Revise carefully for correct punctuation, spelling and grammar. Have others critique the essay for accuracy, clarity and style.

Do Not

  • Criticize your school, departments or teachers. Stay positive.
  • Discuss controversial or argumentative views. Present yourself.
  • Try to make too many points. You have one page to convey two to three messages. Provide evidence that will convince your reader that you are a winning candidate who will make the school and the reader proud. Lead the reader to this conclusion but don't state this conclusion yourself.

From: Pfizer Medical School Manual