I distinctly remember how daunting the task of summarising 17 years of hobbies, interests and skills into one piece of A4 was.
Personal statements are not easy, but the best tip I could give you about writing one, would be to start off listing all your achievements, hobbies, employment, work experience, skills.
Your hobbies are an important factor of your personal statement. But don’t let that make you feel you have to be a sporting champion or a creative genius to talk about them.
Here are some great rules to follow when writing your personal statement – follow these and you shouldn’t go far wrong!
- Use the ABC (activity, benefit, course) rule when writing your personal statement.
- Keep everything positive!
- Shout about your achievements and skills – don’t be shy
- Don’t let spelling and grammar mistakes hold you back.
- Find someone you trust to give you feedback.
Here is a small insight into how I used my hobbies within my personal statement:
Hobby One: Rugby Union
Sport is a great method of demonstrating valuable skills: teamwork, commitment, leadership. I juggled Premiership Rugby during Year 13; balancing academic work and a sporting career was a skill I perfected right through my degree. I had a real passion for sport, and this was central to my desire to study sports therapy.
Hobby Two: Part-Time Waitress
Part-time employment, even if it is totally unrelated to your course, can be a great example of motivation, efficiency and time-management. I was a waitress before I came to university, at a local pub. The extra cash I saved was ideal during fresher’s week, but specifically, I had to politely and professionally communicate with a variety of characters. This has helped me greatly in my Sports Therapy degree!
Hobby Three: Volunteer Rugby Coach
Volunteering shows your willingness to go above and beyond what might be expected of you. Personally, volunteering to coach children was a great skill to apply to my course; managing and first aiding children was something I covered during my degree. On a personal note, I really enjoyed being a role model to the young players, even if I did cringe massively when one asked for an autograph!
Hobby Four: Work Experience at a Sports Therapy Clinic
Relevant work experience to your course is a great asset to your personal statement. It demonstrates motivation and passion to study the course, and importantly, confirms your desire to study the course in more depth. Some courses, such as nursing or teaching, require recent work experience, so this might be worth checking as soon as possible with your course. Unusually, at the age of 16 following my year 10 work experience, I knew I wanted to be a sports therapist. I continued to work part time at a local clinic, which was an invaluable experience to me both academically and personally.
Hobby Five: Working on my family’s Dairy Farm
Many students believe there is a golden ticket that will be their pass into University. Thankfully that is not the case. Sharing an insight into your personality and background is something that can be subtly written into your personal statement. From my farming background, I could demonstrate other passions and interests aside from my academic or sporting achievements.
Your personal statement is your opportunity to talk directly to the admissions tutor – make it fun, positive and share an insight into your life! If you have any further questions, get to a Personal Statement clinic on a University Open Day, where someone can read through your personal statement.
*This document is still being edited… please be patient :)*
The Personal Statement…
The main barrier between you and that all important medical school interview and then that offer. The personal statement is there to show the admissions tutors who you are and why you deserve a place at medical school.
Personal statement basics…
–4000 Characters (With spaces!) approximately 1 A4 page on word at size 12 font
-It is to show off WHOyou are and WHY you want to study medicine
– it WILL take many drafts, cause tears and bloodshed
Before you start writing you need to…
Understand what the medical schools are looking for
Each medical school will release a prospectusfor you to look through, this will give you an idea of what each medical school wants to see in a medicine applicant.
They want to see that you have the qualities of a good doctor,
What are the Qualities of a good Doctor you ask?? Well….
– Confidence (Note: NOT arrogance)
– Good humour!! <- one of my own
– Interest in teaching – Medicine is an art AND a science
– Dealing with pressure
– Respectful and mature –
But also think why are these good qualities to have?
They want you to reflect on your work experience – Do not list achievements
Pick a few experiencesthat you can relate to and where you have shown the kskills that a good doctor needs, always REFLECT not list.
They want to see WHO you are and how YOU are a well-rounded person
Academics are all well and good but you need to be a well-rounded person to succeed at anything in life. Show them in your personal statement you have some hobbies.
You don’t have to be a whizz kid winning hundreds of awards and playing rugby for England and having grade 8 in 20 billion instruments. Just have something to show them what you do to relax and how it makes you a grounded well-rounded person.
Anything from music, sport, scouts, guides, youth groups, scrapbooking, running, writing, photography. It can be anything –
Don’t be put off by other applicants
I was put off by other applicants! Lots of them will have the 1000 A*’s, play hockey for England and be a world chess champion…
While I on the other hand, was slugging at the back with B’s and C’s in school, no fancy sporting achievement – I don’t run unless I’m being chased – Or awards/grades etc. I was just myself.
Most importantly….Be confident!
Note:I had a guy from a unamed university tell me my degree wasn’t a real degree at one of my interviews and asked me “How did you manage to get an interview?”
And lets just say i didn’t see him on the offer holder day…
How do I start writing my personal statement?
Each person is different but this is how I found really helped me write my personal statement
Spider diagram or a brain storm or whatever politically correctway you call it…
1. Put medical school in the middle
2. Write around outside the various qualities you need to demonstrate in your personal statement (Teamwork, empathy etc…)
3. Look at the universities you are applying for and look on their website it will give you a HUGE clue to what they look for in candidates use those BUZZ WORDS
4. Brain storm the different idea’s you have for each one
You will find you will get something like this…
Example of mine
You will find once you start thinking about the different experiences you have and how you can interlinks them you will begin to write sentences and paragraphs.
Don’t worry about length, just keep writing about your experiences.
The first draft
It will NOTbe any good – trust me…
I took 19 drafts until my final one was sent, this is normal! Expect to generally do at least 5+ drafts, if not more until it’s any good.
The general generic structure of a personal statement
Paragraph 1 – the introduction
This is where you need to grab attention… DO NOT start with a cliché – hundreds of applicants will start theirs either with:
“From a young age…”
“My fascination with the human body…”
“ever since I burnt holes in my PJ’s with my chemistry set…”
ALSO, starting with a quote is also risky… and takes up valuable space
Don’t worry too much about the introduction, I wrote mine at the end of writing the rest of my personal statement… It’s easier to do last.
Paragraph 2: Work experience
Work experience is the norm when applying for medical school. You will need some, not only for your UCAS but to also see if medicine is in fact an avenue you want to explore and not just another academic conquest Seriously look at biochemistry if you want academia…
You will need to REFLECT on your work experience and how you have experienced what it’s like to be a doctor then REFLECT how you have those qualities yourself.
So think of questions like this…
1. When you saw the Dr’s/nurses/HCA/cleaners/physio’s etc etc working together as a team, why is it important?What did you learn from observing?Whose role did you gravitate to the most?
2. How was the Doctor communicating with the patient? Was the patient difficult to communicate with?What was he doing well? – Have you ever demonstrated these skills? Why are they important?
3. What are the pro’s and cons of medicine? Do the pro’s out weigh the cons?
By answering those questions you have just reflected on why you want to study medicine and how you have the skills in place to do so… Rinse and repeat!
Paragraph 3 – Volunteering
This is the section to show the uni’s what you have done volunteer wise:
St Johns/Red Cross
Assisting in a school
Charity shop etc…
This is where you can demonstrate a commitment to medicine, show what you have learnt from you volunteering and what skills it has given you to assist you with a career in medicine.
What has it taught you?
Paragraph 4 – Hobbies
This section is about how you are a well-rounded individual
As mentioned above it is the section to show off your hobbies and relate them to medicine.
If you play on a team do you show leadership skills? teamwork?
Have you achieved anything outstanding?
How do you balance your work/life? why is that important?
Paragraph 5 – conclusion
This is where you need to conclude you personal statement.
You will need to round up everything you’ve said and think of a final statement to why you deserve a place at medical school and how you are suited to medicine.
This section will pull together once your main body of text is complete.
It should be the smallest section of them all.
Lots of people ask about writing about certain things in their personal statement:
Yes you can write about a certain book you’ve read, but be warned at interview the interviewer can catch you out and probably will know more about it than you – this has happened to many applicants, so if it’s in your personal statement make sure you’ve actually read it!
Mentioning a specific disease etc
This is all well and good, but again you are not in medical school yet and the interviewer can quiz you on this heavily.
Dropping the name of the consultant you know or worked with wins NO brownie points, just don’t do it at all.
Good luck…Any questions find me here: Twitter