How to write a stellar personal statement

Your personal statement is a crucial part of your application to medical school, internships, and to residency programs. It represents your opportunity to “sell” yourself and demonstrate what makes you unique. In just a few words you have to convince programs you are the best applicant, and why they should offer you a competitive position over other applicants. Your individual story is unique and your personal statement is your one chance to shine, so your personal statement needs to be good—it needs to be stellar. Below are five tips on how to write a stellar personal statement.

1. Start with an outline.

It is a good idea to begin with the end in mind. What is the most important thing you want your readers to know about you when they read your personal statement? Knowing the answer to this question will help shape your initial personal statement draft, and an outline is a great tool to get you started. Start with a strong opening statement, tell a great story, and end in a way that makes the reader want to learn more about you and ideally invite you for an interview.

2. Take your time.

Your personal statement is very important. You do not want to rush the process. A stellar personal statement will not be ready in a couple of hours. Or even a couple of days. It may take more than a month to complete the final version and you should plan for this as you write. Sometimes, even taking a break for a few days, then coming back to your writing is necessary.

3. Lead with a strong start and find the perfect words.

Open your personal statement with a compelling story, sentence, or surprise to “hook” your reader and provide a great first impression. Use language well. You will demonstrate to your readers you are thoughtful. When you use the prefect words and expressions to convey your story you will deliver a powerful message to your readers. Write clearly. Be natural and authentic, using too many fancy words could make your personal statement sound overdone, artificial, and make it difficult to read.

4. Focus on your strengths.

Highlight your greatest strengths in a stellar personal statement. Tell your story. Simply saying you are persistent and disciplined is not enough and will not convince your reader. Instead, provide real life examples unique to your own experience and demonstrate your persistence and discipline. Have you learned how to play an instrument? Have you mastered a hobby? Have you won any awards for your work or interests? Show the reader your strengths -- don't just tell.

5. Be honest.

You are unique and an original. Be open, honest, and truthful in your personal statement. You will do your best writing, and have a stellar personal statement when you are true to yourself and your personal story. Never create a false image of your talents or exaggerate your abilities. Indeed, the truth will always come out sooner or later. Your ability to demonstrate some vulnerability makes you human and your readers will appreciate your honesty.

For more information and tips on writing a personal statement visit: https://www.topuniversities.com/blog/10-tips-writing-personal-statement-university-applications

How to prepare for the (Medical College Admission Test) MCATs By Veritas Prep

3 Tips for Successful MCAT Preparation

Six months is the ideal amount of time you should spend preparing for the MCAT.

The MCAT is a marathon, not a sprint. To be successful and get the absolute maximum score you can, preparation is paramount.

Many premedical students don't begin their MCAT preparation until three or four months before they take the exam. That may sound like a lot of time, but when you consider that most students are taking at least 12 academic credit hours, volunteering at a hospital or other extracurricular activity, are involved in research, and/or are working part time (at least), three or four months quickly becomes inadequate.

Six months is actually ideal. So how do you make the most of the time you have before your anticipated test date? Below are three tips to help you maximize your efforts and best prepare for the MCAT.

[Learn more about how the MCAT is used in med school admissions.]

1. Know what you are facing: A great way to start your preparation is to see what you are up against. Taking a practice MCAT under test conditions before you've done any prep can be an effective, and sometimes jarring, way to jump-start your MCAT training. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) currently offers a free practice MCAT online. This is a perfect (and free) opportunity to familiarize yourself with the content and format of the test.

Practicing under test conditions is important because it provides that element of time pressure that should not be felt for the first time when you are a few weeks out from test day. Please remember not to beat yourself up if you don't do well during this practice test. Once you know what you are facing, you can hone your strategy and plan for success.

[Planning to retake the MCAT? See these tips.]

2. Don't simply memorize: By the time you are sitting down to take the MCAT, you have already demonstrated that you are capable of learning new information and using formulas. Therefore, those that create the MCAT are far less interested in your ability to memorize formulas than they are in your ability to understand the physical, biological, or chemical process they describe.

When reviewing the MCAT physical and biological sciences material, in addition to being able to answer the practice questions, ask yourself if you can explain it to a fifth grader in an understandable way. This may sound crazy, but if you understand the material well enough to teach it, you are probably ready to take the test.

3. Focus on your weaknesses: We all want to feel like we are smart, and consequently, many premedical students tend to focus on their strengths in their MCAT preparation and let their weaknesses fester. This is clearly not a good strategy!

Whether you choose to take an MCAT preparatory course or study on your own, use the practice tests and your demonstrated strengths and identified weaknesses as a guide to help you hone your study plan. The best plan is one that further develops your strengths while improving your weaker areas.

You shouldn't rely on just your strengths to pull you through. You need to be as solid as possible in all aspects of the exam to perform at the highest possible level.

Before the MCAT, most of us had never taken a test as comprehensive and impactful, but luckily there is an abundance of MCAT information and resources to help you prepare, as well as strategies like those above to help you get a handle on the exam. As long as you dedicate time to preparation, there shouldn't be any surprises come test day. 

Mark D'Agostino, M.D., M.S., M.Sc. is a Brigade Surgeon in the United States Army. As a Marshall Scholar, he earned a master's degree in Biochemistry at the University of Nottingham Medical School, and a second master's in Health Policy, Planning and Financing from the London School of Economics (LSE) and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). After graduating from Brown Medical School, he trained at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

For more information on how to prepare for the MCATs visit:


How to Be an Excellent Student

Fall in love with learning. This was the best advice given by a Professor of Surgery. Surgery is both an art and science and you will have to commit to life long learning and practice, so that you will be able to deliver the very best care to your patient. You must remain curious. Medical advancements and breakthroughs are made all the time and you have to read and stay current on new information to effectively apply new knowledge when you begin your journey and throughout your career as a surgeon. Always remember why you are learning. To learn new things adds excitement to life and helps you to grow. Most importantly, as an excellent student, you will learn for your patients that depend on you to provide them the best care.

How to prepare for Medical Board Exams