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Thursday, July 29, 2010

AMCAS Personal Statement: Grammar and Word Choice

Now that you have the hook, structure, and conclusion done, it’s time to focus on grammar.

For your fifth draft, return to the essay focusing on grammar. Are you using too much passive voice (i.e. is, as, was, were, be). Active verbs are always better. Is every word needed? Can you discuss that same idea in fewer words? Correct your grammar, ensure correct word choice, and cut any repetitive ideas/words then set aside the essay.

Now it’s time for an overall read. Create a sixth draft after reading the essay out loud. How does it sound? Are there some sentences that sound awkward? If they sound awkward, they read awkward. Do you need to take multiple breaths when reading certain sentences? That usually means the sentence is a “run-on” and should be broken down into two or more separate lines. Does each thought flow smoothly into the next? If not, perhaps you need to restructure the essay or create better transition sentences.

Get professional help with your personal statement. E-mail or call 415.939.5251 to put a Harvard/Stanford MD and medical school admissions insider to work for you!

Monday, July 26, 2010

AMCAS Personal Statement: Draft After Draft After Draft

Once you have completed the brainstorming tasks, it is time to write your first draft. Don’t spend too much time on this – just write; don’t focus on grammar yet.

Put the essay away for a day then come back with a critical eye to your “hook”/thesis statement and write a second draft. Does your opening make you want to read on?

Put the essay away for another day and then write your third draft focusing on essay structure. Does each paragraph flow smoothly into the next? Is the essay easy to read or does it jump abruptly from topic to topic with no warning?

For the fourth draft, work on the conclusion. Does the last paragraph effectively summarize the essay and tie back into the thesis statement?

Whew! I warned you this is a lot of work! But it will pay off. Keep it up!

Looking for help with all these drafts of your medical school admissions personal statement?
E-mail or call 415.939.5251 to put a Harvard/Stanford MD, admissions expert, and published author to work for you!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

AMCAS Personal Statement: The Hook

Every great personal statement starts with an engaging introduction. I call this “the hook.”

How are you going to keep the admissions officer interested and make her want to read past the first paragraph?

Admissions officers read hundreds of personal statements a year. How will your essay stand out?

This all starts with the hook!

You are going to grab the reader’s interest with a compelling anecdote. Be creative, but be very careful with humor or over-the-top stories. Your hook also serves as a thesis and the jumping off point from which you will explain why you want to be a physician.

Need help writing a great hook for your medical school personal statement? E-mail or call 415.939.5251 to put a Harvard/Stanford MD and admissions expert to work for you!

Monday, July 12, 2010

AMCAS Personal Statement: Delve Deeper

Volumes and volumes have been written on the art of crafting an excellent personal statement. I will not attempt to recreate such works here. However, I will provide you with the tips I give my students and clients.

Start by making a list of the reasons you want to attend medical school. Likely, some of your top reasons will include “I like science” and “I like helping people.” Hopefully, everyone going to medical school has these two motivations. The trick is holding onto these two reasons while delving deeper into why they are true. When writing your list, ask what life experiences prove the reasons you are giving. After writing the list, determine which reason and experience pairs make the strongest argument for why you want to be a physician. This will serve as the basis of your essay. Remember, the list doesn’t have to be fancy or use perfect grammar. You are just sketching out some ideas before starting to write

Here’s an example:

I want to be a physician because:

1. I want to use a team approach to solve problems
- Captain of basketball team that won three league championships
- Showed how efforts of many can achieve great goals

2. I want to use cutting-edge technology to improve lives
- Research assistant with Dr. Buck at Maryland State University
- Saw value of PET scanning as it guided diagnosis and treatment of various cancers

3. I want to work in international health and public policy
- Realized a great passion for international health after a mission trip with church to San Juan Sacatapequez, Guatemala
- Built clinic and trained local nurses in basic sanitary measures
- Volunteered to raise money for Doctors without Borders
- Joined university’s public policy club

Get the point? Every reason for going to medical school has to be backed up with personal experience. The admissions officer who reads the essay (along with hundreds of other essays) may not remember that you want to be a doctor so that you can work in international health. But he will likely remember that you pursued this interest by organizing an aid trip to Indonesia after the tsunami.

Need help delving deeper and creating a unique medical school personal statement?

Want the best personal statement possible? Email or call 415.939.5251 for personal advice from a Harvard/Stanford MD and medical school admissions expert.

Monday, July 5, 2010

AMCAS Personal Statement: Intro

The personal statement is arguably the most important of your application and, at this point, one of the few aspects you can control. In this personal statement you are asked to consider the following questions:

• Why have you selected the field of medicine?
• What motivates you to learn more about the field of medicine?
• What do you want medical schools to know about you that has not been disclosed in another section of the application?

The application also states that you

“May wish to include information such as:
‘Special hardships, challenges, or obstacles that may have influenced your educational pursuits.
Commentary on significant fluctuations in your academic record, which are not explained elsewhere in the application.’”

In other words, you have 5300 characters to say why you want to be a doctor and why an admissions committee should accept you into its medical school class. And you must do this in an interesting, creative, and honest way. Not an easy task.

MD/PhD candidates, please be aware that you have two additional essays to write. The first essay will discuss your reasons for wishing to pursue a MD/PhD (3,000 characters). The second asks for details on your significant research experience (10,000 characters).

Need help creating an outstanding medical school personal statement?

Email or call 415.939.5251 to put a Harvard/Stanford MD and admissions insider on your side!