5 Don’ts of Medical School Essay


Writing your medical school application essay can be really challenging. It is hard to know what you should or shouldn’t say or do when writing it. Here are 5 big things you definitely don’t want to have in your essay if you want to make a great impression on the admissions officer.

1. “I have always wanted to be a doctor.”

Even if this is true, saying this in your personal statement can work against you. But what if it is true?

The key stumbling block in the phrase “I have always wanted to be a doctor” is the word “always.”  What is your first memory of wanting to be a doctor? If it was playing doctor as a six-year-old, you are best advised not to go there, precisely because many candidates actually do go there. The goal of your statement is to set you apart rather than to put you in a category with other applicants.

Revisit that moment when you were first certain that you wanted to be a doctor. Where were you? What were you doing? What were those around you doing? What aspect of the circumstances convinced you?  If you address all these facts in your statement, such a passage can work for you.

2. “Immigrating to the United States was a great challenge.”

As an international student, almost anything that you can say about the immigration experience will come across to your reader as a cliché. That is why international students are well-advised to completely avoid this topic in their medical school application essays.  Your reader knows that as an international student, you have faced unique and in some cases seemingly insurmountable challenges. Saying nothing about those challenges is what can truly set you apart.

3. “That’s when I knew I could make it in medical school.”

The most important tone to avoid in your essay for medical school is a tone of overconfidence.  The key is to achieve a tone which balances humility with enthusiasm.

You can achieve a tone of humility by offering a brief self-deprecating passage in your essay, and you can express your enthusiasm by showing it in action, in a situation in which you took initiative or developed a project well beyond its stated requirements.

4. Underestimating the Importance of your Med School Essay

Some of the best candidates for medical school have managed to achieve outstanding grades by developing term papers and research papers at the last minute in countless courses.  What could be so different about an essay for medical school?

Your personal statement for medical school is not a term paper. It is not a research paper.  It is a document that must set you apart, set the right tone, and convince your reader that you have unique qualities that will contribute to a medical program. Writing it at the last minute could ruin your chances.

5. Neglecting to Polish and Proofread you Work

You shouldn’t forget about medical school essay editing. This is another mistake often committed by some of the most qualified candidates.  A typo or grammar irregularity in a term paper can be overlooked.  A typo or grammar irregularity in your medical school application essay can sabotage your best interests and ruin your chances of admission.

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