Thursday, June 5, 2014

More Personal Statement Advice

This post is my attempt to combine some questions I have been frequently asked regarding my personal statement. Previously, I posted some general personal statement advice (see here) along with my own personal statement (here), so if you don’t see what you need in this post, then please check out those links. I know it’s turning into crunch time for perfecting and submitting medical school applications, so I hope this helps everybody out.

How do I include all of my ECs in the personal statement?

There's really no need to write about every extracurricular activity you have ever had in the personal statement. Admissions committees can already see that in your overall application and it will come off as redundant. If there was a particularly meaningful experience that you had while on a mission trip or volunteering then write about that, but don't try to list all your ECs in paragraph form. Just focus on one aspect. You could even center your whole personal statement over one experience in particular and try to tie in how the other ECs either helped you get to that point or how you discovered new Extracurricular activities because of the experience.

How did you talk about your extracurricular activities in your personal Statement?

I talked about a few of my ECs in my PS but it was really light. I mentioned them as a way to show how I still continued to be involved even though I had other responsibilities to deal with. I did not mention anything specific in particular. I just said that I took leadership positions within a few organizations, and wrote briefly about how they let me stay involved.

Were you specific about osteopathy in your personal statement? I heard some people saying that it's better to be specific in the secondary so that it doesn't sound repetitive. What do you think?

Do not write about osteopathic medicine in your personal statement. When you receive secondary applications, the majority of them will ask "why this school" and/or "why osteopathic medicine". If you address it in your PS, you will have a really hard time answering the question in your secondary essays. Just write about your desire to be a physician. (Note: make sure you say osteopathic medicine. Some people take offense to the word "osteopathy" because it can mean something entirely different overseas).

How long was your personal statement? (# of words) 

For AMCAS, my PS was 869 words and came out to be 4693 characters with spaces. The max character limit for AMCAS is 5300.

For AACOMAS, my PS was 790 words and 4485 characters with spaces according to Microsoft Word. On my application, it says that I have a total of 4500 characters which is the max limit for the AACOMAS application.

Where can I find examples of Personal statements and meaningful experience essays?

Finding good personal statement examples was one of the hardest things for me when I originally drafted my PS. This was almost 6 years ago though and now examples are only a short click away. Below are some really good resources I have found:

Medical School Essays that Made a Difference by Princeton Review – This was literally the only thing I used for examples when I originally drafted my PS. It helped me formulate a good starting point, but I felt that my first essay was too cookie-cutter because of it. To correct this, I dramatically changed my PS over the years to reflect me and my growth. Unfortunately, this book isn't available online. - (Good example personal statements from - (These are personal statements for residency (via Medical College Wisconsin), but I figured I would include them anyway)

DoctorORBust - A fellow blogger who not only listed his personal statement as an example, but gives excellent tips on the entire writing process.

I think that’s it for common personal statement questions. I’ll add more examples if I come across any, and if there’s anything else you want to know, just shoot me a message!


  1. Thanks for the helpful information.

  2. I know that discovering good personal statement for residency examples was among the hardest points for all. But D Ward you did an excellent job by sharing highly supportive advice.


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