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Mastering the Art of Editing Your Medical School Personal Statement

So, you have been working on your medical school personal statement for weeks (or maybe even months) and it is the final thing standing between you and hitting the Submit button on your medical school application portal. The last thing in this world you want to do is read through the essay yet again, fine-tooth combing it for the wrong use of “their” or an aberrant semicolon.

Still, if you’ve already gone through one or two rounds of editing your medical school personal statement, I’m here to remind you to do it again.

Editing is a necessary process. It can significantly impact your med school application. Grammar and spelling errors can distract admissions committee members from your writing, negatively impacting their outlook on your application.

On the other hand, a well-refined, nearly error-free personal statement will allow your story to come across to the reader, showcasing your dedication, experiences, and suitability for a career in medicine.

This guide will help you understand the process of personal statement editing so you know exactly how to polish your writing. 

How To Edit Your Medical School Personal Statement

Step 1: Take a Break

After writing your last draft, take a break before you start editing. This can help you return to your essay with fresh eyes and a clearer perspective, making it easier to spot errors and areas for improvement. Not to mention, you’re probably feeling a bit burnt out from writing!

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Step 2: Reread the Prompt

Before you start editing, revisit the prompt or guidelines provided by AMCAS and AACOMAS. The admissions committee will be reading your personal statement through this lens. They will expect your essay to address all required aspects, including your motivation for pursuing medicine, relevant experiences, and personal qualities. 

Step 3: Content Review

Clarity and Coherence

  • Introduction: The introduction can take many forms, but ensure that it is engaging and relevant to your motivation for pursuing a career in medicine. 
  • Body Paragraphs: Each paragraph should have a clear focus and contribute to the overall narrative that you’re building. Use specific examples and experiences to demonstrate your commitment and suitability for medicine throughout the body of your statement.
  • Conclusion: The conclusion doesn’t need to be a summary of what you wrote. However, it should tie together your motivations for pursuing medicine and should leave the reader with a lasting impression of you.

Relevance

Every sentence should contribute to your main message. Remove any information that does not directly support your narrative or highlight your qualifications, and try to simplify any ‘fluff’ or flowery language used in your statement. Your writing should be clear and concise. 

Consistency

Ensure your tone and style are consistent throughout the statement. Avoid switching between formal and informal language. Definitely eliminate slang or internet buzzwords. 

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Step 4: Structural Review

Flow and Transition

  • Ensure there are smooth transitions between paragraphs. Each paragraph should logically follow the previous one as you build a narrative.
  • Use transition words and phrases to maintain the flow throughout your medical school personal statement. If any transition seems choppy or like you are jumping from idea to idea, see if you can connect them with a transition word or phrase.

Paragraph Structure

Your individual paragraphs should include examples of experiences that have led you to choose a career in medicine. They do not have to have a rigid structure. However, it can be helpful to start with a topic sentence and conclude the paragraph with a connection to medicine. The important thing to remember as you edit is that your paragraphs should flow logically. 

Step 5: Language and Style

  • Active Voice: Active voice is so much more dynamic and engaging for your reader. For example, instead of saying “I was involved in research,” say “I conducted research.” It might seem simple, but this can profoundly impact on your writing and make it clearer and concise. 
  • Conciseness: Be concise and avoid redundant words or phrases. For instance, instead of saying “In order to,” just say “To.”
  • Professional Tone: Maintain a professional and respectful tone. Avoid overly casual language.
  • Vivid Descriptions: Use vivid and specific descriptions to bring your experiences to life. Instead of saying “I helped patients,” describe an instance where you made an impact on a patient. Your writing should not be replicable by another premed. Use details and examples to paint a picture for the reader that is unique and specific to you. 

Step 6: Proofreading

After reviewing your personal statement for content and structure, give it another read looking specifically for grammar and spelling errors. 

  • Grammar and Punctuation: Carefully check for grammatical errors and punctuation mistakes. Use tools like Grammarly or consult a grammar guide to ensure accuracy.
  • Spelling: Check for spelling errors. Pay particular attention to medical terminology and proper nouns.
  • Read Aloud: Reading your statement out loud can help you catch awkward phrasing and errors you might miss when reading silently. It can also be helpful to use speech tools built into your computer. 

Step 7: Seek Feedback

  • Peer Review: Ask friends, family, or colleagues to read your statement and provide feedback. They can offer a different perspective and catch errors you might have missed. Furthermore, feedback can help you gauge how well you have demonstrated qualities like passion for medicine, critical thinking skills, resilience, and empathy in your writing. They can also provide perspective on whether specific examples effectively showcase these attributes or if they come across as generic or cliché.
  • Professional Review: Consider seeking feedback from a mentor, advisor, or professional editor with experience in medical school applications, like Blueprint’s Medical School Admissions Consultants

Important: More is not always better when it comes to feedback. Choose a few people you trust to edit your medical school personal statement. Sometimes students lose their voice as more and more people provide edits, which is detrimental to the effectiveness of your narrative. 

Step 8: Final Review

  • Align with Prompt: Once again, revisit the prompt! Make sure you have covered all of your bases and you achieved the goals of your medical school personal statement. 
  • Word Count: Ensure your statement adheres to the word limit. You won’t be able to submit a personal statement over the maximum word count. 

Final Thoughts

After reading your personal statement, you want the admissions committee member to stand up on their chair and announce that you are the perfect candidate for their medical school. Okay, maybe a little dramatic, but that is what you should figuratively be shooting for!

Carefully editing your personal statement is a necessary step to ensuring your statement conveys your qualifications and passion for medicine. It can also make all the difference in acceptance to your dream medical school. So, make sure to dedicate the time it takes to polish your writing. 


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