School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona
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Preparing for Admission : Advisor & Student Resources : Visit SOMA : Requirements : Accreditation : Hometown Scholars

Advisor & Student Resources

Application Process : Premedical Student Checklist : Top Ten Application Mistakes : Personal Statement Tips : Ambassadors

Personal Statement Tips

Definite DOs

  • Proofread.
  • Make every word count - communicate an impression and take an innovative approach.
  • Brainstorm for ideas.
  • Revise and rework your initial essay and all secondary essays.
  • Type (rather than handwrite) your personal statements.
  • Always consider the tone of the essay - you want to highlight your positive attributes.
  • Mention your clinical exposure and personal experiences and how they have directly influenced your decision to be a physician - most importantly, share your feelings.
  • Use active language, complex sentences, simple sentences, and correct terminology.
  • Know your audience and have an understanding of the institution to which you are applying.
  • Be proud of your accomplishments.
  • Convey your research, leadership, service, and life experiences.
  • Demonstrate your integrity, common sense, and your ability to inspire confidence in your colleagues.
  • Demonstrate compassion for human beings, overall commitment, and enthusiasm for your future medical pursuits.
  • Contextualize your accomplishments.
  • Relate your professional goals and your personal goals.
  • Talk from your heart.

Definite DON'Ts

  • Don't speak in generalities - always answer the "how" and the "why" and use evidence to support your statements.
  • Don't cut and paste your first statement for use in your secondary application.
  • Don't use bad grammar, incorrect punctuation, or make spelling errors - proofread instead!
  • Don't ramble on.
  • Don't make excuses or beg for an interview.
  • Don't harp on the less than stellar qualities of your application - explain any apparent contradictions and move on.
  • Don't forget to do the essay - incompleteness is undesirable.
  • Don't list qualities - illustrate and elucidate specific aspects.
  • Don't swear.
  • Don't employ gimmicks, try to create a great literary piece, or be overly flamboyant - be yourself.
  • Don't restate the scores already listed elsewhere in your application, such as GPA or MCAT results.
  • Don't speak of actions only - speak of feelings too as they are unique to you.
  • Don't overlook the power of the introduction and conclusion.
  • Don't take a non-stop approach to the statement - step away once in a while and come back.
  • Don't forget to have others read your statement and provide you with feedback.
  • Don't blame others or put down other professions.