The Personal Statement

The personal statement is your primary opportunity to allow Admissions Committees to gain a sense of who you are – your voice, your thoughts, your ability to communicate. The personal statement is included on the primary (common) application and sent to each school to which a student applies. It is, as its name suggests, personal – each applicant’s statement will be different, and each applicant will need customized guidance to produce their statement. HPA advisers and Writing Center staff are among the resources to use to craft the personal statement.

The AMCAS Prompt

Use the Personal Comments essay as an opportunity to distinguish yourself from other applicants. Some questions you may want to consider while writing this essay are:

  • Why have you selected the field of medicine?
  • What motivates you to learn more about medicine?
  • What do you want medical schools to know about you that hasn't been disclosed in other sections of the application?

The space allotted for the essay is 5,300 characters, or approximately one page. Spaces are counted as characters. You will receive an error message if you exceed the space available.

Other health professions request similar information with variations on character count and exact prompt:

  • Osteopathic Medicine (AACOMAS): 4500 character limit
  • Dental (AADSAS): 4500 character limit
  • Veterinary Medicine (VMCAS): 5000 character limit

MD/PhD Applicants write two additional essays within the AMCAS:

  • Why MD/PhD: describe why you want the dual degree: 3000 character limit
  • Significant Research Experience: describe your research experiences: 10000 character limit

Top Five Personal Statement Tips

  1. Be genuine, authentic, and engaging.
  2. Expect to write multiple drafts.
  3. Avoid clichés.
  4. Ask others to read and provide feedback, both global (e.g., “what kind of impression am I making?” “what are three key things you learned about me from this essay?”) and specific (e.g., for word choice, organization, mechanics).
  5. Proofread carefully.

The Writing Center

Looking for advice on your personal statement?

The Writing Center is located in South Baker Hall, Whitman College.  Trained, experienced fellows are available for drop-ins or scheduled appointments.  You should note that appointments are set aside during May ever year specifically for health professional school applicants, to have their personal statement critiqued by specially trained fellows.