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The Ultimate Guide for Writing the Best Medical School Personal Statements

Published on
May 13, 2024

The Ultimate Guide for Writing the Best Medical School Personal Statements

Please note that previously, medical portfolios were mandatory for University of Wollongong applications. However, portfolios have now been excluded from the application process for UoW, making it the final medical school in Australia to implement this change, thus signalling a notable shift in postgraduate medical admissions.

Nonetheless, several universities offering rural entry pathways still require a personal statement for consideration such as University of Melbourne’s MD Rural Pathway and University of Sydney’s Dubbo Stream.

For more information, please read our up to date GEMSAS Guide for 2025!

Medical School Personal Statements

The personal statement is a chance to reflect upon your personal qualities, development, and innermost motivations and experiences for starting a career in medicine. Interviewers are keen to observe how you might demonstrate important skills such as empathy, compassion, and communication for becoming a doctor. An applicant’s personal statement must be well-rounded in terms of academic achievements and personal traits. Because of this, personal statements can be the most challenging part of your application.

How do you stand out from thousands of applications? How do you make that university choose your application over the next candidate’s? How can I structure my personal statement?

Having successfully received interviews and gone through the process of becoming medical students, we know the importance of making your story unique to the admissions body. Since they’re the people who will decide your acceptance, we want to ensure that you leave an impression on them. The journey into medicine is difficult and can be emotionally draining, so it’s imperative that you’re clear on your reasons for taking on the challenge.

How To Begin Writing Your Medical Personal Statement

It may seem daunting and overwhelming, but personal statements can be a useful source of reflection on why you chose this path and can help you summarise your motivations. The one attribute that all successful applicants have in common is their passion to contribute to medicine. However, how does this passion and commitment to medicine arise? What makes you stand out from the rest of the crowd? Why do you want to do medicine and why should your preferred medical school choose you?

Consider the aims of your personal statement before writing. How do you demonstrate that you have the attributes to be an upstanding medical student, and eventually, a medical practitioner? Do you have the potential to develop and grow into a competent member of the medical profession, and if so, how? This requires not only personal attributes and experiences but also an understanding of the reality yet to come. Additionally, acknowledging a desire for continuous growth shows enthusiasm for both the educational and professional career of medicine.

Furthermore, originality really counts. This means picking different aspects of the course you enjoy and explain with specific examples and phrases that makes you stand out! It is also vital to explain why you are right for the course and possess the relevant skills, work experience, and extracurricular activities.

To get started, try this exercise:

  1. Compile the skills, experiences, and achievements that you have gained throughout your life.
  2. Relate them to your aims, ensuring you give solid evidence and justifications for each statement (you will need to provide references who may be contacted for verification).
  3. Demonstrate insights from your experiences and what you have learned or gained.
  4. Tie in all these skills and qualities into what the specific school is looking for and how you can contribute as a prospective student and future doctor.

Keep in mind that what the medical schools are looking for are your personal insights and reflections from what you have gleaned throughout your life, even if it's from your day-to-day activities. Medical schools are not expecting you to have ground breaking achievements (ie. being an astronaut, developing a cure for cancer, etc.), but rather looking for students who have depth and who can extrapolate meaning from what they experience. Beyond that, maturity and a well-thought-out decision as to why you’re choosing medicine are also important in showing your commitment to the challenges of the course and vocation ahead.

Note: If you don’t know where to start, write a timeline or mind map of key events that have happened in the past 5-10 years of your life. Pinpoint noteworthy activities and areas of growth, as this will help spark ideas!

Important Tips To Keep In Mind While Writing A Personal Statement

Avoid Clichés

The vast majority of applicants will state their motivation to become a doctor is their ‘desire/passion/need to help people.’ Don’t be one of those people who overuse cliched phrases. Instead, demonstrate a clear set of key insights and reflect on your prior experiences as to why this is the right career for you.

Captivate Your Reader And Tell A Story

Make sure your opening line encompasses the main point and sets the theme for the whole statement.

Example: “It may be an unexpected circumstance, or a chance to help someone, that sparks an inner calling.”

Draw from your unique encounters as an individual and relate them to a narrative.

Example: “During a quiet afternoon at home, my father began choking on one of his prescription pills. Being ten years old at the time, I innocently performed the Heimlich manoeuvre learned after watching a first aid video at school. In later years, my father would laugh and brag to his friends about how I saved his life. As I matured into an adult, that moment often came to mind, which inspired me to learn basic life support and volunteer teaching the local church members. Thus began my journey in pursuing a career in medicine.”

Alternative: Get straight to the point! “My passion for medicine began at a young age watching doctors in a nearby clinic serve our small rural town... ”

Note that this is just an example of one way to tell a narrative. Use it as inspiration rather than adhering strictly to its style.

Have A Structure

Make sure you organise your personal statement so that it is easy to read and follow. There is nothing wrong with using the standard 5-paragraph essay method (i.e. introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion). Rather than spending too much time on many ideas, select a few key ideas and actively reflect on them. The essay must follow a chronological narrative and must have a good flow of ideas.

Transition Words/Phrases

Transition words and phrases are key to making sure the overall flow is smooth and not choppy. Use them between paragraphs and make sure each one is linked to the other. Keep the personal statement as one whole and integral piece.

Showing Vs. Telling

Show, don’t tell. For example, please do not bluntly state that you’re compassionate and ethical. Unfortunately, a lot of applicants commit this mistake. Instead, draw some solid examples to shed light upon who you truly are, and then explore how that makes you compassionate or ethical. Prove it by relating a story, sharing a reflection, or discussing how these events affected you.

When Should I Start?

No time is too early to start the application process. It can take some time to compose your personal applications, and will often take many drafts. Writing is like polishing a stained mirror—it’ll take a few tries before it glistens. So, make sure you schedule the time to review and rewrite over and over again until it is perfect. Since applications are due May 31st, the period between GAMSAT and the application due date is a good time to write these applications. But really, there’s no such thing as starting an application too early. No matter what, try not to wait until GAMSAT scores come out; this puts you in a situation with considerable time pressure and this may come across in your writing. To begin, start by listing all the ideas and thoughts you want to mention in your personal statements, and then get writing!


Here’s a list of common questions you might find helpful.

I don’t have anything to write about for my personal statement. What should I do?

This feeling of having nothing to write about is common. If you’re struggling with ideas, consider writing a brief timeline of the last 5-10 years of your life in chronological order. Thinking about your past this way will help you remember the activities you were involved in. Looking at your resume and asking family and friends can also help yield some ideas to include in your portfolio. Keep in mind that your professional experience can also be used to form some of your examples. Even something as standard as working at checkout can be used to demonstrate teamwork and lots of conflict resolution with difficult customers.

I have so many things to write about. How do I choose which activities to include and which ones to exclude?

The activities you should include first should be the ones that you can emphasise the most and write so that they match the selection criteria as best possible. It’s not just about writing a portfolio full of altruistic activities, or even what the experiences are, but rather how they shaped you to be an excellent candidate for the university you’re applying to. The way you reflect and the body of experiences both matter.

I have a particular activity that can fit under more than one heading. How do I choose which category to put it in?

If you have an experience that can fit into more than one category, you should put this experience in the particular category that you are choosing to sell/show from this experience. That’s the best option. However, if you do place it in more than one subsection, you’ll need to frame the experience differently to fit the qualities specified.

I want to apply to UoW but I’m not from a rural area and I don't have any rural experience. Should I still apply?

Yes, you should still apply. Most of the UoW students are from rural areas, but there are still some that have no rural experience at all. It is important to understand that you should be genuinely interested in rural/regional medicine and be willing to do rural placements.

Final Word

At Fraser’s, we know how overwhelming the medical applications process can seem. With the right tools and knowledge at your disposal, it doesn’t have to be stressful. We wish you the best of luck with your upcoming applications!