The personal statement is an important part of the UCAS form and many medical schools use it to decide, in conjunction with academic information, whether to offer a candidate an interview or even a place at medical school.
How long should it be?
All parts of your UCAS form, including the personal statement, must be filled in online. You can enter a maximum of 4,000 characters, including spaces, for your personal statement. You can use up to 47 lines of text. Check the UCAS website for more details.
What to include
There is no single correct way of writing a personal statement. Having said that, most personal statements should probably address the following:
- Why you have chosen to study medicine and the factors that influenced your decision.
- The work experience, placement or voluntary work you have done that is relevant to medicine, what you learned from it and how it helped you decide to study medicine.
- Your personal attributes that make you a good candidate for a career in medicine. These may be illustrated by social, sports or leisure interests that demonstrate that you are a sociable and proactive individual and enjoy doing things with other people.
One way to write your statement
The guide below is intended to provide an example of one way of structuring your statement, but it is by no means the only way, or even the best way. Your personal statement should reflect you and so no one else can tell you the best way to write it.
Paragraph One – Introduction & why you want to do medicine.
- Briefly explain who you are and what you are doing now. e.g. “I am currently in my final year at school where I am studying A-levels in Biology, Chemistry and English…” OR “I graduated in 2004 with a 2.1 in Biology from the University of XXXX after which I spent 6 months travelling in South America. On my return to the UK, I began working at…“
- Explain why you want to do medicine and describe the factors which influenced your decision. You might wish to talk about personal experiences, people you know who are doctors, work or voluntary experience, your interest in science etc etc.
Paragraph 2 – Describe your work/voluntary experience & what you learned.
- It’s a good idea to have carried out some work or voluntary experience in a health or social care setting by the time you write your personal statement.
- If you have, start by describing briefly what you did. Try to avoid making a long list of your experiences and don’t prioritise the details (e.g. I worked every Saturday for 6 months) over what you contributed (I helped with mealtimes, and talked to patients etc).
- Medical schools like to know what you learned and why your experience has made you more confident about your decision to do medicine.
- If you have had personal experience of the health or social services that has influenced your decision to study medicine, you might also want to include it. It is perfectly acceptable to use informal experiences as part of your application. Use this section to provide an account of what happened and what you learned from it.
Paragraph 3 – Describe other relevant life / work experiences.
Discuss the personal attributes and skills that you have developed through life and work experiences which you think are relevant to a career in medicine. Include anything that shows you can work in a team, that you are an active, responsible individual who contributes to society. For example:
- School responsibilities (e.g. being involved in school events / plays / concerts, prefect responsibilities etc),
- Paid work experience or professional experience (for graduates / matures)
- Positions of responsibility (committees / societies / sports teams / community work / charity work).
Paragraph 4 – other interests and conclusion.
- Make this a short section – Discuss any hobbies you have that aren’t directly related to medicine – e.g. going to the gym / reading novels / socialising / music / travelling – whatever your interests are. Anything that demonstrates that you are a rounded individual with a variety of interests.
- Finally give a conclusion that summarises the whole statement. Briefly explain that you have considered a career in medicine carefully and the reasons you feel you will make a good doctor. Keep this punchy, probably not more than 3 or 4 lines long.
Example personal statements
Personal statements are just that, personal to you. But sometimes it can help to see how other people have gone about it, to reassure yourself. Visit our example personal statements section to see some examples.