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Strategies for building your personal statement

June 12, 2010

Five paragraphs, five sentences each paragraph. No drama, no “stories.”

Sit down with a piece of paper and a pen and write down 5 things about your journey so far. By the end of the statement I want to know where you came from, what you have done and what you want to do. Write these things out using simple phrases. Then let it sit and come back tomorrow and fill in some of the gaps. Write more about each idea until you have 5 groups. Work each group into a short paragraph.

Overall, the shorter statements work better. Don’t go to the character maximum. I don’t want to spend more than three minutes reading your statement. I have lots to read and most of them are badly written. I know that you did not study English literature or spent years working as a journalist. I expect the statements to be awful. They don’t have to be.

Ernest Hemingway was well known for his economy of language. Mr. Hemingway was a man of few words. You are not going to write anywhere near Mr. Hemingway’s level but I would appreciate fewer words.

Be realistic and be honest. Don’t tell me that you want to go back to your country when you are done unless you are going to.

Be as specific as you can be. Writing in general terms makes your statement read the same as everyone else. Telling me that you want to train in a hospital that gives you good training is a waste of words. Of course you do! By the end of the statement, I want to know where you came from, what you have done and what you want to do. I want a clear idea that you want to be a Nephrologist or whatever it is that you want to do.

Categories: Personal Statement
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