After revising grammar, spelling, and syntax, I methodically go through a personal statement (PS) sentence-by-sentence and ask if the content meets any of the following criteria:
- Has this been mentioned earlier in the PS? If so, consider removing it.
- Has this been outlined in any part of the application (namely the activity list)? Reiterating a very short portion of an activity to set the scene is one thing but duplicating the details is completely unnecessary.
- Is any part presumptuous? Is the writer making claims he or she has no way of knowing. Appealing to your humility by acknowledging your ignorance will serve you well early on.
- Flowery language is overrated and doesn’t show your command of language. Focus on masterfully unraveling your story rather than writing a laundry list with big words.
- Does this contribute to the the overall theme? I’ve read personal statements reiterating several disjoint activities which somehow magically lead the writer towards medicine. Have a theme in mind and focus on how each sentence relates to said theme.
I’ve found that shorter personal statements which focus on avoiding redundancy and are rooted in showing one’s path to medicine (rather than merely telling) is more effective, and consequently, more memorable. In adhering to just the important details, applicants don’t have to worry about going beyond the allotted word limits either.
When it comes to personal statements, Shakespeare said it best – “Brevity is the soul of wit.”