Engage the Reader from the Start. When it comes to your application, all the information you submit is already set in stone__ except the personal statement. This is your chance to get your program's attention, especially if you feel that your MCAT scores or GPA may be lacking. You want your reader to be interested from the very start of the essay. Admission committee members are often short on time and may be more likely to gloss over your essay if it has a generic, flat, or boring beginning. One way to begin an essay is with a personal vignette__ a quick snapshot of a moment in your life that relates to your decision to apply to medical school. Consider the following two opening statements: a) I've always known that I want to be a doctor. Since my first encounter with death, I've recognized that it is my responsibility to help people. b) The lights flashed, and the sirens wailed as I watched the ambulances cart my next_door neighbor to the hospital. I was ten years old, and it was my first encounter with death. Do you see how the second example engages the reader's attention right away? It is a snapshot rather than a factual statement, which immediately catches the reader's interest. Personal vignettes are not the only way to start your essay, but they are easy to shape into engaging opening statements.
2. Not Enough Focus On the Person _ When one studies the questions actually posed in the residency application requirement statements of most institutions, it doesn't take long to realize that the primary overall aim of the questions is to get to know the applicant better, both as a person, and as a medical professional. This is not surprising when you really think about it. After all, these institutions know that every applicant is a qualified recent graduate of medical school. So, rather than reading about your medical qualifications, which are already covered in your cv, they are even more interested in what you bring to the table as a person and a medical professional. Failing to focus on your personal qualities that set you apart from other applicants is another serious oversight.