Show, Don't Tell. This is one of the most difficult (but also one of the most important) skills to incorporate into your essay. "Showing and not telling" means that you ground your essay in specific details. Rather than simply asserting a big idea, you describe the experience surrounding it. Consider the following two examples: a) Because I was often sick, I learned one of my most important values in life: to make the most of my time and create a meaningful existence. b) When I was little, I was often sick. I would spend days in bed, and as an active kid, I hated the enforced stillness. I used to complain ceaselessly to my parents__but rather than let me succumb to self_pity, my parents would force me to make the most of my time. And as I painted, built Lego castles, and wrote crazy madlibs (quite badly!), I learned something important about myself: that I could be happy so long as I was productive. Do you see the difference? The first example offers a statement of personal belief__ but because it is just a factual declaration, it sounds as though it could have been written by anyone. The second example offers the same idea, but shows us rather than tells us about it. As a result, it is personal and unique, and makes the writer stand out as an applicant.
Take a minute and think about what most students are electing to write about in a medical school personal statement. 5ꯠ times, a medical school admissions committee member sees: "I want to be a doctor," "I want to help people," "I have wanted to be a doctor for a long time." To an experienced admissions committee member, these cliched reasons say, "I know I want to be a doctor but I don't really know how to express why I want to do it. I don't have specifics, clear motivation. I don't have a specific orientation. I just want to do it." To write a medical school essay that's great, you've got to transcend generalities like that in order to be persuasive. Because if you don't, what's going to happen is your reader is going to say, "I've read this medical school personal essay a million times before."And although it's a nice medical personal statement, it has nothing new, nothing unique to you. It causes your reader, the person who's going to determine whether or not you get an interview, to look at other aspects of your application to try and get some sense as to who you are. And that is going to be experiences, it's going to be grades, it's going to be MCAT score. Your reader, the committee member, is really going to be stuck, struggling to figure out why you're applying.