It is often said that personal statements are often autobiographical. This may well be true, because a wise maxim is "write about what you know." And, if there is one thing we all know more about than anything else it is our own lives. Often students only write about the reasons why they wish to embark on a particular university course and many personal statements lack emotion, suspense, and tension. However, in a work of fact, emotion, is a key ingredient in successful personal statements. And, while students life's may differ considerably from one other, we will each have known the full gamut of emotions. It is important when writing your personal statement that you convey a sense of place to your reader and the way to do that is with the five senses sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. It is all too easy to forget that scenes, which are indelibly etched on your own mind, will not be equally clear in the reader's unless you make them so by your writing.
Over the past decade I have written and/or edited scores of medical residency personal statements for MDs applying for medical specialty residency positions at dozens of teaching hospitals. Although it was never my intention to become an expert on writing these documents, that qualification just sort of evolved naturally over the years. Not long after I set up my two main "writing help" websites and started to create my series of writing_help how_to books, MD's from all around the world started inquiring as to whether I could help them write or edit their medical residency personal statements. As a professional business writer who had already published a book on how to write college admission essays, I found the transition to medical residency personal statements to be pretty straightforward. That's because, in the final analysis, it really IS all about how best to communicate a specific message in writing, regardless of the particular application. It wasn't long after I started receiving these draft residency personal statements and personal letters from MDs, until I noticed that there were three areas in particular where a lot of the applicants were missing the mark when drafting their statements. Consequently, the following are what I have come refer to as: