2. Make excuses _ Lots of applicants have weaknesses in their application files, especially in their transcripts. Maybe you got low grades your freshman year. Maybe you had to leave school and work for a while. Maybe you got an F in that statistics class and had to retake it. Or maybe you got a degree in one field and are applying to grad school in a different field; or you didn't pass your medical residency exams the first time. Whatever your weakness is, do not offer excuses and do not bad_mouth anyone. So it wasn't your fault that the professor lost your final exam and flunked you, or jobs dried up in your original field of study, or you had the flu when you took the GRE. Don't say anything that sounds like an excuse or sounds like you are blaming someone else for you failing to achieve a goal. Even when it is true, it may make you seem whiny and unable to accept responsibility for your actions. Instead, address the weakness at the end of your statement, and explain how you have overcome it, learned from it, and are a better candidate now because of it.
When you applied as an undergraduate, your personal statement probably didn't make much of a difference, because undergraduate admissions are heavily based on numbers (GPAs, test scores, etc). Graduate and professional school admissions are different! Your competitors will have grades and test scores similar to yours, because most people who have the motivation to pursue an advanced degree did well as undergraduate students. As the number of applicants rises and academic budgets are cut, every year there's more competition for fewer admissions openings. How does the committee determine that you have what it takes to succeed in advanced studies? You guessed it. Your personal statement will play a determining role in whether or not your application is successful. So you know you need to write the strongest, most persuasive personal statement you can. But here are two facts you may not know. First, most reviewers will spend only a couple minutes skimming your personal statement. Second, because their job is to weed out the majority of applications, reviewers are looking for reasons not to recommend you for admission.