Writing a compelling personal statement for Medicine at NUS and NTU is a pivotal step in securing your spot in med school. While it may appear daunting, breaking down the process step by step can make it more manageable. In this guide, we will provide you with insights, analysis, and a clear approach to help you craft a personal statement that stands out from the crowd.
Understanding the Prompts
“This is an introduction of yourself to the Admissions committee and the interviewer, who would like to learn about the experiences that have shaped your values and desire to study medicine. The word limit is 500 words.”
“The personal statement is an essay of not more than 300 words, introducing the applicant including, but not limited to, the reasons for wishing to study medicine and of any experience that may have driven the desire to become a doctor. Leadership experience and teamwork ability should be highlighted. The personal statement must be furnished in the application form, and it may be followed up at the interview stage.”
In essence, you have to answer two critical questions in your personal statement:
- Why you? Who are you beyond your grades? What have you done outside of class to prove that you have the ability to thrive in medical school and as a future doctor?
- Why Medicine? Can you convey your passion for serving people and love for science in a compelling way?
Remember, your personal statement should reflect your unique experiences and qualities.
Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Your Personal Statement
Step 1: Identify Your Qualities
Start by developing a list of qualities you want to demonstrate to the admissions committee. Consider aspects like leadership, teamwork, empathy, and resilience.
Want more resources and steps to think about your personal brand and your qualities?
Read our blog here.
Step 2: Highlight Relevant Experiences
Think of events or situations from your life that showcase these qualities. Focus on experiences that have shaped your journey and made you stand out.
For this step, you don’t need to go in-depth yet. Simply think of highlights from the past two years. It’s important not to go too far back in your timeline—experiences in primary school or more than 2-3 years ago are unlikely to have much significance, unless it still remains a present part of your life and your routine.
Step 3: Qualify and Connect Your Qualities with Experiences
Choose experiences that not only align with your qualities but clearly showcase your unique attributes. It's crucial to move beyond generic statements and delve into the specifics of your actions and contributions.
For instance, if you claim to be a team player, don't merely state it – demonstrate it with precision. In group projects, assess your role critically. Do you find yourself actively listening to everyone's needs and aligning goals? Perhaps you are the one consistently taking notes and ensuring every voice is heard. Alternatively, maybe you naturally assume the role of decision-maker, ensuring a clear direction for the team.
Specificity is your secret weapon to stand out amidst fierce competition. In personal statements, qualities like empathy, teamwork, and leadership are frequently mentioned. To set yourself apart, avoid generalisations and provide concrete examples of how you embody these traits.
I am James, an ex-student of Raffles Institution, where I played for my hockey team and volunteered. I want to pursue Medicine at NTU, as a life in medicine resonates with me. My experiences have shaped me, and allowed me to be a suitable fit for Medicine. As Hockey Vice-Captain in JC, I learned how to work with a team towards a common goal, and to lead by example. The ability to stay calm even during times of pressure was something I also picked up. Furthermore, Platoon IC during my BMT, I realised the importance of building rapport with your teammates and the idea of “leading by serving”, which will be relevant with regards to serving my patients.
This statement could be written by anyone—it is simply a list of facts of what the student has done, and doesn’t showcase any real specificity on how a life in medicine actually resonates.
As Vice-Captain, I took on a supportive role and encouraged my team when training got tough. Ensuring everyone was coping well strengthened our bond, which made our time more enjoyable. For the latter, being responsible for the 63 men under me and answerable to those above me, I had to give instructions clearly and effectively, as well as stay calm under pressure, while still maintaining rapport with my teammates. These teachings made me a versatile leader and will help me better interact with my seniors, my team and my patients.
Step 4: Putting It All Together
Show, Don't Tell:
Instead of stating your qualities, provide concrete examples that illustrate them. Engage the reader with real-life situations.
Connect Experiences to Qualities:
Explicitly connect each experience to the qualities you want to showcase for better understanding.
Balance Emotion and Reflection: Blend emotional aspects with reflective insights to add depth to your narrative.
Avoid Generic Statements: Be specific and authentic to make a lasting impression.
Common Questions about NUS and NTU Medicine Personal Statements
Do I need one moment where I knew I wanted to be a doctor?
Many applicants wonder if their personal statement requires a defining moment. We’ve read so many personal statements that start with applicants describing taking care of a family member who got sick or always being really interested in science—while that’s a fine starting point, you cannot base your entire personal statement around that.
Your essay doesn't need a single moment of realization. Instead, concentrate on portraying your path and journey to medicine. It is more compelling and will convince the admissions committee that you’ve done your due diligence, you know what becoming a doctor entails—you’re not simply basing off your motivations off one encounter or scenario.
How do I stand out from the crowd? Won’t everybody have similar experiences?
Rather than stating that you possess leadership qualities or care about people—qualities that most students will write about—avoid generic statements by delving into specific incidents that have shaped you. For instance, if you claim to be service-oriented due to your volunteering experiences, explore a particular interaction or individual that left a lasting impact. Was there a moment that truly touched you or influenced your commitment to service?
I have so many relevant experiences; which one is the "best" to choose?
It's common for applicants to feel overwhelmed with numerous relevant experiences. While it's tempting to list all your achievements, it's more impactful to focus on what you've learned from these experiences. Consider the depth of your understanding and the personal growth each experience has afforded you.
For example, if you've engaged in exciting research, shadowed a family physician, and excelled as a musician, don't merely present a laundry list. Instead, emphasise the key lessons learned.
- How did your research experience contribute to your understanding of medicine?
- What insights did shadowing a family physician provide regarding teamwork in healthcare?
- How has your musical journey instilled discipline and focus, and how does it relate to your desire to be a doctor?
Always connect your experiences back to the fundamental questions: "Why you?" and "Why do you want to be a doctor?" Demonstrate how each experience has shaped your character, skills, and aspirations, making you a compelling candidate for medical school.
In essence, quality often trumps over quantity. Choose experiences that showcase your growth, highlight your qualities, and reinforce your commitment to pursuing medicine at NUS or NTU.
By following these steps and avoiding clichés, you can create a personal statement that reflects your unique journey and captivates the admissions committee. Best of luck on your journey to securing a spot at NUS or NTU med school!
Still at a loss for where to start? We get it; it’s a scary experience looking at a blank page. Download our e-guide for more tips and advice on applying to NUS and NTU Medicine.
Or simply drop us a message to get in touch with us. We work with hundreds of anxious applicants each year, and we know what it feels like to be at a loss. Our focus is always to support students through this time and ensure they have the best guidance and resources possible.