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Complete Guide to SG Medicine (2024)

Singapore Med School Guide to Personal Statement and Interviews


Mar 19, 2024

Guide to Write Your Medical School Personal Statement 

How to Write Your NUS Personal Statement: A Step-by-Step Guide

While it is difficult to provide a concise yet comprehensive overview of your experiences and motivations within a 500-word limit, it is entirely doable. This section will guide you through this process, helping you create an impactful personal statement that tells your story in a unique and engaging way.

Understanding NUS Personal Statement Requirements

Your personal statement is your introduction to the NUS Admissions Committee. It is an opportunity to share your journey that has led you to pursue a career in Medicine. It provides an insight into your passion for healthcare, your intellectual curiosity, and your capacity to reflect on experiences. The challenge is to present it in a manner that makes you stand out as a candidate.

Crafting a Structured Approach

We suggest an effective four to five-paragraph structure to your personal statement. Start with your motivation behind choosing Medicine, move to your relevant experiences, then highlight your extracurricular activities and transferable skills, and finally conclude with a brief summary.

Your Motivation:

Why did you choose Medicine? Is it a particular interest in human biology, the yearning to serve humanity, or a combination of both? Remember, it is not about stating a generic ambition but being specific about your reasons and experiences that led you here.

Your Experiences:

Your medical-related experiences, whether volunteering, research, or shadowing, are central to your personal statement. Focus on one or two experiences that were pivotal to your decision to study Medicine. Instead of providing a detailed description, reflect on your experiences. Share what you observed, what you learned, and how it influenced your decision.

Your Activities and Skills:

Highlight transferable skills you've developed through extracurricular activities. Demonstrate your teamwork, leadership, communication, and resilience with specific examples. Proving your qualities through experiences is more convincing than merely stating them.

Start Early: 

Writing a persuasive personal statement doesn't happen overnight. It involves brainstorming, planning, drafting, and re-drafting. So, start early and revise often. Remember, it's not about having the most original story; it's about telling your unique story in your voice, reflecting on your experiences, and demonstrating your passion for Medicine.

How to Write Your NTU Med Personal Statement

Similar to NUS’s personal statement requirement, NTU also asks students to discuss experiences that have pushed them to pursue Medicine. Additionally, NTU also asks for candidates to highlight their leadership and teamwork experience. 

If you are planning on applying to both NUS and NTU, the approach and structure is very similar. But NTU’s word count requires you to be even more economical in your writing. 

Should you write your NUS or NTU personal statement first?

Sometimes, students who apply to both NTU and NUS will write their NUS statement first and cut it down to fit NTU’s word count. That is definitely one good way to approach writing these personal statements. In terms of style and content, it’ll be very similar for both of them. 

How many experiences should you write about in your NTU personal statement? 

Because the word limit is so tight, you’ll want to be very selective with what you choose to write about. From your academic portfolio, choose three key experiences that you want to write about in more detail. We suggest no more than three, as any more activities or experiences and you could end up sacrificing depth for breadth.

Once you have selected your activities and accomplishments, think about why you have chosen them. What qualities do they demonstrate? How do they demonstrate your preparedness for Medical school and eventually a Medical career? How have these experiences informed your motivation to pursue Medicine? 

Every single sentence within your personal statement should serve a clear purpose and answer the questions we just posed. 

What are admissions officers at NUS and NTU medicine looking for?

Some ideas of key qualities that admissions officers are looking out for are leadership, teamwork, communication skills, empathy, resilience, adaptability, just to name a few. Comb through your choice of activities and experiences again and think about which of these traits you possess and how you’ve demonstrated them in various different contexts. 

Examples of NUS and NTU med personal statements: 

Let’s take a look at some sample sections from body paragraphs to illustrate the points that we’ve been talking about. 

During an attachment at St. Andrews’ Community Hospital, I shadowed geriatric physicians during their rounds, listening to their level of attention to detail, such as watching for a common symptom in elderly patients, tachycardia, or irregular heartbeat. Despite their heavy workload, the doctors always took the time to reassure patients, showing me that endurance and compassion were vital qualities in Medicine.

This is a good example of how to write about a shadowing experience that balances observed details with personal reflection. They provide context of their shadowing experience first, before going into more detail on a more specific instance. Notice that the applicant uses the Medical term “tachycardia” and recognises that it’s a common symptom amongst elderly patients. Additionally, they also note that doctors have a heavy workload, acknowledging a difficult aspect of the profession which is crucial as admissions officers want to know that you have a realistic and not overly rosy view of the profession. The paragraph then ends on a takeaway that highlights the key qualities that are needed. Within this short paragraph, they manage to incorporate a concise and specific overview of their shadowing, demonstration of some medical knowledge, as well as a reflection of the vital qualities of a doctor. 

Sections and Structure of Med Personal Statement

You should aim for four to five paragraphs in total, each with three to five sentences. To maximise as much space for experiences and reflection, you’ll want to keep your introduction and conclusion as short as possible. We’ve even seen examples of students who delve right into their experiences volunteering or shadowing in their introduction and weave their motivation within the first paragraph rather than have a separate introductory paragraph.

Generally, a common way to structure the body of your essay is to have one paragraph dedicated to writing about your clinical experiences, one on your community service or volunteer experience, and one focused on your extracurriculars and the transferable skills you’ve gained from them. This is a guideline and not set in stone, there are students who choose to write more extensively about clinical attachments and shadowing and less on volunteering, and others who focus on their extracurricular achievements and skills gained from them. 

For the conclusion, you’ll want to highlight the perspectives you have gained during formative experiences and emphasise your passion for Medicine. It’s difficult to come up with a completely original conclusion as most people who want to pursue Medicine are empathetic and want to have a positive impact on people and are passionate about science. So, just be true to your own reason for pursuing Medicine when wrapping up your personal statement.

Med School Interviews

Your tone, how you express yourself and how you come across in-person compared to your written application are all factors to consider in the interview process. This process will allow the interviewers to deepen their relatively superficial understanding of you.

Personal Questions for Medicine Interview

Questions about you should not be taken lightly, as your decisions, preferences and journey can speak volumes about your potential and interest in medicine. It is important to prepare diligently but also, not over prepare and risk sounding robotic.

 “Tell me about yourself” 

This question gives you the chance to show who you are outside of your academic and clinical experiences. What makes you unique? How can your background and experiences contribute to the cohort?

It’s one of the most common interview questions and the right response can leave a strong impression and set the tone for the rest of the interview. 

Avoid listing your results in school or admissions tests as these are facts they already know from your academic portfolio. Instead, try focusing on other aspects of your background, such as your family, personal interests, and even your upbringing.

“What are your strengths and weaknesses?” 

This question requires that you be honest. Many candidates make the error of providing two strengths, describing one as a weakness. For instance, “My strength is that I am hardworking, and my weakness is that I can be very committed to my work, sometimes, too committed.” 

What interviewers are looking for is some humility and self-reflective ability. What is something that you think you may be lacking in and how are you actively working on improving yourself? 

Future-oriented questions

“Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” or “What lies ahead for you?” Questions like these can throw off even the hardiest of interviewees. Preparing and getting through the MMI is difficult enough, much less having your entire career mapped out or identifying your area of specialisation. 

Do. Not. Worry. Interviewers know your challenges and understand that not everyone has had their career path figured out at such an early stage. In fact, charting a detailed career path this early in your medical career may not be ideal as you will have indirectly limited your options without having fully enjoyed the offerings of medical school. That said, it helps to have a general sense of what your medical career may look like and some clarity about your milestones

Self-care questions

Well, this is an extremely important question as it provides interviewers several insights about you. Firstly, how are you taking care of yourself as a person? Do you have an outlet to relieve your stressors? Secondly, are you leading an active and balanced lifestyle? Does your daily routine consist of only work and nothing else? That’s rather unhealthy. Thirdly, the types of hobbies you engage in can reflect your personal attributes to the interviewers. Are you socially engaged? 

Sharing about a hobby that enables you to cope with the demands of school gives the interviewers the confidence that you can take care of yourself when the going gets tougher in medical school, or when you start working at the hospital. Feel free to share about your running routine or listening to music to destress.

In anticipation of the arduous journey, admissions officers need the confidence and assurance that you are ready to see through medical school and training. Having a strong passion that is backed up by a concrete plan of action indicates that you are intrinsically motivated and have the discipline to succeed in the medical field.

Why Medicine?

Every aspiring doctor should have a personal story and reason to pursue medicine. Be it surviving a medical condition during childhood, caring for a terminally ill family member, or simply, finding that his or her academic strengths and interests align closely with medicine. 

There must be a sufficiently strong reason for you to want to spend the next four to six years of your life in the rigorous training to become a doctor.

Firstly, you’ll want to recount your past motivations and draw up a brief timeline of how you arrived at your decision to study medicine. Many candidates share about doctors being their role models or medicine being their dream job from a young age. If this sounds like you, great! Now, build on it. Over the years, when did you decide on your current path? Most likely, it will be an accumulation of moments through your academic experiences, co-curricular activities and social interactions. 

Secondly, be specific. Do not side-step the topic unless it is one of extreme sensitivity. Even then, find ways to communicate your thoughts clearly and in a considerate manner. 

Finally, relate your experience to medicine. How did the experience cement your interest in this field? Here are some questions to consider: 

  • What did you take away from the experience? 
  • Are there any actionable elements of this takeaway? 
  • What aspect of yourself did you discover that led to your conclusion that medicine is for you, and
  • In what way was this experience instrumental in igniting your interest in medicine or passion for helping others?  

Reflecting on your experience and drawing key lessons and insights are extremely important as these are often the turning points in which any candidate realises that medicine is for them. 

Personal Statement questions

Every candidate can write a compelling statement. With the right combination of time, effort, and expert advice, you can draft a strong personal statement that gets you through the initial selection. 

You must be prepared for interviewers to ask questions about your personal statement. They are curious about your work experience and your motivation. Seize this opportunity to convince the interviewers of your suitability to medicine. 

As it will likely have been sometime between your personal statement submission and the actual MMI, it will benefit you to revisit it before the interview. The strategy will be to highlight the critical and desirable skills that you possess and share more about the experiences that have precipitated your goals. 

In this lesson, we will examine three types of questions – overview, factual and situational, that you may receive in connection with your personal statement. 

Overview: Take me through your personal statement 

Interviewers who have not read your personal statement in detail are most likely to ask questions such as “Take me through your personal statement”. 

Not only is it a great way to get a summary of your personal experiences and attributes, your approach to this question can also grant the interviewer clarity of your thoughts and motivation to attend medical school. This question also allows you an opportunity to connect the dots of your resume to form a coherent narrative: your personal brand. You may first begin with a brief introduction of yourself, followed by a summary of your varied experiences in your personal statement that tie in closely with your personal brand. 

Remember not to regurgitate your personal statement. You should aim to touch briefly on each point and paraphrase them. 

Factual: Describe a procedure you observed whilst shadowing at the hospitalThe second type of question you may encounter is a factual question about your experiences. Questions like this will allow the interviewers to assess your concrete takeaways from your job shadowing, or your part-time work. 

By asking that you “Describe a procedure you observed whilst shadowing at the hospital”, or “describe a task that you had to perform routinely at your part-time job” interviewers can assess:

  • The type of work you were exposed to and by extension, the skills you gained
  • Your observation skills and attention to detail, 
  • And more importantly, your practical learning outcomes

These questions are important because of the word count limit on your personal statement. You may not have had the opportunity to share your roles and responsibilities in detail. A clear description of the work you have done and events you’ve observed will aid the interviewers in forming an understanding of your experiences that is as clear as possible. 

Situational: Describe a challenging situation you experienced and how you dealt with it

To avail more insight about a candidate’s problem-solving skills or ability to work under pressure, interviewers may ask about navigating a challenging situation or request that you share more about a particular experience. Using the S-T-A-R method to answer this question will be wise as it will provide structure, coherence and clarity. Besides that, identifying relevant challenges or experiences is of similar priority.

This includes talking about conditions that you’ve experienced at your shadowing or work that may be consistent with the medical field. For instance, you may discuss your approach to problem-solving under pressure. In real life, doctors may face similar circumstances where problems present and they have little time to react. Explaining how you have done so is a great way of showing the interviewers that you can handle such situations.

Scenario-based questions for Med School Interviews

Scenario-critique questions can appear similar to questions on ethical scenarios or dilemmas. However, they are not to be confused.

This type of question presents candidates with case studies or situations where they are required to think critically about the problem. Some schools even go to the extent of challenging candidates with esoteric questions that do not have obvious answers. 

It’s important to practise answering scenario-critique questions to show interviewers that you are knowledgeable on the work required of someone in the medical field.

How to Answer Scenario-Based Questions in Med School Interviews

Your thought process here matters far more than the outcomes. When asked a scenario-critique question in your interview, it may be presented in text, or a role-play demonstration or video. Either way, your approach to answering will be similar.

First and foremost after being presented with the question, paraphrase the given scenario to convey your comprehension of the matter. You should use your own words and not reread or re-state the scenario. Primarily, this addresses that you have understood the question. It also sets the context for your response. 

Next, examine the scenario and its demands. This will provide the interviewers insight into your thinking patterns and allow them to assess your critical thinking skills. You should analyse the scenario systematically and critique both the positive and negative aspects. Evaluate the arguments presented by offering your critique of its validity and logic. It is important to consider the use of scientific and logical reasoning in your critique.

Many candidates make the mistake of restraining their responses for fear of sounding like they are rambling on or are not knowledgeable. Whilst it is a valid concern, scenario-critique questions welcome the verbalisation of thoughts and considerations, in an organised manner. The use of rhetoric can be helpful in providing multiple viewpoints. This demonstrates your ability to think in different perspectives. Consider asking questions such as “With different priorities, how will the outcome change?” or “If I were another person, what would I be concerned about?”


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