Writing Tips – Things To Avoid

HUMOR

Although the general tone of your essay should be pleasant and congenial, humor should not be a primary feature of your personal statement. There is a risk that the admissions committee may not share your sense of humor and may offended by it. Furthermore, a humorous essay might give the impression that you will not take medical school seriously.

QUOTES

Even though you may have discovered an amazing quote from Shakespeare that perfectly states your views on life, do not quote other people in your personal statement. The admissions committee wants to get to know you, not Shakespeare. They are not interested in your ability to analyze literature and do not want to read your interpretation of another person’s words.

UNTRUTHS

Do not tell lies or stretch the truth in your personal statement. Do not say that you are fluent in Spanish if you only took Spanish for one semester in high school; or that you are a champion tennis player if you once won a local competition. Facts are easily verified and you do not want to appear to be a dishonest person. Instead, state your accomplishments honestly. Admissions committees will be much more impressed with you if you provide a thoughtful discussion on a modest accomplishment rather than an exaggerated story containing little truth or sincerity.

CLICHÉS

Although this mistake is less severe than some of the others on this list, you should avoid using unoriginal and clichéd statements. Admissions committees are weary of reading essays from candidates who want to attend medical school because they have ‘always wanted to be a doctor’. Try to use original ideas so that your essay will be interesting to read.

UNNATURAL LANGUAGE

Avoid using words that you do not use in your everyday life. Repetitively using large and obscure words will not make you seem more intelligent. Rather, it will just make your essay sound stilted and make it unpleasant to read.

TAKING THE PRINCIPLE OF ‘SHOW, NOT TELL’ TO EXCESS

It is very important to use concrete examples to support your claims in your personal statement. (This is known as the ‘show, not tell’ principle.) However, be careful not to go overboard with descriptive language. The flowery prose that may have delighted your creative writing professor will not be greeted with the same enthusiasm by the admissions committee. They are not interested in how the bright rays of yellow sun beamed fiercely onto your furrowed brow as you contemplated writing your personal statement.