You have likely come across this blog as a medical school personal statement on your to-do list. With just over 7500 UK medical school places available in 2023, there is no denying that the process is a highly competitive one.
When asked how to write a personal statement for medicine, one of the key pieces of advice we share is the word count. Why? This is probably the most important information, as your entire writing needs to be planned around the limits.
Keep reading to determine how much you must write in a medical school personal statement.
Do Personal Statements Have Word Limits?
The purpose of a personal statement is to add personality and insights to a broader academic application. Giving prospective students a chance to get noticed for their unique talents and experience is sometimes the only opportunity to have your say creatively.
In the UK, all medical school applications go through UCAS. Unless your course specifies otherwise, the official word limit is 4,000 characters for an undergraduate application. You do not have to write to the maximum amount, but it is recommended that you make wise use of your available word count to make the biggest impact. That is why it is important to learn what a successful medical personal statement includes.
That may sound like a lot of words to work with, but we can assure you that it really isn’t. 4,000 characters offer between 571 to 1000 words which is less than half of this entire blog post! The words will quickly diminish because you need to fit in lots of information. Our advice is always to plan efficiently and assign word limits to each section to perfectly craft your message.
How Do I Use My Word Count for a Personal Statement?
Now that you know how many words you must work with, it’s time to think about how to use them. Your personal statement needs to include lots of information, with a nice blend of factual statements and storytelling sections.
The general rule is that introductions and conclusions should feature equal weighting. They need to open and close the statement with clear points without repeating any information in the body text.
Your body content should be the heaviest in weighting, with the word count used wisely to take the reader through your skills, experiences, and passions. If you are unsure how to use your word count best, we recommend speaking with a team member, as we know exactly what goes into the perfectly balanced personal statement.
What Structure Should I Follow?
Word count will determine how you write and share information. When thinking about what should be in a medical personal statement, you need to touch on each of the below points:
- Personal information and background which is not outlined in any other areas of your application.
- Experiences that showcase your suitability for a career in medicine. These don’t have to be based in the field but instead, ones that show your personality traits and transferable skills.
- You also need to tell the admissions officer why you deserve a place. This shouldn’t be cliche but should give them enough food for thought as to what you would bring to their institution.
- Any skills and extracurricular activities that are not included within your formal academic grades.
All of this information should be broken down into the following sections.
You should use between 10-15% of your character on an impactful opening paragraph.
During this section, you need to find a balance of introducing your statement without repeating any information you plan on including later on. Word limits can rapidly disappear when too much text is used to tell readers what they can expect to come across.
In a medical school personal statement, the beginning statement should be strong, with clear direction outlined and a powerful opening comment.
Most of your word count should be used here, where you need to include points, evidence, and explanation.
A strong personal statement should have direction and purpose. Each section should relate to a new point but still lead on from the last one. If you have a certain topic that would really anchor how passionate you are, use more characters for this. Otherwise, keep things uniform to stop you from babbling on about information that is not relevant.
The exact amount of characters used within the introduction should then be given to the closing statement. In this passage, you need to summarise your entire statement concisely.
If you craft a personal statement designed to amaze, you can point the reader to new ideas in this section. We don’t mean giving a new point. Instead, this should leave the admissions officer with a lasting impression of your statement. You want them to be integrated enough to offer you an interview at the next stage of the application process.
Will I Be Marked Down if I Don’t Use My Personal Statement Word Count Wisely?
There is a genuine possibility that if your personal statement does not make a positive impact, your dreams of studying could be put on the back burner. Your writing is being assessed in several ways, all of which say something about you and your suitability to study.
If you don’t find the right balance of information, you could miss out on including points that would make you stand out from everyone else. Many people will have the same passions and motivations for wanting to study, so you need to use characters sensibly to get your point across.
Alternatively, if your personal statement is not well written, it could leave the admissions team with the impression that your academic skills are not up to scratch. Literature is not one of the A-levels needed to study medicine, but it is a skill you will use daily. Communicating effectively and articulating yourself professionally in written form says a lot about how you will handle yourself in the real world.
You will also not make the best impression if your personal statement comes under the word limit. It can be hard to write about yourself, especially for those with introverted personalities. However, this is one of the most important sales pitches you will ever make, so get confident in your writing! If you don’t write enough, it could look like you don’t have more to you or didn’t spend enough time crafting a stellar statement.
The rule is that admissions teams are looking to read between the lines.
How Should I Approach Writing a Personal Statement?
- Do your research into the content you need to include. Also, familiarising yourself with what not to have a medical personal statement is a great idea as it eliminates the chance of unnecessary information creeping in.
- Plan everything in detail. Your structure, messaging, tone of voice, vocabulary, and word count usage should be decided upon before you start typing.
This allows you to stick to character limits more closely and ensures that every single word has a purpose.
- Engage the support of a professional personal statement reviewer. They will be able to direct the writing process and give you honest feedback on how your word count is being used. Click here to learn about our own personal statement support services.
Choose Personal Statement Support From the Future Medic
Personal statement word limits are not in place to catch you out. They instead make the admissions process fair and encourage applicants to think more rationally about their statement.
We think it’s a positive thing as it ensures that you have drilled down the detail needed to be authentic in every stage of the application process. To learn more, contact us today. You can also find out more about our complete mentorship programme here which encompasses each stage of the application process.