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Every PA school applicant has been there. In fact, all the editors at myPAresource have been in your shoes and felt the anxiety that comes with writing a personal statement for PA school. How did we sell ourselves? Where did we start? What information did we divulge? How much is enough but not too much? There’s a lot to think about when it comes to writing and even just starting your personal statement. Here are some basic tips to make you stand out amongst all the applicants:

  1. Give yourself time and multiple drafts. I can’t tell you how many personal statements I read where it’s obvious that the applicant didn’t really think it all the way through. They essentially put every thought that came into their mind in the essay. These personal statements don’t flow well at all, and they are exhausting to read. This is not the feeling you want to leave the admission board with. Give yourself months of time before you’re going to submit the personal statement to really mold it into what you want it to be. If you do use an editing service, like myPAresource, make sure you give yourself time for them to revise it and then make any additional changes you’d like. There’s nothing worse than freaking out about submitting your application at the last minute.
  2. Be concise. This goes along with point one, but Lord have mercy, do yourself a favor and keep your personal statement focused. Adding in convoluted details and stories that barely pertain to why you want to become a PA is not the way to go. You want to let the admission board know that you’re serious about becoming a PA but in the briefest and most powerful way. More is not better in the PA personal statement (they cap you at 5000 characters). If you can efficiently tell us why you want to be a PA and leave the reader feeling inspired, light, or even laughing, you’ve done very well. Think about the sea of applications and personal statements that are read every single year. It’s exhausting to even think about. Don’t add to the exhaustion with a busy, hard-to-follow essay.
  3. Tell us why you want to be a PA. Sounds silly, right? I read numerous personal statements every year that barely scratch the surface of why the applicant wants to be a PA. It can sometimes be difficult to get across, but think about what experiences made you want to pursue the PA profession and tell us what you took from them. Now, that does not mean tell me a three paragraph story about Sally, the 89 year old patient, who really taught you about compassion, hence wanting to become a PA. As I said in the last point, be concise. Tell us about how this experience influenced you in a succinct way and then move forward, and don’t leave us hanging at the end still wondering why you want to become a PA. That’s the whole reason you’re writing the personal statement!
  4. Be a human being. People get so wrapped up in making sure to tell every story or encounter that they forget to let their personality shine through the personal statement. Being yourself and showing that you are unique and aren’t a robot is refreshing to read. Also, this is a place to tell us some things that maybe aren’t specifically on your application. Did you play a college sport? Were you working full time while you were fulfilling your pre reqs? Do you work as a realtor, raise your kids, and you’re also applying to PA school? None of these are medical in nature, but they show us that you have good time management skills. Showing personality and perseverance in your personal statement will take you far, despite an average GRE score or GPA (or whatever else you feel like is holding you back). Being human also sets you apart and makes you stand out from your fellow applicants.
  5. Use proper and strategic grammar. This is my last and most nagging point. You may be the smartest, hardest working, best applicant for PA school, but if you can’t punctuate, spell, or make sense, you’re in trouble. If English is not your first language, and you aren’t completely confident with your writing skills, I advise having multiple native English speakers read your essay and/or use an editing service. If English is your first language, I still recommend having other people read it or using an editing service because we have completely forgot how to use proper grammar in the United States. Now I’m not saying you have to be pristine, but I would say that 70% of the essays I read have average to poor grammar skills. If you aren’t good at punctuation, tense, etc., have someone read over it specifically to evaluate your grammar. I know I know…why am I harping on this so much? Because it leaves a lasting impression! This personal statement is a small glimpse in to who you are. Run-on sentences and lack of commas may be okay with texting, but it is a bad look in your personal statement. And when I say be strategic with your grammar, I mean switch up your sentence structure and punctuation. Don’t write in all choppy sentences but also don’t string together compound sentence after compound sentence. If you don’t know how to use a dash, which is different than a hyphen, then look it up! Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab) is still one of my most favorite resources for anything that you could ever want to know about writing and proper English, and it’s free. I promise you that it will take your personal statement to the next level if you can write well.

So, there you have it—five points that should at least start you off on a successful journey to writing a fantastic personal statement to get you into PA school. The first four are content tips, and the last one is to make your personal statement all sparkly and clean. At the end of the day, you need to be confident in who you are and show us why you’re different from many. We believe in you and know you can do it! If you need myPAresource, we are always here to help guide you. As the soccer player Pele said, “Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” Be well.