Personal Statement: Mistakes to Avoid

Friday, May 13, 2016

Hello everyone! So we're at the last junction of this personal statement journey (cheesy I know) and I'm so excited for those of you applying this cycle. If you are just joining us now, here are the first and second posts of the series for you. I decided to split it apart just because there's so much to be said about writing a personal statement and I didn't want to have just one very long post. Today, let's go over some common mistakes people make on their PS and what you can do to avoid them.
Pointers on How To Avoid Common Mistakes

1. Your personal statement will have to be copy pasted on your CASPA. Remember that all the schools you're applying to will get your entire application through CASPA. Therefore, don't write your personal statement with any one specific program in mind. Keep it general since it'll be the same PS that'll go to all the programs you're applying to.

2. Do NOT copy someone else's personal statement. Because, plagiarism. Also, it's called a personal statement. Enough said.

3. Please don't start your narrative with a cliche statement. The admissions committee gets a lot of those already and you want to set yourself apart, not blend in with the crowd.

4. Avoid using "I want to become a PA because I want to help people." That also falls under the cliche category. Yes, as a PA, we will indeed be helping people and it's very important that you want to do so. However, let's keep in mind that every other professional is also "helping people" in one way or another. You can mention it in your PS once, but that shouldn't be the only basis of your essay.

5. Talking about that C you made in one of your classes on your personal statement isn't something I'd personally suggest. The only time I would ever mention it is if it's for a critical science class the programs have listed as their pre-requisite. Even though, never ever blame your professor or make an excuse. Own up to your grade and be able to explain it instead of shrugging it off or pointing fingers at others. They will understand your struggle if you explain it and they will appreciate your honesty.

6. When you talk about your healthcare experience, make sure you don't mention any specific dates, times, patient names, etc. HIPPA violations is something the admissions committee will take very seriously.

7. Avoid abrupt transitions in your PS. Sometimes, when we get excited and start writing, our brain can shoot out ideas randomly, causing us to jump from one topic to another. Make sure your sentences flow smoothly and you stay on track. Transition phrases are your best friends!

8. Anything with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes is a pain to read. Also, it shows your reader that you didn't take the time to reread what you've written and you probably don't care as much about it. Do not submit your PS without proofreading it yourself AND without having others proofread it for you.

9. Do NOT talk bad about nurses, NPs, doctors, or any other medical professionals. You can talk about why being a PA suits you without putting down other professionals.

10. Your personal statement is not a resume. Remember that they already have all of your stats in front of them so you don't need to provide all that information again.

11. Don't use too many big words that are not a part of your vocabulary thinking that it'll impress the admissions committee. Maybe one or two big words are okay, but keep it simple for the rest of it. Also, don't use the same word too many times. If you find yourself doing that (I sure did), try to use a synonym instead.

Writing a personal statement is not an easy task, but hopefully this helps you avoid some of the common mistakes that people make. It's crucial to remember that you should write from the heart. Don't write something because you think that's what you should be saying or because that's what they're expecting. Be true to yourself (while still being professional) and it will work wonders.

For my other pre-PA related posts, check out this page. Thanks for hanging in there with me through the series and I really hope it helped. Leave your questions and feedback in the comments and don't forget to share it with your pre-PA friends. Have a great weekend :)

P.S. - Next week we have a guest blogger sharing her tips on getting some shadowing hours. Stay tuned!


  1. Wow! Great article! It will certainly help me to avoid mistakes in my personal statement. I also want to add that using professional writing services can be useful and I have used this service
    sometimes for editing of my statements.

  2. Thanks for a help! Will keep it in my mind!

  3. "Avoid using "I want to become a PA because I want to help people." - I've read so many times about this in your blog and this blog about pa personal statement but it's still difficult for me to come up with not cliche but at the same time interesting opening. I don't know what to do with this issue. Thanks, anyway, for the great post and wonderful tips!