How to write a Personal Statement for Dental School

This article answers a rather intimidating question- how to write a personal statement for dental school. Writing a personal statement may seem like an overly involved and complicated process but don’t you worry, this article simplifies it.

Before we get to the hows of writing a personal statement, it is important for you to understand what a personal statement is and why you need to write one.

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What is a personal statement?

A personal statement is a summary of who you are. It is a collection of all your achievements, your strengths, and your weaknesses. It is a piece of writing that illustrates you as a student, as an active member of society and most importantly as a human. A personal statement is what entices colleges and universities to consider you as a prospective student.

Applying to dental school can be a daunting process, comprising of many steps. One of those steps is writing an exceptional personal statement.

Importance of a personal statement

Your personal statement is essentially a reflection of your personality. It is an invitation for the admission officials at your dream schools to know you better. Educational institutions are often looking for students with unique stories and your personal statement in how you tell your story. If you can make your personal statement stand out, it would mean that you could make yourself stand out for the admissions board. There would a be significantly higher chance for you to be called for an interview or moving on to the next part. Suffice to say, your personal statement is very, very important.

The goal of a personal statement is to get the admissions staff interested in you as a person.

How to write a personal statement for dental school?

Now that you know why you need to write a personal statement and how important it is, it is finally time to move on to the part where we tell you how to write a personal statement for dental school.

Step by step guide

According to the ADEA guidelines, your personal statement for dental school must be a one-page essay that cannot exceed 4,500 characters. This includes spaces, numbers, punctuation, letters, etc. The ADEA also outlines some of the things they want you to mention in your personal statement.

These include-

  • Describe the moment you decided you wanted to study dentistry.
  • Why do you want to study dentistry?
  • What have you done thus far to prepare yourself for dental school?
  • Tell your story
  • Your career goals as a dentist
  • Why are you a suitable candidate for dental school?

Based on the points that you are expected to include in your personal statement, here is how you can structure your final essay-

  1. Reasons for wanting to study dentistry
  2. Describe why you are a suitable candidate
  3. Your extracurriculars related to dentistry
  4. Your skills, hobbies, and achievements related to dentistry
  5. Additionally, you may also mention why a specific dental school would be perfect for you.

Step:1- Brainstorming

Now that you know what the broad categories of required information for your personal statement are, it’s time to brainstorm. List down all the relevant information under each of the broad topics. Include everything you can think of, the best and most relevant points can be shortlisted later. A good way to brainstorm is by writing down 5 relevant pieces of information.

For example- List 5 reasons you want to study dentistry. Then list 5 of the strengths that would make you a great dentist. List 5 interesting life events that can be related to dental school.

While lists and mindmaps are a great way to brainstorm, here are a few exercises to help jog your memories and organize your thoughts and information.

The chronological method:

Start from your childhood and move from grade to grade to note down every relevant significant event which may have led to your firm decision of going to dental school. Include any good moments, and hardships or obstacles you may have to overcome, anything profound that helped shape you. Make your entries as detailed as possible. Include your feelings and opinions about the events as you note them down.

Evaluate your accomplishments

Now accomplishments don’t only mean the ones that you have something to show for. A certificate or a medal doesn’t necessarily count as an accomplishment. And the admission committee is usually more concerned about what you have been doing since college than what you have done in high school. Therefore write down all your accomplishments. Or whatever you count as accomplishments, no matter how small they are. Of course the accomplishments that resulted in public acknowledgment, certificates, and medals are also important so note them down too.

List your skillset

Being able to make a connection between an unexpected skill and how it will make you a better dentist will help your personal statement be unique and make you a memorable candidate. You can start by listing down the skills that helped you achieve the accomplishments you have listed prior. Once you have listed all the relevant skills figure out how they would help you make a good dentist. Then sort out the skills that would help you become the most competent dentist possible.

Personality traits are vastly different from the skillset. But at the same time, they are not all that different. Personality traits such as trustworthiness, sense of responsibility, good bedside manners can all be a big part of you being a good dentist. Portray them as such.

Step 2: Setting the narrative

There is a purpose for putting “reasons for wanting to study dentistry” is on top of the list of broad topics. You need to set a narrative of a thousand moments or just one defining moment where you decided that you wanted to go to dental school. The more details you include about that narrative the better. Include feelings and nitty-gritty details to convince the admission officers that- yes! This is what you want and you are absolutely sure of it.

Now reflect back to all points you noted during your brainstorming session. Pick out the points under each broad topic category that is most relevant to the narrative you trying to build.

Step 3: Pick a good opening

The next step is to present your narrative in a well put-together, cohesive package. However, remember how we mentioned that a personal statement tells your story? The most important part of a story, besides its climax, is the introduction. If the beginning of your personal statement is bland, the admission office will be less inclined to read the rest of it.

The admission officers will be reading thousands of applications and all the applicants will be stating why they want to go to dental school. Instead, pick out a point- a skill, and event, an experience that is uniquely you in the introduction and then build off of that. Make the admissions officers interested in you, in your story. Make them interested enough to read the rest of your statement and accept your overall application.

Step 4: Writing the personal statement

Use the experience that you describe to tell a story of personal progress, particularly towards your commitment to dentistry.

Make multiple drafts of your personal statement.

Write, review, then write it again. Write it in different formats to see which one stands out the most. Give yourself at least six months to write your essay. I know this may seem like a long time, but between the brainstorming session and the multiple drafts, six months may feel inadequate at times.

Structure your personal statement in a way that makes it easy to follow and understand for your readers. A good way to do this would be to embrace the 5-point essay format:

  • 1st Paragraph- Consists of 4-5 sentences to grab the readers' attention.
  • 3 to 4 body paragraphs- use these paragraphs to tell your story. Paint a picture of who you are with words. Describe your achievements, skills, etc.
  • Concluding paragraph- finish everything by tying all loose ends. It is said that the strongest conclusion reflects the beginning, summarizes the whole piece of writing and leaves your readers wanting to know more.

Try using simple concise language.

The admission officers will lose interest in your writing if they keep on having to refer to a dictionary to understand the meaning of certain words. So use common words. For example- instead of writing arduous, write difficult.

Avoid clichés

Of course, you want to go to dental school because you love science and would like to help people but so do the thousands of other applicants. Write about unique reasons that made you want to pursue dentistry as your profession.

Tips and Tricks

Here are a few tips and tricks to help boost up your personal statement.

  • Read sample personal statements to get a better idea before you start writing your own. You can find samples of personal statements for dental schools here.
  • There is a character limit therefore always be relevant and don’t waste any words.
  • Be original and authentic
  • Get feedback from teachers, friends, family and then review, and edit accordingly.
  • Get your personal statement reviewed by professionals. You can send your personal statement to The Medic Portal to get professional feedback on it.
  • Make sure all the information you include in your personal statement is true and accurate.

A few things to avoid when writing your personal statement:

  • Don’t exaggerate about how passionate you are about dental school. Everyone will be doing that. Instead try to convey your passion and commitment through your narrative.
  • Avoid using jargon, slang, or informal language. The admission officials are sometimes non-medical personnel who will be confused rather than being impressed by medical or dental jargon.
  • Don’t repeat information that can be found in your transcripts or recommendation letters. Instead, include new information about yourself.
  • Do not wait until the last moment to start writing your personal statement
  • Don’t use overly sentimental language. Make sure to sound professional.
  • DO NOT INCLUDE TOO MUCH INFORMATION– this is probably the most notable point. Pick a focal point and keep all information relevant to it. Including too much information can not only confuse the admission officer, but it may also make it seem you are unsure of your goals and desire to go to dental school.

Conclusion

A good personal statement is one page 4500 character essay that vividly describes you as a person and student highlighting why you are the perfect candidate for dental school. It is concise, engaging, and to the point. A personal statement builds a personal connection between you and the admission officer. So make sure your personal statement is all of that. Most importantly make sure to make your personal statement stand out. Do not forget to read samples to get a better idea of how to write a personal statement for dental school.

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