Friday 26 August 2011

How to write the personal statement - Technical details

Hi folks,
Today I came across a very interesting and useful piece of information which I wish to share. Many people have questions regarding how to write the personal statement. Refer to the article (click here) ten commandment of a stellar PS – about the content of personal statement and some more information on writing the personal statement can be found at this address, click here. , This article is going to exclusively talk about the technical aspects typing up a personal statement. Here in, information like what the font size should be, length of the statement, things to remember and stuff to not do is discussed. 

ERAS allows the personal statement to be as long as 28,000 characters. (Including white spaces). If you were to write the statement to this limit, it will be too long. An ideal statement is about 1-2 pages long. For example, this one page article has 515 words and 2994 characters with spaces included.

ERAS recommends using a simple text editor like Notepad (for Windows) or SimpleText/Text edit (for Mac). If you don’t know how to access notepad in windows then click on the start tab and find the search icon. You can search for notepad.exe file or you can type notepad in the run program bar just as you click the start button and get there. Save the type up statement as a .txt file to a secure folder. To transfer your personal statement to the ERAS website, "copy and paste" your text into MyERAS.
I however, do not recommend using notepad.exe for the initial writing of the personal statement. This is because notepad lacks word correction, grammar and spelling features, which are ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL for a superb statement. Trivial spelling mistakes and errors in grammar are the best thing you can do to sabotage your chances of landing that residency interview.

Use a word processor like Microsoft Word. When you are satisfied with the length and content of the article, check for errors, check for word and character count and click File | Save As Text only (*.txt). Alternatively, you can “select all” | “copy and paste” in notepad.exe. Make sure the notepad is set to “text wrap”, which is an option found under format tab. 

Some other recommendations from ERAS

- You should only enter hard returns at the end of paragraphs. 
- Do not indent your paragraphs with a 'tab' space instead use 'spacebar' 4 or 5 times at beginning of paragraph. This is because apparently tabs spaces appear different lengths on different computers. Stick with the space bar.
- EXCEPTIONALLY IMPORTANT: Programs view personal statements as black and white ASCII text that is in Courier New 10pt font. Set your ‘font size’ and ‘type’ to Courier New 10 pt and see how long your PS looks. The sentence you are reading is written in Courier New font.

The title of the personal statement, unless included in the body of the statement is only visible to the applicant. You can therefore use identifying information like “General surgery personal statement” or “Common personal statement for FM and IM” as an easy means to identify which statement you want to upload to a specific program. Again, per ERAS, titles only identifies the personal statement to the applicant; programs will not be able to see this title. Once you are done with personal statement pay attention to your CV, read how to prepare your CV/resume for residency.


  1. You are doin a wonderful job ... prayers for you

    1. Thank you Dr. Waqar, Good luck for your endeavors.

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