A challenging part of your Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) application is the personal statement. Allow yourself plenty of time to write this essay; it is challenging to present yourself in one written page. Plan to have this reviewed by someone who knows you and several people who are familiar with the match process. Set specific goals for what you want to get across: Why did I choose neurosurgery? What do I bring to neurosurgery? Why will I be a good neurosurgeon? Identify qualities of a neurosurgeon, and briefly explain a personal experience or achievement that demonstrates these qualities.
In general, it is a good idea to keep it simple – remember your audience consists of busy academic neurosurgeons who will read hundreds of personal statements. Try to throw in something interesting (preferably early on) that makes it readable. Feel free to include compelling aspects of your personal biography that may help you stand out (born in another country, overcame specific obstacles to education or training, family hardships, etc.). Do not write more than a single page, and consider using short, pithy paragraphs that are easy to digest. A good introduction is helpful to garner interest, but do not be dramatic. It may take several drafts to produce the final product. Know that some programs will rate your personal statement. This rating will then be factored into your overall score.