Personal Statement: Extra-Curricular Activities

Tamsin Dyer

Tamsin Dyer

Senior Writer at Medic Mind

Introduction

When thinking about extra-curricular activities it is sometimes difficult to decide what to include and what not to in your personal statement. There are many things you can talk about.  Volunteering, Schemes and Hobbies. These are the three main categories that you want to include. 

  1. Volunteering – experiences such as volunteering in a care home, hospice or with charities are great to mention. This can help to demonstrate your commitment to a caring role, especially if you have undertaken this volunteering over a long period of time. Remember to think about what your learnt, as your reflection is what the examiner is often looking for.
  2. Schemes – such as Young Enterprise. This experience will have provided you with some great skills such as leadership, teamwork and communication skills. Think about what you learnt while completing such a scheme, as well as why these skills are essential for doctors to have. 
  3. Hobbies – Sports and music are great examples here. Think about why you enjoy doing a particular sport of musical instrument for example. Also think about why it is important to have a good work-life balance when studying at university. 

How do I talk about my extracurricular activities? 

Try to link your activities to skills that you have learnt through them, and then on to why you ultimately want to study medicine, and how this will help you. This shows insight and maturity of thought.  

There is more to university than just medicine, and medical schools do want to hear about that aspect of you too. It is really important that you show you do more than just produce good grades. Extracurricular activities is a great way of showing that you do more than just study, so make sure to include it. Some universities even penalise you for not including any information about your extracurriculars. 

Be enthusiastic in your tone, – similarly to your introduction you want to make sure that you have an enthusiastic tone in your writing, however remember it is an academic piece of writing. Therefore, try to avoid talking about things such as watching TV, instead think about sports and other extracurricular activities you do. 

Worked Examples

We wanted to show you a bad and good example of what you can write. These are generic examples, but please do make your own. Remember medical schools want to hear about your unique experiences and what you have learnt. Also they may ask you about it at interview, so be sure to be truthful with your examples. 

“I have a grade 2 piano, and I like playing football every week.”

This is a bad example because the student has just listed what they have done/do. This doesn’t show what you have learnt from your extracurriculars or why you enjoy them. Instead try to focus on one and explain it in more detail.

“I have a passion for creative projects, so being part of a Young Enterprise company enabled me to nurture my skills and explore the world of business. I learnt invaluable lessons on teamwork and leadership. This has also helped completement my role as Captain of the School Football Team.”

This example is much more interesting and you have told the reader much more detail. The reflection on what you have learnt with regards to skills is what they are looking for. You could further add a specific example about your project for a more indepth answer. Do remember the character count, so you may not be able to do this. You can always go into more detail in your interview if asked about this.

Final Note

Hopefully this helped  guide you as to what to and what not to include, as well as how to write about your extracurricular activities in an interesting way. It is always important to remember that many medical schools mark your personal statements, just like an essay, and this can help to decide which applicants are shortlisted for an interview. It is likely extra-curricular activities on this shortlist, therefore mentioning these is very important.  

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