AADSAS requires an essay from each applicant that will give admissions officers a personal account of who the applicant is, what his or her interests are, and why he or she is interested in the field of dentistry. The essay is limited to 4500 characters (approximately one page, includes spaces and punctuation). The prompt for the essay on AADSAS is purposely blank so that applicants do not feel restricted in what/how they should write, but the ADEA recommends that “your Personal Statement […] address why you desire to pursue a dental education and how a dental degree contributes to your personal and professional goals. The Admissions Committee members who read your essay are looking for individuals who are motivated, academically prepared, articulate, socially conscious, and knowledgeable about the profession. Write about your experiences and any qualities that will make you stand out”. In short, your personal statement should focus on your interest in dentistry, some things you have done to this point that illustrate your interest, and how these attributes will help you succeed in your future career as a dentist.
While the focus of your essay should not prevent you from writing an interesting and enjoyable composition, avoid writing in a vague, philosophical manner. The personal statement is not meant to be a creative piece, but rather a clear, concise, professional essay indicating your interest in entering the field of dentistry and providing solid information to support your acceptance. Remember, the admissions committee at each dental school will be deciding who they wish to invite for an interview based solely on the AADSAS application so the personal statement will be your only opportunity to speak to them in your own words (until you meet them in person on interview day). Make it count.
Although a poorly-written essay may not prevent an applicant with highly competitive credentials from being invited for an interview, a well-written essay can be strongly influential in persuading admissions committee members to interview (or even accept) an applicant who is lacking in one or more aspects of their application (see Dental School Preparations).
Below are some of the Duke Pre-Dental Society’s favorite resources for perfecting a dental school personal statement. Feel free to browse through the wealth of information found in the links below.
Duke University HPA Personal Statement Advice
“Writing the Primary Essay for Medical School” — Dan Scheirer, Duke University Dean of Health Professions Advising
Student Doctor Network Essay Workshop 101
Student Doctor Network Essay Workshop 101 Supplement
Excellent Inquarta Article on “Writing a Winning Personal Statement”
University of Michigan Personal Statement Tips
Duke Pre-Dental Society “AADSAS and the Personal Statement” Powerpoint
Sample Dental School Personal Statement (with Dean Scheirer’s comments)
Sample Medical School Personal Statement #1 (with Dean Scheirer’s comments)
Sample Medical School Personal Statement #2 (with Dean Scheirer’s comments)
DMDStudent.com Personal Statement Examples (part 1)
DMDStudent.com Personal Statement Examples (part 2)