How to Write a Great Introduction for Your Personal Statement

This is no perfect formula for writing a Personal Statement. Each essay should be somewhat distinct because everyone has a different story to tell. As you brainstorm ways to begin your introduction paragraph, here are a few approaches to help get the ball rolling:

  • Capture the reader’s attention: Start your essay with a hook – a short, memorable statement or illustrative anecdote that leads into the essay. By beginning with a catchy line, you’ll make the reader want to know more immediately. Creativity is encouraged!
  • Zoom in on an idea: Think of the introduction paragraph as a magnifying glass – looking closely at the theme of your entire essay. Zoom in on one idea by focusing on an important detail or specific memory, then slowly step back to explain your full journey and perspective in the paragraphs that follow. As you move to the body paragraphs, the story continues to broaden, helping the reader get to know you better through your perspectives and experiences.
  • Start at the beginning, then move chronologically: Since the whole essay is usually focused on your journey towards attending dental school, you could simply start with the beginning of your story. Share where your interest in dental school began and move in chronological order throughout the rest of your essay.

No matter how you begin your essay, remember to connect it back to you right away. Admissions officers want to hear your personal story throughout the whole essay, so make sure your opening sentence shares something about you in some way.


  • Get to the point quickly. Move quickly to the ideas that matter. Since you have limited space in this essay, don’t waste sentences on fluff or generic jargon.
  • Delete unneeded sentences. After you have a draft, go back and eliminate any sentence that doesn’t have a specific purpose in your story. If you have details that either don’t tell us about you or don’t add to the plot, delete them.
  • Write using your voice. Your writing should sound natural, giving the reader a better understanding of who you are and what you stand for. Read it out loud and make sure it sounds like words you would actually use in real life!
  • Show enthusiasm: A dry essay filled with buzzwords will put an admissions evaluator to sleep. Show some excitement and tell a story about how eager you are to contribute to the profession.
  • Keep the introduction concise. You want to build momentum and lead the reader to the body paragraphs of your essay. Aim to keep your introduction to 4-6 sentences in length. 
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