Hear from Practitioners

Writing a Personal Statement for Your Dental School Application

Posted by Anirudha Agnihotry, B.D.S., D.D.S. on March 25, 2020

The personal statement is one of the most important parts of the ADEA AADSAS® (ADEA Associated American Dental School Application Service) application. It gives a dental school’s admissions committee the opportunity to assess your motivations and decide if you will be extended an invitation to interview. Often, it takes a long time to write it, and individuals may feel lost on how to approach it. I will help guide you on the path to successfully writing an effective personal statement. 


You should be very clear on the statement’s purpose. Apart from being clear on the dental or dental hygiene program and/or university’s mission focus, you should also be aware of and communicate what you want to achieve by becoming a health care provider. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What drives you to be a dentist or dental hygienist?
  • What will you achieve by becoming a dentist or dental hygienist?

These questions are important and should be answered within the personal statement. If you have clear answers, you will have a clear vision of the content of your personal statement’s purpose.



The next step is to define the content before you start writing the essay. It should revolve around your personal story, which could start from anywhere you like. For example, you could start when you chose to pursue this profession, or you can start from the present and explain how you’re investing time in and outside of school into building yourself into a better future dentist or dental hygienist. The beginning should be impactful, but do not sit on the beginning statement too long. Rereading and editing will help you get there. Sometimes, you might need to write the whole essay to identify a clear beginning statement.

After a decent beginning, focus on the rest of the story. Remember, it is a personal statement and it should be personal. Convey your story in an interesting manner. Project your personality. The admissions committee knows your GPA and have your CV/resume. What they want to know is who you really are. Add anecdotes from the journey that brought you to dentistry/dental hygiene. Add experiences from your personal life that highlight certain qualities essential to being a successful health care provider. If there were any dentists that you admired, shadowed or worked for who encouraged you to follow suit into dentistry, make sure you highlight the characteristics you admired in them.

Concluding statements are important, too. There should be a delightful epilogue to your essay summarizing the intent, while throwing light on the future and how completing the dental program will put you in a better position to help the community overall.


Use of Language

Judging the quality of your grammar is not the admissions committee’s goal when they read personal statements, but it serves to your advantage if you are meticulous with the words you choose. Certain avoidable grammatical or syntax errors may shift the focus of the reader from the message to the mistakes. It is important to reread and edit out such mistakes. Doing so also conveys your sincere efforts toward making a successful application.

Sentence structure is also important in making a script that flows well and keeps the reader’s attention. Small, interrupted sentences may not allow the reader to follow your thoughts through the punctuation marks, while long, complicated sentences may leave the reader stranded and confused with no closure. We often do not realize these mistakes as we write because the focus is not on sentence structure but on the content. Make sure you go back and read the essay thoroughly to make it easy for others to read. Follow up by using the most suitable conjunctions and transitional words and phrases.



Give yourself plenty of time for the writing process. Always try to start the personal statement early and do not leave it for last. Take a day off, sleep well, focus and write the first draft of the personal statement. At this point, do not think of the word limits and grammar—simply put your heart on paper and then, forget about it. Reread and edit it, afresh. Repeat the process three to four times and then seek help from an advisor or your friends and family. Let at least three to four trusted people read it and ask them to give their opinions and criticisms. Make sure they understand what you are trying to convey in the first place, then consider all their suggestions. Make edits per your liking and, at this stage of editing, lock down the major content of your essay. If your reviewers’ suggestions are contrasting and confusing, it is okay to make two separate drafts and elect to use the one that appeals to you the most. Edit and re-edit the draft you like the best and ask the reviewers to review the new version(s) again. You can always get new people to review it as well.

After you are happy with the content, focus on the language and presentation. Ask the reviewers to read it again and submit it after you feel confident about it. While taking suggestions from others, remember it is your personal statement, so stay true to yourself and do not sway from being yourself to impress others.

Good luck! 

About Anirudha Agnihotry, B.D.S., D.D.S.:

Anirudha Agnihotry_headshot_220x287

Anirudha Agnihotry, B.D.S., D.D.S.

General Dentist/Clinical Researcher

Private Practice, California


Dr. Agnihotry graduated from Manipal College of Dental Sciences with a Bachelor's in Dental Surgery (B.D.S.) degree in 2012. After a one-year clinical internship, he joined the faculty in the Operative Dentistry and Endodontics Department in Mahatma Gandhi Dental College, where he also maintained a faculty practice. After that, he moved to Divya Jyoti College of Dental Sciences and Research in the Public Health Dentistry. There, Dr. Agnihotry worked setting up community outreach clinics and school oral health programs as well as training dental students. In 2014, Agnihotry moved to the United States and completed a post-graduate certificate training in Restorative Dentistry and following that, worked as a researcher in the same department at the University of California, Los Angeles. After that, he enrolled in an intense accelerated program to obtain his Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) degree in two years, graduating in 2018. He is currently practicing general dentistry in California.


Dr. Agnihotry has been in dentistry for 12 years, as a student and a teacher at times. He has published 12 international scientific research papers, presented in international conferences, is a referee for six international scientific journals and has also written a textbook chapter. His focus is patient-centered outcomes and secondary research with clinical outcomes in focus. Apart from dentistry, he enjoys swimming, playing squash, running, biking, barbecuing and takes a keen interest in all art forms.