awesome personal statement ot school

Write an Awesome Personal Statement for OT School

So you want to be an occupational therapist, but you still have to jump through the many hoops of applying for grad programs. One mandatory part of the process is writing a great personal statement specifically for occupational therapy school, which can be pretty intimidating when it’s time to put pen to paper.

Well, I’m here to help!

I personally spent quite a bit of time crafting the best possible personal statement I could for OT school, and have since read and edited many, many personal statements from pre-OT applicants. (Want me to edit yours? Sign up here!)

These are my top tips for you to craft a great occupational therapy personal statement that will help you stand out from the large crowd of pre-OT applicants. 

First, the Do’s and Dont’s of Statement Writing



  • Do start early: Give yourself enough time to brainstorm, write, and revise your personal statement well before the deadline. This will really reduce your feelings of stress and being rushed.
  • Do show sincerity in your writing. It’s encouraged to let your positive emotions and enthusiasm shine through. 
  • Do talk about why you want to be an occupational therapist. You want the programs to see that you are serious about this decision. You are not just applying because you can’t think of anything else to do for a career.
  • Do in one way or another demonstrate through your writing that you know what OT is and why it’s important.
  • Do showcase why you’ll make a great addition to their program, adding unique qualities that will differentiate you from the other applicants. 
  • Do talk about your shadowing experience, volunteering and work experience that is relevant to the field of OT. Make sure you keep patient information confidential if you discuss certain cases you observed.
  • Do feel free to use the language of OT if you know it and are familiar with it (i.e. interventions, treatments, occupations, goals, evidence-based, functional treatments, etc.)
  • Do tie your personal statement together. If you make several different points, try to piece them together for the reader to show that you’ve really thought through the big picture.
  • Do have at least two people (but the more the better) read and proofread the final draft of your statement. Ask friends, family members, and someone at your school’s writing center. This can help spark ideas and ensure your application is completely free of typos or grammatical errors. The last thing you want is admissions to immediately notice any glaring spelling mistakes that you may have missed.
  • Do keep the length to 1-2 pages max. You want it to be short and sweet. If any sentence or paragraph looks unnecessary after you do a final read-through, get rid of it. As a general rule, personal statements run on average 600-800 words.


personal statement dont

  • Don’t start your essay with clichés. In fact, leave them out of your statement altogether. An example of this is “I’ve always wanted to help people” (they see this all the time).
  • Don’t plagiarize. There are a lot of personal statement examples on the internet that you can absolutely use to guide your writing process. Do not use them word for word. Programs can find out and will exclude your application.  Use the examples as templates of what kind of content you’ll cover in your statement.
  • Don’t try to be humorous in your personal statement. Even if you’re hilarious, this is not the time to show this. 
  • Don’t just talk about your childhood. Focus on college and post college achievements unless something in your childhood or adolescence is what drove you to a career in occupational therapy. Remember that this isn’t an autobiography, it’s a statement on why you’ll be a great OT.
  • Don’t guess what you think the reader wants you to say. Be honest and don’t write in a way that is out of line with who you really are. Don’t just write something to try to impress people.
  • Don’t be a downer. Avoid going into detail about your dislikes, negative views, or problems in your life. If you have a low GPA or lack of experience, don’t mention it unless you can put a positive spin on it. Listing excuses for your low GPA or GRE score isn’t a good idea either, unless you really feel the need to tie in why your GPA is lower but how you’ll be an awesome therapist despite this.
  • Don’t mention specific programs in your statement if you’re using OTCAS. It will be sent to every school you apply to and therefore won’t make sense. If you apply to an individual school (not on OTCAS) then absolutely mention the school and why you’re passionate about their program.

Check out the How Get Into OT School Guide! It’s the most comprehensive resource that covers everything you need to know.

Ask Yourself This Question:

A bonus tip I found while perusing the Student Doctor Network Forums while researching this topic, which is to ask yourself this question:

“Can you replace your personal statement with a degree other than OT?  If not, it’s solid. If you can, then try to revise to make it only relevant to OT.”

And that’s a wrap!

If you have any other tips or tricks you’ve discovered while writing your personal statement for OT school, please feel free to add them in the comments section. I wish you the best of luck with your statement writing and your overall OT school application process!

Be sure to check out these other helpful resources:

Writing the Personal Statement (Purdue OWL)

Start Your Grad School Personal Statement in Just 1 Hour! (The Muse)

Writing a Personal Statement (Emory Pre-Health Advising)

5 Big Mistakes I Made When Applying to OT School (My OT Spot)

This post was last updated on May 12, 2023.

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  • Rebecca May 18, 2020   Reply →

    As I’m working on my application essay this week, your article is very helpful! Thank you.

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L May 19, 2020   Reply →

      I’m so glad it was helpful for you 🙂 Best of luck with your applications!

  • May August 7, 2020   Reply →

    Hi Sarah,

    Thank you for this article! I just wanted to know, do you offer services proof reading other people’s personal statements? That would be really helpful for me!

    • Sarah Stromsdorfer, OTR/L August 7, 2020   Reply →

      Hi May, I do offer personal statement reviewing that you can set up here. Instead of the traditional coaching call that’s linked, it will instead entail personal statement edits and feedback via email 🙂

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