Example Pt School Essays

Ah, the personal statement. Arguably the most important component of your application to PT school (or any other graduate program, really, but for the sake of simplicity we’ll use physical therapy here.)

You spend days, weeks, and probably months crafting your personal statement and now you’re ready to paste it into your PTCAS application(Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service)and hit submit.

Just a second. This is a personal statement, but is it about you?

PTCAS calls it an essay, rather than a personal statement, so it can be easy to forget that for PT school applications- they’re the same thing. For this essay, PTCAS provides a specific prompt, and this year’s prompt is thesame as last year’s:

“What is professionalism in the context of being a student in a doctor of physical therapist degree program?”

If you ask a lot of different people for advice on the essay, they’ll all likely tell you the same thing- follow the prompt. Answer the question. I, personally, wrote out a personal statement generally addressing why I wanted to be a physical therapist. Then, come application time, I found that I had to rewrite most of of it because the prompt was more specific than I expected.

But that’s a story for another time.

Okay, so you follow this year’s prompt. You list out all of the great characteristics a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) student should have in order to maintain and exude professionalism. Clear communication skills, confidence, empathy… you know the deal.


The mistake I’ve seen in many personal statements, however, is that people are forgetting to make the personal statement, well, personal! 

Up until the essay, your PTCAS application will be mostly numbers (GPA, GRE) or short lists of extra-curriculars without much context. The personal statement is your opportunity to really shine and showcase your personality.

To do that, another key point to remember as you write is not to tell the reader anything, but rather “show” them through vivid and anecdotal writing.

No matter how you define professionalism in the indicated context, you need evidence that you practice what you preach, or that you at least have a plan of how to do so.

For example, if you think that empathy is important to professionalism as a DPT studentinclude an example from your own life that shows that you embody this exact trait. Recount stories from your time as a babysitter, older sibling, kind PT volunteer- whatever.

Remember, show. Don’t tell.

To construct an essay that captures your uniqueness, try some of these writing tips:

  • Include a story that is both captivating and relevant
  • Start with a cliffhanger, then bring it full circle at the end
  • Reflect on your experiences as a shadow, volunteer, or tech
  • Jot down the differences between undergraduate and graduate programs
  • Come up with at least 2 ways in which your desire to become a PT is different from every other PT hopeful
  • Try to see PT in everything. Look for ways to connect both everyday routine and special events of value to physical therapy


3 things to keep in mind:

  1. the prompt
  2. your story + how it connects to the prompt
  3. show, don’t tell

What do you think of this year’s prompt? Are you using any of the methods in the bullet points above?

Let me know in the comments!

Happy writing!

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The application process for most physical therapy programs begin in the summer and are completed via PTCAS. By this time you’ve already done your research on how to become a Physical Therapist and you’re really hoping to get an interview at one of your top choices for PT school.

(If you’re a PT looking for PT Job Interview Questions, read this article: 15 PT Job Interview Questions.)

One of our most popular articles (over 500 pins on Pinterest!) shares some great tips and strategies for crushing your PT school interview. You can find sample formats to build a strong answer to some of the most common PT school interview questions.

This article expands a bit more by listing out   30 sample PT school interview questions that you might be asked this fall. If you use the same strategies from this article, you should have no problems crafting an answer that helps the admissions team really get to know you and why you’re a great fit for their program.


***Note: This article is about 1,000 words of helpful advice.  But we knew something was missing, so we created a guide that shares the exact strategies and ESSAYS we used to land a seat at the #1 PT School in the country. You can read that article here: The Physical Therapy School Interview Guide.

Definitely finish reading this article, but check out the Guide too 🙂 ***

Example PT School Interview Questions

If you’re applying to med school, you might also find these similar questions. My wife was accepted into med school and saw very similar questions in her interviews.

General Questions

1. Tell us a little about yourself?

2. What made you decide to apply to our program?

3. There are many health related careers. Why do you want to become a PT?

4. What can you offer to the graduate program and/or the profession?

5.  Can you provide an example of how you have handled a stressful situation in the past?

6.  Who would you say inspires you?

7.  What area of physical therapy have you experienced?

8.  How do you define success?

9.  What motivates you each day?

Questions on Your Skill and Knowledge Base:

10. What strengths do you have that will enable you to become a successful Physical Therapist?

11. What courses do you feel have helped to prepare you in becoming a PT?

12. What kind of volunteer or shadowing experience do you have?

13. What did you learn from your PT shadowing experience?

14. Tell us about your experiences in working with a diverse group of people.

15. What is your take on the APTA’s vision and mission statement?  

Questions About Your Personal Life:

16.  What are the greatest challenges you’ve overcome personally?

17.  Can you speak about a time you struggled (during college or work) and what you did to overcome that challenge?

18.  What do you think your biggest challenge will be in graduate school?

19.  Where do you see yourself in five years? 

20.  Give me an example of a time when you had to think outside the box

21.  Tell me about a time when you had to deal with conflict and how was it resolved

22.  What makes you think you’ll be a good Physical Therapist?

23.  What is/was your favorite subject in your current studies?

Ethical, philosophical & current issues types of questions

24.  In your opinion, describe the qualities of a great Physical Therapist.

25.  What do you feel the greatest challenges are for Physical Therapists today?

26.  How do you see healthcare evolving in the next 10 years?

27.  How would you handle this situation? (ethical question)

28.  What would you do if one of your classmates was cheating?

29.  If you don’t get into a PT program, what are your plans?

30.  Do you have any questions for us?



Of all the potential questions, number 30 is the most important to rehearse. If you are conversational during the interview, you’ve probably asked a few questions already which looks great! If you realize that you’ve just been machine gun answering every question, now is your chance to stand out and show that you’re interested. Ask questions about new developments within the department or research they’re doing that actually interests you. It seriously has to be genuine – if you’re asking a question that can be found on their financial aid page, you’re wasting everyone’s time.

Put some thought into these questions and come prepared with examples and stories and you’ll do just fine on your interview.

*** Learn about our Newest Resource for PRE-PT Students ***

The Physical Therapy School Interview Guide

Click here to read the article explaining why we created the interview guide.

Filed Under: Becoming a PT, PT Schools

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