Without a doubt, a personal statement is one of the most important papers you are ever going to write as a student. It has to show that you are good enough to be accepted to the university of your dreams – and you have only 4,000 characters available to prove it.
So, how can you make the most of these 4,000 characters and write a brilliant personal statement? Here are a few tips that could help you to do so!
1. Write a plan.
A good personal statement has to demonstrate your language skills, your critical thinking, your ability to support your point of view with strong arguments. However, what’s even more important to the admission board is the way you answer a few questions. These questions are the same for every university and you probably know most of them already, but I’m going to make a list of them just in case:
– Why did you choose this particular course?
– Why are you good for studying it?
– Are there any unique skills you possess?
– Are you able to demonstrate any transferable skills?
– What makes you stand out among others?
– How could you benefit the university of your dreams?
Of course, simply making a list of those questions and answering them one by one isn’t the best way to write your personal statement. Instead, think about how you are going to answer them and write a detailed plan that will allow you to do so smoothly. Moreover, this will allow you to spend less time on the writing itself, as you’ll always know what you have to write next.
2. Don’t try to fit the characters limit.
Yes, a personal statement does have a certain limit, but this doesn’t mean that you have to keep this limit in mind all the time. On the contrary, focusing on it could complicate the process greatly, making the final result worse.
Try to write freely instead of trying to fit the limit. You will always be able to shorten your personal statement or add more words to it after it’s finished – and at the same time, you’ll be sure that you’ve mentioned all the important details already. Moreover, editing a personal statement that is already written is much easier than writing it so it would fit the limit from the start.
3. Choose the right words.
A choice of words matters a lot: some words can make your personal statement look smarter and professional, while some can ruin an impression you’ve been trying so hard to create. That’s why, if you have enough time, be sure to re-read the draft and try to come up with more appropriate words. You can also use dictionaries and synonyms to make it easier.
4. Stand out, but try not to overdo.
We know that one of the main goals of a personal statement is to demonstrate unique qualities and impress the admission board with your personality. However, knowing that and doing it right are actually two different things. I’ve heard stories of students who’ve been trying to impress the admission board so hard that they ended up scaring them away because their stories and personal examples were too weird.
Remember that you have to impress in a positive way and be personal but not too offhand.
5. Be honest and unique.
Another bad thing to do in the process of personal statement writing is to exaggerate your virtues and skills a lot as well as lie about them. Remember that the admission board can check the facts you are listing and find out whether you really were a captain of the school’s football team or not, for example. And if this does happen, you’ll not only fail to create the right impression, but will also considerably lower your chances of being accepted to this university.
Moreover, do not look at others’ personal statements much, trying to write your own after them. This could easily confuse you instead of actually helping you, making it harder to develop your own style and arguments. Remember that there is no standard template for writing a personal statement: you have to make your own one look unique, not follow the others’ example.
6. Don’t rush.
A good personal statement cannot be written quickly. If you want to make it as good as possible, be sure to write a few drafts, put them away for a couple of days, then return to them, re-read, and edit what is necessary. Even if you take your time coming up with a plan and writing drafts, there is a big chance that you might want to add or change something after a couple of days. Moreover, re-reading will allow you to notice some mistakes that might have slipped away from you at first and fix them.
7. Send it and stop re-reading it.
One of the biggest mistakes students make is re-reading their personal statements after they send them. This is definitely not going to change anything; however, this will most likely make you worry even more than before. Waiting is hard on its own and when you re-read your personal statement and keep noticing the things you could change or improve, you will only feel worse about yourself. There’s no need to stress yourself even more: just send your personal statement and do your best to forget about it for the next couple of months.
Of course, trying to present yourself right could be hard for many of us, especially for those who are very self-conscious about themselves and find it hard to come up with the list of their strong sides. But you have to try your best as this is the only way to succeed. Don’t be afraid to use someone else’s help too: for example, ask your friends and your family about your strongest skills and character traits and try to use this information in your personal statement.
I wish you good luck with it!