The importance of a good Personal Statement

The importance of a good Personal Statement

One of the most nerve-wracking pieces of your application is the personal statement. As intimidating as this task is, it’s also a great opportunity for you to show off your personality and passion for your subject. These tips will help you stand out from the crowd:

Remember the guidelines

  • You can only submit one personal statement and all course administrators will receive the same document. So, avoid mentioning things specific to one particular course. Also, if you’re applying for a range of courses, you need to make sure that your application is appropriate for all of them. 

  • You have a maximum of 4,000 characters or 47 lines, including blank lines. (whichever comes first.) This is very short, so don’t waste space!

  • Consider the formatting of your statement. Some admissions tutors recommend that you leave a blank line to separate paragraphs, as typeset is removed. If you don’t want to waste this space, organize your paragraphs so they end midway along the line, so that sections are still obvious.  

Plan your time

You won’t be able to rush writing your personal statement. Most schools won’t let you leave it until the night before but try to be slightly ahead of your internal deadline. The more time you give yourself, the longer you can take to edit your ideas and strengthen your application. Remember that deadlines for applications vary, so double check when it is due.

Make it personal

There is no one size fits all approach. The most important thing that you can bring to the table is yourself. Tutors are used to formulaic, generic applications that follow the same structure and use the same quotations. Avoid this and let them see your personality. 

Do your research  

Although it might seem obvious, you can’t know enough about the course you’re applying to. Go on the university’s website, read reviews written by other students, and talk to people you know who have applied to a similar course. 

Show your interest

Explain what made you want to study your chosen course or mention a book that inspired you. By giving real evidence of commitment to your chosen course, you’ll seem like a dedicated student. Three years is a long time, so admissions tutors are searching for students who have a genuine passion. If you have taken the initiative to read up on your chosen subject, this will help you stand out.

Emphasize your skills  

This can be difficult for some of us to do, so take the time to think about what your accomplishments are. You can also mention extracurricular activities; when you do this, you need to highlight the skills you’ve developed that are useful to your course. For example, if you helped to organize a charity event, how is this relevant to a degree in history? You could say that this shows you are a disciplined individual that copes well under pressure and explain why it is important for a historian to have these traits. 

Do not lie

There is a fine line between lying and presenting yourself in the best light. You should never lie – not only is it immoral, but if caught your application could be reconsidered. This is particularly true if you are called to an interview. 

Do not copy

It can be tempting to reuse other people’s successful personal statements. But, aside from not really demonstrating your uniqueness and personal drive, there are software programmes in place to prevent plagiarism. UCAS use Copycatch, which reports suspicious activity to universities. Whilst it can be helpful to read other personal statements for inspiration, don’t risk your application by copying. 

Proofread

After you have finished writing your personal statement, proofread it! It is often helpful to print the document out, as sometimes it becomes easier to recognize mistakes on paper instead of on a computer screen. Send it to family members or teachers and ask for their feedback before you submit it to UCAS. 

Your personal statement needs to be your own, and with these tips you’ve got a sure-fire guide to writing an excellent one. Good luck! 

Below are some useful links.

https://www.ucas.com/undergraduate/applying-university/writing-personal-statement/personal-statement-the-killer-opening

https://www.medsci.ox.ac.uk/study/medicine/pre-clinical/applying/anatomy-of-ps

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