The first step to writing a stand-out personal statement is to remember its primary purpose: to support your application to study at a university. It is not the same as a valedictory speech or a panegyric. Rather, it’s an opportunity to convey who you are and what you’d like to study, explaining in the process the skills and experiences you possess that demonstrate your passion for the field and your suitability for the course. In this respect, there are no magic formulas or silver-bullet sentences: a personal statement is, well, personal. But there are certainly things you can do to help your personal statement stand out. In addition to a list of tips and tricks to make a personal statement stand out, this blog will consider structure and format, how to begin, and how to conclude. For more information about University Admissions, please contact us.
Personal Statement Structure and Format
When it comes to structure and format, it’s important to remember that you only have 4000 characters and 47 lines to work with, so each paragraph must have both purpose and meaning, and include all the vital information. With qualifications, interests, experience and motivations all important to cover, how is it best to format your personal statement?
Sandwiched between an introduction and conclusion should be the majority of your content. We suggest starting with a paragraph on what is most important, your academic achievements, before explaining your hobbies and interests outside the classroom, followed by your experience if you are applying for law or medicine.
Some students have found arranging their personal statement in a past-present-future style offers an effective structure. In this method, the introduction describes why you have decided to study your course (past), the main body considers your current interests and motivations (present) and the conclusion summarises why you are looking forward to enrolling (future).
How to Begin a Personal Statement
The introduction (along with the conclusion) is often considered the hardest part of writing a good personal statement. Whilst UCAS’ 'Killer Opening' recommends starting with the main body, we advise students to start with whatever they are comfortable with. If you are not sure – try writing the main body first, then tackle the introduction and conclusion.
The perfect opening paragraph is original, avoids clichés, and confirms to the admissions team why you are a serious candidate. Mind mapping during the planning stage is ideal for this. With your course title in the centre, consider what particular modules you are drawn to and why you are enthusiastic about studying this course.
Concluding a Personal Statement
Alongside the introduction, students often struggle writing an effective conclusion. A final chance to impart the admissions team with a lasting impression, the conclusion is a perfect opportunity to drive home the most important points in your application.
The best conclusions offer a clear snapshot of what you want to gain from your time at university, and come full circle from the points you established in your introduction without adding any new information. Consider you are most looking forward to? Why this course in particular? And, most importantly: Why is this course right for you?
Tips on How to Make a Personal Statement Stand Out
There is not just one method to make a personal statement stand out – as long as it covers the key questions within the general structure of an introduction, main body and conclusion, it can be highly successful. However, here are some general tips to ensure your personal statement is the best it can be:
· Write in the first person, only using ‘I’ when you really need to.
· Be informed. Research the course you want to study, and even try and speak to someone who is currently studying it so you have a clear picture of what you are applying for.
· Avoid clichés, as well as words such as ‘fascinated’ and ‘passionate’.
· Be prepared. Make a detailed plan and mind map to improve your structure and ensure you are covering everything you need to.
· Don’t worry about the word count too much with your first draft, it’s much easier to take words out than put them in.
· Draft, re-draft, and draft again.
When you are re-drafting, consider these key questions:
· Have I repeated myself?
· Is this cliché?
· Is my wording consistent?
· Does this sentence serve a purpose?
Above all, remember, be clear, concise and direct.
There are a lot of resources online to help you with your personal statement, from UCAS’S personal statement tool, to The Complete University Guide’s tips page. At Think Tutors we’re expertly equipped to consult on personal statements (at any stage in their creation) and we have a strong track record of bringing out the best in each and every applicant. Please contact us to find out more.
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From taking the first steps of writing, to polishing your final draft, this blog has covered the key steps for making your personal statement as good as it can be. For more information on Think Tutors services such as A-Level tuition and University tuition please contact us.