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Personal Statements

Page history last edited by Zane Porter 10 years, 8 months ago

Goals of your personal statement

From the personal statements you have just read through, you may have gathered the following guidelines:

  • ·         Don’t sound arrogant and pretentious
  • ·         Try to have an interesting phrase or paragraph to start and finish on
  • ·         Try not to quote books, magazines or publications in a way that makes it sound like you’ve only read them to put them on your statement.
  • ·         Do not lie outright and stay as close to the truth as possible
  • ·         Don't try to be funny or make jokes in your statement
  • ·         Don't start every sentence with I
  • ·         Don't include your hobbies and interests unless they are relevant
  • ·         Don't use vocabulary you don't normally use and just looked up in a dictionary
  • ·         Don't use famous quotes in your statement unless you back them up with information on how and why this person’s quote influenced you. Dropping them in just for the sake of it makes you look silly and that you haven’t given serious thought to your personal statement.
  • ·         Don't repeat things already on your UCAS form, e.g. predicted exam grades.
  • ·         With the exception of a gap year, don't make claims you are going to do something before you come to university
  • ·         Don't include clichés
  • ·         Don't take any political or religious viewpoints.

Guidelines like these should give you an idea of what to focus on and think about when writing your own personal statement. They also stop your statement from looking too much like one of the examples that you might have copied bits from.

Remember - you don't have to use any of these goals as your own. If you think you are really witty and some light humor will go down well in your statement, then take the plunge and put it down. 

These goals are really just ideas you might want to use to help you come up with your first draft - remember a personal statement is supposed to be personal, and you should stick with writing whatever you think will work best for you.

Language of your personal statement

From looking at example personal statements you have probably found some language that you like or think works well. 

The first thing to remember is: do not directly copy any of it! not even a single sentence! The reason is, copying statements is plagiarism, and if an admissions tutor sees a statement they recognise they will probably reject you instantly. 

You should also not copy single sentences for the same reason - sentences that stick out in your mind may stick out in the examiners also. 

It is ok to find a sentence or paragraph that says what you want to say, but make sure you adapt it yourselfand don't just copy it.

You need to use language that makes you sound enthusiastic about your courses and portrays you as an interesting person. 

If you're still wondering what sort of language to use look at existing personal statements, prospectuses and on the web to find sentences you feel fit your views.

University prospectuses are a good place to look - find your course, see how it is described and see if you can work anything similar into your personal statement.

Write down a list of words or sentences you would like to use like this:

  • ·         to gain greater understanding of the world around you
  • ·         sends a signal to prospective employers and graduate schools
  • ·         students of economics become problem-solvers
  • ·         the fact is economics affects our daily lives
  • ·         a challenging and diverse discipline
  • ·         develops analytical skills, quantitative skills, research skills
  • ·         it is interesting and relevant

Don't copy the sentences you find outright - change them or write your own sentence in a similar style. 

If you can't find any sentences you like, try and write your own - it is a personal statement after all.

Structure of your personal statement

Now it's time to think about the structure of your personal statement - you should have read lots of examples by now and may have a fair idea about how yours is going to look, but this section should clarify things a bit if you don't.

Most statements are written in an essay format, but you don't have to do yours like this. 

We don't recommend you write it as one large block of text. Even though you can fit more words in, this just makes it hard to read. 

You could however use headings rather than write in an essay style. Not many personal statements are written like this but if you think yours would work better like this, then go ahead.

A starting guideline is to simply spend half the statement talking about the course and why you want to take it, and spend the other half writing about yourself and your own abilities, though once you get into it this can be easily changed.
 
Another approach is to split up your notes into a few categories and write a paragraph on each category. For example:

  • ·         Paragraph 1: Introduction to the subject, the aspects you’re interested in and why
  • ·         Paragraph 2: What you have done related to the subject that isn’t already on your UCAS form
  • ·         Paragraphs 3 and 4: Work experience placements and relevant activities at school
  • ·         Paragraph 5: Your interests outside of school, particularly those that show you are a responsible and reliable person
  • ·         Paragraph 6: Your goal of attending university and a memorable closing comment

Again, this is only a guideline - depending on yourself and your course you may want to change things. 

The last option is to simply find a statement you like and use it as a template.

Please note, we say template - not copy and paste!
 
You can write the first draft of your personal statement using the same structure, being careful that you don't use any of the exact language.

Spend most of your time on the start and finish of the personal statement.
 
A good opening will grab the readers’ attention and cause them to read the statement properly, rather than just scanning it. 

A good conclusion will mean the reader remembers what you wrote, and hopefully will recommend you. 

In our opinion it's best to start with why you want to take your subject, and finish with why you want to go to university or what you want to do afterwards.

Writing your personal statement

Hopefully you now have all your notes ready - you've thought about the language you want to use, as well as the structure and the goals of your statement. 

You are almost ready to start writing your personal statement, but here are a few things to bear in mind first.

Remember the aims of a personal statement. You need to show the admissions tutor why you should be accepted on your chosen course at your chosen university. 

In addition to what you say in your personal statement, the language you use and the way it is laid out will be judged as well.

A long personal statement can be easily trimmed down. It's harder to increase the length of a short personal statement, but if yours it too short to begin with, don't worry. 

There is no requirement that you fill the entire space, but it's better to have a short and well written personal statement than a long and irrelevant one.

Be positive and interesting - if there is something you are unhappy about, try to portray it in an attractive light, or failing that, remove reference to it altogether.

Before you begin, take a look at the websites and prospectuses of the universities you are applying to, and see if they say anything about writing personal statements

This information would probably be written by the admissions tutors, and would give you a much better idea of the sort of things you should put down!

 

Adapted and copied from http://www.studential.com/guide/write_personal_statement.htm#notes_about_yourself

 

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