Academic personal statements can be daunting.
Many students find it challenging to write about themselves, and putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) to show off why you’re the perfect candidate for an academic program isn’t always easy.
Don’t fret, though. Writing a personal statement doesn’t have to be scary. There are steps you can take to make sure that your statement is the best it can be.
Here are five tips to help you write an excellent academic personal statement. Good luck!
Read the Brief
Before you get started, read the brief, reread it, take a break, and reread it again.
It’s all too easy to miss specific instructions from the school when you’re in the throes of writing. It’s not uncommon for schools to ask you to answer specific questions in your personal statement, so it’s essential that you answer them.
If you don’t answer questions, follow a theme, or give certain pieces of information you’ve been asked to, it will give the admissions board the impression that you’re not attentive and can’t follow instructions.
Once you’ve finished your personal statement, read the brief again to make sure you’ve followed it. This is possibly the most important step to follow.
Do Your Research
Before you start writing, research the school and the program you’re applying to. You’ve probably already done this, but if you haven’t, you’re not the first and you won’t be the last, and it can be really obvious to the admissions board.
Personal statements should be just that: personal. If you’re copying and pasting your writing and using it to apply for multiple programs, chances are, people will be able to tell.
By researching the program and the school, you’ll be able to completely customize your statement. You can write about how your personal experiences and interests relate to specific parts of the program. If the school has certain values or expectations, you can write about how you meet them.
Make Sure it’s Accurate
Everything in your statement should be true. Of course, it can be tempting to embellish details to make yourself look better, but if you get caught, it will be embarrassing at best, and at worst, it could damage your career.
As well as being true and honest, your grammar, spelling, and tone should be accurate. Even the smallest spelling or grammar error can make your personal statement look sloppy and careless.
Properly proofreading and editing your admissions statement is an essential step. It’s amazing how easy it is for mistakes to creep in, especially if you’re proofreading your own work. If you can, ask someone you trust to check your statement before you submit it.
Keep it Formal
An academic personal statement is a great opportunity to show the admissions board that you have strong writing skills and are knowledgeable in your subject. You might have a brilliant sense of humor and a quirky personality, but this is not the time for those to shine!
Academic personal statements should be formal and straightforward. Writing anything that is too out there could make you stick out in a bad way by giving the impression that you’re not taking your application seriously.
With that in mind, don’t write anything controversial for the sake of catching their attention. It’s great to show personality and flair, but you should be using academic and formal language throughout your personal statement.
Finally, read other people’s statements for inspiration. There are plenty of examples of academic personal statements that you can read online (like these).
Spending some time reading other people’s statements will give you a good idea of what is expected of you in terms of language and format.
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