Mistakes can slip into even the most polished UCAS applications. As one of MyTutor’s most experienced personal statement tutors I thought I’d share some advice with you. Here are five simple steps to make sure you submit a punchy personal statement that sets you apart from the crowd.
The personal statement is a very short piece of writing to get across a large amount of information. I always tell my students to try and convey as much as possible in the smallest number of words. An easy way to do this is to read a sentence and for each word ask: ‘does this word add anything to what I’m trying to say? Would the sentence lose anything if I delete it?’ If the answer to these questions is ‘no’ then it’s a waste of a word and should be deleted. Classic examples include: ‘however’, ‘moreover’, ‘as such’, ‘in consequence’, ‘given this’
Back up claims with your experience
Go on the admissions websites for your chosen universities and subjects and make a long list of the qualities that they require from prospective students, for example ‘enjoys reading’, ‘analytical skills’. Then find something in your experience and achievements that illustrates each one and write it into your personal statement. It looks far more sophisticated than just writing ‘I have an analytical mind and like to read.’
Hold back on hobbies
It’s harsh but true: they don’t care about your hobbies, unless you tell them why they matter. If you can, use your pastimes to back up your skills (see above), otherwise leave them out and save the words on how you just love baking flapjack to say something a bit more relevant.
It’s very easy to get carried away with how much you love your subject. But don’t explain that you’ve been fascinated in radiotherapy since you were five years old. It’s far better to be objective, dispassionate and to get your point across cleanly and quickly. Most of the competition won’t, and it will set you apart. When an admissions tutor is reading hundreds of personal statements they’ll appreciate a personal statement that gets to the point and is easy to read.
Don’t twist the truth. This is especially important for courses with interviews. There’s nothing more awkward than being asked questions about Middlemarch when you haven’t actually read it. The interviewers will immediately smell a rat, and they probably won’t give you a place. But if you honestly say you’ve read The Curious Incident and have intelligent ideas about it, you might well be chosen. If you do get an interview, well done!
Follow these tips and your personal statement will stand out for the right reasons.
Written by Lauren F.