Writing a Personal Statement

A document that you write about yourself to inform universities and colleges in which you are applying to for placement is called a personal statement. It is usually a short document of under a thousand words, which contains a subjective testimonial written in expressive, error-free language.

personal statement

In order to write a personal statement successfully, you need to convey your passion and enthusiasm for the avenues in life and work that you have chosen to pursue. You must indicate the talents and aptitudes you have already gathered to make your future profession a reality, and you must demonstrate a set of attractive, useful and desirable skills. Although personal statements vary between countries, states and educational institutions, they are similar in what a candidate needs to demonstrate.

This piece of writing is all about the person writing it – that is, you. You are the one who needs to express your interest for the subject of your choice to the admissions tutors. You must show enthusiasm and potential, as well as demonstrate your suitability for the courses you wish to enroll in.

Steps for Writing a Personal Statement

  1. Read everything you can obtain about the college or university and its activities. You can only express enthusiasm when you know what it is you would like to do, and where you want to do it.
  2. Make a list of your personal merits – from the way you organize your belongings, to the way you learnt how to ride a bike or catch public transport, to the methods you have found that help you memorize educational material. You will not use all these details – this list will later be condensed to exactly what you need to say.
  3. Try to remember one brief anecdote that illustrates the best of your skills, talents, gifts, or attributes.
  4. Make sure you remember all aspects to cover. The talents you need most to show are not only the ones associated with the courses in question. They can be what you like to do in your free time, the languages you speak, whether you play an instrument or participate in a sport, which books you like to read, and other personal points.
  5. Write three central paragraphs that cover your awareness of the ethos of the institution you want to join, the merits you hold that match with those ethos, and why you feel you are a suitable candidate.

Key Points to Consider

  • Make your tone unassuming but confident. It is just as misleading to be falsely modest, as it is to be cocksure and grandiose.
  • If you quote books, or mention art or music, or any other cultural activity with which you are familiar, do so in a way that shows you understand their relevance, and that you experienced them for reasons other than the application alone.
  • It is not wise to show off knowledge, experience or connections to sport or culture in an imposing or arrogant manner.
  • Being amusing or humorous is not an appropriate tone either. It is fine to be a bit more casual than in the application letter, but you must never fall into a conversational style of writing.
  • Lengthy anecdotes about family, travels, encounters with famous people, or excessive wealth or poverty are not suitable inclusions for personal statements.

Do and Don’t


  • Do use celebrated quotes in your statement, but only if you support them with reasons the celebrity’s quote influenced you.
  • Do express your personal gifts, such as compassion, humility and diligence.
  • Do express your desire to work hard and make the most of your new educational life.
  • Do define your interest in the educational institutions’ activities, and show you have made an effort to discover what they are.
  • Do start and finish with an interesting phrase. There is nothing more boring than reading several hundred personal statements that are all more or less alike.

  • Don’t use clichés or hackneyed phrases. Make sure your idioms are correct.
  • Don’t start each sentence with the pronoun I.
  • Don’t make any religious or political observations.
  • Don’t include many hobbies and interests unless they are relevant.
  • Don’t give effusive praise of the establishment you are trying to join.
  • Don’t forget that grammar, punctuation, syntax and word choice affect meaning, and you must impress the examiners with your language skills and abilities.
  • Don’t neglect the important steps of drafting, editing, checking, and proofing your writing.

Common Mistakes

  • Avoid quoting other people’s direct praise of you.
  • Avoid driving a point home too strongly. It is enough to support your statement with experience and short paragraphs about your abilities without repetition.
  • A personal statement must never criticize or condemn, and must always be positive and upbeat.
  • A successful personal statement appeals to the reader’s feelings, but must not overflow with emotion.
  • Make sure the tone matches the occasion and the establishment you are addressing. Avoid colloquialisms and slang. Jargon too is to be avoided.
  • It is fine to make references as long as they are up-to-date and relevant.
  •  Avoid presenting heavy facts and data: the statement is about only one person: you. This does not mean you can be casual. Make a logical outline or plan, provide pertinent facts, and remain practical.

Now that you have acquainted yourself with the basic personal statement writing tips and rules, you can check out our personal statement samples to link theory with practice.


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Samples for Writing a Personal Statement

When I Became an Adult

I certainly did not become an adult when I was six years old. But it is important I talk about a certain day when I was six in order to make sense of the day I did become an adult.A while ago, a freshman at my high school was sitting at my lunch table ...

Master's Degree in Theoretical Mathematics

My focus on theoretical mathematics began after I received my B.A. in Writing from The Evergreen State College. My introduction to the subject was when, after one and half years after receiving my B.A., I vied to explain limits and the unlimited in a simpl...


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