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Advanced Tips to Improve your Personal Statement


Your personal statement is your golden opportunity to convince the admissions tutors that you are passionate about your subject and that you understand the commitment you're making. Try to empathise with their position. What would convince *you* to offer someone a place over other candidates?


Tip 1 - Be positive

This means avoid negative language, or focusing on your weaknesses. For example, "I have chosen to study English literature because I was always terrible at science and maths!".

Tip 2 - Show passion

Show evidence of your passion and commitment to your chosen subject. If you are passionate about something, you choose to pursue it in your free time. Football fans don't need to be dragged to a match - they are thrilled to attend! If you say you are passionate you need to ensure that there is historical and recent evidence of this. Have you attended talks and lectures? Which books have you read and how have these broadened your views? Have you sought work experience or attended courses?

Tip 3 - Write a life CV

This is an excellent way to get started on your statement. The life CV is a chronological list of all achievements, books read, work placements and any other activity or award that has lead to you being ready to begin your course of choice. You are unlikely to mention all of these in the final statement, but making this list allows you to begin collating information, and encourages you to think about the skills and traits that will be beneficial at university, and how your various accolades have facilitated the development of these.

Tip 4 - Be specific!

When presenting this evidence, you must include specific details, and include what you have learned. For example. "I have read the selfish gene by Richard Dawkins, and I found it to be very inspiring", is vague and really adds nothing valuable to your statement" while, "I was fascinated to read about the mutualism between ants and aphids in Richard Dawkin's "The Selfish gene", and the concept of mutual altruism has inspired my chosen EPQ topic." is a great deal more convincing. It demonstrates both that you have actually read the book, and it has taught you something that has evoked further investigation.

Tip 5 - Tell the truth!

Do not lie in your personal statement. If you are caught out at interview I guarantee you're going home without an offer. There have been incidences of a student claiming to be fluent in Spanish, upon which the tutor conducted the remainder of the interview in Spanish. As you may imagine, it ended poorly for the student. Tip 6 - Don't over share! Yes - be honest, but there are limits to what is reasonable and appropriate to share. Don't be melodramatic or over emotional, as this will make you come across as a little immature, and possibly a bit unstable depending on what you write! Keep it formal and factual.

Tip 7 - Don't waffle!

Waffling means using a lot of words, while communicating almost no substance. You only have 7000 characters, including spaces! You don't have any characters to waste on fluffy, emotive adjectives. Just get to the point, and don't repeat yourself. I have watched students look on in abject horror as I delete reams and reams of flowery waffle, where a they have spent an entire paragraph painstakingly communicating something that could be said in one short sentence.

Tip 8 - Make the opening paragraph amazing.

Your goal is to make the admissions tutor excited to continue reading after this point. It is arguably the most difficult part of the statement to write, because this is the 'WHY?' While some students clearly know exactly why they have chosen their courses, many others struggle to pin point the source of their inspiration. They end up simply restating that they are passionate, (more waffle). You may have to think hard, because no one can actually help you with this part. The answers are somewhere in your consciousness so do some soul searching.