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How to Write a Personal Statement

Writing a personal statement requires you to have a solid grasp of what a personal statement is designed to do, and Ultius is here to show you how to properly write and format a personal statement. Check out the guide below on how to write a personal statement, and if you still need some help, we offer the following services and additional writing guides:


When you apply to any higher education program, you will likely be required to include a personal statement with your application. Your personal statement may ask you to answer a specific question or may simply ask you to describe your value as an applicant. In some cases, you may have to send in a writing sample as well. This statement will demonstrate what you have to offer each academic institution and will be your only opportunity to show how unique and desirable you are as an applicant. There are several important aspects that should be included in your personal statement and many helpful tips and tricks to ensure that your statement leaves a lasting impression on the admissions board.

General Statement

Usually, when writing a personal statement, your writing prompt will fall into one of two categories. The first kind will ask for just a simple general statement about yourself. For these kinds of personal statements, you write about virtually whatever you want; you have complete creative freedom to write about whatever you mat like. The second kind of personal statement asks you to answer a specific question, sometimes multiple questions, and you have to provide an answer that meets all of the questions’ requirements.

Before you begin writing your personal statement, it is important to ask yourself a series of important questions. First, is there anything about you or your experiences that is special, unique, or in some other way distinctive? Are you known for your compassion, an ambitious go-getter, or possess unrivaled persistence and dedication? Are there certain details in your life that can help show the application committee what sets you apart from other applicants, like personal issues that you have overcome, how certain experiences shaped the person you became, etc.? Something else that may set you apart is if you have overcome any particular hardships- family problems, physical injuries or obstacles, economic troubles, etc.. You should think about what sets you apart and ensures your success and effectiveness in the field and what about you makes you compelling and interesting? When did you decide that this was the path you wanted to follow and what have you learned about both yourself and the field that have strengthened your interest and passion for it? What experience do you have in this field? For examples, what kinds of classes, seminars, or work experience have you participated in that related to this particular area? It would help to mention any special skills or qualifications you possess that will assist you in the field or position for which you are applying. What are you career goals? Where do you see yourself in this field in the future and where do you hope to end up? If there happen to be any gaps or inconsistencies in your academic record- inconsistent grades, your GPA significantly increasing or decreasing, or any other similar issues. These are all equally important factors to consider for your personal statement to ensure that it catches the eye of whoever may read it and makes an impact.

Customize Each Statement

A helpful tip to remember when writing your personal statement is to consider how many schools you are applying to and thus, how many personal statements you have to write. You may be applying to more than one school, and often times, the application questions are very similar. While it might me tempting to just copy and paste each answer to every personal statement, it is imperative to fine tune each one to make sure that it completely answers the questions that are asked. In addition, each school offers something different, so it is important to make sure that your statement accurately reflects the things you can offer each environment and what you can learn from each one.

Often times, it helps to demonstrate your positive and valuable qualities or to express why you are an ideal applicant by telling a story. Providing this concrete experience shows the admissions board why you are an excellent and coveted applicant in a way that keeps them interested and invested in your personal story. This really gives you the chance to make your personal statement is fresh, unique, and memorable, ensuring that everyone who reads your statement keeps you at the forefront of their mind.

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Another thing to keep in mind is that it is advisable to avoid cliches. If you are applying to medical school, for example, stating that you want to be a doctor because you want to help people is a generic answer that almost every med school student mentions in their personal statement. Instead of making obvious and unoriginal statements, it would impress the admissions board more to dive deeper into your desire to pursue the career path of your choosing. Try to find a reason to do what you want to do in life that every other applicant may not have. Doing this will set you apart from everyone else and can help your chances of admission. When your answers are sincere and unique, it will leave a much stronger and more lasting impression on those who read it.

Be Specific 

It also helps to be specific when writing your personal statement. Do not simply state that you would make a great lawyer or teacher. Instead, make sure that you back up each claim with evidence to support it. Like when writing a paper, it is important to make sure that every statement you make is provable. Providing the admissions board with concrete evidence of why you are the best candidate will help them understand what an incredible addition you may be to the academic institution to which you are applying. You want to make sure that admitting you would be the only logical thing to do. The proof you include that demonstrates why you would be a great applicant needs to be concise and effective in order to ensure your admission. You want to seem like an obvious choice.

When you write your personal statement, it is important for the opening paragraph to be interesting and attention-grabbing. This paragraph will set the tone for the rest of your paper and will let whoever reads it know what to expect from your personal statement. Following your introductory paragraph, you should include some specific personal information in your body paragraphs that shows why you are an excellent applicant and why you should be admitted. It is important to use this space to detail your experiences and knowledge of the profession. Show how much you know about the field, how passionate you are about it, and what you can contribute upon admission. Explain what it is about the field that inspires you and drives you to pursue your career, in addition to what it is about you that would make you an incredible addition to your academic institution of choice. It is also important to be specific about how much you know about and what you hope to gain from your admission. You can choose to refer to classes you have taken, seminars you have attended, materials you have read, or any other experiences you have in the subject and why it is an excellent fit for you. You have to be selective about the information you include in your personal statement and the decisions you make about what to add can reflect your judgment and capabilities.  

Do's and Don'ts

While there are a lot of things that you should seek to include in your personal statement, there are some things that should certainly not be included in your paper. One thing is it important to avoid is reaching too far back when referring to your achievements and experiences. If you are writing your personal statement to apply to an undergraduate college program, you may not want to go as far back as middle school or grade school accomplishments. Similarly, if you are using your personal statement to apply to graduate school, it is not suggested to list your experiences and achievements from high school. In addition, you should never mention topics that have the potential for being controversial. For example, never include topics such as religion or political issues, as you may not know what the various members of the admission board personally believe and could potentially offend someone. Steering away from these topics is a good idea and can ensure that your personal statement will not annoy or upset the people who read it.

Something else that may help in making your personal statement stand out among other applicants is to do some background research on the institution to which you are applying. When a school reviews applications, they want to know why you chose their school and what their school can uniquely offer you. Show that you put a lot of serious thought into your choices by including what sets each particular university or school apart from any other. If the school offers any special programs, can offer unique experiences and education, or is specifically well-known for something, it can help to refer to those things in your personal statement. This shows that your interest in the academic institution is genuine and sincere.

First Impressions

It is also important to be meticulous and careful when writing your personal statement. When you write your essay, it may help to write various drafts after touching each one up. It may also help to have someone else read the paper and give you an outsider’s prospective into your personal statement. Good writing skills can help you in virtually any job, and a firm command of the correct use of language can create a lasting impression on the admissions board. While expressing yourself and what would make you a great addition to each institution, you can prove how valuable of an applicant you are simply by demonstrating your effective writing skills.

Your personal statement is the only thing the admissions boards have to really get a feel for you, what you have to offer, and why you are an excellent candidate to admission. It is your chance to convince your audience that you should be admitted to the academic institution to which you are applying. You can show what sets you apart from every other applicant and leave a lasting impression on the admission board, ensuring that you are a top choice for admissions.

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