A very Personal Statement
October 21, 2011, 1:50 pm
Filed under: applications, admissions and other such stuff

One of the questions often asked by prospective students is “What do you look for in a personal statement?”. I always take a deep breath before I reply because it’s a dangerous subject for me. Firstly, I don’t want anyone to miss out on a place because of what I say, and secondly I don’t want to disagree with teachers – they are a wonderful breed and help me greatly in my job. However….

The first thing to remember is that your personal statement may have different importance in different circumstances. Secondly, remind yourself that it’s only one part of selection. And thirdly, if you’re swithering whether to include something, it probably won’t matter either way.

So firstly, how important is it? For some courses and some universities it will play an important part. When it does you will find universities are very helpful in telling you what they are looking for.  At the other extreme I’ve heard of Admissions Tutors who don’t read personal statements. In other words it is very variable. Bear in mind too that different people may read your application and they may be looking for different things.

Secondly, the most important thing is your grades and your predicted grades. Past performance often is a good guide to future returns. How you’ve performed in the past matters. After that we are looking at a range of factors including your statement, your reference, and some universities may require additional tests and possibly an interview. So if your statement isn’t perfect, it isn’t the end of the world.

As an example, one of our cubs applied for medicine and didn’t even get called for interview at one university but was offered an unconditional place at another without even having an interview. Same piece of paper but entirely different decisions.

My tips? Be yourself! Guides can help but avoid mimicking them. Sell yourself! (We aren’t used to thinking how wonderful we are, but as I read your personal statements I’m impressed by all the different things that you do and probably take for granted). But be honest – any exaggeration will eventually come to light.  Explain why you want to study this particular subject – does it excite you? And make it readable – the paragraph is a wonderful invention! Finally, writing a personal statement was probably the most stressful thing in the FBM household – don’t let it be so in yours!


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