How to Write a Personal Statement Essay and How to Follow the Common Requirements

The personal statement essay is your chance to sell yourself in the application process and generally falls into one of two general categories:

  1. The general personal statement essay, which gives you the most freedom in letting you write on any subject you prefer; and
  2. A personal statement response to specific questions, in which you are asked to choose anywhere from 1 – 3 prompts to show off your writing skills.

Generally, the best way to write a personal statement essay while following the most common requirements is as follows:

  1. Answer the questions that are being asked. Don’t be tempted to use the exact same personal statement essay for each school you apply to. You want to answer each question uniquely, written in a way to answer the specific question that is being asked.
  2. Tell a good story. Think in terms of demonstrating or showing through concrete examples of your experiences. The last thing you want to do is bore your readers with colorless text. If your essay is lively, fresh and different it will set you miles ahead of the competition.
  3. Be as specific as you can be. Don’t simply say you would be a great scientist unless you can prove it with specific examples or reasons. When you are finished, your application should read like a logical conclusion to your story, so don’t fill your personal essay with vague statements.
  4. Find a unique angle. Be creative when you draft your ideas. Find a unique way to tell your story that readers will find engaging and compelling enough to keep reading. Chronological order is usually the preferred way to tell a story, but don’t be afraid to experiment a little.
  5. Tell what only what you know. Be specific when relating what you know about the topic you are writing on. This shows that you are being genuine and not merely writing what you think the admissions committee wants to hear. Refer to specifics throughout the body of your essay.
  6. Write well and correctly. Be meticulous. Print out and proofread your essay very carefully. Express yourself clearly and effectively, and always make sure you adhere to word limits.
  7. Avoid clichés. If you write that you want to attend a great university because you aspire to go to medical school and help cure diseases in third world countries, you aren’t expressing an original thought. Stay far away from tired statements and thoughts.

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