How to write a powerful personal statement?

6 April 2021 img img

It is that time of the year again where students are rushing their higher education applications and universities are busy sieving through them. With the heap of applications and a sea of personal statements, how does one stand out from the crowd? Read on as we share some useful tips on how to do so!

However, before we begin, what exactly is a personal statement?

To put it simply, a personal statement is an essay that showcases your personality, values, talents, accomplishments and identity with the aim of persuading the reader you deserve a spot in the school (or scholarship). The purpose of the personal statement is to shed more light on who you are as a person as opposed to just a result slip devoid of human touch, because chances are you will be competing with hundreds or even thousands of others who are just as or even more qualified than you are.

In order to pique the interest of the reader and persuade them to consider your application, it is often recommended the style of writing should lean more towards story-telling rather than a rigid dump of strengths and accolades.

Hmm okay. So how should I get started?

After understanding what a personal statement is as described above, you may want to start things off with a self-introduction. Make it succinct yet detailed enough to paint a clear picture of who you are. Remember, the goal is to allow the officer reading this to get to know you on a personal level, so include relevant details to achieve this.

At this stage, it is also appropriate to include the reason you chose this programme, recent experiences that are relevant, and how the programme or institute aligns with your passion, interest and/or values. One quick tip: be sure to have done your research on the school or programme you are going to apply for so that you have an idea on what they are looking for and will be able to tweak your statement accordingly!

What should I share about next?

As your personal statement is part of the many documents you will be required to submit, all of your qualifications, result slips, etc. should complement each other to create a solid and strong application.

In this next segment, elaborate and expound on all the relevant experiences that will further convince the admission officer why you deserve a spot in the programme. For instance, you could provide insight on what you have learnt in your latest education and your takeaways from those lessons. If you had a job or internship that is related to the course, share your experiences, your role, accomplishments, and even how they have prepared you for the chosen course.

Even though a personal statement should primarily focus on your strengths, you may also share about the times where you encountered problems and how you overcame them. Such testimonies demonstrate your ability to troubleshoot, solve problems, and also speak of your level of growth and maturity.

Anything else I should add?

Apart from education qualifications and relevant experiences, you should also include any extra-curricular activities that you participated in, instances where you took on a leadership role, or even community work (such as volunteering) in your personal statement if it is relevant to the course or the point you are making.

For example, if you mentioned your passion in helping people during your introduction, it would be good to reinforce it by sharing instances of your past volunteering activities.

Most importantly, always be truthful when writing your personal statement and do not make things up. Although exaggerating certain details may shine you in a better light or make for a better story, such exaggerations run the risk of having your personal statement come across as superfluous and fake.

Gather constructive feedback


After you have completed it, get a relevant party or a trusted person to help read through your personal statement and provide suggestions on how to improve it. It could be your parents, friends, or even a teacher from your previous school – anyone who is able to provide you constructive feedback to strengthen your essay.

After gathering all the feedback, sieve through them and apply the ones you feel would be suitable and most beneficial to the improvement of your personal statement. At the end of the day, it is a description of who you are and it is up to you to decide how you would like yourself to be presented.

Proofread and edit

After editing your personal statement according to the feedback provided, do a final round of checking to spot any grammatical errors, spelling mistakes or awkward sentence structures. Make sure you have included everything you need to submit a personal statement that best expresses your personality and why you deserve a spot in the programme/school.

Package it well

The final step is to ensure your conclusion packs a punch and summarises everything you have mentioned earlier. Reinforce your strengths and how you are suitable for the chosen course - all wrapped up with a nice little bow and ready to be presented to the admission officer.

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