Helpful Tips for Writing a Personal Statement

How to Write a Great Graduate Admission Essay

A good personal statement can help boost one’s graduate school prospects so it is critical to focus attention on several key components to strengthen one’s writing.

The personal statement also referred to as the statement of purpose, is the section of the graduate school application where applicants are allowed to highlight strengths in their area of interest.

It is important to include specific professional and personal experiences that influenced the decision to apply to graduate school and highlight how this will help applicants succeed in the program to which they are applying.

A good essay writer should stand out because it positively portrays unique, significant, and specific experiences related to the applicant’s area of interest and demonstrates knowledge and experience in a related area of expertise.

Starting and Ending a Personal Statement

As with any essay, a catchy opening should draw the reader in and the conclusion should re-state the main idea of the essay and conclude the essay on a positive note.

A good opening might be an interesting fact related to personal and professional experience, an attention-grabbing statement or fact related to the area of interest, or a simple sentence that states says the program one is applying to and why. The opening and closing should establish a balanced, yet positive tone for the personal statement.

What to Include in a Graduate School Essay

The personal statement is an important part of the graduate school application because it is often the only section of the application where the applicant is allowed to refer to the admissions committee.

The readers are looking for the applicant’s essay to find specific information about the applicant’s intended research focus and evidence of existing faculty members and/or current research at the university that is in line with the stated research interests.

They are also looking to see that the applicant’s professional goals are in line with the goals of the program and ways in which the applicant’s post-graduate career goals will contribute to the program, field of study, or the world at large.

Answering these questions will provide a foundation from which the graduate application committee can gauge an applicant’s intentions and determine whether he or she would be a good fit for the program.

Proofreading a Personal Statement

It is critical to proofread to thoroughly check spelling, grammar, punctuation, word choice, length, and overall readability. A personal statement is usually between 500-1000 words in typed, 12 point font. Main ideas should be broken into paragraph form.

Writers should use clear, descriptive words without being too wordy. The tone of the personal statement should be positive and confident. At least two other people should proofread the personal statement for content and corrections before it is submitted.

Personal Statement Do’s and Don’ts

Writers should be careful to avoid bragging, long descriptions, overusing “I”, referring to things that are unrelated to stated graduate school interests, run-on sentences, slang or unprofessional language, spelling or grammatical errors, or re-stating information in the resume.

Instead, use transition words and phrases (such as moreover, therefore, etc.), state-specific research interests, and name faculty member(s) as they relate to these interests, answer all of the questions in the prompt, vary the sentence length, be honest yet humble, and ask a few trusted friends or colleagues to read the essay and give feedback.

A statement of purpose is a critical part of the graduate school application.  It is important for applicants to clearly state their graduate school intentions, maintain a positive and professional tone and proofread the essay thoroughly for errors. These tips will help ensure that the personal statement is a complete and compelling component of the graduate school application.


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