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How to Write a Personal Statement

If you need to compose an attractive story about your personality for further academic studies, a personal statement is a kind of academic writing that can serve your purpose of filing a graduate school application. It usually consists of 500-1,000 words. You use them to talk about yourself, your interests, and why you want to apply for a course.

A successful statement does not have to include just your experience. Still, the focus should be on the following things:

What should you focus on when writing a personal statement?

Here, we want to share some ideas on building up a successful personal statement.

Where to Get Started

When you apply for some course or program, your first task is to understand what it expects from you. Quite often, you get the application form with the prompt or question. Try to answer it in detail.

For example, the question can be about your identity, challenges you have faced, personal development, and motivation. However, it is always better to find your voice and approach to presenting yourself. It means that you can use your creativity because no certain template could meet your purpose. You can also use the strategies described below.

Grab the Attention with Introduction

Set the tone of your story in the very first paragraph of it. You can have several variants of how to do it.

Variant 1. Be Straightforward and Concrete

This strategy involves opening the statement with a concrete scene. This can show something important about your interests and character, for example:

  • an episode from your family history;
  • an unexpected or strange encounter;
  • a teacher who affected your learning performance;
  • a personal experience that has changed your views of the future.

Variant 2. Start with Your Motivation

You may prefer to draw attention to your commitment. You need to explain your enthusiasm in this field and what kind of career you would like to take up in the future.

Do not just say that the subject is interesting for you. You should better explain why it attracts you:

  • whether the interest has emerged recently or it is a longstanding striving;
  • if it complies with the other aspects of your life;
  • whether it has appeared naturally or you have done something for this;
  • how you think it may contribute to society.


  • You should avoid cliches, such as ‘For as long as I can remember’ because they do not sound natural.
  • ✔️ Do not try to complete the statement immediately. You may need some time to collect and note down several fascinating ideas and then use them to introduce yourself at the beginning.

Develop Your Narrative in the Main Body

Therefore, after you have indicated the main ideas in the introduction, you can proceed with more detail.

Here are some strategies for arranging the structure of this part.

Variant 1. Speak About Your Continuous Development

Place all the main points of your development in chronological order. Explain what has led you to make an application for graduate school and how you have nursed the idea over time. Explain:

  • what things first attracted your attention to the field;
  • which assignments, classes, teachers, classmates, or internships and other academic activities have assisted you in moving towards certain skills and knowledge;
  • what plans you have for the future and how the program can fit them.

Never try to include absolutely all details about your gains and achievements. Pick out only those of them which can complement your application. Make your narrative compelling and efficient in showing your progress.

Variant 2. Describe Your Obstacle and Challenges

While having experienced many obstacles on the way to the program you are applying for may become your strong point. So you can make your personal statement a description of how you were dealing with challenges. For example, you can speak about whether your economic, social, or cultural background was underrepresented in the chosen field and how you are going to deal with that personally. Or you can have some gaps in your study progress or lower grades than would be desired. Explain how you have managed to improve the situation and overcome all those challenges.

Still, you do not need to highlight negatives only. You can focus on the positive features of that experience. You will look like a promising student of gradual school if you demonstrate perseverance, mindfulness, and resourcefulness.

Variant 3. Reveal Your Knowledge of the Subject

It is especially important if you apply for such a research-focused program as a Ph.D. Demonstrate that you are familiar with the field of study and focus on the peculiarities of the subject you want to take up and why this knowledge is crucial for you.

You can:

  • make reflections on the topics you have studied and emphasize what you think is attractive about them;
  • speak about your favorite teachers and academic achievements that brought you to this field;
  • discuss the questions and problems you would like to research and why you feel they are essential.


Mind that a personal statement should not look like a research proposal, so do not go in too much detail. Your purpose is just to show your interest and enthusiasm in this field of study and that you are able to find unique solutions.

Variant 4. Highlight Your Professional Strives and Ambitions

This point is quite important if you apply for an MBA or other program which is more professionally oriented. Your task is to concentrate on the goals and explain how this program may help you achieve them.

  1. If you are just starting your career in the field, explain how your character traits are suitable for it and how well graduate school will help you develop these traits and talents.
  2. If you have some experience in the profession already, demonstrate what you have achieved in it and how the program can help you move to the next level.
  3. If you plan to change the profession, explain what helped you make such a decision and how your previous experience can contribute to your success in a new field.

Naming the position you want to get is not enough, of course. Show that you have thought everything over considerately and now have straightforward career plans. You should also show that you are truly suitable for that profession.


  • Never overload your statement with the description of everything you have achieved. Do not just make a list of your professional or academic experiences and gains. You need to reflect, evaluate, and relate everything you managed to achieve to your broader perspectives in academic work.
  • ✔️ Make a story of the statement. It will sound rather boring if you just state that you are self-motivated and hard-working. Write about your initiatives to start a new project, for example, while on internship. Do not just say that you love reading but provide your opinion of the novel or story that may have changed your views.

How to Write the Conclusion That Looks Ahead

Express your interest in the program. Show how the program can develop your skills. Say how it complies with your interests and ambitions.

Variant 1. What You Want to Learn

You need to focus on the program again in the conclusion, emphasizing to your hopes to learn something new and explaining why you think this program is the best place to continue your studies.

Express your enthusiasm for specific classes or professors you would like to learn from.

Variant 2. What You Want to Do

If the program you apply for provides some practical training, say again something about your career expectations. Explain what you want to do for society and why this program can be the best choice to help you achieve your goals.


  • Do not repeat what you have already said. You will not have a place for it in your statement because the space is limited here.
  • ✔️ Try to think not about yourself only but about your future role in the local community or academic field. Relate to society as a whole. Make sure that you are not speaking only about what the program will give you but about what you can contribute to society dues to it.

Final Thoughts

Your personal statement is your first experience of writing for this program. So, if you know exactly what to write in it and how to write, you will make a favorable impression. That is why revision and proofreading are essential here.

Other kinds of academic writing follow a rather formal writing style. A personal statement is not like that. However, it should also be clear and consistent. Check whether each paragraph is smoothly connected with the previous one. Use topic sentences and transition phrases for them.

You may need to restructure or rewrite your statement several times. You are given more freedom here so you may experiment with style and provide the information in the order, which will work best for your purpose.

While proofreading, correct all the grammar and spelling errors or typos. You may even need to use some professional editing service for your peace of mind. Anyway, you have to do your best to write a great personal statement and be enrolled to the program, which will lead you to further success.

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