Most overseas universities require students to write their personal statement as part of the application process. This is sent to each of your chosen universities, who use it – along with the other parts of your application, such as exam grades – to assess your suitability for their course and whether to make you an offer.
Your personal statement allows you to demonstrate to the admissions tutors why you are applying for their course; what interests you about the subject and why they should accept you – showing that you have the achievements, qualities and skills they are looking for. For more competitive courses, there will often be little difference between your grades and the grades of other applicants, so it is essential to make your personal statement effective by devoting appropriate time to its preparation.
In order to produce an effective personal statement, you will need to address a number of key points that the admissions tutor will be looking for, and cover these in a well thought-out and well written manner. To achieve this, your personal statement should demonstrate:
your interest, enthusiasm and passion for the subject, giving evidence and examples of specific areas of interestthe relevant skills you have learnt from your studies, extracurricular activities and employment, and how these have prepared you for a degree course in your chosen subjectyour ability to articulate your enthusiasm for, and knowledge of, the subject by writing long prose in a clear, confident and structured manner, using a wide range of vocabularythe ways in which you have been following up your interest and furthering your understanding in the subject at a higher level, outside the syllabus (i.e., projects, further reading)that you are well informed about what is involved in taking your subject at degree-levelthat you are a well-rounded individual with hobbies outside of your subjectthat you have a general idea of what you want to do after university
The most effective personal statements cover the above points implicitly, backing up claims through discussions and experiences which show the admissions tutor your passion for the subject, rather than vague generalisations and statements such as “I am passionate about physics” – they will already assume this. Isolate a reason as to why you personally engage with your subject and then discuss specific examples to substantiate this, eg. through a reflective discussion of further reading you have done. Write with quality, not quantity, in mind – the admissions tutor will be more impressed to read in detail what you learnt from one or two specific experiences or books, as opposed to a section which brushes over four or five. At the same time, don’t let the personal statement become a mini essay trying to simply demonstrate your knowledge of a topic you found through further reading – keep the discussion personal, showing what you got out of reading or learning it and why you found it interesting – for example did it relate to another subject you’ve studied?
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