How to not make a personal statement faux pas

It’s that time of the year again, you’ve decided what to study at uni, and you know where you’d like to apply. With only a few days left to submit your UCAS application, it’s time to write your personal statement. Let’s be real, personal statements are DAUNTING. You have one side of A4 to tell an admissions officer why you are the perfect candidate for the degree you’re applying for (and why you’re different from everybody else).
The admissions team at De Montfort University have been giving us advice on some of the biggest personal statement mistakes (and how to avoid them)!

1. Trying to sound chatty and informal

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A personal statement is read by admissions tutors (who are often academics) at your potential future university, so including slang or trying to write it in a conversational tone just isn’t going to work! Instead, use a formal writing style and make sure you triple check it for grammar and spelling mistakes.

2. Losing your personality

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Whilst you don’t want your personal statement to sound like a message to your mates, you don’t want to lose all your personality just because you’re writing in a formal way. If you use a thesaurus for every word, it won’t seem natural to the reader, and even worse you could use a word incorrectly. A good rule of thumb is to read what you’ve written aloud, to see if it sounds like something you’d actually say. “Be yourself, it might be obvious, but it’s worth saying. Tell the uni what you can do, what you have done and why you want to be there,” Faye Shears, De Montfort Recruitment Officer advises.

3. Copying personal statements you’ve found online

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We know you wouldn’t find a personal statement online and just press copy paste, but even “borrowing” segments could land you in trouble. UCAS use advanced plagiarism detectors to catch people doing this, and it’s definitely not worth the risk! Instead, take time to make your statement truly unique – You’re trying to get across what makes you you. Faye suggests getting a second opinion, “Before submitting your UCAS application and personal statement, it’s worth asking someone you trust to cast an eye over it one last time – a teacher, careers advisor or family member may be able to do this for you.”

4. Giving a list of experiences or awards

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It’s better to go into detail about what you learnt from one particular experience, than just including an endless list. Put yourself in the admission officers shoes, and think about how easy it is to work out what you’re trying to get across. You should aim to include an example for every point you make, and try to be as concise as possible.

5. Being negative

Yes, it can be difficult to shout about your own achievements. But, a personal statement is your chance to shine. So, don’t be over-modest and definitely don’t highlight things you haven’t done as well at or subjects you struggle with. Be positive, enthusiastic, and upbeat, and focus on the reasons why you’d be amazing for the course!

Are you ready to get started? Make sure you follow this personal statement checklist from De MontfortUniversity:

  1. An engaging opening paragraph
  2. Justification for your choice of subject/course and evidence of a desire to study the subject
  3. Your suitability for the course
  4. Evidence you’ve researched the course and understand what it will involve
  5. Relevant hobbies and interests to give an insight into you as an individual
  6. Your future plans and career aspirations
  7. Conclusion – end on a positive note

Need tips but don’t want to read? Check out this video from student blogger Olivia here.

Good luck babes!