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    Doing the personal statement help on TSR, I find a lot of personal statements I read have the same sort of things that are wrong with them. The following guide is my own opinion on how best to write the personal statement. It is not a definitive guide, and the more original you can be within constraints of your personal statement the better.

    General Tips
    • Start working on your personal statement as early as possible .
    • Get as many people to read it as possible.



    The Introduction

    Scary. The introduction is the grabber of the piece. It determines the first impression that the reader gets of you as a person. Some of the main things to avoid are words like passion, relish are the two main ones, but intrigued/fascinated are quite cliche too although a bit harder to avoid. They are really really overused and they don't bring out your 'passion' for the subject at all. Another thing to avoid is bad attempts at humor, they're generally out of place in a professional personal statement. Other pitfalls include quotes starting off your introduction or sentimentality as to why your pony was shot and how this made you want to be a vet. The right situations can be linked back well such as the pony being shot, but only if you're clever about it. The first paragraph is the key one. You need to tell them why you want to do the veterinary course, what motivates you, what do you find interesting about the topics you're going to study. So it needs to sound professional, strong and unique. The opening sentence needs to be strong and leave an impression. All the paragraphs should flow and not sound disjointed. Think of it as a bit of an essay you need to perfect and sentences or paragraphs cannot stand out like a sore thumb.
    As a general introduction a few people may include a number of things such as but not limited to; animal welfare, scientific interest, their background etc. Make sure you mention statements that can be attributed as to why you want to make veterinary medicine your sole career. Generalist statements such as 'love of animals' and 'love of science' could be said of a degree such as vet nursing or zoology. Make your points as specific to a medicine career as you can.

    The Science Bit

    You may or may not include this in your personal statement. This should ideally encompass what you find interesting in your current scientific courses, or topical scientific issues you find interesting. The most important thing is there needs to be links back as to why this shows your aptitude to be a vet/how this random topic at A level will be further put to use at university.

    The most important bit- WORK EXPERIENCE.
    Should be at least 60-70% of your personal statement. If not, you're doing something wrong. Rather than listing every single placement, pick a few and elaborate. Another thing Names of farms or whatever are not needed and take up un-necessary space, same as exact dates. It can be as simple as ' When I spent x weeks at a dairy farm I learnt, saw, whatever. You need to have a balance to show the staples. Bristol gauge your work experience from this. Therefore you need to have covered to some degree (you might weight it differently or whatever):
    1. Vet Work.
    2. Farm Work.
    3. Equine Work.
    4. Small Animal work- kennels, rescue, catteries, whatever.

    The other places such as vet lab, abattoir, work abroad, wildlife should be mentioned as slightly less priority, although it's a wide known fact universities like to see vet labs and abattoirs in the work experience list. The reason you need those four staples- they're the main industries you will be working in, the unis want to know what you learnt, the others are generally niche areas of work. Make sure you cut the work experience into sensible paragraphs. Remember, what you learnt, do not list what you did.
    You need to make sure that you can talk at length about everything mentioned in your PS. Don't mention an operation you observed, then not know anything about it! Don't make this a list, its better you mention a few ops you witnessed and be able to talk about them than reel off a lot of ops but be able to talk about none of them. Throughout this section, you should be reflecting on how this has helped you reflect on the life as a vet.

    The Booked Bit
    You can also put in the personal statement as an extra sentence I have x and x booked for the forthcoming year. If you are a reapplicant you may want to expand on some of the things you are doing in your gap year, although you should have a lot more to talk about from the summer after application.

    The Achievements Bit- may be split into Achievements/College related things & Hobbies/extracurriculars & voluntary work or whatever
    Extracurriculars and achievements should be about a reasonably sized paragraph or two max. The bulk should be your work experience. Remember that every tom, **** and harry these days has duke of edinburgh, grade 7 piano etc. Try to find something unique. Also, this is NOT the place to list your high UMS or science awards. Your reference by your tutor can do that.. This also includes hobbies, part time job etc. All are important in the roundness they create. Also in my opinion anything on vetsim, vetcam or whatever those residency courses are shouldn't be mentioned. They don't give your application any credit because people from less well off backgrounds can't afford it (like when I applied)so the unis cannot take these kind of courses into account. Also don't just list achievements or qualities.. link back to how they are actually useful for a vet degree if you can.

    In this section you need to tell the admissions department what you do in your spare time. Remember it has to relate to your application. You may enjoy going to the cinema but what does that actually bring to your personal statement? This paragraph is very important. It shows the reader that you can balance an academic life with extracurricular activities. If you mention a hobby that doesn't relate to veterinary medicine, don't try to relate it. It'll be obvious to the reader your clutching at straws. Its up to you if you want to relate everything to vet medicine. Some things will have an obvious link so your wasting words explaining everything.

    The Conclusion Bit

    Three or four lines max (preferably three). Summing up why you're the perfect applicant and why they should choose you for the course. Don't introduce anything new and try to sound confident

    Most Important Points
    • Show what you've learned. Don't just list ' I helped out with calving, I got to tube lambs, I did x and x and x.' I want to know what you learnt at the farm, about the workings, about the bigger issues, what about milking? What were the importance of the husbandry procedures, what was the economical importance of x, y and z. Show deeper thinking, don't just list. Show me that you took something from that industry or placement. You learn clincial skills later.. I want to know your awareness.
    • Link link link. Every statement or so you make should have a wider role. It should be aimed at showing why you're a good candidate for the course or what you understand. For example. I saw the vet do x, this shows me x about the role of the vet, or this makes me suited because of x.
    • FLOW. Important. Don't have that statement tacked on in the middle somewhere, or don't have random bits of work experience thrown in all over the place.
    • Spelling, grammar & puncutation. May seem small, but the amount of times its just the structure or wording which sounds wrong. The wording makes all the difference and can leave a large or weak impact.


    Also remember- the profession is also about the people, sometimes more so than the animal. Mention *something* about clients/teamwork/compassion etc!

    Never mention James Herriot please...

    Bristol's Personal Statement Advice

    Each candidate’s application is awarded an overall mark; the highest scoring candidates will be invited to interview. The UCAS form will be scored in 3 areas which will contribute to the overall mark as follows:

    GCSE results 15%
    A level results 15%
    Personal statement & reference 70%

    The scores from the personal statement contribute 70% towards the overall mark. The criteria assessed and their weightings within the personal statement scores are:

    Is the candidate realistic and informed about a career in veterinary medicine? 30%
    Has the candidate got work experience in veterinary practice? 20%
    Has the candidate got related work experience, e.g. farm, stable, kennel, rescue, research, abattoir? 20%
    Has the candidate contributed to school/college/community activities and have interests outside of veterinary sciences? 10%
    Does the candidate have evidence of personal achievements? 20%

    We are not prescriptive about work experience but full marks would be given to those candidates who have seen more than 4 weeks (i.e. more than 20 days) practice at more than 1 veterinary practice and more than 4 weeks at a good range of animal establishments (e.g. lambing, beef, dairy, kennels, wildlife, abattoir, laboratory). Some work experience must already be completed but we will also include work experience that is planned in future vacations in our totals.

    School/ college/ community activities – e.g. being a prefect, helping at a club, charity work.

    Interests outside of veterinary sciences e.g. sports, music, drama, hobbies and/ or part time work.

    Evidence of non academic personal achievements – e.g. sporting success, examinations in music, charity challenges achieved, promotion to a position of responsibility in the workplace.

    Generic Writing Style Advice

    This section has been taken from the Medicine article.
    Punctuation 1. Capital letters

    Capital letters should only be used when a proper noun is being used. Countless numbers of people tend to capitalise the following words: medicine, chemistry, biology, doctor, hospital, general practice. The words are correct as written there. Exceptions to this do exist if you write the word as a proper noun. For example, if I were to write 'I am applying for the Medicine A100 course,' then capitalising the 'M' would be correct. Similarly, if I were writing 'I worked at Central Manchester University Hospital for a period of three weeks,' then it would be correct to use capital letters. At least half of all statements make a mistake with incorrectly capitalised words.

    Something which should always be capitalised is 'I'. It is correct to say 'I am twenty years old and I like to play the piano.' It is not a very common mistake, but it has been seen.

    2. Commas

    It is rare to see the perfect use of commas throughout a personal statement. More often than not, commas are completely missed out from sentences. Most commonly, this occurs after a clause such as 'During my hospital work experience, I learnt about empathy.' More than three quarters of all statements will miss out the comma after the first clause. A comma would therefore also be needed here: 'In September, I played a football tournament.' A final example where commas are often missed out is when coordinate clauses are used. 'Medicine, in my opinion, is the perfect career choice for me.' Similarly: 'I like the rewarding nature of medicine, but I am not too fond of the hard work.'

    3. Semicolons

    Used invariably incorrectly or not used at all.

    The semicolon has many uses. Its main use is to separate items of lists or series'. For example: 'I observed several departments: I watched surgery in Orthopaedics; learnt about ECGs in Cardiology; was taught about Diabetes in Endocrinology and viewed a CT scan in Radiology.'

    It can also be used between independent clauses which are related. 'I went to A&E; it was really busy.'

    It is also used to link clauses and semi clauses. 'It is most common on wards 6 and 9; however, it is not restricted.'

    If you are not sure whether to use a semicolon or not, alter your sentence so that you don't have a need to.

    4. Colons

    As semicolons, colons are usually used incorrectly or not used at all.

    The colon is most commonly used to introduce a list. 'I went to three wards: ward 4, ward 9 and ward 14.'

    It is also commonly used when one sentence is linked to its preceding sentence via consequence or effect. For example: 'I had a wonderful romantic dinner last night, but I awoke with a stomach pain: It must have been dodgy food.' Similarly, it can be used in apposition: 'I couldn't get up for hospital: I was still hungover.'

    5. Apostrophes

    This is something that really annoys me. First, when not to use them. If you are turning something into a plural, there is no need to use an apostrophe. For example: GCSEs, GPs, PSs.

    Having read an endless number of personal statements, the most common apostrophe mistake concerns the word patient.

    patients - this is the plural of patient i.e. There are many patients in this waiting room.

    patient's dignity - this is the dignity of one patient i.e. I was concerned about the patient's dignity during the PR exam.

    patients' views - the views of many patients i.e. The patients' views regarding Dr X were very positive.

    patience - this is a totally different word i.e. That man has been waiting for 5 hours! I'm amazed by his patience.

    Grammar (There is a really good internet tool to check your grammar for you: http://ed.grammarly.com/editor/view/?f=1) 1. Spelling

    It takes no longer than a couple of minutes to check your spelling. Paste your personal statement into Microsoft Word and do a spell check or use an online tool such as http://www.spellcheck.net/. There's nothing worse than starting your paragraph with 'Medecine is the perfect career choice for me.'

    2. Using apostrophes to shorten words

    Don't use 'don't' in a personal statement (ironic, huh?). Always use the full word. Mustn't should be written as must not and can't as cannot. The same applies for I'm which becomes I am. Don't even consider using I'd, which could stand for 'I had,' 'I did,' 'I would' or 'I could.' These are self-explanatory but are very common mistakes in around 20% of statements.

    3. There, their and they're

    Really common mistake made in under a quarter of statements.

    There is a word which aims to indicate a location or an expletive word which can be used to start sentences. For example: 'There are seven consultants on the ward.' 'It is over there near the table.'

    Their is a word used to indicate possession. For example: 'It is their box of chocolates.'

    They're is the short form of 'they are.' So in a sentence it may be used as such: 'They're over there. Look, they're both really busy.'

    4. Its and it's

    Its is a possessive form of it. Use it when something belongs to another object i.e. 'The cat licked its paw.'

    It's is a short form of 'it is.' So for example: 'It's cold in the hospital today.'

    5. Using also, furthermore, however and therefore

    Essentially, try not to use the word also. Especially, if every other sentence is starting with it. It is a waste of characters and becomes repetitive.

    Clichés

    There are some words, phrases and sentences that come up too often. These include, but are not limited to: passion, fascination, love, aspiration, intrigued by, broadened my knowledge, enhanced my skill, as a result, affirmed/confirmed my decision, fuelled, enthralled, 'quenched my thirst for' and 'sparked my interest in'.
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    Thanks for this! I was wondering if you had any advice about writing a personal statement when reapplying? I struggled
    writing my PS first time around but was pleased with it in the end however im not looking forward to rewriting it!!
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    (Original post by Special Offer)
    Thanks for this! I was wondering if you had any advice about writing a personal statement when reapplying? I struggled
    writing my PS first time around but was pleased with it in the end however im not looking forward to rewriting it!!

    Don't keep the same personal statement, you can use bits from the previous one but as it's been a year you should have changed and bolstered up quite a lot of it with new stuff . That's it really. I also wouldn't say that you were a re-applicant as this would be evident from UCAS. You could however put a section in addition such as During my gap year... etc
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    Very good thread Thanks...

    Should we avoid writing about animal stuff in the "hobby & extracurricular" section?
    I'm doing quite a lot of dog showing and agility, I've won some awards (qualified for semi-finals in Junior Handling etc.), would it be ok to write about this or should I look for a new non-animal related hobby?

    I'm actually looking for something new to do, but not sure what... Any recommendations?
    I don't want to do the DoE neither any music stuff. I don't really have time for the DoE and as you said a lot of people do something related to music.

    Thanks...
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    (Original post by Nessie162)
    Very good thread Thanks...

    Should we avoid writing about animal stuff in the "hobby & extracurricular" section?
    I'm doing quite a lot of dog showing and agility, I've won some awards (qualified for semi-finals in Junior Handling etc.), would it be ok to write about this or should I look for a new non-animal related hobby?

    I'm actually looking for something new to do, but not sure what... Any recommendations?
    I don't want to do the DoE neither any music stuff. I don't really have time for the DoE and as you said a lot of people do something related to music.

    Thanks...
    I would write about it. I wrote about my dog training in YKC competition obedience because my dog went to crufts, I also think it shows dedication to train your own dog, its also a very useful skill to have. For my extracurriculars all I had was dog training, my part time job at mcdonalds, I ran a graphics academy to teach people how to use photoshop at the time and dabbled in that, I did running, played a bit of piano (grade 2 ish) and thats about it, so not much. Oh I also did peer mentoring in school. Just choose something you want to try I'd say, even if its not a sport etc. You could even try knitting, tapestry, anything
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    (Original post by Nessie162)
    Very good thread Thanks...

    Should we avoid writing about animal stuff in the "hobby & extracurricular" section?
    I'm doing quite a lot of dog showing and agility, I've won some awards (qualified for semi-finals in Junior Handling etc.), would it be ok to write about this or should I look for a new non-animal related hobby?

    I'm actually looking for something new to do, but not sure what... Any recommendations?
    I don't want to do the DoE neither any music stuff. I don't really have time for the DoE and as you said a lot of people do something related to music.

    Thanks...
    As skatealexia has mentioned, your dog showing & agility are really good achievements you should include in your PS.

    For my hobbies I personally mentioned painting (I won a few competitions / my work was displayed at a local arts centre) and webdesign and my contributions to my local Young Farmer's Club through competitions and my role as secretary.

    I think if you do want to take up a hobby/extra this could be absolutely anything! Perhaps see if your school has any after school clubs you could join or run for younger years? Or you could do anything outside of school that you like and enjoy.

    I personally would recommend Young Farmer's Clubs to anyone. I'm not from a farming background (but was always interested in farming following placements I did) and I really did gain a lot out of it! They were even more happy to tell me about their animals knowing that I wanted to be a vet and I was always welcome to ask questions about farming in general. At my local club there was a mix of farmers and non-farmers - the time I spent there helped me develop confidence in myself which I lacked at the time. They had a lot of competitions ranging from sports to public speaking (public speaking really did get me to think on my feet and feel pressured almost like in an interview). I also got loads of contacts for placements (in fact, may have offered to come to their farms or that they could help me find a placement in my area if I got stuck - which I have used before vet school and throughout my time at uni). Of course, each club is different and really depends on the people who are running it but might be worth looking into.
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    (Original post by SilverstarDJ)
    As skatealexia has mentioned, your dog showing & agility are really good achievements you should include in your PS.

    For my hobbies I personally mentioned painting (I won a few competitions / my work was displayed at a local arts centre) and webdesign and my contributions to my local Young Farmer's Club through competitions and my role as secretary.

    I think if you do want to take up a hobby/extra this could be absolutely anything! Perhaps see if your school has any after school clubs you could join or run for younger years? Or you could do anything outside of school that you like and enjoy.

    I personally would recommend Young Farmer's Clubs to anyone. I'm not from a farming background (but was always interested in farming following placements I did) and I really did gain a lot out of it! They were even more happy to tell me about their animals knowing that I wanted to be a vet and I was always welcome to ask questions about farming in general. At my local club there was a mix of farmers and non-farmers - the time I spent there helped me develop confidence in myself which I lacked at the time. They had a lot of competitions ranging from sports to public speaking (public speaking really did get me to think on my feet and feel pressured almost like in an interview). I also got loads of contacts for placements (in fact, may have offered to come to their farms or that they could help me find a placement in my area if I got stuck - which I have used before vet school and throughout my time at uni). Of course, each club is different and really depends on the people who are running it but might be worth looking into.
    Agreed, I would have gone to it, if I'd have know it had existed before vet school
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    Thank you for advice Very useful...
    I'll have a look at the Young Farmers Club too
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    (Original post by skatealexia)
    Doing the personal statement help on TSR, I find a lot of personal statements I read have the same sort of things that are wrong with them. The following guide is my own opinion on how best to write the personal statement. It is not a definitive guide, and the more original you can be within constraints of your personal statement the better.

    General Tips
    • Start working on your personal statement as early as possible .
    • Get as many people to read it as possible.



    The Introduction

    Scary. The introduction is the grabber of the piece. It determines the first impression that the reader gets of you as a person. Some of the main things to avoid are words like passion, relish are the two main ones, but intrigued/fascinated are quite cliche too although a bit harder to avoid. They are really really overused and they don't bring out your 'passion' for the subject at all. Another thing to avoid is bad attempts at humor, they're generally out of place in a professional personal statement. Other pitfalls include quotes starting off your introduction or sentimentality as to why your pony was shot and how this made you want to be a vet. The right situations can be linked back well such as the pony being shot, but only if you're clever about it. The first paragraph is the key one. You need to tell them why you want to do the veterinary course, what motivates you, what do you find interesting about the topics you're going to study. So it needs to sound professional, strong and unique. The opening sentence needs to be strong and leave an impression. All the paragraphs should flow and not sound disjointed. Think of it as a bit of an essay you need to perfect and sentences or paragraphs cannot stand out like a sore thumb.
    As a general introduction a few people may include a number of things such as but not limited to; animal welfare, scientific interest, their background etc. Make sure you mention statements that can be attributed as to why you want to make veterinary medicine your sole career. Generalist statements such as 'love of animals' and 'love of science' could be said of a degree such as vet nursing or zoology. Make your points as specific to a medicine career as you can.

    The Science Bit

    You may or may not include this in your personal statement. This should ideally encompass what you find interesting in your current scientific courses, or topical scientific issues you find interesting. The most important thing is there needs to be links back as to why this shows your aptitude to be a vet/how this random topic at A level will be further put to use at university.

    The most important bit- WORK EXPERIENCE.
    Should be at least 60-70% of your personal statement. If not, you're doing something wrong. Rather than listing every single placement, pick a few and elaborate. Another thing Names of farms or whatever are not needed and take up un-necessary space, same as exact dates. It can be as simple as ' When I spent x weeks at a dairy farm I learnt, saw, whatever. You need to have a balance to show the staples. Bristol gauge your work experience from this. Therefore you need to have covered to some degree (you might weight it differently or whatever):
    1. Vet Work.
    2. Farm Work.
    3. Equine Work.
    4. Small Animal work- kennels, rescue, catteries, whatever.

    The other places such as vet lab, abattoir, work abroad, wildlife should be mentioned as slightly less priority, although it's a wide known fact universities like to see vet labs and abattoirs in the work experience list. The reason you need those four stables- they're the main industries you will be working in, the unis want to know what you learnt, the others are generally niche areas of work. Make sure you cut the work experience into sensible paragraphs. Remember, what you learnt, do not list what you did.
    You need to make sure that you can talk at length about everything mentioned in your PS. Don't mention an operation you observed, then not know anything about it! Don't make this a list, its better you mention a few ops you witnessed and be able to talk about them than reel off a lot of ops but be able to talk about none of them. Throughout this section, you should be reflecting on how this has helped you reflect on the life as a vet.

    The Booked Bit
    You can also put in the personal statement as an extra sentence I have x and x booked for the forthcoming year. If you are a reapplicant you may want to expand on some of the things you are doing in your gap year, although you should have a lot more to talk about from the summer after application.

    The Achievements Bit- may be split into Achievements/College related things & Hobbies/extracurriculars & voluntary work or whatever
    Extracurriculars and achievements should be about a reasonably sized paragraph or two max. The bulk should be your work experience. Remember that every tom, **** and harry these days has duke of edinburgh, grade 7 piano etc. Try to find something unique. Also, this is NOT the place to list your high UMS or science awards. Your reference by your tutor can do that.. This also includes hobbies, part time job etc. All are important in the roundness they create. Also in my opinion anything on vetsim, vetcam or whatever those residency courses are shouldn't be mentioned. They don't give your application any credit because people from less well off backgrounds can't afford it (like when I applied)so the unis cannot take these kind of courses into account. Also don't just list achievements or qualities.. link back to how they are actually useful for a vet degree if you can.

    In this section you need to tell the admissions department what you do in your spare time. Remember it has to relate to your application. You may enjoy going to the cinema but what does that actually bring to your personal statement? This paragraph is very important. It shows the reader that you can balance an academic life with extracurricular activities. If you mention a hobby that doesn't relate to veterinary medicine, don't try to relate it. It'll be obvious to the reader your clutching at straws. Its up to you if you want to relate everything to vet medicine. Some things will have an obvious link so your wasting words explaining everything.

    The Conclusion Bit

    Three or four lines max (preferably three). Summing up why you're the perfect applicant and why they should choose you for the course. Don't introduce anything new and try to sound confident

    Most Important Points
    • Show what you've learned. Don't just list ' I helped out with calving, I got to tube lambs, I did x and x and x.' I want to know what you learnt at the farm, about the workings, about the bigger issues, what about milking? What were the importance of the husbandry procedures, what was the economical importance of x, y and z. Show deeper thinking, don't just list. Show me that you took something from that industry or placement. You learn clincial skills later.. I want to know your awareness.
    • Link link link. Every statement or so you make should have a wider role. It should be aimed at showing why you're a good candidate for the course or what you understand. For example. I saw the vet do x, this shows me x about the role of the vet, or this makes me suited because of x.
    • FLOW. Important. Don't have that statement tacked on in the middle somewhere, or don't have random bits of work experience thrown in all over the place.
    • Spelling, grammar & puncutation. May seem small, but the amount of times its just the structure or wording which sounds wrong. The wording makes all the difference and can leave a large or weak impact.


    Never mention James Herriot please...

    Bristol's Personal Statement Advice

    Each candidate’s application is awarded an overall mark; the highest scoring candidates will be invited to interview. The UCAS form will be scored in 3 areas which will contribute to the overall mark as follows:

    GCSE results 15%
    A level results 15%
    Personal statement & reference 70%

    The scores from the personal statement contribute 70% towards the overall mark. The criteria assessed and their weightings within the personal statement scores are:

    Is the candidate realistic and informed about a career in veterinary medicine? 30%
    Has the candidate got work experience in veterinary practice? 20%
    Has the candidate got related work experience, e.g. farm, stable, kennel, rescue, research, abattoir? 20%
    Has the candidate contributed to school/college/community activities and have interests outside of veterinary sciences? 10%
    Does the candidate have evidence of personal achievements? 20%

    We are not prescriptive about work experience but full marks would be given to those candidates who have seen more than 4 weeks (i.e. more than 20 days) practice at more than 1 veterinary practice and more than 4 weeks at a good range of animal establishments (e.g. lambing, beef, dairy, kennels, wildlife, abattoir, laboratory). Some work experience must already be completed but we will also include work experience that is planned in future vacations in our totals.

    School/ college/ community activities – e.g. being a prefect, helping at a club, charity work.

    Interests outside of veterinary sciences e.g. sports, music, drama, hobbies and/ or part time work.

    Evidence of non academic personal achievements – e.g. sporting success, examinations in music, charity challenges achieved, promotion to a position of responsibility in the workplace.

    Generic Writing Style Advice

    This section has been taken from the Medicine article.
    Punctuation 1. Capital letters

    Capital letters should only be used when a proper noun is being used. Countless numbers of people tend to capitalise the following words: medicine, chemistry, biology, doctor, hospital, general practice. The words are correct as written there. Exceptions to this do exist if you write the word as a proper noun. For example, if I were to write 'I am applying for the Medicine A100 course,' then capitalising the 'M' would be correct. Similarly, if I were writing 'I worked at Central Manchester University Hospital for a period of three weeks,' then it would be correct to use capital letters. At least half of all statements make a mistake with incorrectly capitalised words.

    Something which should always be capitalised is 'I'. It is correct to say 'I am twenty years old and I like to play the piano.' It is not a very common mistake, but it has been seen.

    2. Commas

    It is rare to see the perfect use of commas throughout a personal statement. More often than not, commas are completely missed out from sentences. Most commonly, this occurs after a clause such as 'During my hospital work experience, I learnt about empathy.' More than three quarters of all statements will miss out the comma after the first clause. A comma would therefore also be needed here: 'In September, I played a football tournament.' A final example where commas are often missed out is when coordinate clauses are used. 'Medicine, in my opinion, is the perfect career choice for me.' Similarly: 'I like the rewarding nature of medicine, but I am not too fond of the hard work.'

    3. Semicolons

    Used invariably incorrectly or not used at all.

    The semicolon has many uses. Its main use is to separate items of lists or series'. For example: 'I observed several departments: I watched surgery in Orthopaedics; learnt about ECGs in Cardiology; was taught about Diabetes in Endocrinology and viewed a CT scan in Radiology.'

    It can also be used between independent clauses which are related. 'I went to A&E; it was really busy.'

    It is also used to link clauses and semi clauses. 'It is most common on wards 6 and 9; however, it is not restricted.'

    If you are not sure whether to use a semicolon or not, alter your sentence so that you don't have a need to.

    4. Colons

    As semicolons, colons are usually used incorrectly or not used at all.

    The colon is most commonly used to introduce a list. 'I went to three wards: ward 4, ward 9 and ward 14.'

    It is also commonly used when one sentence is linked to its preceding sentence via consequence or effect. For example: 'I had a wonderful romantic dinner last night, but I awoke with a stomach pain: It must have been dodgy food.' Similarly, it can be used in apposition: 'I couldn't get up for hospital: I was still hungover.'

    5. Apostrophes

    This is something that really annoys me. First, when not to use them. If you are turning something into a plural, there is no need to use an apostrophe. For example: GCSEs, GPs, PSs.

    Having read an endless number of personal statements, the most common apostrophe mistake concerns the word patient.

    patients - this is the plural of patient i.e. There are many patients in this waiting room.

    patient's dignity - this is the dignity of one patient i.e. I was concerned about the patient's dignity during the PR exam.

    patients' views - the views of many patients i.e. The patients' views regarding Dr X were very positive.

    patience - this is a totally different word i.e. That man has been waiting for 5 hours! I'm amazed by his patience.

    Grammar (There is a really good internet tool to check your grammar for you: http://ed.grammarly.com/editor/view/?f=1) 1. Spelling

    It takes no longer than a couple of minutes to check your spelling. Paste your personal statement into Microsoft Word and do a spell check or use an online tool such as http://www.spellcheck.net/. There's nothing worse than starting your paragraph with 'Medecine is the perfect career choice for me.'

    2. Using apostrophes to shorten words

    Don't use 'don't' in a personal statement (ironic, huh?). Always use the full word. Mustn't should be written as must not and can't as cannot. The same applies for I'm which becomes I am. Don't even consider using I'd, which could stand for 'I had,' 'I did,' 'I would' or 'I could.' These are self-explanatory but are very common mistakes in around 20% of statements.

    3. There, their and they're

    Really common mistake made in under a quarter of statements.

    There is a word which aims to indicate a location or an expletive word which can be used to start sentences. For example: 'There are seven consultants on the ward.' 'It is over there near the table.'

    Their is a word used to indicate possession. For example: 'It is their box of chocolates.'

    They're is the short form of 'they are.' So in a sentence it may be used as such: 'They're over there. Look, they're both really busy.'

    4. Its and it's

    Its is a possessive form of it. Use it when something belongs to another object i.e. 'The cat licked its paw.'

    It's is a short form of 'it is.' So for example: 'It's cold in the hospital today.'

    5. Using also, furthermore, however and therefore

    Essentially, try not to use the word also. Especially, if every other sentence is starting with it. It is a waste of characters and becomes repetitive.

    Clichés

    There are some words, phrases and sentences that come up too often. These include, but are not limited to: passion, fascination, love, aspiration, intrigued by, broadened my knowledge, enhanced my skill, as a result, affirmed/confirmed my decision, fuelled, enthralled, 'quenched my thirst for' and 'sparked my interest in'.
    Just saw this.... we need to get everyone submitting a PS for review to have read this BEFORE they click "submit"
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    Agreed, I shall amend this now up top
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    I just read this guide and thought it was brilliant. I have been reading veterinary personal statements and doing mock interviews for veterinary applicants at a local school for many years, and one big thing I would add is - you will very likely be asked something about your personal statement at interview. If you say you are really interested in a certain animal disease after encountering it while seeing practice, please, please make sure you are familiar with what a reasonably intelligent person could know about the disease after spending ten minutes on the Internet. You might be interviewed by a world expert in that disease, and they will not be impressed if you haven't bothered to do a basic level of homework about what you yourself chose to write! Good luck.
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    How have I not seen this before?

    Awesome work skate!
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    A few tips from someone who works in Admissions:

    AVOID :
    1) Starting your PS with any reference to a family pet, anything that happened to said pet when you were 6 and/or your admiration for the vet that saved its life. In fact, don't mention this anywhere in your PS if you want to be taken seriously. You are no longer 6. Your desire to be a vet must be based on something far more profound than this.
    2) Avoid anything that sounds like 'I have always loved animals' or 'I want to combine my love for animals with my interest in science'.
    3) Don't use silly words/phrases like 'zeal', 'plethora' and 'piqued my interest'. If your best friend would laugh at you using the word or phrase to their face, don't put in your PS.
    4) Do not list experiences at your Vet work experience without explaining what it made you think/feel/realise. ie. 'I watched a c-section, dissected a cow's testicle and intubated a cat' is meaningless on its own. Far better is pick one event/moment that made you step back and think about what had just happened and why you felt differently about being vet because of it. Explain your reflection/realisation not just the event.
    5) Dont show off. 'I spent 3 weeks working on a turtle conservation project in Belize'. Do not kid yourself that this is 'relevant work experience'. This is an exotic holiday with 1 day of 'pretending to be a volunteer'. We would be far more impressed if you'd spent 2 weeks lambing in a freezing shed with no sleep.
    6) Do not mention James Herriot, Steve Irwin or David Attenborough.
    7) Do not tell us that your mother is a doctor or your big sister is a vet. They aren't applying for University - you are.

    DO:
    1) Make the precise number of weeks you have spent on work experience crystal clear, and differentiate clearly between Vet/clinical experience and 'other' animal experience. Make it clear how many Vets you've worked in and how many 'other situations'.
    2) Explain clearly WHY you want to be a Vet. Just loving animals is NOT enough. Nor is 'wanting to make them better'.You must show that you are thinking about this as an adult not a child. Think bigger than this. How would a VET explain this?
    3) Include what else you do with your time apart from animals! Universities are interested in people with a sense of civic and social responsibility. We want to see long-term voluntary work, team sport, personal achievements etc. PS. DoE is very boring - so is World Challenge. PLEASE find something that the school did NOT organise for you!
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    When I am writing my personal statement do I need to say how long I spent at each placement or can I just write the overall length of my work experience??
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    (Original post by eilidhhhh)
    When I am writing my personal statement do I need to say how long I spent at each placement or can I just write the overall length of my work experience??
    The former
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    Would anyone be able to peer review my PS I have written for Gateway please? I've had a few people go over it, but I don't know many vetty people so they can't give the same advice as you guys can.
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    (Original post by skatealexia)
    Doing the personal statement help on TSR, I find a lot of personal statements I read have the same sort of things that are wrong with them. The following guide is my own opinion on how best to write the personal statement. It is not a definitive guide, and the more original you can be within constraints of your personal statement the better.

    General Tips
    • Start working on your personal statement as early as possible .
    • Get as many people to read it as possible.



    The Introduction

    Scary. The introduction is the grabber of the piece. It determines the first impression that the reader gets of you as a person. Some of the main things to avoid are words like passion, relish are the two main ones, but intrigued/fascinated are quite cliche too although a bit harder to avoid. They are really really overused and they don't bring out your 'passion' for the subject at all. Another thing to avoid is bad attempts at humor, they're generally out of place in a professional personal statement. Other pitfalls include quotes starting off your introduction or sentimentality as to why your pony was shot and how this made you want to be a vet. The right situations can be linked back well such as the pony being shot, but only if you're clever about it. The first paragraph is the key one. You need to tell them why you want to do the veterinary course, what motivates you, what do you find interesting about the topics you're going to study. So it needs to sound professional, strong and unique. The opening sentence needs to be strong and leave an impression. All the paragraphs should flow and not sound disjointed. Think of it as a bit of an essay you need to perfect and sentences or paragraphs cannot stand out like a sore thumb.
    As a general introduction a few people may include a number of things such as but not limited to; animal welfare, scientific interest, their background etc. Make sure you mention statements that can be attributed as to why you want to make veterinary medicine your sole career. Generalist statements such as 'love of animals' and 'love of science' could be said of a degree such as vet nursing or zoology. Make your points as specific to a medicine career as you can.

    The Science Bit

    You may or may not include this in your personal statement. This should ideally encompass what you find interesting in your current scientific courses, or topical scientific issues you find interesting. The most important thing is there needs to be links back as to why this shows your aptitude to be a vet/how this random topic at A level will be further put to use at university.

    The most important bit- WORK EXPERIENCE.
    Should be at least 60-70% of your personal statement. If not, you're doing something wrong. Rather than listing every single placement, pick a few and elaborate. Another thing Names of farms or whatever are not needed and take up un-necessary space, same as exact dates. It can be as simple as ' When I spent x weeks at a dairy farm I learnt, saw, whatever. You need to have a balance to show the staples. Bristol gauge your work experience from this. Therefore you need to have covered to some degree (you might weight it differently or whatever):
    1. Vet Work.
    2. Farm Work.
    3. Equine Work.
    4. Small Animal work- kennels, rescue, catteries, whatever.

    The other places such as vet lab, abattoir, work abroad, wildlife should be mentioned as slightly less priority, although it's a wide known fact universities like to see vet labs and abattoirs in the work experience list. The reason you need those four staples- they're the main industries you will be working in, the unis want to know what you learnt, the others are generally niche areas of work. Make sure you cut the work experience into sensible paragraphs. Remember, what you learnt, do not list what you did.
    You need to make sure that you can talk at length about everything mentioned in your PS. Don't mention an operation you observed, then not know anything about it! Don't make this a list, its better you mention a few ops you witnessed and be able to talk about them than reel off a lot of ops but be able to talk about none of them. Throughout this section, you should be reflecting on how this has helped you reflect on the life as a vet.

    The Booked Bit
    You can also put in the personal statement as an extra sentence I have x and x booked for the forthcoming year. If you are a reapplicant you may want to expand on some of the things you are doing in your gap year, although you should have a lot more to talk about from the summer after application.

    The Achievements Bit- may be split into Achievements/College related things & Hobbies/extracurriculars & voluntary work or whatever
    Extracurriculars and achievements should be about a reasonably sized paragraph or two max. The bulk should be your work experience. Remember that every tom, **** and harry these days has duke of edinburgh, grade 7 piano etc. Try to find something unique. Also, this is NOT the place to list your high UMS or science awards. Your reference by your tutor can do that.. This also includes hobbies, part time job etc. All are important in the roundness they create. Also in my opinion anything on vetsim, vetcam or whatever those residency courses are shouldn't be mentioned. They don't give your application any credit because people from less well off backgrounds can't afford it (like when I applied)so the unis cannot take these kind of courses into account. Also don't just list achievements or qualities.. link back to how they are actually useful for a vet degree if you can.

    In this section you need to tell the admissions department what you do in your spare time. Remember it has to relate to your application. You may enjoy going to the cinema but what does that actually bring to your personal statement? This paragraph is very important. It shows the reader that you can balance an academic life with extracurricular activities. If you mention a hobby that doesn't relate to veterinary medicine, don't try to relate it. It'll be obvious to the reader your clutching at straws. Its up to you if you want to relate everything to vet medicine. Some things will have an obvious link so your wasting words explaining everything.

    The Conclusion Bit

    Three or four lines max (preferably three). Summing up why you're the perfect applicant and why they should choose you for the course. Don't introduce anything new and try to sound confident

    Most Important Points
    • Show what you've learned. Don't just list ' I helped out with calving, I got to tube lambs, I did x and x and x.' I want to know what you learnt at the farm, about the workings, about the bigger issues, what about milking? What were the importance of the husbandry procedures, what was the economical importance of x, y and z. Show deeper thinking, don't just list. Show me that you took something from that industry or placement. You learn clincial skills later.. I want to know your awareness.
    • Link link link. Every statement or so you make should have a wider role. It should be aimed at showing why you're a good candidate for the course or what you understand. For example. I saw the vet do x, this shows me x about the role of the vet, or this makes me suited because of x.
    • FLOW. Important. Don't have that statement tacked on in the middle somewhere, or don't have random bits of work experience thrown in all over the place.
    • Spelling, grammar & puncutation. May seem small, but the amount of times its just the structure or wording which sounds wrong. The wording makes all the difference and can leave a large or weak impact.


    Also remember- the profession is also about the people, sometimes more so than the animal. Mention *something* about clients/teamwork/compassion etc!

    Never mention James Herriot please...

    Bristol's Personal Statement Advice

    Each candidate’s application is awarded an overall mark; the highest scoring candidates will be invited to interview. The UCAS form will be scored in 3 areas which will contribute to the overall mark as follows:

    GCSE results 15%
    A level results 15%
    Personal statement & reference 70%

    The scores from the personal statement contribute 70% towards the overall mark. The criteria assessed and their weightings within the personal statement scores are:

    Is the candidate realistic and informed about a career in veterinary medicine? 30%
    Has the candidate got work experience in veterinary practice? 20%
    Has the candidate got related work experience, e.g. farm, stable, kennel, rescue, research, abattoir? 20%
    Has the candidate contributed to school/college/community activities and have interests outside of veterinary sciences? 10%
    Does the candidate have evidence of personal achievements? 20%

    We are not prescriptive about work experience but full marks would be given to those candidates who have seen more than 4 weeks (i.e. more than 20 days) practice at more than 1 veterinary practice and more than 4 weeks at a good range of animal establishments (e.g. lambing, beef, dairy, kennels, wildlife, abattoir, laboratory). Some work experience must already be completed but we will also include work experience that is planned in future vacations in our totals.

    School/ college/ community activities – e.g. being a prefect, helping at a club, charity work.

    Interests outside of veterinary sciences e.g. sports, music, drama, hobbies and/ or part time work.

    Evidence of non academic personal achievements – e.g. sporting success, examinations in music, charity challenges achieved, promotion to a position of responsibility in the workplace.

    Generic Writing Style Advice

    This section has been taken from the Medicine article.
    Punctuation 1. Capital letters

    Capital letters should only be used when a proper noun is being used. Countless numbers of people tend to capitalise the following words: medicine, chemistry, biology, doctor, hospital, general practice. The words are correct as written there. Exceptions to this do exist if you write the word as a proper noun. For example, if I were to write 'I am applying for the Medicine A100 course,' then capitalising the 'M' would be correct. Similarly, if I were writing 'I worked at Central Manchester University Hospital for a period of three weeks,' then it would be correct to use capital letters. At least half of all statements make a mistake with incorrectly capitalised words.

    Something which should always be capitalised is 'I'. It is correct to say 'I am twenty years old and I like to play the piano.' It is not a very common mistake, but it has been seen.

    2. Commas

    It is rare to see the perfect use of commas throughout a personal statement. More often than not, commas are completely missed out from sentences. Most commonly, this occurs after a clause such as 'During my hospital work experience, I learnt about empathy.' More than three quarters of all statements will miss out the comma after the first clause. A comma would therefore also be needed here: 'In September, I played a football tournament.' A final example where commas are often missed out is when coordinate clauses are used. 'Medicine, in my opinion, is the perfect career choice for me.' Similarly: 'I like the rewarding nature of medicine, but I am not too fond of the hard work.'

    3. Semicolons

    Used invariably incorrectly or not used at all.

    The semicolon has many uses. Its main use is to separate items of lists or series'. For example: 'I observed several departments: I watched surgery in Orthopaedics; learnt about ECGs in Cardiology; was taught about Diabetes in Endocrinology and viewed a CT scan in Radiology.'

    It can also be used between independent clauses which are related. 'I went to A&E; it was really busy.'

    It is also used to link clauses and semi clauses. 'It is most common on wards 6 and 9; however, it is not restricted.'

    If you are not sure whether to use a semicolon or not, alter your sentence so that you don't have a need to.

    4. Colons

    As semicolons, colons are usually used incorrectly or not used at all.

    The colon is most commonly used to introduce a list. 'I went to three wards: ward 4, ward 9 and ward 14.'

    It is also commonly used when one sentence is linked to its preceding sentence via consequence or effect. For example: 'I had a wonderful romantic dinner last night, but I awoke with a stomach pain: It must have been dodgy food.' Similarly, it can be used in apposition: 'I couldn't get up for hospital: I was still hungover.'

    5. Apostrophes

    This is something that really annoys me. First, when not to use them. If you are turning something into a plural, there is no need to use an apostrophe. For example: GCSEs, GPs, PSs.

    Having read an endless number of personal statements, the most common apostrophe mistake concerns the word patient.

    patients - this is the plural of patient i.e. There are many patients in this waiting room.

    patient's dignity - this is the dignity of one patient i.e. I was concerned about the patient's dignity during the PR exam.

    patients' views - the views of many patients i.e. The patients' views regarding Dr X were very positive.

    patience - this is a totally different word i.e. That man has been waiting for 5 hours! I'm amazed by his patience.

    Grammar (There is a really good internet tool to check your grammar for you: http://ed.grammarly.com/editor/view/?f=1) 1. Spelling

    It takes no longer than a couple of minutes to check your spelling. Paste your personal statement into Microsoft Word and do a spell check or use an online tool such as http://www.spellcheck.net/. There's nothing worse than starting your paragraph with 'Medecine is the perfect career choice for me.'

    2. Using apostrophes to shorten words

    Don't use 'don't' in a personal statement (ironic, huh?). Always use the full word. Mustn't should be written as must not and can't as cannot. The same applies for I'm which becomes I am. Don't even consider using I'd, which could stand for 'I had,' 'I did,' 'I would' or 'I could.' These are self-explanatory but are very common mistakes in around 20% of statements.

    3. There, their and they're

    Really common mistake made in under a quarter of statements.

    There is a word which aims to indicate a location or an expletive word which can be used to start sentences. For example: 'There are seven consultants on the ward.' 'It is over there near the table.'

    Their is a word used to indicate possession. For example: 'It is their box of chocolates.'

    They're is the short form of 'they are.' So in a sentence it may be used as such: 'They're over there. Look, they're both really busy.'

    4. Its and it's

    Its is a possessive form of it. Use it when something belongs to another object i.e. 'The cat licked its paw.'

    It's is a short form of 'it is.' So for example: 'It's cold in the hospital today.'

    5. Using also, furthermore, however and therefore

    Essentially, try not to use the word also. Especially, if every other sentence is starting with it. It is a waste of characters and becomes repetitive.

    Clichés

    There are some words, phrases and sentences that come up too often. These include, but are not limited to: passion, fascination, love, aspiration, intrigued by, broadened my knowledge, enhanced my skill, as a result, affirmed/confirmed my decision, fuelled, enthralled, 'quenched my thirst for' and 'sparked my interest in'.
    What would you recommended as the word limit for the introduction/bit about you?
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    (Original post by Blake Jones)
    What would you recommended as the word limit for the introduction/bit about you?
    3-4 lines
 
 
 
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