The ten biggest mistakes when writing your personal statement Watch

Charlotte's Web
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We've got a new article on the ten biggest mistakes you might make when writing your personal statement.

Whether you're just starting to write your personal statement or you're doing last minute checks before the deadline, it's well worth taking the time to check that you aren't making any obvious (and easily correctable) errors.

You can find the full article here:
https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/uni...onal-statement
Last edited by Charlotte's Web; 1 year ago
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nexttime
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Not sure I entirely agree with point 6). As pointed out, the readers will have read likely thousands of statements. You are pretty unlikely to actually be able to stand out surely? And if you do manage to be really out there are stick in the memory of the reader, I can't imagine it'd be for a good thing!

I tend to advise people to go for solid, good, well written, and interesting, but to leave the crazy attention seeking stuff out!
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Charlotte's Web
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(Original post by nexttime)
Not sure I entirely agree with point 6). As pointed out, the readers will have read likely thousands of statements. You are pretty unlikely to actually be able to stand out surely? And if you do manage to be really out there are stick in the memory of the reader, I can't imagine it'd be for a good thing!

I tend to advise people to go for solid, good, well written, and interesting, but to leave the crazy attention seeking stuff out!
Amongst hundreds of dull statements full of clichés, I believe a really well written one with a bit of thought and individuality will stand out. Having reviewed statements for several years, there are still a few I think of as being really great and that hit the nail on the head, although obviously this is just based on my experience. Of course, there are some that I remember for slightly less-pleasant reasons.

Obviously there are some things that are too 'out there' but if someone really wants to include something unusual and understands the risks of doing so then that's their informed decision.
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SerBronn
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I think it's fine to say "I've been fascinated by pre-Mayan Mesoamerica since the age of 8" - or whatever claim it is - provided that it is completely true.
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m01158118
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ahhsjsjs
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nulli tertius
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"4 Making simple, grammatical errors"

I would be more concerned about those applicants who make:

simple, ungrammatical errors

or those who make:

simple grammatical errors

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Charlotte's Web
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(Original post by SerBronn)
I think it's fine to say "I've been fascinated by pre-Mayan Mesoamerica since the age of 8" - or whatever claim it is - provided that it is completely true.
It's not inherently wrong to say it, but generally it's better to talk about more recent things. Essentially, it doesn't matter how long you've been interested in the subject, as admissions staff are interested in what you've done recently to demonstrate you're prepared/interested in university-level study. Someone who has been interested since the age of 8 wouldn't be a more attractive candidate than someone who became interested in the subject at 16. I'd say it's fine to include as long as you're aware it isn't likely to benefit your application in any way (and, of course, is true).
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Good bloke
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The article misses out what I suspect is the most fundamental point missed by candidates - that the PS should demonstrate your interest and ability.

Far too many candidates simply make claims about themselves or their interests, which is so much wasted space. It is far better to let your interest speak for itself and to shine out from what you have done and achieved. The words 'interest' and 'passion', along with synonyms and derivatives should never be used, and this in itself will help avoid sinking into cliche.
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Charlotte's Web
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(Original post by Good bloke)
The article misses out what I suspect is the most fundamental point missed by candidates - that the PS should demonstrate your interest and ability.

Far too many candidates simply make claims about themselves or their interests, which is so much wasted space. It is far better to let your interest speak for itself and to shine out from what you have done and achieved. The words 'interest' and 'passion', along with synonyms and derivatives should never be used, and this in itself will help avoid sinking into cliche.
This was one of the things I'd meant to include in point 9 that presumably got lost in a draft somewhere along the line. I've a few things I want to correct but unfortunately the article is locked for editing at the moment which is a bit of a pest. I totally agree with your points, it's much better to imply that you have skills through an example than simply listing them without any evidence.
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Infinite Series
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(Original post by Good bloke)
Far too many candidates simply make claims about themselves or their interests, which is so much wasted space. It is far better to let your interest speak for itself and to shine out from what you have done and achieved. The words 'interest' and 'passion', along with synonyms and derivatives should never be used, and this in itself will help avoid sinking into cliche.
I completely agree- I see this happening too frequently. Though in most cases, it's because the student hasn't done anything to demonstrate their interest.

Charlotte's Web Overall I enjoyed this article, and will certainly save this so that I could use it in the next ucas cycle
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Good bloke
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(Original post by Infinite Series)
I completely agree- I see this happening too frequently. Though in most cases, it's because the student hasn't done anything to demonstrate their interest.
That rings true, but a perceptive admissions tutor will spot the hollow claims a mile away in such a PS and has every chance of making his or her own judgement.
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Tebahpla
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(Original post by SerBronn)
I think it's fine to say "I've been fascinated by pre-Mayan Mesoamerica since the age of 8" - or whatever claim it is - provided that it is completely true.
I think it's better to show your fascination in another way, saying I've been fascinated in blah blah blah since age X is merely boring.
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BlueIndigoViolet
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Ever since the sperm and egg that made me fused, I have always had a burning passion to study Economics lol
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StriderHort
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Don't whine about personal problems, i've read a good few PS's that are almost suicide notes. One in particular where the girl over emotively raved about her ex and kids, pretty much nothing about the subject she applied for. (didn't get in) *facepalm*
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m01158118
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Charlotte's Web
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(Original post by StriderHort)
Don't whine about personal problems, i've read a good few PS's that are almost suicide notes. One in particular where the girl over emotively raved about her ex and kids, pretty much nothing about the subject she applied for. (didn't get in) *facepalm*
You're quite right. My speciality is in nursing and healthcare personal statements and in these areas it's really common for applicants to talk about either their own expeirence of illness or their experience caring for others, neither of which are very relevant, as they often don't demonstrate that they understand the difference between personal experience and professional experience. Often I find people think their extenuating or personal circumstances are more important than demonstrating interest in the subject.
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Plagioclase
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(Original post by nexttime)
Not sure I entirely agree with point 6). As pointed out, the readers will have read likely thousands of statements. You are pretty unlikely to actually be able to stand out surely? And if you do manage to be really out there are stick in the memory of the reader, I can't imagine it'd be for a good thing!

I tend to advise people to go for solid, good, well written, and interesting, but to leave the crazy attention seeking stuff out!
I do agree with point 6. There is an intermediate between "crazy attention seeking" and cliches that have been done to death. Sentences like "For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to do xyz" are (1) completely uninteresting and (2) irrelevant because having wanted to do something for a long time doesn't say anything about how good you actually are at it. I didn't realise my subject existed until less than a year before I applied.
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Poooky
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(Original post by StriderHort)
Don't whine about personal problems, i've read a good few PS's that are almost suicide notes. One in particular where the girl over emotively raved about her ex and kids, pretty much nothing about the subject she applied for. (didn't get in) *facepalm*
I want to read this
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StriderHort
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(Original post by Charlotte's Web)
You're quite right. My speciality is in nursing and healthcare personal statements and in these areas it's really common for applicants to talk about either their own expeirence of illness or their experience caring for others, neither of which are very relevant, as they often don't demonstrate that they understand the difference between personal experience and professional experience. Often I find people think their extenuating or personal circumstances are more important than demonstrating interest in the subject.
Bingo, It needs balance and to be relatable, it's one thing convincing a reader you've had a hard time of things, quite another that you're worthy of a place ahead of another on merit. I feel you can mention such things, but it should be a small part of your overall statement, eg I wouldn't object to a nursing applicant saying caring for family or seeing the wider scope of professional care needs was partly what was motivating them to progress.
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nexttime
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(Original post by Plagioclase)
I do agree with point 6. There is an intermediate between "crazy attention seeking" and cliches that have been done to death. Sentences like "For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to do xyz" are (1) completely uninteresting and (2) irrelevant because having wanted to do something for a long time doesn't say anything about how good you actually are at it. I didn't realise my subject existed until less than a year before I applied.
Ok. But tell me an opening phrase that has not been use in a PS before!

There is clearly a spectrum here and I guess i come across more crazy attention seeking stuff in my time on TSR and elsewhere, whereas perhaps people who review more PSs see the mundane cliches with a much higher frequency.

But i do still have the reservation: are you going to get rejected because you used a cliche? I'd think not. Might you get rejected because you started your medicine personal statement with 'I hadn't thought about medicine until 2 months ago'... well maybe yes!
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