What is the Personal Statement Quality Scale?
The TSR Personal Statement Wiki's library has over 700 example personal statements for applicants to use when writing their own personal statement. These personal statements can be used for inspiration, or as an example of how to structure your own. Of course you should not copy any content from any personal statement in the library into your own statement, since this may well be flagged by the UCAS plagiarism checker, which could risk your place at university. However, by reading through the various statements, you should hopefully gain an understanding of the common themes present in personal statements for your chosen subject and how to exploit this to your advantage when formulating ideas of your own.
All of the personal statements were submitted by applicants, both successful and unsuccessful, and so it is not always clear which the 'best' personal statements are, that is, the personal statements you should try and aspire to rather than those where you can learn from other's mistakes. If you are trying to write your statement from scratch and have no idea what a good structure is, it is important to base your structure on a good personal statement rather than a bad one. The candidate's success is not necessarily the best indicator of whether a personal statement is good or not, since not all universities give significant weighting to the personal statement and obviously the personal statement isn't the only thing considered by admissions tutors. The Personal Statement Quality Scale has been created in order to give applicants a quick and easy way to see if a particular personal statement is any good. As the quality of personal statements is usually very subjective, the rating is done by members of TSR's PS Help team, who have considerable experience in reviewing personal statements.
How do I use the differently rated statements?
All statements, no matter their rating, are useful to you when writing your own statement. Only by seeing a whole range of statements with different qualities, some satisfactory, some excellent and some not so good, can you begin to develop a picture in your own mind of what your personal statement needs to be. You should use red rated statements to see the common mistakes present in personal statements; make sure you don't include any errors like this in yours. You should use green rated statements to understand what a good structure looks like, and try and mirror this structure in your own statement. Yellow statements are also useful, they are usually average statements that contain good content, but which lack refinement. It is also useful to compare statements that are rated differently as by contrasting two different qualities, you can come to appreciate the subtle differences between a 'good statement' and a 'bad statement'.
The Personal Statement Quality Scale provides an overall rating of the quality of a statement for a large number of the personal statements in the library. However, it will not tell you in which areas the statement is good or bad. To compliment the quality scale, many statements have also been provided with a thorough review by an experienced TSR PS Helper, which will highlight the areas in which the statements are strong in addition to the areas for improvement. These more extensively reviewed statements can be found here.
What do the bars mean at the top of personal statements?
The bar at the top of personal statements aims to give a clear, quick indicator of the quality of the personal statement, as judged by TSR's PS Help team. We use traffic lights: green, yellow and red, to try and establish an objective way of displaying the quality of personal statements on display. Even though a personal statement is rated as "red," this does not mean it is not useful, you need these personal statements to make sure you understand common mistakes so you can avoid them in your own personal statement. Read further for more information on what the different traffic light categories mean.
But how can a statement that achieved offers only be rated as yellow?
Different universities have different, individual policies on how they use personal statements in their admissions process. Some may use the personal statement significantly while others may not use it at all. You need to bear in mind that the person with the personal statement rated yellow may have applied to universities which don't look at the personal statement, or only use it superficially during their admissions process and that is why they have been given offers with a less-than-perfect statement.
It is also possible that an average personal statement can be made up for by excelling in other areas, such as at interview. These pages only include the personal statements, not information on the candidate's application, so all these statements are reviewed on their own merits. While admissions policies may try and balance the statement against other parts of an application, the statements in the TSR Personal Statement library are reviewed purely for what they are, in isolation. Along the same lines, it is also a possibility that a statement rated red has achieved an offer and that a statement rated green did not achieve any. This is down to the multi-faceted approach that many universities take for selecting applicants.
Some courses (mostly vocational subjects such as medicine, dentistry and teaching) have particular requirements that differ from statements for other subjects. In particular, statements for these subjects need more focus on the work experience applicants have gained and the applicant's reflections on this experience and any skills they have to make them a good candidate for the course and career. This means that these areas will be considered more important when deciding on the rating that a PS has.
All reviews are done by members of the TSR Personal Statement Help Team who have significant experience in spotting common errors and mistakes in personal statements. Although their judgements on personal statements are usually pretty spot-on, please be aware that rating personal statements is a very, very subjective business and our rating on a statement may not necessarily be the same rating an admissions tutor at a particular university would give. Please take the ratings as more an indicator of the quality of the personal statement, rather than an absolute declaration. If you are the original author of any of these personal statements and no longer wish it to be listed within this library to help other applicants, please contact either F1 fanatic or Tom, who will remove it for you immediately.
Statements rated "Green"
"This statement is rated as GREEN on the quality scale."
What does it mean when a statement has been rated as Green?
If a statement has been rated green then it means that it has been agreed to be a very good example of what a personal statement should be. The structure, spelling, grammar and content are good and it is an all-round high quality personal statement. It ticks all of the right boxes for what admission tutors are looking for, and displays the candidate in the very best light. If you are looking for inspiration on how to structure your personal statement, then using an example statement rated green is a good idea. All personal statements categorised as green can be seen here.
What are the broad criteria which may result in a personal statement being rated as Green?
This includes, but is not limited to:
• Shows a clear passion and enthusiasm for the subject.
• Effective use of work experience and extra-curricular studies where appropriate.
• Clear discussion of skills developed, relevant to the subject.
• Demonstrates good insight and knowledge of the subject/career.
• Original and personal writing style.
• Good balance and structure to the statement.
• Language used is of a high standard.
• High standard of spelling, punctuation and grammar with little or no mistakes.
Statements rated "Yellow"
"This statement is rated as YELLOW on the quality scale."
What does it mean when a statement has been rated as Yellow?
If a statement has been rated yellow then it means it has been agreed to be of reasonable quality with some good content, structure and form, however there may be a few areas for improvement or thing which could be done better. The majority of personal statements are in this category, and a statement in this category is not necessarily a bad statement; it can be seen as an average personal statement, that may tick most of the correct boxes but is lacking in refinement. All personal statements categorised as yellow can be seen here.
What are the broad criteria which may result in a personal statement being rated as Yellow?
This includes, but is not limited to:
• Shows some passion and enthusiasm for the subject.
• Discusses some relevant experience and extra-curricular studies, but could be used more effectively.
• Some discussion of skills relevant to the subject.
• Demonstrates some insight and understanding of the subject/career.
• Uses an original writing style in places, but may contains some clichés.
• Acceptable balance and structure to the statement.
• Language used is of an acceptable standard.
• Good standard of spelling, punctuation and grammar, but may contain some minor errors.
Statements rated "Red"
"This statement is rated as RED on the quality scale."
What does it mean when a statement has been rated as Red?
If a statement has been rated as red then it means it has been agreed to be lacking in several key areas. Important sections may be incomplete or missing, it may be full of irrelevant clichés or there may be no reflection at all. It is not advised that you base your statement off an example statement rated red. However, reading these statements can give you an appreciation of common problems made in personal statements, which you can then avoid when writing your own. All personal statements categorised as red can be seen here.
What are the broad criteria which may result in a personal statement being rated as Red?
This includes, but is not limited to:
• Demonstrates little or no passion or enthusiasm for the subject.
• Little or no discussion of relevant work experience or extra-curricular studies, or it is poorly discussed.
• Poor or no discussion of skills relevant to the course.
• Demonstrates insufficient insight and understanding of the subject/career.
• Frequent use of clichés and lack of originality in writing style.
• Language is of a poor standard.
• Poor standard of spelling, punctuation and grammar with many errors.