Postgraduate Personal Statement

A postgraduate personal statement is one of the major parts of your application to a postgraduate course. You can find out more about the whole admissions process here. Your postgraduate personal statement and your references are the two main sources of information for your postgraduate admissions, and the personal statement is the one you have control over. So how best to make it stand out?

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How to write a postgraduate personal statement

Here are some tips to writing a stand out personal statement.

#1 Firstly, let’s work out the basics – how long does it need to be? Generally, applications allow for 1 side of A4 (although some, such as University of Oxford, require far more – so make sure you check!). That means there’s no room for anything unnecessary, so drafting, redrafting and editing is a must!

#2 Secondly, remember that a postgraduate personal statement is different to an undergraduate statement as you can tailor it to each individual university. You shouldn’t send out the same statement to each university. There are two good ways to do this – either write one for each university, or write a basic template, and adjust it to focus on each university you apply for. Writing your postgraduate personal statement

#3 The easiest way to start writing a postgraduate personal statement is to make a plan. Work out what sort of things the university wants to know about you, and then answer those questions. Good questions to look at include:

  • Why do you want to study this particular course?
  • Why do you want to study at this particular university?
  • What part of the course in particular appeals to you? e.g. certain module, work opportunity, etc
  • What previous experience do you have in the area you are applying to study?
  • What skills do you have that’ll lend themselves to postgraduate study? e.g. if you apply for a research masters, what did you learn from doing a dissertation?
  • What would you like to do after your postgraduate study?

Inject your personality into your personal statement

Of course, everyone who applies will write very similar content in their postgraduate personal statement, so you need to ensure you stand out. This doesn’t mean you need to write something that no-one has ever read before, but that you need to make sure some of your personality comes through. Did you get into philosophy thanks to a certain work of fiction? Mention it (briefly). Did a particular incident doing undergrad biology make you want to study medicine? Write it down! And remember, whilst there’s a set amount of things you need to include (like answering the questions above); don’t just follow a template you find online.

Don’t lie!

Another important thing to remember is this: don’t just make things up! In the same way as you should NEVER lie on your postgraduate CV, you shouldn’t do this on your postgraduate personal statement either. And it’s not just important to make sure you don’t make things up about yourself – make sure anything you say about the university and the postgraduate course you’re applying to has been thoroughly researched. After all, the university is definitely the expert on what it offers, and the admissions office will certainly know if you’re making it up.

Make sure you’re memorable

Of course, there are also ways to help your postgraduate personal statement get noticed beyond what you actually write, and that’s to make yourself memorable in other ways. Name-dropping is probably not the solution here, but dropping references to subjects you know their department specialises in is definitely worthwhile. Just make sure you know what you’re talking about and haven’t just picked something at random!

Fill in the gaps

But what if you’ve got some weak spot that comes up? Perhaps you did worse than expected on a certain module, or you have an unexplained gap in between leaving university and applying for further study? You need to own it. The university is going to want to know about these things, and the best thing you can do is to take the opportunity to not only explain it, but to put a positive spin on it. Did you get worse results than expected because you were ill? Say as such – and then mention how much extra reading you’ve done since, and how much you’re looking forward to improving in that area!

Read it, re-read it, and re-read it again!

Finally (and the most important part of all!), proofread. Take a few days away from it, go back, and read it again. And then after you’ve edited it, find someone else to take a look too. Ideally, if you can find a tutor willing to help, they’re your best bet. If not, a friend already on a postgraduate course should have some idea of how to write a postgraduate personal statement successfully.

Once you’ve done all of this, your statement should be ready. Take a deep breath, upload the file (or put it along with your printed copy), and finish of the rest of your application. And make sure you keep a copy on file, just in case you need to refer to it later!

IMAGE CREDITS: © Koco77 | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

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