Here we give you our top eight PG personal statement no-nos!
Misinformation & Exaggeration
Stick to the facts and don't lie, sounds fairly straightforward, right? But it's all too easy to write what you would like to have done rather than what you actually have done. Even easier than a little misinformation, is a little exaggeration. Stretching work experience to cover a gap or inflating your responsibility can get you caught out. Ultimately exaggerating or making up information in your personal statement can end up in you losing your place on the course or your funding – so stick to the truth.
Obviously, you need to proofread your personal statement and not just for the information you've contained in it. Don't rely on spell checkers to get it right, read through it a few times just for errors and get someone you trust to do the same as sometimes you can read and re-read something and not spot a small error. Small typos will have a big impact.
Passionless Personal Statement
Try to convey your passion for your postgraduate subject through your personal statement, however be careful as you don't want to over do it and come across as being insincere. It's a difficult balance, but an important one. Again, get someone you trust or who has experience of the course you're applying for to give your personal statement a read through and give you their honest opinion.
Keep your language formal and avoid slang words as well as impenetrable technical language. You've already successfully applied for an undergraduate degree and you've probably also successfully applied for a job, so you should understand what clear language to use. Some courses, like Law or Medicine, might require more formal language than some of the Arts, but check with trusted colleagues or those who've already completed the course. Which leads us onto…
If you ask someone to read through your personal statement, then you should probably take the time to listen to what they really think about it. Although, if you do disagree with them remember it is your personal statement and it is you who will be doing the course you're applying for. But, do listen to the advice in the first instance.
You'll want a short introduction and a short conclusion, but avoid repeating yourself in the main body of your personal statement. You will only need to explain a point once and , again, it is always useful to get someone else to read through to check you're not repeating yourself at any point.
Unless you completed your undergraduate degree some time ago, then you should know that almost everything you submit will be run through plagiarism software. Many universities and the system used in the UK for undergraduate applications use plagiarism software on personal statements already. Stay away from copying and pasting anything, even if you plan to rewrite it, as it is easy to forget or not notice the plagiarised sections once you've finished.
Bitterness & Negativity
Avoid complaining about any past experiences you’ve had, especially educational ones, you will never know where the person reviewing your application has worked or studied before. Negativity reflects badly on you and you should try instead to demonstrate any positive outcomes that you have had from a bad experience.