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Writing the Personal Statement
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This handout provides information about writing personal statements for academic and other positions.
The personal statement, your opportunity to sell yourself in the application process, generally falls into one of two categories:
1. The general, comprehensive personal statement:
This allows you maximum freedom in terms of what you write and is the type of statement often prepared for standard medical or law school application forms.
2. The response to very specific questions:
Often, business and graduate school applications ask specific questions, and your statement should respond specifically to the question being asked. Some business school applications favor multiple essays, typically asking for responses to three or more questions.
Questions to ask yourself before you write:
- What's special, unique, distinctive, and/or impressive about you or your life story?
- What details of your life (personal or family problems, history, people or events that have shaped you or influenced your goals) might help the committee better understand you or help set you apart from other applicants?
- When did you become interested in this field and what have you learned about it (and about yourself) that has further stimulated your interest and reinforced your conviction that you are well suited to this field? What insights have you gained?
- How have you learned about this field—through classes, readings, seminars, work or other experiences, or conversations with people already in the field?
- If you have worked a lot during your college years, what have you learned (leadership or managerial skills, for example), and how has that work contributed to your growth?
- What are your career goals?
- Are there any gaps or discrepancies in your academic record that you should explain (great grades but mediocre LSAT or GRE scores, for example, or a distinct upward pattern to your GPA if it was only average in the beginning)?
- Have you had to overcome any unusual obstacles or hardships (for example, economic, familial, or physical) in your life?
- What personal characteristics (for example, integrity, compassion, and/or persistence) do you possess that would improve your prospects for success in the field or profession? Is there a way to demonstrate or document that you have these characteristics?
- What skills (for example, leadership, communicative, analytical) do you possess?
- Why might you be a stronger candidate for graduate school—and more successful and effective in the profession or field than other applicants?
- What are the most compelling reasons you can give for the admissions committee to be interested in you?
Answer the questions that are asked
- If you are applying to several schools, you may find questions in each application that are somewhat similar.
- Don't be tempted to use the same statement for all applications. It is important to answer each question being asked, and if slightly different answers are needed, you should write separate statements. In every case, be sure your answer fits the question being asked.
Tell a story
- Think in terms of showing or demonstrating through concrete experience. One of the worst things you can do is to bore the admissions committee. If your statement is fresh, lively, and different, you'll be putting yourself ahead of the pack. If you distinguish yourself through your story, you will make yourself memorable.
- Don't, for example, state that you would make an excellent doctor unless you can back it up with specific reasons. Your desire to become a lawyer, engineer, or whatever should be logical, the result of specific experience that is described in your statement. Your application should emerge as the logical conclusion to your story.
Find an angle
- If you're like most people, your life story lacks drama, so figuring out a way to make it interesting becomes the big challenge. Finding an angle or a "hook" is vital.
Concentrate on your opening paragraph
- The lead or opening paragraph is generally the most important. It is here that you grab the reader's attention or lose it. This paragraph becomes the framework for the rest of the statement.
Tell what you know
- The middle section of your essay might detail your interest and experience in your particular field, as well as some of your knowledge of the field. Too many people graduate with little or no knowledge of the nuts and bolts of the profession or field they hope to enter. Be as specific as you can in relating what you know about the field and use the language professionals use in conveying this information. Refer to experiences (work, research, etc.), classes, conversations with people in the field, books you've read, seminars you've attended, or any other source of specific information about the career you want and why you're suited to it. Since you will have to select what you include in your statement, the choices you make are often an indication of your judgment.
Don't include some subjects
- There are certain things best left out of personal statements. For example, references to experiences or accomplishments in high school or earlier are generally not a good idea. Don't mention potentially controversial subjects (for example, controversial religious or political issues).
Do some research, if needed
- If a school wants to know why you're applying to it rather than another school, do some research to find out what sets your choice apart from other universities or programs. If the school setting would provide an important geographical or cultural change for you, this might be a factor to mention.
Write well and correctly
- Be meticulous. Type and proofread your essay very carefully. Many admissions officers say that good written skills and command of correct use of language are important to them as they read these statements. Express yourself clearly and concisely. Adhere to stated word limits.
- A medical school applicant who writes that he is good at science and wants to help other people is not exactly expressing an original thought. Stay away from often-repeated or tired statements.
For more information on writing a personal statement, see the personal statement vidcast .
The Length Requirements for the Common Application Essay in 2020-21
Learn About the Maximum Word Count for Your Personal Statement
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Students applying to colleges that use the Common Application will typically need to respond to one of seven essay prompts . For the 2020-21 application cycle, the length limit for the essay is 650 words. That limit includes the essay title, notes, and any other text that you include in the essay text box.
Fast Facts: The Common Application Length Requirements
- Your essay needs to be between 250 and 650 words long.
- You can't go over the limit—the online form will cut you off at 650 words.
- The length includes the title, notes, and any other text you include in the online form.
- Use your 650 words to tell a focused story and help the admissions folks get to know you.
History of the Common Application Length Limit
For years the Common Application had no length limit, and applicants and counselors frequently debated whether a tight 450-word essay was a wiser approach than a detailed 900-word piece. In 2011, that decision was taken away as the Common Application moved to a relatively short 500-word limit. With the August 2013 release of CA4 (the current version of the Common Application), the guidelines changed once again. CA4 set the limit at 650 words with a minimum of 250 words. And unlike earlier versions of the Common Application, the length limit is now enforced by the application form. No longer can applicants attach an essay that goes over the limit. Instead, applicants will need to enter the essay into a text box that counts words and prevents entering anything beyond 650 words.
What Can You Accomplish in 650 Words?
Even if you take advantage of the full length available to you, keep in mind that 650 words is not a long essay. It's roughly the equivalent of a two-page, double-spaced essay. It's about the same length as this article on essay length. Most essays tend to be between three and eight paragraphs depending on the applicant's writing style and essay strategy (essays with dialogue, of course, might have far more paragraphs).
As you plan your essay, you definitely want to keep the length requirement in mind. Many applicants attempt to do too much with their essays and then struggle to edit them down to 650 words. Realize the purpose of the personal statement is not to tell your life story or to give an exhaustive overview of all of your accomplishments. Let your list of extracurricular activities, academic record, letters of recommendation, and supplemental essays and materials show your range of accomplishments. The personal statement is not the place for long lists or catalogs of achievement.
To write an engaging and effective 650 word or shorter essay, you need to have a sharp focus. Narrate a single event, or illuminate a single passion or talent. Whichever essay prompt you choose, make sure you zero in on a specific example that you narrate in an engaging and thoughtful way. Allow enough space for self reflection so that whatever your topic is you spend at least some time talking about its significance to you.
Again, use the essay to narrate an engaging story. Make sure it highlights something you care about deeply, and be sure to provide a window into your interests or personality that isn't already obvious from the rest of your application.
A Final Word About Essay Length
With the primary Common Application essay, you will need to come in at 650 words or fewer. However, you will find that most supplemental essays on the Common Application have different length guidelines, and colleges that don't use the Common Application will have differing length requirements. No matter what the circumstances, make sure you follow the guidelines. If an essay should be 350 words, don't write 370. Learn more about some of the issues related to essay length in this article: College Application Essay Length Limits .
Finally, keep in mind that what you say and how you say it is far more important than whether you have 550 words or 650 words. Be sure to attend to your essay's style , and in most cases you're going to want to avoid these ten bad essay topics . If you've said all you have to say in 500 words, don't try to pad your essay to make it longer. Regardless of length, and even if yours is a transfer essay , the best writing will tell a compelling story, provide insight to your character and interests, and are written with crisp and engaging prose.
- Ideal College Application Essay Length
- How Long Should Your Common Application Short Answer Essay Be?
- The 2021-22 Common Application Essay Prompts
- Common Application Essay, Option 1: Share Your Story
- "Grandpa's Rubik's Cube"—Sample Common Application Essay, Option #4
- How to Ace Your University of Wisconsin Personal Statements
- Should an Application Essay Be Single-Spaced or Double-Spaced?
- Common Application Essay Option 2 Tips: Learning from Failure
- Common Application Essay on a Meaningful Place
- Tips for Writing an Essay on an Event That Led to Personal Growth
- 2020-21 Common Application Essay Option 4—Solving a Problem
- Common Application Essay Option 3 Tips: Challenging a Belief
- Private School Application Essay Tips
- Addressing Diversity in a College Application Essay
- 5 Tips for a College Admissions Essay on an Important Issue
- Tips for an Admissions Essay on an Influential Person
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Issues of Length and Form
Normally, the length of a personal statement will be dictated by the application—500 words or 800 words are typical limits, as are one-page or two-page limits. If you’re given, say, a count of 1,500 words, you need not write to the maximum length, but to compose only one-half of the word count might be an opportunity missed. In any case, what matters most is that the material you present conforms as closely as possible to these word or space restrictions—parts of your application might literally not be read if you violate the rules—and that your presentation is aesthetically pleasing and easy to read. To achieve these goals, I promote the following tips:
- If your personal statement is a stand-alone document within your application, open it with a simple heading such as “Personal Statement for Janet Lerner.” Thus, if your documents would get separated somehow, they could more easily be reassembled.
- If there are any pages to your essay beyond one, number them, and perhaps include your name on those pages as well.
- Choose a publishing font that is highly readable, such as Times or Bookman. Some fonts allow for more tightness to the text, which is fine as long as the essay remains readable. Ideally, use no more than a 12-point size and no less than a 10-point size, favoring the larger, and use the same font size throughout the document.
- Allow for ample enough margins that the reader isn’t distracted by cramped-looking text. Margins of at least one inch are standard.
- Single space your text, skipping a line between paragraphs. You can indent paragraph beginnings or not, as long as you’re consistent.
At times, especially when you fill out an application electronically or have to cut and paste, word limits will be defined by physical space. In such a case, keep enough white space between your text and the application text that the material isn’t crowded, and choose a font different from that used in the application if possible. Also, if your application is electronic and requires you to cut and paste text or conform to a word or character count, check the material that you input carefully to be certain that it’s complete and reads just as you wish it to. In some cases, you may lose special characters or paragraph breaks, and words over the maximum allowable count may be cut off. The safest practice is to proofread anything you send electronically within the very form in which it is sent.
Other online sites that give space to the subject of length and form in personal statements are these:
“Applying to Graduate School: Writing a Compelling Personal Statement,” from the International Honor Society in Psychology
“FAQs for Writing Your Graduate Admissions Essay,” from about.com
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How long should a personal statement be.
Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University
Unsure about the length of your personal statement? Below, we’ll answer your questions about word count and what you could do to satisfy the requirements!
A common misconception is that achieving excellent grades and test scores alone can land you a spot in a high-ranking university. While academic performance is important in the admissions process, applicants must effectively tell schools who they are and what they hope to achieve once accepted.
And here’s where the personal statement comes in. Not to be confused with the statement of purpose , a personal statement accounts for your achievements, talents, interests, and goals. Needless to say, how your personal statement is written can give your application a major boost.
The length of a personal statement plays a significant role in its effectiveness. In this article, we’ll go over the ideal length your personal statement should be!
How Long Should Your Personal Statement Be?
Personal statements are typically two to three pages long, double-spaced. As a general rule of thumb, strive for your statement to be around 500 to 650 words.
Put simply, the length of your personal statement depends on the application service (or university, if you’re not applying through the Common or Coalition Applications ) you use! These are the personal statement word limits for each application:
To provide a more in-depth answer, your response should fall within close range of these suggestions without using unnecessary filler words or repeating ideas! Stay focused, keep concise, and know you do not have to meet the maximum word count!
If you’re applying to MIT , Georgetown , or any school in the UC system , you’ll apply using each’s school-specific portal. Keep in mind, these schools don’t require personal statements; instead, you’ll write a handful of shorter essays (comparable to supplemental essays ) to highlight your candidacy.
How Long Should a Personal Statement Be If There is No Limit Specified?
The length of a personal statement depends on the application platform you use. However, in cases where there are no specific requirements given, you may need to decide for yourself. The bottom line is you need to ensure your personal statement achieves its purpose.
If no word limit is given, it’s still best to aim for around 500 – 650 words, which works out to about two to three pages double-spaced. This length gives you ample space to paint a well-rounded picture of your experiences, achievements, and qualifications without overwhelming the reader.
Regardless of the word count, aim for clarity and concision in your writing. Each word should work towards presenting a clear and compelling picture of who you are, leaving a lasting impression on the admissions committee.
Tips to Write a Personal Statement With an Ideal Length
Here are key tips to help you write an effective personal statement that’s just the right length.
Don’t Bluff or Fluff
It’s a common mistake when writing a personal statement to be tempted to present yourself as an “ideal candidate” to impress the admission committee.
However, it’s important to remember there’s no such thing; each person is unique, and the admissions committee wants to see the real you. So if you truly want to write an impressive personal statement, staying true to yourself is your best bet.
Don't make things up or exaggerate life events to make them appear more “spectacular.” The admission committee can easily see through false claims, which will only detract from your application. Instead, embrace your individuality and show them the steps you’ve taken to grow and learn.
Be confident in your own potential and what you have to offer. Your stories make you unique, so don’t be afraid to share them in your personal statement.
When writing your personal statement, it’s crucial to keep the content relevant and focused on the prompt you’re responding to. Avoid going off track and straying too far from your main topic —whatever it may be. This will help your personal statement length stay within the word limit.
Do Not Repeat Yourself
It’s important to ensure you’re not repeating information already found in other parts of your application.
For example, don’t talk about your GPA or test scores. To make the most use of the word count, focus on sharing information and experiences that can’t be found anywhere else, like passion projects you’re proud of or defining moments in your academic career or personal life.
Write With Purpose
Even if you have a 650-word limit for your personal statement, ensure each word counts and is carefully thought out! Start with an engaging hook to draw your readers in, follow it with concise and valuable personal insights, and end your essay with a bang to leave a lasting impression on the admissions committee!
Don’t Be Vague
When composing your personal statement, steer clear of ambiguity. Vagueness can lead to confusion. You’re applying to college for a reason! You should have some direction of what your careers aspirations are and what you plan on doing after college ! Share these specific goals with the committee.
Being specific when discussing your experiences can greatly enhance the clarity and impact of your writing. It’s also a great way to ensure you adhere to word count restrictions.
Avoid simply rehashing all of the extracurriculars you participated in, listing your highest grades, and the impressive awards you won along the way. Share what makes you, you! What inspires you? What are you passionate about? What do you hope to change or improve?
3 Examples of Personal Statements That Worked
Let's see how these tips and tricks come together, and review a few examples of successful personal statements :
“In the summer of [YEAR], my sister was graduating college. My family and I drove to [CITY] to give our unconditional love and support and to celebrate. We ate dinner at a beautiful restaurant together and shared an amazing cake the day before. Unfortunately, it became the most tumultuous time in my life.
The 8 hour drive back was brutal on my workaholic dad; he neglected his health to keep a bright future for me and my sister. A few days after coming home, my dad went to the doctor with aggravating chest pain.
Soon after, the doctor dropped the news: my dad suffered a heart attack. I was [AGE], the youngest in my family, and refused to believe that my dad’s life could be cut short. Around this time, I was irresponsible and jaded; uncomfortable being empathetic, and always wishing problems to go away.
The news weighed heavily on my shoulders. As I studied my dad’s condition, I soon realized and understood the great lengths he had worked to provide me a better future. Ultimately, I knew I had to change to be better for myself and for my dad.
Post procedures, my dad returned home. Consequently, I was more empathetic, open to being vulnerable, and affectionate towards family which I had previously been too afraid to express. I would regularly hug my family members, didn’t hesitate to speak up if I was feeling scared or frustrated, listened to my dad more attentively, and I smiled more. Over the summer, I took care of my dad: I paid attention to his sodium intake, made sure he drank enough water, started doing his laundry, and slept in his room in case anything happened. There was nothing else that mattered more to me.
I’m proud to say I can be vulnerable and act on my insecurities. I became an amicable, self-aware, and social person gaining respect and friendship amongst teachers and peers. Throughout college, I make sure to spend time with my family by cooking dinner for them once a week, sending them silly texts of cute animals, or just giving them a call. My transition to becoming more open has ultimately led to my career path as an [JOB TITLE] - creating better lives for marginalized communities. Understanding what other people go through and being susceptible will allow me to properly achieve my goals and assist those in need.
It’s [YEAR], and my dad is in the best shape of his life. I show my gratitude by accompanying him during his checkups and scolding him for trying to eat poorly.”
Why It Works
Here’s what this personal statement does well:
- Engaging narrative : The essay begins with a relatable and engaging story that immediately catches the reader's attention. The use of a significant life event creates an emotional connection and sets the tone for personal growth.
- Character development : There is a clear arc of personal development. The writer admits to being irresponsible at first but experiences a transformative journey towards empathy, vulnerability, and greater appreciation for family.
- Relevance to career goals : The essay effectively connects the personal story to the writer's aspirations and career goals.
- Word count : At only 429 words, this essay still gets a strong and impactful message across, attesting to this students’ ability to stay concise and use their words wisely!
Overall, this personal statement stands out due to its emotional resonance, clear development of character and meaningful reflection!
“Short, delicate strokes of paint, form a story of a beautiful soul to be displayed on a canvas. All the unexpected, yet perfect details add character and life to the figure, drawing viewers closer and enveloping them in a tale of curiosity, hardship, and triumph. Just as the work of the mighty painter ever progresses, so too does the painter. Neither the depicted young female nor the painter is yet to finish her transformation to a woman. Every stroke a new day, every color a new era, to create the masterpiece that is life and experience: my life and my experience.
The eyes, white spheres with green splashes that have seen both too much pain and too little of the world. They harness a piece of the spirit of the forever curious girl who hopes to change the world. The girl who grew up admiring the world’s brightest engineers and most talented artists, hoping to one day grow into one of these awe- invoking figures. Thinking, perhaps, she too could be a name in a history book because of the good she created. Whether that means protesting for [CAUSE], supporting efforts to protect the [CAUSE], or helping [PEOPLE] in need, she will do what it takes to help others and make a meaningful impact.
With these big dreams, she also has scars as the girl who has been hurt many times before. Each event leaving a mark in creation of who she would one day become. Although the scars hurt in the beginning, she would not be the same without them. A large strike along her throat, from when she was shut down. A horrendous mark about the chest in an attempt to destroy her heart. Bruising and scrapes among her abdomen, from the gut wrenching events that took away those she loved. And, an abundance of carvings across her back, from events that hurt her most. To the viewer, the marks are invisible; through her candid disposition, no one can observe the pain she has endured. But, in asking her how she feels about the scars, she would not reference them as disfigurations, rather they are enchanting, incredible, and reveal her maturation and strength. She treasures them because they prove her resilience and conquest.
Her hair, wild and seemingly untamed to others, but to her a masterpiece. Years and years of worrying about perfection. Is it straight? Is it smooth enough? Only to realize her authentic, curly hair is a part of her own beauty and uniqueness, similar to the chaotic perfection of a Jackson Pollock. Growing up she molded herself to what she believed others thought she should be, without giving a single thought to what she truly can and should be: herself. To her, her hair symbolizes and brings forth the ferocious lion inside her comparatively small self.
The girl’s lips are half sutured. As she works to rip out the heavy stitchwork, she finds her voice. To her surprise, although the voice remains developing, her words and ideas already begin to inspire individuals to be themselves. She will forever use her voice for good, however subtle it may be. As the painting is finished, there will be no trace of the once-conforming thoughts that held her back. One day, everyone will hear her, loud and clear.
Unlike the painting, however, the story of my beautiful, bewitching, bold soul continues to be unfinished. For I have the power to paint, ponder, and develop my story, despite what unexpected details life may put in my way. I have the power to paint my adventure, to keep placing those short, delicate strokes, to develop my character and champion my story.”
Let’s review this essays’ most impressive features:
- Creative metaphor : The student uses a creative metaphor of painting to symbolize their growth and journey.
- Vivid imagery : The writer's use of descriptive language paints a vivid picture, both of the physical image of a painting and their emotions to engage the reader and help them feel more connected to the narrative.
- Consistency and unity : By maintaining a consistent theme and narrative thread from beginning to end, the student creates a cohesive and well-structured essay.
- Word count : The essay effectively stays within the recommended word count (at 611 words) without being repetitive or veering off topic. While it is a longer essay it does not include repetitive information or unnecessary language.
This is a captivating essay from beginning to end, and should inspire you to think outside of the box and get creative with your own personal statement!
“Standing on the volleyball court in April of my junior year, I look at my teammates before what could be the final serve. This game will determine whether my team receives a bid to Junior Nationals, the highest-level competition for a junior volleyball player. As our fans in the arena cheer us on, I feel the pressure, but I’m feeling joyous just to be part of the team.
The experiences leading to this moment were not all positive. My initial years of volleyball were difficult. I was placed on a team with a group of seemingly very motivated girls, however, I struggled with my teammates constantly criticizing each other, their only goal to look good individually to the coach. I was terrified of making a mistake and having my self-esteem crushed by manipulative teammates looking for someone to blame for another loss.
I realized I did not thrive in this combative environment and if I wanted to become a strong and confident player, I would have to make a change. I gathered the courage to try out for one of the most accomplished teams in northern [STATE]. I was offered the final spot on this team and worked as hard as I could to succeed. The new team’s atmosphere of support and positivity, where no one is afraid to fail, allows experimentation with new techniques which improved my game to the point where I was given a starter position. As my new mindset and leadership were recognized, I was presented with the opportunity to be a captain by the second season.
As team captain, I learned to be aware of what my teammates were experiencing and what their different needs were. I felt personal responsibility to keep the team optimistic even in the backdrop of COVID. I emphasized positivity and encouraged these girls to be successful by both helping and relying upon each other. I led by having fun.
This experience of positivity spilled over into other parts of my life. I now try to be a positive, supportive person at all times. I use my voice to create results instead of shying away from uncomfortable situations. I applied my new skills as a coach and mentor for new volleyball players who had the goal of making the high school volleyball team. I emphasized positivity and encouraged these girls to rely upon each other. Their attitude, talent, and hard work paid off and they all made the junior varsity team, something I’m very proud of. In addition, my positive attitude contributed to my confidence on the court which made me a much stronger player, and I was named All League in the [LOCAL] Conference.
The ref blows his whistle and signals the ball can now be served. The chemistry, spirit, and faith my team has in each other permit a perfect execution of the play and give us the final point we need to qualify for the spot at Nationals. What a journey it has been.”
Here’s why this essay works:
- Compelling introduction : The essay begins by placing the reader in a high-stakes moment on the volleyball court which draws the reader into the narrative.
- Specific examples : The student provides concrete examples of their actions, such as trying out for a different team, becoming a captain, and coaching new players. These examples illustrate the writer's progress and impact.
- Connection to personal values : The writer's values of positivity, teamwork, and leadership are consistently woven throughout the essay.
- Impactful ending : The essay concludes by bringing the narrative full circle, returning to the opening scene and revealing the positive outcome to leave a strong impression on the reader.
- Word count : This is another relatively short but sweet essay (492 words) that gets straight to the point, satisfies the reader nonetheless, and stays concise!
To recap, all of these personal statement examples were engaging, insightful, and reflective! Implementing these qualities into your own essay will undoubtedly elevate it!
FAQs: Length of a Personal Statement
Still have questions about the best length for personal statements? Don’t worry; check out these FAQs instead!
1. How Strict Are Word Counts?
We advise you not to exceed word limits or ranges. Following the word count shows you can follow instructions. If there’s a word limit, it’s there for a reason!
2. Are 200 Words Enough for a Personal Statement?
Typically, 200 words aren’t enough for a personal statement, but supplemental essay word limits tend to fall in this range.
3. Can a Personal Statement Exceed 500 Words?
It’s quite common for college personal statements to exceed 500 words – the Common, Coalition, and QuestBridge Apps all recommend or cap personal statements at 650 words.
4. Can a Personal Statement Be 1,000 Words?
Excluding special cases, 1,000 words is typically too long for a personal statement.
5. Are Two Pages Too Long for a Personal Statement?
This depends on what the application or school requests, so ensure you double-check any requirements for personal statements.
6. What is the Typical Recommended Length of a Personal Statement?
Recommended personal statement lengths typically range from 500 to 650 words.
7. Are 600 Words Too Much for a Personal Statement?
Not at all! All three main college application services recommend (or limit) personal statements to 650 words.
So, how long should a personal statement be? That depends on the application portal you choose. Remember, your personal statement is all about you. It’s your chance to shine and let yourself be known to admission committees as an aspiring applicant. Happy writing!
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Personal statement length checker
Do you want to know how long your personal statement is? You are in the right place.
**Important note – We don’t store or share your personal statement. It is 100% safe to use**
Benefits of using our personal statement checker:
- You don’t need to login to UCAS and don’t need to use their tricky online form
- Our nifty checker uses their method of counting lines with 94 characters maximum per line
- It also uses their method of counting characters (including spaces etc.)
- Worried about the spelling, grammar and content of your statement? We offer an affordable personal statement editing service to improve the message of your personal statement.
Paste your personal statement below to check if it meets the UCAS Apply requirements for the number of lines and character length. Click “check length”.
NOTE : W e do not store your personal statement and you will not have problems with Turnitin.
Make your personal statement stand out by removing grammar, spelling, punctuation and sentence errors:
- We offer a personal statement editing service to improve the grammar, spelling and punctuation of your statement. It only costs £30 and can really improve your personal statement before you send it to the institution you are applying for. Click on the order now button!
What is the UCAS personal statement word count?
UCAS does not specify a certain number of words. However, the personal statement is limited to 4,000 characters including spaces. You cannot use Word to check your statement length because they count words and spaces differently, hence why we have developed this tool for you.
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Personal Statement Counter
Why do you need a personal statement counter, use our personal statement counter to keep within their limits, we can help you maintain your personal statement length.
In addition to this you should keep within the word count by looking in areas such as:
- Removing information that is already available within other parts of your application;
- Removing any obvious statements as these are just a complete waste of your word count;
- Removing any clichés, these are often unnecessary as well as being a “no-no” in their own right as they want to see your own words;
- Ensuring that everything that you have written is completely relevant to the application;
- Ensuring that you have written concisely and have removed things such as redundant word pairs such as “very quickly”, you don’t need the “very”.
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- Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine
- TCOM Office of Medical Student Success
Writing Your Personal Statement for Residency
Tips to convey “ why you for residency specialty”, use your personal statement to introduce yourself to your interviewer..
- Include topics that help the interview go smoothly.
- Be sincere and help the interviewer know what’s important to you.
- Include only the information that you want to discuss.
Write a focused essay, four or five paragraphs in length, that covers the basics.
- The first paragrap h could introduce the reader to you and could focus on what led you to a career in medicine, more importantly your specialty. The tone of the first paragraph sets the tone for the rest of your personal statement.
- The second paragraph should let the reader know how you arrived at your choice of the specialty. (Personal experiences from rotations, leadership activities, work, volunteer, community service, studying abroad, background and/or life/ family experiences).
- The third/fourth paragraphs should confirm why you think this choice is right for you AND why you are right for the specialty. This is an opportunity further distinguish yourself.
- The close/final paragraph could inform the reader what you see as your long-term goals and/or how you see yourself in this specialty. Also, avoid spending too much content on “ What I want/seek/am interested in from a residency program …” The focus should be more on why they should choose you over other candidates
Questions to ask when approaching your Personal Statement:
- What are the reasons for choosing the specialty?
- What are your key attributes?
- What contributions can I make to the specialty and the residency program?
- What are your career plans and how will your background/additional education contribute to the field?
- What makes me unique enough to stand out among other candidates?
Your goal should be to write a well-crafted statement that is both original in its presentation and grammatically correct. Articulate your personal drive in as eloquent language as you can provide. The writing should flow. No one expects you to be a novelist. The most important thing is to write a concise, clear statement about why you?
Don’t spend a lot of time providing information about you that programs will generally assume to be true for most competent medical students; “I want to help people”, “I love medicine”, “I want to match into a residency program where I can learn”
If you explain your reasons for entering the field of medicine, do so to inform the reader of points beyond the career choice. Avoid spending too much time on “Why I Wanted to Go into Medicine.” How did you arrive at your specialty choice and what experiences support how you arrived at the specialty choice?
Support your strengths and skillset with examples . Most medical student personal statement list similar strengths, “hard worker/will work hard”, “good communication skills”, “relate to/interact with patients” – so if you provide strengths that are common among medical students or even unique to you, it will be important to provide evidence to support your claims, directing programs to come to their own conclusion about your strength.
I f you repeat accomplishments already listed on your CV , they should be relevant to your personal/professional growth. You want the emphasis to encourage the reader to bring this up in the interview.
Use your own words rather than rely on quotes; your own thoughts are more powerful. If you can make it work, great, but don’t dwell on quotes. With only 800 words or less…it is favorable to make them all your own.
Do NOT plagiarize your personal statement.
Length ; Since one page in length in a Word Doc is not the same as what one page will equal one page in ERAS for personal statement formatting, the key is stick to 750-850 words for your ERAS/residency application personal statement. One page in ERAS equals nearly 1,200 words, however most programs preferences for a typical personal statements in terms of Word Count will be within range of 650-850 – this will be acceptable for most residency programs.
Need a review of your personal statement…professional review and editing?
- Melva Landrum , TCOM Residency Counselor will provide thorough feedback through an evaluation form that breaks down your entire personal statement including: content, grammar, structure, flow and overall impact. You can email your personal statement to [email protected] within one week.
- The Career Center can also review personal statements and Center for Academic Performance (CAP) office can provide feedback mostly on grammar and structure.
This page was last modified on October 26, 2021
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How to write a UCAS personal statement
Writing a great personal statement
Read our guide on what it is, what to include, how to start, length and what makes a good personal statement , once you've decided which universities and courses to apply for, completing your application is pretty simple – until it comes to how to write your ucas personal statement..
This guide covers everything you need to know about how to write a personal statement for university. We look at what it is and how you can start your personal statement. We've also got questions to guide you and a suggested personal statement structure you can use so you know what to put in it.
If you'd like even more resources, support and UCAS personal statement examples, you can sign up to access our personal statement hub .
What is the UCAS personal statement?
How universities use your ucas personal statement, how to start a ucas personal statement.
- Get feedback on your UCAS personal statement
The personal statement is part of your UCAS application. It's how you show your chosen universities why you'll make a great student and why they should make you an offer.
Your personal statement also helps you think about your choice of course and your reasons for applying, so you know you’ve made the right decision.
Get feedback on your personal statement
Sign up to our personal statement hub to get feedback on your draft. You'll also get access to videos, help sheets and more tips.
Sign up now
UCAS personal statement word limit
Your personal statement length can be up to 4,000 characters long.
This may sound a lot, but it's a word limit of around 550–1000 words with spaces and only about 1 side of typed A4 paper.
You need to keep it concise and make sure it's clear and easy to read.
Applying for multiple courses
Although you can apply for up to 5 courses on your UCAS application, you can only submit 1 personal statement. So it needs to cover all your course choices.
Lots of students who apply to university have achieved the basic entry requirements and many more students apply than there are places available. Admissions teams can use your UCAS personal statement to get to know you and decide why you're more suitable than other applicants.
Some universities read every personal statement and score them. Then they use them alongside your qualifications and grades to decide whether to offer you a place or interview. Other universities put less emphasis on the personal statement and use it with students who have borderline entry requirements.
Universities might refer to your personal statement again on results day if you don't get the grades you need. So a good personal statement could clinch you a uni place even if your grades aren't what you hoped for.
Starting your personal statement can seem scary when you're staring at a blank screen. But, things will seem less daunting once you start.
- Set aside some time in a place where you're comfortable and won't be disturbed. Grab a notepad or computer.
- Write down anything and everything that's influenced your decision to go to university and study your chosen subject. Jot down your skills and experience too.
- Use the questions below to guide you. Don't worry about the personal statement length at this point – you can cut things out later.
When to start your UCAS personal statement
Ideally, you want to leave yourself plenty of time – a few weeks or even months – to plan and write your personal statement.
Try not to leave it to the last minute, as tempting as this may seem when you've got so many other things to think about.
Questions to guide you
- Why do you want to study at university?
- Why do you want to study this subject?
- How did you become interested in this subject?
- What career do you have in mind after university?
Academic ability and potential
- How have your current studies affected your choice?
- What do you enjoy about your current studies?
- What skills have you gained from your current studies?
- How can you demonstrate you have the skills and qualities needed for the course?
- What qualities and attributes would you bring to the course and university?
- What work experience (including part-time, charity and volunteer work) do you have and what have you learnt from it?
- What positions of responsibility have you held? (For example, prefect, captain of a team or member of a committee)
- What relevant hobbies or interests do you have and what skills have they helped you develop?
- What transferable skills do you have, such as self motivation, team working, public speaking, problem solving and analytical thinking?
Research and reading
- How do you keep up with current affairs or news in your chosen subject?
- What journals or publications relevant to your chosen subject do you read?
- Which people have influenced you, such as artists, authors, philosophers or scientists?
Now it's time to write your personal statement using your notes. It's best to draft it on a computer, and remember to save it regularly.
You can copy and paste it into your UCAS application when you're happy with it.
Personal statement structure
While there's no set template for a personal statement, you may find it useful to follow this personal statement structure when you decide what to put in your statement.
What to include in a personal statement
- Reasons for choosing this subject(s)
- Current studies and how these relate to your chosen subject(s)
- Experiences and how these relate to your chosen subject(s)
- Interests and responsibilities and how these relate to your chosen subject(s)
- Your future after university
- Summary including why you'll make a great student
Further tips for a good UCAS personal statement
- Use information on university websites and the UCAS website. This often includes the skills and qualities universities are looking for in applicants
- Ask friends, family and teachers to remind you of activities you've participated in. They might remember your successes better than you do
- Don’t include lists in your application, like a list of all your hobbies. Focus on 1 or 2 points and talk about them in depth to show their relevance to your application
- Explain and evidence everything. It’s easy to say you have a skill, but it's better to demonstrate it with an example of when and how you’ve used it
- Avoid clichéd lines such as ‘I've always wanted to be a teacher’ as it says nothing about your motivations or experiences
- If you’re applying for a joint degree or different subjects, give equal time to each area and try to find common aspects that show their similarities
- Never lie or plagiarise another statement – you'll be caught and it could result in your application being automatically rejected
- Proofread your personal statement by reading it out loud and ask friends, family or a teacher to check it for you
Sign up to our personal statement hub
Watch videos, get top tips and download our help sheets – that's what our personal statement hub is for. It's for you to write your story, so you can show your strengths, ideas and passion to your chosen universities.
You'll also be able send us your draft, so you can get feedback and feel confident about what you've written.
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Personal statement length checker
Enter your personal statement below to check if it meets the UCAS Apply requirements for the number of lines and character length.
The requirements for teacher training personal statements are different for UCAS Apply so this checker won't produce the correct results.
Your personal statement will be shown formatted according to UCAS's requirements, and the length and character limit calculated to check it's length.
Please note that the results of our personal statement checker may differ slightly from the UCAS Apply length checker. If you notice any differences please email us with copy of your personal statement and we'll. investigate further
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How To Increase Your Personal Statement Character Limit?
EssayEdge > Blog > How To Increase Your Personal Statement Character Limit?
750 words. 4500 characters. 300 words. No matter the amount your word count limit is, when you first read the prompt and the space available, a personal statement word count seems like an endless amount to fill. However, I rarely work with applicants looking to expand their essays. Far and away, applicants need help in sorting out ideas and trimming an essay down. They’re panicked. They have a great essay that they can’t submit, and they need help. However, there is a better way. Follow these steps to create a college app essay that fits the requirements and gets noticed.
Brainstorm outside the box
Considering there’s a limit anyway, why not write about something not so mainstream? Writing about smaller accomplishments but making a clear case for why they were significant in preparing you for the challenges of college life will make your personal statement unique while also demonstrating that you are a mature person who can gain value from a variety of experiences. Remember, the point of the personal statement isn’t to list your accomplishments. That belongs in another part of the application package. Use the essay to show who you are as an individual.
Stick with Structure
Keep in mind that the admissions officers don’t know you personally. They want to know you. That’s why they’ve asked and are taking the time to read the essay. A strong structure helps the reader keep mental track of what’s going on in the story. Moreover, structure will help you stay within the word count. Therefore, after brainstorming ideas, make an outline that includes approximately even word counts for each paragraph. During this process, you may find that your original idea simply isn’t going to fit. That’s okay. Look to other ideas that you have brainstormed. Finding the best idea isn’t enough. It has to be the best idea that also fits the school’s requirements.
All about Action
While it will be necessary to provide some background information to the admissions officers so that they can understand the context of the story, choose anecdotes where you can jump right away into the action of the story. This is especially true for shorter essays (fewer than 500 words). The admissions officers are letting you know that they want to read a punchy personal statement that gets to the point quickly.
Need help? Check out EssayEdge editing services:
Make the Meaning Memorable
This is the part of any personal statement where applicants struggle most. However, the reasons applicants tend to struggle with this is because they’re choosing anecdotes that they think will impress others rather than the experiences that were most significant to them personally. Remember that this is your opportunity to introduce yourself, not your GPA or test scores, to the admissions officers. Use the personal statement word count available to let the admissions officers know how this experience helped shape the person you are today.
Focus on the Finale
The personal statement conclusion is the Harry Potter of essays with word count limits. No, you can’t make it live under the stairs. It has special powers. You need it if you want to succeed in your quest. To avoid the anxiety of figuring out what to trim from an essay, applicants sometimes try to skimp on the conclusion or skip it completely. If a paragraph gets way out of hand, don’t look to the conclusion to make cuts. Regardless of how mind blowing the rest of the paragraphs are, it is the conclusion that will give the admissions officers a sense of resolution and the final ‘take away’ feelings that they will have about your personal statement.
Exceeding the word count limit is a much more widespread problem. However, we know students who asked our college essay critique service to help them with increasing the word count. That’s why we posted this guide here. You can turn to us regardless of the reason, and we’ll do editing for you.
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Personal statements may be used to customize the application to a specific program or to different specialties.
In This Section:
Creating the personal statement, formatting the personal statement, previewing the personal statement, reviewing/editing the personal statement, assigning the personal statement.
You create your own personal statements in the MyERAS portal from the Personal Statements section listed under Documents.
- Each personal statement must contain a Personal Statement Title and the Personal Statement Content. The title will be visible only to you to help you correctly assign it to programs, and the content will be visible to both you and the programs it is assigned to.
- The personal statement is limited to 28,000 characters, which include letters, numbers, spaces, and punctuation marks.
- There is not a limit to how many personal statements applicants can create.
- Personal statements created outside the MyERAS application should be done in a plain text word processing application such as Notepad (for Windows users) or SimpleText (for Mac users). The statement should reflect your personal perspective and experiences accurately and must be your own work and not the work of another author or the product of artificial intelligence.
- Personal statements created in word processing applications not using plain text may contain hidden and invalid formatting.
- Note: A number of websites provide examples of personal statements. Do not copy any information from these sites and use it in your personal statements without giving credit to the author. Such use is considered plagiarism.
- The ERAS program will investigate any suspected acts of plagiarism.
- Any substantiated findings of plagiarism may result in the reporting of such findings to the programs to which you apply now and in subsequent ERAS seasons.
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When creating a personal statement in the MyERAS application, the following formatting options will be available:
- Align left.
- Align right.
- Increase indent.
- Decrease indent.
- Insert hyperlink.
After entering the personal statement title and content, you will have the opportunity to preview your personal statement before saving it. This preview allows you to view your personal statement just as the programs will view it, including the number of pages.
You are responsible for reviewing your personal statements before assigning them to programs.
The Preview/Print option under the Actions column will allow you to view and/or print your personal statement.
Personal statements can be edited at any point during the application season — even when assigned to programs that have been applied to.
Personal statements that have been edited will be reflected on the programs’ side by an updated status containing the date of the updated version, but programs are not guaranteed to view or review updated versions of personal statements.
You may designate the assignment of one personal statement for each program.
- Personal statements can be assigned to any saved or applied to programs from the Personal Statements page by selecting “Assign” under the Actions column of the intended personal statement.
- When assigning by personal statement, programs listed with a disabled checkbox already have the selected personal statement currently assigned.
- When assigning by personal statement, you should review any personal statements that are listed under the Assigned Personal Statement column before making selections or changes.
- Personal statements can be assigned by program using the Assign option under the Actions column on both the Saved Programs and Programs Applied To pages.
- Changes to personal statement assignments can be made throughout the application season, but programs are not guaranteed to view or review newly assigned personal statements.
- A personal statement cannot be assigned to programs that are closed.
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CASPA Personal statement checker
Check your pa personal statement with our caspa character counter tool, personal statement guidelines and formatting.
- • CASPA personal statements must not exceed 5000 characters.
- • Characters can include spaces, carriage returns, symbols, numbers and punctuation.
- • Tabs, italics, multiple spaces and other styling are not allowed in the personal statement.
- • To delineate paragraphs, type a double return.
Note: If you check your character count in Microsoft Word it might be lower than the character count in CASPA because Word does not count a carriage return (the enter key) as a character. Our counter does count carriage returns to better comply with CASPA.
How to use our CASPA character counter
To use our CASPA character counter, start by typing into the text box above. Additionally, if you are using another source to type out your personal statement, you can copy and paste into our text box above.
As the text gets entered into the text box, you will notice the character count getting updated directly above the text box.
The character count on the top left represents the total characters typed so far out of 5000.
The character count on the top right represents the number of characters remaining.
If you go past the 5000 character limit, the two character counts will turn red. This is an indicator that you need to reduce the length of your personal statement.
When you are done typing in the text box, you can click the green Copy Text button to copy the text inside the text box. You can then paste this into the CASPA website.
Alternatively, if you need to start fresh and delete everything inside the text box, click the red Clear Text button. Warning: only click this button if you are sure you want to delete everything.
Personal Statement FAQ
What is the caspa personal statement word limit, how long should your pa personal statement be.
CASPA has a character limit of 5000 characters. Paste your statement into our counter tool above to check your length.
How many words is 5000 characters?
Accoring to our Characters to Words Converter , 5000 characters is equal to an estimated 769 to 1000 words. Keep in mind that this estimate also includes spaces, periods etc.
Is the CASPA personal statement character limit with or without spaces?
It includes spaces. Also, spaces can include carriage returns (the enter key). However, tabs are not allowed. Keep in mind, Microsoft Word does not count carriage returns as a character and will give you a different character count than CASPA. Please use ours, as it will better comply with CASPA's formatting guidelines.
What is CASPA's personal statement prompt?
"Write a brief statement expressing why you are interested in being a Physician Assistant."
*This character counting tool is not affiliated with CASPA
*No personal statements are sent to the hosting server
How to see word count on Google Docs: Check progress on your writing project in real time.
For some, writing comes easy . It may feel like mere seconds for words to start flying off the page as the final word count nears thousands. For others, it may take several painstaking hours to muster up enough words to reach a needed quota.
No matter if you're writing a proposal for work or an essay for class, you may have to check the word count to make sure you don't exceed the limit, or to see if you have even reached the minimum.
If you're writing on Google Docs , here is a guide to checking word count on several devices, including a computer, iPad, iPhone and Android.
How to check word count in Google Docs
To check word count on a computer, make sure you have your file open. Select "Tools" in the top bar and choose "Word Count" in the dropdown menu. You can also shortcut this by pressing "Command+Shift+C."
This will prompt a popup displaying the total pages, words, characters and characters excluding spaces in your Google Doc. Select "Display word count while typing" if you want to see word count in real-time as you write. It is important to note that word count applies to everything written in your document except headers, footers and footnotes.
If you want to know how many words are in a specific section of your document, select and highlight the paragraph and then follow the aforementioned steps.
To check word count on an iPad, iPhone or Android, open the Google Docs app and select your file. Go to the three dots in the top right corner and tap "Word Count." These device users do not have the option to display word count while typing.
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What Is the Right Residency Personal Statement Word Count?
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Many schools require applicants to write a personal statement when applying for SOAP residency because it is their basis to know more about the person. However, some schools specify their residency personal statement word count, which means applicants need to follow the word limit at the same time effectively explain who they are and what they have that others do not have. Thus, you must think of a good personal statement residency structure to get the attention of the readers.
Required Residency Personal Statement Word Count
If you are asking, “how long should a residency personal statement be,” then it can be 500 to 850 words. The personal statement and medical residency letter of recommendation are your chance to sell yourself, and even though there is only a limited word count or page limit, ensure that you put all the details that you think will help you in getting into the program.
When it comes to the word count, bear in mind that it must be limited to one page. This proves also important when submitting and printing on the ERAS application. A word count of 600 up to 650 words is better, but if you want a shorter one, then writing a 500-word essay is okay too.
Additionally, the personal statement is a one computed page in ERAS, and it must be between 750 to 850 words. Be sure that your statements fit in ERAS allotted space because if there are lines that exceed the length restrictions, the program will eliminate it. By the time that you know how long should a residency personal statement be, you must start writing it while you still have enough time.
Common Structure of an ERAS Personal Statement, Pro Writing Tips, and Tricks
- Use of paragraphs: Do not use many paragraphs, especially if you have a word or page limit. It is better to write 47 lines because they will help the admissions committee have an easier time to read your paper.
- A clear beginning, middle, and end: If you submit your personal statement AAMC application, make sure that your essay has a clear beginning and end. Doing so, you will make your essay flow naturally. It is important that all your sentences are connected together so that they are organized when it comes to flow. By following this tip, you can ensure that you’re making a well-presented essay.
- ABC method: If you decide to write about your experience, you need to use the ABC method. ABC stands for action, benefit, and course structure. What qualities you possess, what skills you have and what the activity is it that you did.
- Keep it short: Because you need to meet the ERAS personal statement word limit, you should limit your essay to 4,000 characters. In this case, you should bear in mind of its conciseness by using clear and short sentences. If there are unnecessary words, clichés, and overused words, you have to get rid of them.
Length of ERAS Personal Statement: How to Shorten It and Make Your Residency Application Document a Success
There are times that you need to shorten your essay to meet the ERAS personal statement word limit, so if you are asking yourself on how to do it, here are some tips to get started.
- Highlight all the adverbs: You need to read your personal statement again and highlight all the adverbs. To shorten your essay, remove all adverbs such as very, really, absolutely, completely and extremely. Doing this is essential to complete the medical residency application process by making a concise essay and submitting a good one.
- Look for short phrases or single words followed by a comma: In the medical residency application process wherein need to submit a personal statement, you cannot include them as they would waste space. You must shorten your page to meet the word count requirement. Spot on single words or short phrases, such as in fact, because of this, to be frank, last, hopefully, in fact, in conclusion, and quite frankly. Highlight the phrases or words, and then read the essay again without these words. Remove the ones that do not enhance your essay.
- Delete helping verbs: For instance, replace “is going to visit” with “will visit”.
- Delete to be verbs: Instead of saying “I’m a voracious reader,” try writing “I read voraciously.”
- Turn nouns into verbs: It is better to write, “I concluded” than “I came to the conclusion.”
Tips to Extend a Length of Residency Personal Statement
If you are thinking to extend your personal statement because it has not correct personal statement word limit, and it does not meet ERAS personal statement length, then there are great tips that you can follow.
- What you need to demonstrate: To extend your personal statement, you can write about enthusiasm for a certain subject, genuine interest or things you want to pursue. You can write about your suitability for the job or course and your commitment to study. You might also want to write about your motivation in studying the course and ways that it fits into your future plans. Other things to write in your essay to make it longer include your conscientious attitude, great communication skills, and hard-working attitude.
- The rules: If you forgot writing about “why you want to study that course,” then include it in your personal statement. On the other hand, be sure that you have not copied from others’ work just to get ideas on what you will write. It is better if you write it on your own. Also, when you write, avoid mentioning any courses or universities because the personal statement will be sent off to different schools, especially if you have applied for numerous programs.
- Structure and content: It is better to make a plan on what you will include in your personal statement. The content of your essay should include important points. Even though you want to make it longer, irrelevant words should be eliminated. To replace those words and sentences, you can include information on what have you done to pursue your interest in that subject, things that make you suitable for the program and ways that your grades support your chosen interest.
- Write what you studied: The personal statement is a place to demonstrate your intelligence. To extend your essay, you can talk about what you have found in that program that makes you interested in it and why relating it to what you have studied to reach this point.
- Support with evidence: Whenever you make a claim or statement, be sure to back it up with evidence.
Professional Writing Help with Your Residency Application Personal Statement
Even if you are fully aware of all ERAS® personal statement requirements, there are no guarantees you’ll be able to compose an outstanding personal statement for residency application that will impress the admission committee in a matter of seconds. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place where professional admission experts with decades of writing experience can help you with crafting all types of application documents including residency letter of recommendation, CV for residency application, letter of intent and anything else you’ll request! The ordering procedure is super simple: just fill out the order form, proceed with totally secure payment, get in touch with your personal residency personal statement writer and wait for the first draft! the final version of your personal statement for residency application will be delivered on time, written in adherence to the highest standards and with the correct residency personal statement word count.
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How to Keep Your UCAS Personal Statement Within the Character Limit
The perfect law personal statement will by its very nature include all the skills, experience and knowledge to highlight a true passion for the subject. However, the problem with such an in-depth statement is that it almost always goes over the UCAS character count.
It can be frustrating that your statement can only be 4,000 characters when you feel like you have so much more to say. Being concise is key. You can still include all the most valuable content without surpassing this limit. Let me show you how.
Have Someone Else Read it
After your own personal first proofread to cut out anything unnecessary, you should ask someone else to have a look over it. If you can get more than one person to look at it, that’s even better. The benefit of this lies in objectiveness. Your mum, dad, sister, aunt, history teacher or best friend will be able to pick out must faster than you can if you are repeating the same ideas, explaining something badly or in too many words or being cliché.
It is completely natural to look at any piece of work you have completed and struggle to know what the less important parts are but an objective third party will not be as tied to the work. This step is especially helpful if you have gone over the word count substantially.
Make Sure it’s Relevant
Half of the reason why your personal statement can end up so long as it’s very easy to waffle as you try to order your points coherently. However, in general, most “waffle” is not relevant.
The best way to highlight what is relevant is to ask the “so what?” question. That is, as you are reading each sentence of your personal statement, ask yourself “so what?” Does the information I have provided help the admissions tutors at my chosen universities conclude that I am suitable for this course, and have I shown why it makes me a good candidate? If the answers are no, then the point is probably irrelevant and should be removed.
Moreover, this is a brilliant strategy to use once you know your points have value to ensure that you have properly reflected on and explained why this particular extra-curricular or experience makes you suitable for the course.
Separate Your Sections
The risk when it comes to cutting down your personal statement is that you will cut down too much in one section and keep too much of another. Often, personal statements are set out to include your experience of the subject you are applying for, your school experience and relevant extracurriculars and wider reading of the area.
It’s a good idea to begin writing your personal statement in sections – even taking a new word document for each one at the beginning. Then when it comes to editing and removing characters to get yourself down to the word limit, you will be able to see which section is using up most of your precious characters. Then if there is no good reason why one section is much longer than the rest, that is the right section to begin cutting down.
Throw Out the Flowery Language
You are going to be a university student, so that means you must start using “adult” academic words right? Wrong! try to keep your language simple and concise. Although many aspects of a law degree will introduce you to long words, Latin, and complex concepts, you do not have to start now. In fact, it will be most preferred by admissions tutors if you skip the flowery language and keep your points clear, simple and concise. It will be much more impressive if your personal statement demonstrates your interest in the subject without over-complicated language.
However, if you have got the odd long or incredibly intellectual sounding word in a sentence and you want to keep it in as it helps make your point, please do not feel that you have to go and delete it now. The number one rule is to make sure every word you use, you understand.
Assess Your Use of Commas, Adverbs and Conjunctions
Finally, you are getting there! You are no longer leaps and bounds over the character limit and now just have to find a way to cut those last 50-100 characters. So here is what to do next. Start with removing ands, buts and in some places commas where you can. Conjunctions and heavy comma use tend to elongate sentences and removing them in favour of a full stop will turn the one sentence into two crisper sentences. Alternatively, shortening the sentence altogether will not only make your writing clearer but remove extra pesky characters.
Another tip I admittedly only learned a few months into my university course is that you don’t need adverbs and adjectives as much as you think you do. These descriptive words often merely fill up sentences and fail to add value to the purpose of the point. When you are only a few characters away from a perfect statement, it is helpful to go through and pinpoint whether the adverb or adjective is helpful or just using up words. More often than not I found the sentence stood alone just as well without using them.
Words: Alicia Gibson
How to Structure Your Personal Statement for Law
- Things to Avoid in Your Personal Statement for Law
- Expert Advice for Your Personal Statement
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