How to format a personal statement

Written by sharon penn
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How to format a personal statement
Formatting a personal statement. (writing image by jimcox40 from

When you write a personal statement for an application to a university or for a job, you must separate yourself from other contenders for the position. This can be done by including credentials that relate to the position you desire, and by letting your voice shine through the prose so that the reader can get a sense of who you are. To format a personal statement, make sure that it is organised into a clear beginning, middle and end.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Transcripts
  • Resumes
  • Computer

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  1. 1

    Collect all your information. Gather transcripts, resumes, letters of recommendation, and anything else that supports your presentation. Look over the material, and take notes about pivotal moments and interesting experiences that relate to your purpose. Ask friends, teachers and relatives what they think are your strong points.

  2. 2

    Begin your personal statement with an introduction. You need an attention-grabbing opener, such as a personal anecdote or a description of someone who you admire. If you are applying to a university, you might write about the moment you knew you wanted to apply to that school, or about the person who inspired you to apply. For a job application, you might write about someone you admire in the field or in the company.

  3. 3

    Write a few body paragraphs. Each needs a sharp focus on your skills, experiences and abilities as they relate to the position for which you are applying. Each body paragraph should start off with a topic sentence, and contain three or four examples from your background that relate to the topic sentence. For example, if your first body paragraph is about your strong leadership skills, substantiate that claim by saying that you were the captain of the tennis team, editor of the school newspaper and a teaching assistant.

  4. 4

    Sum up your strengths in the conclusion, and clearly state why you should be awarded the position. Reread the job or university application to make sure you covered all the points you were asked to discuss. End your conclusion with a memorable clincher. This is your last opportunity to impress the reader. Make sure you state what attracted you to the university or company, and why you would make a substantial contribution.

Tips and warnings

  • Keep the personal statement short at 500 words or less.
  • Produce an outline before you write to keep your statement organised.
  • Make sure you include any honours, distinctions, accomplishments and education that relate to the position.
  • The personal statement must be perfect in terms of spelling, punctuation, grammar and the like. One way to accomplish this is to write a first draft, edit and make corrections, and then give the second draft to a trusted individual to edit for you. Repeat this process until you are satisfied with the result.

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