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Writing Your Grad School Personal Statement

You want to create a statement of purpose that highlights your strengths and unique qualifications as a student and as an individual. This task can pose quite a challenge, especially when your competition is fierce, your time is limited, and you have no idea what you should write about.

The experienced staff of consultants and editors at Accepted.com has been helping grad school applicants like you gain acceptance to top graduate school programs since 1994. We will ensure that you distinguish yourself from the competition by helping you craft a compelling statement of purpose that presents you at your best. We will help you work efficiently to brainstorm, outline, and edit your graduate school personal statements until they are of "Accepted!" quality.

We offer expert advising and editing services and invaluable free resources:

Personal Statement Resources for Grad Students
Prepping for Grad School Apps Grad School Sample Essays
Grad Admissions Ebooks Five Fatal Flaws to Avoid

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In fact, let's get started on your grad school personal statement right now by clarifying a few things.

What is a Graduate Statement of Purpose or Personal Statement?


It is an essay that demonstrates your qualifications for and your commitment to your chosen academic field. You do this by discussing the people, events, and experiences that have inspired you to bring you to this junction in your life. The essay should be vibrant with details and examples, and should scream to the adcom readers, "This is a person worth getting to know!"

That's a tall order for a 2-3 page essay!

The following tips will help you write a persuasive, vibrant statement of purpose—one that transforms you from a bland collection of test scores and classes into an exciting human being.

Ten Do's and Don'ts for Your Statement of Purpose


The Do's

  1. Unite your essay and give it direction with a theme or thesis. The thesis is the main point you want to communicate.
  2. Before you begin writing, choose what you want to discuss and the order in which you want to discuss it.
  3. Use concrete examples from your life experience to support your thesis and distinguish yourself from other applicants.
  4. Write about what interests you, excites you. That's what the admissions staff wants to read.
  5. Start your essay with an attention-grabbing lead -- an anecdote, quote, question, or engaging description of a scene.
  6. End your essay with a conclusion that refers back to the lead and restates your thesis.
  7. Revise your essay at least three times.
  8. In addition to your editing, ask someone else to critique your statement of purpose for you.
  9. Proofread your personal statement by reading it out loud or reading it into a tape recorder and playing back the tape.
  10. Write clearly, succinctly.

The Don'ts

  1. Don't include information that doesn't support your thesis.
  2. Don't start your essay with "I was born in...," or "My parents came from..."
  3. Don't write an autobiography, itinerary, or resume in prose.
  4. Don't try to be a clown (but gentle humor is OK).
  5. Don't be afraid to start over if the essay just isn't working or doesn't answer the essay question.
  6. Don't try to impress your reader with your vocabulary.
  7. Don't rely exclusively on your computer to check your spelling.
  8. Don't provide a collection of generic statements and platitudes.
  9. Don't give mealy-mouthed, weak excuses for your GPA or test scores.
  10. Don't make things up.

It's Not All About Content…


Persuasive writing requires more than just good content. If you're going to draw (and then keep) the attention of the adcom readers, you're going to need to employ stellar writing techniques as well. The most fascinating content can be all but ruined by poor style, erroneous grammar or vocabulary, typos, and incorrect usage.

You may call the process of editing nit-picky and boring, but believe us when we tell you that it is essential step to creating a prized essay. If you are not confident about your writing or editing skills, we can help you. Our experienced editors will do more than just dot your i's and cross your t's; they will help you make sure that your content is engaging, that there are no stylistic, grammatical, or other errors in your essay, and that you are truly presenting your best work possible. Browse Accepted.com's review and editing services for more information.

If you feel like you need advising on the content front as well, then you may choose to purchase one of Accepted's complete packages which provide one-on-one, personalized assistance every step of the way.

By Linda Abraham, Founder and President of Accepted.com