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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.

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. It 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.

5 Fatal Flaws - Grad, special report

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.

5 Fatal Flaws - Grad, special report

Let Accepted Help You Get Accepted.

Persuasive writing requires substance, solid thinking, and compelling descriptions of ideas, events, and experiences. But even those attributes aren't enough. If you're going to draw (and then keep) the attention of your readers, you need to employ stellar writing techniques as well.

Let us help you present yourself through your statement of purpose, CV, and other elements in your application. 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, well-written and portraying you at your best.

Browse Accepted.com's review and editing services for more information. If you are interested in comprehensive assistance with your graduate school application, explore 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