Organization for Comprehensive Personal Statement (2023)

To write a personal statement, let's begin with a general, comprehensive approach. This means that rather than develop your statement for a specific purpose, you will consider how you would respond to the three main personal statement types in general.

Shifting Structure in Personal Statements

Personal statements follow a looser, more flexible structure than traditional five-paragraph essays you may have studied for the TOEFL test or in school. You don't need to have exactly 5 paragraphs developed in 3rd person with X number of cited sources. That is NOT what the admissions officers or hiring committees are looking for.

Timed writing tests like the TOEFL independent task evaluate whether you know the parts of an essay, can write grammatically with accurate word choice, and can effectively use essay structure. Admissions essays and cover letters generally are not evaluated for essay grammar, word choice, or structure with points for a score. Admissions officers read admissions essays to determine if you as a person are a good fit for their program and have the qualities they want their students to have like diligence or creativity. Hiring managers want to know if you are a good fit for their company. Having good development, grammar, and word choice is still important, but only because having those things will make it easier for admissions officers and hiring managers to understand your ideas and for them to know that you can communicate well.

The same is true for the essay structure. Admissions officers and hiring managers are not going to grade you like a teacher and give points on whether you had a concluding sentence at the end of a body paragraph or used X number of details in the introduction. They don't expect five-paragraph TOEFL-style essays. However, following the principles of good structure will help your ideas be more easily understood by the admissions officers and hiring managers reading them. Your essay will still have a beginning where you need to state your main idea, a middle where you develop your idea, and an end where you remind the reader of your main idea.

How you use different types of sentences like hooks, thesis statements, topic sentences, supporting sentences, concluding sentences, restated thesis statements etc. is your choice. If you are writing a personal statement for a writing teacher teaching you personal statements, they may grade you as part of school. But, otherwise, it is up to you as a writer to decide what type of sentences and organization are needed to express your ideas best. You are still expected to have a main idea and to develop it through support, but how you do that is your choice.

The Hook

A personal statement needs a hook, just like any other type of writing. In fact, a personal statement is almost more in need of getting the reader's attention early because you want to be memorable among the many statements the reviewers will see.

While this can be done in the usual ways you have learned for writing hooks, one of the most common types is the use of an anecdote. Ananecdote is simply an interesting and relevant true story. A personal statement often uses a specific story to illustrate important attributes or to create an organization for highlighting experience.

Anecdote Example

Essay Prompt:

One of my challenging experiences was when I was applying to come to the United States and the borders started to close because of COVID-19. That part of my life was terrible because I had made plans for when I was supposed to start studying. But then things changed for everyone, and we needed to adapt to it. I did not give up and kept on being patient. In fact, while I was waiting for my interview with the embassy, I took online courses. I decided to use my time wisely until the borders started opening again.

The Thesis

Your personal statement should have a clear sentence that directly expresses your purpose. Your goal should be abundantly clear in this sentence and all other points in your personal statement need to support this main idea.

While the rest of the personal statement may loosely use what you have learned in your writing classes so far, the thesis statement will still need to be strong and effective. Because this is apersonal statement, you can use 1st person.

Effective Thesis Statement Review

An effective thesis statement...

  • addresses the prompt if there is one* (i.e., answers the question).
  • is usually at the end of the 1st paragraph.
  • controls the content of all of the body paragraphs.
  • is a complete sentence.
  • does not announce the topic (e.g., "I'm going to talk about why I am a great fit for your company.").
  • should not simply be a fact (e.g., "Many people have goals.").
  • should not be too general (e.g., "Education is good.").
  • should not be too specific (e.g., "My pursuit of higher education was inspired by my 99-year-old grandmother from Madrid who always came to visit for the holidays with homemade cookies and told me that an education is the key to business success because she had not finished school but made her own business that struggled until she decided to save up and sacrifice her time to go back to school for higher education which led to her having her own successful bakery.").
  • may state or imply main points (e.g., "Attending X college will help me achieve my goal of becoming a financial advisor" vs. "Attending X college will help me achieve my goal of becoming a financial advisor through X's internship program and X's student-focused approach.").

Supporting Ideas

The remainder of your personal statement should focus on clearly establishing your qualifications and experience, demonstrating your character and personal qualities, and indicating your potential for growth. This may be done with a variety of examples or one extended description that highlights all of the necessary traits that set you apart.

You can use what you learned about anecdotes for the hook and apply it to the middle section of your personal statement. You might have many personal examples that are relevant true stories, or you might tell one longer personal example that is a relevant true story. You don't have to use anecdotes for the supporting details; you can use any other type of supporting detail if you think it will better support your main idea.

The examples that you give should clearly support the main idea you are trying to express to the reader. They should be unified, developed, and cohesive. If the example(s) that you use and how your write them is clear enough in its connection to the main idea, then you may leave the interpretation to the reader. The reader can then infer important ideas and connections. If the example(s) that you use and how you write them is not obviously connected or clear, you will need to add 1-2 sentences explaining how that experience connects to the main idea of the personal statement. This is like adding commentary or explanation after a quote you use in a regular school essay. It helps your reader to understand why you included the example. Why did the experience you described matter in regard to answering the prompt?

While it is good to focus on strengths, you may sometimes need to write about your weaknesses. This may be because it was specifically requested such as when a college asks you to write about how you overcame a weakness, or it may come up naturally even when not requested by a prompt. For example, if you are a recent high school or college graduate with little work experience for the job you are applying for, you may want to acknowledge that weakness in your cover letter. Then, you will have the opportunity to spin it to be a strength.

Spin is where you present information that would be perceived one way, so that it is instead perceived in a different way. Spin can be positive (I am new, but I am eager to learn.) or negative (He has 40 years of experience, but that means he's old and probably out of touch with current trends). Usually, you will use positive spin. Just like how an influencer wants to use the best lighting for their photos and videos to look good, you want to show yourself in the best light. Keep in mind that it is okay to spin weaknesses into strengths, but you should still be truthful. No metaphorical photoshopping allowed.


Finally, your comprehensive statement should have a concluding sentence that recommends you to the reader. This final sentence should be memorable and emphasize your purpose in sending this information.

The conclusion for personal statements may be difficult to write because it requires reflection and writing about abstract topics.

You should answer these questions in your conclusion:

  • Why does this information I told you, the reader, matter?
  • How does this show I am a good candidate for your college, business, or program?

Writing a Comprehensive Personal Statement

Here are some things to keep in mind as you write this general form of a personal statement.

  1. The terms general and comprehensive here are about purpose, not content. This version is meant to be a starting point for you to use when you are called on to provide a personal statement. Therefore, the examples, reasons, and descriptions should be powerful, clear, and detailed. Once you have a comprehensive statement you are happy with, it will be easier to make adjustments to it for a specific situation.
  2. Because it is apersonalstatement, remember to focus on yourself and present yourself honestly and fully. You do not need to adhere to the same rigid writing style as typical academic writing.
  3. Your writing should be full of energy. You want to present the best version of yourself in the writing. If you think of this as a preliminary interview, you can imagine the combination of positivity and professionalism you would want to present. Especially if you are sharing an experience that had some negative aspects, remember to focus on the positive side and the lessons learned.
  4. Make it stand out! Imagine sitting in an office for hours looking at short essay after short essay. You are trying to narrow down the search for a new employee. As a writer, you need to pop off of the page and share something that will stay with the reader.


Exercise 4.5: Most Relevant

Part A: A student is applying for a college program that doesn't have a specific essay prompt, but still requires a statement of purpose. He has already decided to highlight his problem-solving skills. Now he is deciding what anecdote would be most relevant to his main idea. Read the options he brainstormed and choose the one you find the most relevant.

Prompt: None

Goal: Show my problem-solving skills

  1. Volunteering at a local food back in high school
  2. Carefully learning to make bread from my grandmother
  3. Learning perseverance that basketball season that we didn't win until the very end of the season
  4. Collaborating with my coworker to address an issue with our project at work
  5. Showing initiative when I noticed a system at work was broken and I researched and proposed a way to solve it

Part B: Discuss your decision with a partner.

  • Did you choose the same option or different options?
  • Why did you choose the option that you did?
  • How would you use it in an essay?

Exercise 4.6: Storytelling

Personal stories are a useful tool forshowing your points rather than listing them.

Look at the list of points below and write a short story (5 sentences or less) that illustrates your character, skills, or potential. Try to start your story with a strong hook to pull the reader into the story and clearly relate it to the desired qualifications.

  1. Resolving conflict
  2. Integrity
  3. Leadership
  4. Communication skills
  5. Dealing with disappointment

Exercise 4.7: Discussion

Discuss the following questions with a partner.

  • How do you establish your qualifications? Why would your previous experience matter?
  • How can you demonstrate your character or personal qualities? Can't you just say, "I'm hardworking?" or "I'm honest."?
  • How can you show your potential for growth?

Exercise 4.8: Explain to Add Cohesion

A student decided to develop a cover letter using the anecdote idea about maintaining a high GPA by turning in every assignment. She has already written about her experience striving hard to turn in every assignment even while working on campus and performing in the community orchestra. Her goal is to illustrate her diligence and consistency.

This is a cover letter, so there is no prompt. But, all jobs have the implied prompt of "Why should we hire you?"

Write 2-3 sentences that show why the experience of maintaining a high GPA by turning in every assignment demonstrates her diligence and consistency.

Exercise 4.9: Showing Weaknesses in a Positive Light

Think of an academic or professional weakness you have. You can also see the list of points below for ideas. Brainstorm ways to show that weakness in a positive light.

Spin your weakness into a strength. Write 1-2 sentences to show your positive character, skill, or potential.

  1. Meeting deadlines
  2. Teamwork
  3. Critical thinking
  4. Technical knowledge
  5. Training


Organization for Comprehensive Personal Statement? ›

A common structure for a personal statement is to group paragraphs by your past, present and future if you're writing a general response. If you're answering a more specific question, organize your response into paragraphs that support the main point of your statement.

How do you write a comprehensive personal statement? ›

What makes a good personal statement?
  1. Explain the reason for your choice and how it fits in with your aspirations for the future.
  2. Give examples of any related academic or work experience.
  3. Show you know what the course will involve and mention any special subjects you're interested in.

What is the best opening sentence for a personal statement? ›

Start with a short sentence that captures the reason why you're interested in studying the area you're applying for and that communicates your enthusiasm for it. Don't waffle or say you want to study something just because it's interesting. Explain what you find interesting about it. '

How do you start off a personal statement? ›

Start with why you chose it, then try and summarise this in one or two sentences. Be original and refer to personal experiences as a way to draw attention. Avoid overused opening sentences, quotes and clichés like 'when I was young…' They want to know about you now, not your childhood or Shakespeare!

Who can review my personal statement? ›

With that being said, you should have 2-4 trusted people to read your personal statement. Medical students, doctors, professors, or friends who are excellent writers are excellent editor options.

How do you write a comprehensive statement of purpose? ›

What should be included in the Statement of Purpose?
  1. Personal background.
  2. Financial background.
  3. Academic details.
  4. Professional experience (full/part time, voluntary)
  5. Immediate and long-term goals.
  6. Reasons why you wish to study at this particular institution.
  7. Reasons of being interested in the chosen field.

What is a comprehensive statement writing? ›

There are two kinds of personal statements:

Comprehensive- you write about yourself and have the most freedom in what you write. Responses- you answer specific questions asked on an application.

What are the 7 sentence openers? ›

Again, look at this list of common subordinating words. Used at the beginning of a sentence, these words signal to you that a sentence opener follows: After, Although, As, Because, Before, If, Since, Unless, Until, When, While.

What is the best closing sentence for a personal statement? ›

To do this, take the most heart-moving story from the body of your personal statement on what inspired you to apply for your course. Mention the main idea of it in a sentence or two, then end with a “for this reason, I believe pursuing [mention course] is the best way to achieve my [state your why].

What makes this a strong introduction for a personal statement? ›

The introduction is the first thing the admissions committee will read. That's why the first sentence of a personal statement should be a catchy, attention-grabbing hook or story that grabs the reader's attention and sets up the main point of your essay.

What skills should be included in a personal statement? ›

Your personal statement should include a brief overview of who you are, your strengths and any work experience and/or education you've got. Be sure to include skills you've gained, such as time management, customer service, teamwork, computer skills etc.

What makes a good personal statement? ›

You should share details of jobs, placements, work experience, or voluntary work, particularly if it's relevant to your course. Try to link any experience to skills or qualities that'll make you successful.

What should I not write in my personal statement? ›

Don't make unsupported claims. 'I am the best student you will see all year' doesn't go down too well, even if you think you can prove it! Don't copy someone else's UCAS Personal Statement or use something you have found on the internet. UCAS use software to check every personal statement for plagiarism.

Can I pay someone to write my personal statement? ›

You can choose a personal statement writer or place an order and wait for our best writers to get in touch with you. Whether you need a personal statement or a professional essay writer, it doesn't matter. If you choose essays.

Should I name my personal statement? ›

DON'T write your statement with the goal of telling schools what you think they want to hear. Sincerity is important and recognizable. DON'T use quotes or give a title to your statement.

What is an example organization purpose statement? ›

Example 1: "Our purpose is to inspire every family in the world to enjoy Sunday dinner together." Example 2: "Our purpose is to support the health and well-being of our planet and everyone who lives here."

How long should a personal statement be? ›

A general rule of thumb you might follow is to submit a 2-3 page statement, double-spaced, with 1-inch margins, in 12-pt. Times New Roman font. While there are no set rules about length or format, this is typically considered appropriate and sufficient.

What is the importance of the statement of comprehensive? ›

The statement of comprehensive income contains those revenue and expense items that have not yet been realized. It accompanies an organization's income statement, and is intended to present a more complete picture of the financial results of a business.

What is the format of a comprehensive? ›

The format of a comprehensive report is the same as a narrative report. You have your introduction to the topic or the report, your reason for writing the report and your conclusion and evaluation of the topic. However, unlike the narrative report, the comprehensive report gives a lot of information about the topic.

What is a good comprehensive summary? ›

A summary must be comprehensive: You should isolate all the important points in the original passage and note them down in a list. Review all the ideas on your list, and include in your summary all the ones that are indispensable to the author's development of her/his thesis or main idea.

How do you start a comprehensive essay? ›

  1. Step 1: Hook your reader. Your first sentence sets the tone for the whole essay, so spend some time on writing an effective hook. ...
  2. Step 2: Give background information. ...
  3. Step 3: Present your thesis statement. ...
  4. Step 4: Map your essay's structure. ...
  5. Step 5: Check and revise.
Feb 4, 2019

What is a strong opening sentence? ›

Start with the chase. A good hook might also be a question or a claim—anything that will elicit an emotional response from a reader. Think about it this way: a good opening sentence is the thing you don't think you can say, but you still want to say. Like, “This book will change your life.”

What words should you not start a sentence with? ›

Never begin a sentence—or a clause—with also. Teach the elimination of but, so, and, because, at the beginning of a sentence. A sentence should not commence with the conjunctions and, for, or however....

What is a number 3 opener? ›

#3 openers take commas only when they modify the whole sentence. When the ly–adverb modifies just the verb, it doesn't need a comma. So, how can you tell which it modifies? If the #3 opener modifies the whole sentence, you can usually say "It is [adjective version of -ly adverb] that ...."

Do you say thank you at the end of a personal statement? ›

Therefore, while it may seem polite and courteous to end by saying “I hope that I will be admitted to your university”, or “thank you for your consideration”, these sentences are too general and would not do justice to all the impressive aspects of your application you've mentioned in your personal statement.

What are three tips for writing a personal statement? ›

Top tips for writing an original personal statement
  • Create two lists. ...
  • Thoroughly research your subject choice. ...
  • Promote the knowledge you already have and why you would fit in. ...
  • Show how capable you are. ...
  • Be original. ...
  • Don't use unsupported clichés. ...
  • Ask for feedback.

How do you write a strong conclusion for a personal statement? ›

Keep it simple. You should use the end of your personal statement to emphasise your key points – you want it to be easy for the reader to understand why they should offer you a place. "A strong conclusion should pull together all of your key points," says Laura Clash from Nottingham Trent University.

What's a personal statement example? ›

A great personal statement is a sales pitch that highlights the attributes that qualify you as a worthy candidate. Concentrate on your knowledge of the field, your experiences and your projections for the future. Example: “My undergraduate studies prepared me well for my profession.

What is too long of a personal statement? ›

The typical length of a personal statement for graduate school applications is between 500 and 1,000 words. Different programs have different requirements, so always check if there's a minimum or maximum length and stick to the guidelines. If there is no recommended word count, aim for no more than 1-2 pages.

What are the three things that a successful introduction must have? ›

An introduction should include three things: a hook to interest the reader, some background on the topic so the reader can understand it, and a thesis statement that clearly and quickly summarizes your main point.

What are 3 characteristics of a strong introduction? ›

A good introduction should identify your topic, provide essential context, and indicate your particular focus in the essay. It also needs to engage your readers' interest.

What is a catchy statement in an introduction? ›

You could start by creating a mystery, use humour/wit, a quote of a famous person, a hypothetical situation, a rhetorical question, or even a witty/ humorous statement to grasp the attention.

What are the 6 C's personal statement? ›

The 6 Cs – care, compassion, courage, communication, commitment, competence - are a central part of 'Compassion in Practice', which was first established by NHS England Chief Nursing Officer, Jane Cummings, in December 2017.

What makes a personal statement weak? ›

Choosing a bland topic that admissions committees see over and over again. Overstating the obvious and using clichés. It's very likely that the applicants you are competing with also like science and want to help people. Lying or making up a personal story for your essay.

How much does it cost to have someone write your personal statement? ›

If you just need a one-page statement, expect prices ranging from $15 to $44 per page, depending on the academic level involved. On average, a two-page statement written in three days for college admissions will cost about $57.

Is it okay to copy a personal statement? ›

IMPORTANT: When writing your personal statement, it's vital you remember not to copy from anyone else's personal statement (not even just a sentence!).

Should I submit my personal statement as a PDF or Word? ›

Unless the employer specifically requests another file type, you should send your resume as a PDF. The most common other file type for resumes is a Word document.

Should you avoid using I in a personal statement? ›

Consider The "I" Problem: This is a personal statement; using the first person pronoun "I" is acceptable. Writers often feel rather self-conscious about using first person excessively, either because they are modest or because they have learned to avoid first and second person ("you") in any type of formal writing.

How long does it take to write a personal statement? ›

It may take you a month or two to write your personal statement. And that's perfectly fine! Remember, you will need to distance yourself from it for a few days to get a fresh perspective. So start early and take your time!

How do you write a combined personal statement? ›

In general we'd recommend avoiding dividing the personal statement into one half on subject A, the other half on subject B. Even for joint courses, we want to see how you can combine perspectives and apply your knowledge, so try to do this throughout the personal statement.

How do you write a cohesive personal statement? ›

Your personal statement should help the reader get to know you and make them want to learn more. Write about your unique achievements, interests, experiences, qualities, or opinions. Avoid irrelevant or inappropriate topics—they won't make you memorable for the right reasons.

What are the 4 steps in writing a personal statement? ›

Step 1: Brainstorm topics for your personal statement. Step 2: Follow the freewriting rules and spend 10 – 15 minutes on 3 of your topics. Step 3: Review what you have written and decide whether to use one of those topics or select another from your brainstorm list. Step 4: Draft an outline of the personal statement.

Can you write 2 different personal statements? ›

No, you only write one personal statement that all of your choices see. The same goes if you apply to further universities, or courses in Extra or Clearing.

What are the ABC of personal statements? ›

When writing your personal statement, use the A-B-C (activity - benefit - cause) method. Write about what you have done, the skills and experience you gained and how this links to the course you're applying for. Avoid repetition on the same things.

What is a hook sentence for personal statements? ›

Personal Statement Hooks… What Are They? The hook is a literary device at the beginning of an essay meant to grab the reader's attention and compel them to continue reading. A hook can be many things: a serious anecdote, a short autobiography, a funny story, a quote, etc.

How do you connect paragraphs in a personal statement? ›

Transitions are words and phrases that assist with the cohesion of paragraphs. You are primarily going to use transitions of addition, contrast, and example. Transitions of additions: In addition, additionally, moreover, furthermore.

What are examples of cohesive phrases? ›

Cohesive devices are words like 'For example', 'In conclusion', 'however' and 'moreover'.

How do you make a personal statement flow? ›

8 Things You Can Do to Make Your Personal Statement Stand Out
  1. Plan before you write. ...
  2. Format correctly. ...
  3. Make your introduction clear and direct. ...
  4. Include examples (but make sure they're relevant) ...
  5. Put the 'personal' in 'personal statement' ...
  6. If you've done your research – brag about it!


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