A Winning Personal Statement for Graduate School: Tips and Rules


A graduate degree provides an individual with more opportunities when it comes to career enhancement. No wonder that students compete for graduate schools each year. Apart from flawless recommendation letters and high test scores, a student who wishes to continue their studies must write a persuasive personal statement. 

No more thoughts like ‘how should I write my paper in two days and get enough sleep?’ Instead, to enter graduate school, you must focus your entire attention on writing a superb personal statement. Don’t know how to do it? Check the guidelines below. 

Personal Statement Differs From Everything You Have Ever Written

A personal statement is not a resume or a cover letter, as some people wrongly believe it to be. In fact, a personal statement is commonly written in essay form. Some graduate schools ask students to follow specific requirements in regard to structure and organization. But most of the time, colleges and universities will leave it to your choice.

The only requirement all graduate schools share is the need to write about personal qualities, which make you an outstandingly perfect applicant for the school you have chosen. Most of the graduate schools are looking forward to a student who can brighten up the academic culture and inspire the school community. 


Because a personal statement is your number one priority, be sure to spend maximum time and effort to make it perfect.

Instructions Are the Most Trustworthy Guidelines

Before starting to write your personal statement, visit the official site of the graduate school you want to enter. Find the requirements regarding the content and structure of a personal statement. Check the word count (you must not cross its limits while writing your statement later), the format, and the structure of each tiny part a personal statement is required to contain. 

Making the guidelines clear is the basic advice on how to avoid mistakes in writing since following the instructions saves your time and ensures the success of your essay. 

Stay True to Yourself

Authenticity and originality are the best things you can suggest to your readers. Think of what makes you stand out from the crowd and focus on it. Don’t try to copy others. Otherwise, your personal statement will get the reputation as one written by the phoniest writer. 

You may not be the smartest student or the most confident person. And guess what: you don’t have to be because a personal statement is about the qualities which make you who you really are as an individual. No college would like to get an arrogant and snobbish intellectual, even if their IQ test scores are sky-high. 

Answer the following questions to define your unique qualities:

  • Which character trait do your family and friends admire about you?
  • What is the last accomplishment you are proud of? 
  • What was the biggest challenge in your life you have successfully overcome?
  • If you had to characterize yourself in three positive words, which would they be?
  • Which personal traits, required for the qualification you are applying to, you already possess?

Let’s Get Practical

Apart from your amazing personal traits, admission officers want to know why you are qualified for studying at a particular graduate school. Long story short: you must persuade those picky academics that you would be the most efficient member of their community. 

This is where mentioning academic achievements might be a good idea. Do not write all your accolades in a list. Instead, choose one or two achievements and make them personal.

Write about how a literary contest at high school or college made you recognize your love for reading and writing. Write on how a homeless animal inspired you to volunteer at the local shelter and later become a social worker. 

Managing your time is the main tip of writing a good paper, so make sure you have enough hours on self-reflection, drafting, and revising. 

Further, write on how the graduate school can develop the knowledge and skills in the field you have chosen. Be as specific as you can. Some of the academic members of the graduate school might be working on the research you are interested in – mention it. 

Have a Grasp of Reality

Particularly great advice for students who love impressing others. The line between imagination and reality is very subtle, so be sure to stay on the safe side. Yeah, everyone believes that you saved a kitten that inspired you to volunteer. But was this kitten really hanging on the tenth floor, so you climbed the drainpipe to save it? Be careful with the details. 

Any information can be easily checked in times of the Internet and telephones. 

A few tips on how to stay calm and real:

  • Don’t write about achievements that are not yours. Imagining contests and victories which never existed did no good to anyone. The admission committee can easily check the information by calling your college or university. 
  • Don’t blame your professors and instructors for giving you the lowest test scores. Scapegoating is the last thing appreciated in academic circles.
  • Some things may be painful to write about. Acknowledge it. If it were for horrific circumstances that you scored low on your test, you can write about them or skip this part. 

Space Rules 

Time flies when writing. It is easy to forget about the word count and formatting rules while working hard on your personal statement. However, do not forget that space is limited. Use it wisely. 

When finishing the essay, remember that the best way to write an exquisite assignment is to double-check and revise it. Cutting out unnecessary words and phrases mercilessly may sound discouraging at first. But, with time, you will see that searching for the best word is the beauty of a writing process.

Final Thoughts:

Let your personality shine in the statement you are writing. Everyone has some good qualities to brag about, and so do you. Draft, write and revise. Self-reflect and stay honest. And always remember that your friends and family are there to help if you feel stuck and confused.

Good luck!


Additional Reading:-

Graduate School

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