These are the two most common Personal Statement mistakes to avoid!
The Personal Statement should be completely directed by you, however, there are some mistakes to avoid when you start the writing process. We do not want to impose too many restrictions on what you choose to write (the character limit and time pressure does that by itself). So we have just two big red flags which we would suggest avoiding.
Do Not lie on your personal statement
Lying on your Personal Statement is a big ‘no-no’. It’s really not worth it. We say this not to target people who are doing it maliciously but because we know that writing your Personal Statement is a really stressful exercise and you might not be sure what you can and can’t get away with.
Believe us, saying you’ve read something you haven’t, saying you agreed with something you don’t and saying something you’re interested in that you aren’t – all of these things are not too difficult for a tutor to work out at a later stage of the application.
The easiest way to avoid Personal Statement mistakes like this is to try and put yourself in the shoes of the admissions tutor. The Oxbridge application process is designed so that tutors are allowed to choose the students that they want to teach.
When they read someone’s Personal Statement, they have a chance to try and work out whether this could be one of their future students. But they will want to take the Personal Statement into consideration with the whole portfolio submitted in order to make an informed decision.
If in the process of the Admissions Test results, your references, or speaking to you in the interview, they find out that the Personal Statement was not reliable, they will unlikely want to accept your application.
It is better to just present yourself and your wonderful personality word for word and let them make the decision.
Do not write what you think the tutors want to read on your personal statement
Being disingenuous is another Personal Statement mistake that we would really recommend not doing. Again, this might sound quite obvious, but it is very, very easy to do!
A rule of thumb is that it is okay to think “What will the person reading this think of me” as long as you then think “Is that a fair representation of me, and does it show my personality?”
By way of motivation too, you should remember that there is a lot of luck, good and bad, involved in the application process. You are not obliged to change that by pretending in your Personal Statement. You are not a weaker candidate just because things eventually might not go your way, and everyone will admire you for trying. However, recycling phrases you have heard and using clichés such as “I have always been interested in” will not reflect too well.
If you think something is really boring, be honest. If you have justifications for finding it boring that’s not a problem and much more reasonable.
Do not change your Personal Statement so that it reflects characteristics that don’t apply to you. Your strongest attributes are yours, not anyone else’s and the whole process is just more enjoyable if you apply as yourself and know you did your best.
We really appreciate writing your Personal Statement is hard. It’s likely that you don’t know where to start or that you might not seem satisfied with what you’ve done. Accidentally making Personal Statement mistakes is, at times, inevitable. Don’t worry, everyone feels the same. There are many tips and tricks to help you avoid those unwanted Personal Statement mistakes.
The structure of your personal statement matters!
You’ve got all the information but how do you format the Personal Statement? This is where the structure comes in. Structure matters when writing your Personal Statement. It enhances clarity, thought processes and most importantly, it tells a story about yourself and the subject you want to study.
Before you go, the below menu will give you access to 10 Personal Statement examples or check out all of our other personal statement articles and successful examples on our Free Personal Statement Resources page.
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