8 Tips for Masters Personal Statement Writing

a) Planning Stage

Tip 1: Read the information carefully

Does the description come with a brief or particular information to include in the statement? This could include emphasis part of your current studies, work experience or even a brief research proposal.

It is also common for there to be a word limit or character limit (always check with or without line-spacing).

Tip 2: Research

Effective research is important for two reasons:

  • One, to make sure that the course and university are a good match for you.
  • Two, that you can demonstrate to the reader that you have intentionally picked their university and course because it fits your needs and assures them that you have the credentials to study the course at Masters level.

Research the university, its age, specialisms, status and reputation.

Research the department and identify expertise, research and prominent staff that would benefit your study. Are the professional links to organisations and employers?

Research the course. What modules interest you? For instance, are there modules that will expand your knowledge or consolidate it? Does it have a placement or work experience opportunities? Will there be guest speakers? How might you want to shape your research?

Tip 3: Reflect

So far, all of the planning described has been about what the university does or it wants from you. The personal statement a chance to showcase what you have to offer. This might be the first time that you can talk with confidence about your journey and what your career plans are.

Reflect on the milestones in your academic career so far. Describe your academic interests currently and for the future. What is your skills-set, knowledge and experience to date? What are your career aspirations? What do you do outside of academics that you’re proud of?

b) Drafting

Tip 4: A clear and logical structure with a beginning, middle and ending

As with any good story or essay the ending always re-visits the beginning and the middle describes the areas for determination in greater detail.

Once you have planned your structure always draft in a word document first.

The beginning should be a clear outline of:

  • Who you are and where you study?
  • What you are applying for and where?
  • A short overview of why you think you are a strong candidate for the course?

The middle will be more detailed descriptions of your introduction, for example:

  • Why have you picked that particular university and course?
  • Information about your current studies and its relevance (where appropriate)
  • Relevant work experience, volunteering and part-time employment other skills and that you can handle multiple commitments.
  • Hobbies and interests outside of study are not an essential part of the statement although they do demonstrate personal qualities and, possibly, that your outside interests match your academic interests.
  • Be clear about what you want from your career and where do you think the course will take you?

The ending lets the reader know that you are concluding by reiterating your interest in the course and what makes you a suitable candidate.

Tip 5: Language

Be professional in your tone and avoid acronyms and abbreviations (without first using full name), slang and informal language. Try to be objective and factual as much as possible as this will determine if an offer is made.

The reader will be most interested in what you have done and what you think rather than what you feel. Avoid statements like, ‘I love’, ‘I enjoyed’, ‘I hate’, etc. The reader will interpret your passion from your descriptions and demonstration.

Try to be positive in phrasing your descriptions such as: ‘I demonstrated’, ’I can/have’, ‘I enhanced’, ‘I developed’, ‘this enabled me to’, etc. Contrastingly, avoid passive language wherever possible, such as: ‘I had to’we learnt’, ‘this made me’.

Tip 6: Proof-read

Firstly, check that the messages and points you are trying to convey get across and have a logical flow and structure. Don’t just rely on spell-checker. Read thoroughly for spelling and grammar issues and casing – names should always start with a capital letter.

c) Submission

Tip 7: Second opinion

By this point you should be able to tell the proof-reader what to look out for and give you professional feedback. This might mean some re-writes and updates.

Try to get feedback from people who regularly read and review personal statements. This should include a Careers Adviser and an academic where possible.

Tip 8: Submit…stop reading it!

If it is an online application, copy and paste the statement from a word document to the application. Contrastingly, if the application asks for an attachment document of your personal statement then save and submit as a pdf. Doing this will avoid formatting errors at and ensures that your document cannot be altered.

We’re still here to help!

As always, the Careers and Employability is here to help, even in these difficult times. You can access us, via email, telephone or video call by emailing careers@hope.ac.uk as well as My Careers Centre.

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