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Composing Effective Personal Statements

Table of Contents

Part 1. Introduction................................................................................................................... 1
A. What is a Personal Statement (PS)?................................................................................. 1
B. How is a PS distinct from other application essays?........................................................ 2
Part 2. The Components of an Effective PS............................................................................. 3
A. An appropriate outline..................................................................................................... 3
B. An excellent introduction................................................................................................. 3
C. A solid body..................................................................................................................... 4
D. An integrating conclusion................................................................................................ 4
Part 3. Composing an Effective PS........................................................................................... 5
A. Preparing and planning your essay.................................................................................. 5
i Conducting background research from related sites................................................. 5
ii Identifying a basic idea or theme.............................................................................. 5
iii Writing an outline...6
iv Making a list of all information to be disclosed7
B. Questions a PS should answer.......................................................................................... 8
C. How do field experiences enhance your application?...................................................... 8
D. Always consider the audience.......................................................................................... 8
E. Writing the draft............................................................................................................... 8
i The body................................................................................................................... 9
ii The conclusion........................................................................................................ 11
iii The introduction...................................................................................................... 11
F. Polishing your essay....................................................................................................... 13
i Conducting a read-through..................................................................................... 13
ii Revising and proofreading...................................................................................... 13
Part 4. Common Errors in Composing Personal Statements.................................................. 17
Part 5. Steps to Follow to Ensure the Further Improvement of a PS...................................... 17
A. Follow a simple checklist............................................................................................ 18
B. Consult the opinions of your advisor/mentor/colleagues............................................ 18
C. Have your essay reviewed by professionals.........18





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Part 1. Introduction

A. What is a Personal Statement (PS)?

Congratulations! You are now at the forefront of another academic milestone as you
plan to rise to the next level and pursue advanced studies. Whether you intend to
pursue graduate studies in a local school or abroad, you will have to undergo a rigid
admission process, which will require you to submit various application documents,
foremost of which is the Personal Statement.

What is a PS? What type of information should it contain, and why is it a cornerstone
of your application?

In terms of content, a PS is a formal essay stating your personal and academic
background, pertinent achievements, goals, qualities, and characteristics, which
might help influence the decision of the admissions committee to accept you in your
school of choice. Perhaps, the most important point we should consider is that a PS
is required by most schools as their method of gauging a few important factors:

1) Obtaining a glimpse into your personality, which they cannot observe just
by perusing your transcript;
2) Evaluating the way you organize your thoughts; and
3) Checking your level of English proficiency.

A PS is one of the most important components of your application because this
document, when written correctly, will offer your readers, namely the admissions
committee members, a quick glance into your life story so far and which direction you
plan to take. You are inviting the reader to share your experiences as you disclose
who you are as an applicant. Through your PS, you are providing them a general
picture of your background and qualifications, knowledge of which will allow them to
evaluate your suitability for admission to their school accurately.

Another important role of the PS is that it allows you to explain, although briefly,
some information that may not be accurately represented by your transcript or
Curriculum Vitae. For example, your GPA might be low because your school places
a cap on grades given to students belonging to your major. Another example would
be explaining the connection between your undergraduate major and your chosen
graduate major, which might seem incongruous at first inspection. For these reasons
alone, it is extremely important that you follow a guideline in composing your own
PS.

Finally, a PS is a formal essay, and appropriate language should therefore be
employed. Care should be exercised in avoiding a range of errors that usually plague
first-time writers. We have included a list of these errors in the latter part of the


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booklet. Additionally, a good PS should range between 600-1000 words, unless
otherwise specified. There is strictly no limit in terms of paragraph count, but a good
rule of thumb is to have between six to eight paragraphs.

B. How is a PS distinct from other application essays?

There are schools that require an applicant to submit a Statement of Purpose
instead of a PS, the thrust of which is to present an applicants goals in terms of what
major to pursue, what research direction to take, and other specific study and career
plans, if any. Therefore, in this case, you are required to submit a similar essay but
with greater emphasis on your specific study and career plans. Most applicants are
confused with the difference between a PS and a Statement of Purpose. To help you
distinguish between the two, we have prepared the table below.


Personal Statement Statement of Purpose
Description
Utilizes various presentation
techniques ranging from
simple narratives to more
creative approaches
Utilizes a simple narrative
technique; more formal
and more direct to the
point
Objecti ve
To present an applicants
general background
To state an applicants
specific study and/or
career plans
Focus
Previous life experiences
(family, education,
achievement, activities,
personality)
Educational background,
employment experience,
and future study and
career plans
Length Usually 600-900 words Usually 500-700 words


This is not to say, however, that a PS cannot be a Statement of Purpose and vice
versa, because as you will discover in the next section, these two can actually
overlap depending on the outline you have created.

Meanwhile, not a few schools require a third type of application document, which is
the Question and Answer (Q and A) essay. Although this may take the form of a
quasi-PS, the questions require that you answer them in a specific manner. This
essay usually ranges from 300 to 600 words, thereby limiting the amount of
information that should be included. Nevertheless, Q and A essays belong to an
entirely different category and will not be explained here. Instead, in the following
useful guide, we will explain everything you need to know in creating your own PS
and offer useful suggestions to help you polish your essay further.


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Part 2. The Components of an Effective PS

Having come across thousands of personal statements, we have realized an effective PS is
one that is concise yet substantial, informative and interesting, and one that leaves a
mark on its readers. Similar to other forms of discourse, a PS should demonstrate a main
underlying theme that will anchor the narration of details to prevent the essay from being
just an enumeration of information. From experience, we know all applicants are capable of
presenting their ideas in an essay, but only a few are capable of accomplishing this in an
organized manner.

Why is organization important in a PS? As with any essay, there is a minimum
requirementto arrange your ideas into a cohesi ve whole. This is the reason why
formal English divides an essay into three basic parts: an introduction, a body, and a
conclusion. So important is organization that this is the first factor we consider in composing
or reviewing any essay that goes through our English language service. This is the most
elusive component yet the most useful once we master its creation. From this, all other
components will follow.

Below, let us identify the four core components of an effective PS:

A. An appropriate outline
There are several different ways to structure an essay, but the most common format
includes an introduction, a body, and a concluding paragraph. Most applicants
believe that the more information they cram into their PS, the better their essays will
turn out, and thus the greater their chances of being accepted. However, in their
attempt to do so, they simply enumerate information and do not establish transitions
between paragraphs, resulting in a rsum or autobiography written in prose. This is
wrong. While it is true that an effective PS should be informative, keep in mind that it
should be more than a simple enumeration of relevant data such as grades, awards
received, and the like. A PS should be a creative presentation of details executed in
an interesting and coherent manner. This is where an outline comes in. If you wish to
present more specific details such as titles of papers, awards, internship experience,
and extracurricular activities, we suggest you include these facts in your Curriculum
Vitae instead.
B. An excellent introduction
The first goal of any PS is to generate a compelling lead and engage the readers.
Start with a powerful selling point to catch the readers (usually an admission officer)
eye. Given the high volume of application submissions, admission officers generally
give each personal statement a quick scan before separating the outstanding
submissions for a more thorough reading. Therefore, it is extremely important for the
personal statement, specifically the lead, to be compelling and unique. This means
that your words need to be short and punchy.


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The members of an admissions committee pore over thousands of submissions on a
daily basis. From these, only a handful will catch their attention from the outset. They
do not have the time to go over each of these essays, thus an essays introduction
should be arresting enough to make the readers want to continue reading on. An
excellent introduction is therefore crucial if you wish your essay to stand out from the
rest. In the next section, we will present ways to achieve an excellent introduction
and some samples to demonstrate these.

C. A solid body
The body of the essay is where you include all pertinent information you wish to
share with the admissions committee. This comprises the bulk of the essay and
should therefore be written well with the necessary transitions provided to ensure its
cohesion with the introduction and conclusion. Within each paragraph of the personal
statement, include details of the most impressive or relevant achievements you have
accumulated.
The introduction and the body of the PS should be about your career and
achievements. This is the area of the PS where you should demonstrate your
capabilities and provide a compelling argument as to why you should be admitted.
For freshman applicants, a PS should reflect ones backgroundfor example, family,
community, or schooland explain how this background has shaped ones dreams
and aspirations. For transfer applicants, identify the intended major. Discuss how
ones interest in the subject developed and describe any experiences in the field.
This could include volunteer work, internships and employment, and participation in
student organizations and activities. It is important to include what has been gained
from ones involvement.
It is good to elaborate on personal qualities, talents, accomplishments, and
contributions or experiences that hold significance to you as an applicant. You
should consider including personal qualities or accomplishments that you are proud
of and include the ways these helped shape who you are.

D. An integrating conclusion
Finally, the concluding section wraps up the essay neatly and reminds the reader of
its purpose. The conclusion should deftly integrate all information presented. One
method to ensure consistency is echoing in the conclusion the ideas presented in the
introduction. More on this will be explained in a latter section of this booklet.

The PS should always end on a positive note, and the conclusion should summarize
the body of the statement. It is important to reiterate the primary message of the
personal statement and thank the audience for their consideration. This will leave the
reader with positive images of the applicant as they put the personal statement
down.



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Part 3. Composing an Effective PS
Now that we have provided an introduction of a PSs characteristics as well as a rundown of
its basic components, let us turn our attention to the most important step in the process
composing the PS itself. It would be unwise if you started writing without a clear direction or
goal. Personal Statements can vary in word count and style. However, what they have in
common is they comprise an attempt to explain your point of view. They should therefore be
skillfully written in the sense that the information they present is clear and informative. To
achieve this end, a process of preparing, drafting, and polishing needs to be followed.

A. Preparing and planning your essay
i Conducting background research from related sites
This entails a visit to the Web site of your chosen school and other relevant
Web sites from which you might glean information. The main purpose of
conducting research is to ensure your essay will meet ALL the requirements
of your chosen school in terms of word count and content, and that you will
be able to zero in on the qualities they are looking for in an applicant and
include these in your essay.

ii Identifying a basic idea or theme
Using a single basic theme is one method you can employ to guarantee your
essays coherence and effectiveness. It forces you to organize your thoughts
and ideas and helps keep the essay focused. Without a theme, your essay
will simply look like a haphazard collection of facts thrown together to impress
the reader. With a main theme, the essay will have a focal point upon which
you will develop the rest of the paragraphs.

In conceptualizing a theme, you have to consider the main question, What
would you like to say with your essay? For example, do you want the
admissions committee to understand your choice of major and career in
relation to your family background, or do you want to share your passion for
your chosen field and your desire to achieve excellence in it? Whichever
theme you come up with, this has to be unique to you as an applicant
and should be related to your personal background, choice of major,
and choice of career. The more unique a theme is, the more interesting the
essay will be. In this sense, you can capitalize on personal facts you believe
are noteworthy of exposition.

Sample themes:
Passion for traveling and being fascinated with multiculturalism and
globalization;
Having received primary education abroad and the experiences gained
therein;


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Concern for the current status of your chosen field or industry in ones
country;
Proficiency in the areas of leadership, communication, and team
cooperation as advantages;
Pursuit of excellence;
Personal qualities such as adaptability, resilience, persistence; and a
sense of social responsibility, or
Motivation to enhance ones knowledge and skills and the potential to
pursue advanced studies

iii Writing an outline
From the table we presented in Part 1, we mentioned that a PS normally
utilizes various presentation techniques ranging from simple narratives to
more creative approaches. With this in mind, you must first decide what type
of approach you will employ and draft an outline based on this. For the two
common types of discourse, Narration and Exposition, here are two
suggested outlines:

Sample Outline A: Chronological Narration or Exposition
This is a chronological presentation of basic information on the applicant.
Depending on ones preference, the amount of information on ones past and
future can be adjusted.
1. Introduction (a quote, an interesting story, an anecdote, etc.)
2. Personal/Family Background
3. Academic and non-academic/co-curricular achievements while in
school (Research works undertaken, trainings attended, etc.)
4. Interest in the field
5. Reason/s for choosing the school
6. Plans for the future
7. Conclusion

Sample Outline B: Sectional Narration or Exposition
To minimize the difficulty of establishing transitions between paragraphs, as
well as to emphasize key points such as academic background, personality,
and future plans, this second approach can be employed. To make it
creative, section headings with an underlying theme may be used. In the
following, ones life is likened to traveling.

Section 1: A Roadmap - A section detailing ones academic and
professional background.

Section 2: A Journey - A section detailing the steps one has taken
in order to prepare for ones future.

Section 3: A Destination - A section detailing the applicants study
and career goals for the future and his overall vision in relation to his
previous achievements and undertakings.



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If you wish to use Sample Outline A, you may want to consult this simple
instructional outline:

Introduction
Section 2
Topic sentence related to the main theme
First supporting point
Evidence
Section 3
Topic sentence that relates the above paragraph to the next
Second supporting point
Evidence
Section 4
Topic sentence that relates the above paragraph to the next
Second supporting point
Evidence
Conclusion
Conclusion that reiterates the main theme and echoes the ideas
stated in the introduction

iv Making a list of all information to be disclosed
Armed with a theme and an outline, the next step is to consider which
aspects of your personal background and experiences can be shared in
relation to this theme. To fully present all the information you want included, it
is imperative you gather them and make a list from which you will be able to
back up the thesis statements you will compose later on. Creating a list
allows you to identify which information is important (e.g., why I chose this
major) and which information should be considered optional in relation to your
theme. Keep in mind that all information should be related to the main theme
and should serve to substantiate the theme and not deviate from it.

The goal of a PS is to present useful information, thus all or just a little of the
information listed below should typically be included in a PS:

A brief educational background;
The reasons for choosing your major, what interests you about your
chosen subject, and the details of what you have read about the
subject;
The career plans you have laid out upon completion of the program;
Employment experience, voluntary work done, particularly if it is relevant
to the subject, and the skills and experiences gained from these
activities;
Any involvement in enrichment activities such as special trainings or
camps, and
Extracurricular activities, social, sports, or leisure interests.

To further aid you in the task of identifying important information for inclusion,
consider the following:


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B. Questions a PS should answer
* What positive characteristics do you possess (e.g., honest, compassionate, loyal)?
* What skills do you have (e.g., analytical, communication, organizational)?
* How have you changed or grown over the years? What challenges have you faced
and overcome, and how have they made you more mature?
* What makes you unique? What sets you apart from other applicants?
* Why should the admissions committee consider you?
* How have past experiences impacted your life? Can you relate these experiences
to your goals?
* What are your study and career goals?

C. How do field experiences enhance your application?
* What internships and/or jobs have you had in the past?
* What have you learned from your internship and/or job experiences? What skills
have you acquired through your internship and/or job?
* How are your internship and/or job experiences related to your field of interest?
Have your internship and/or job experiences prepared you for your future career?
* Have you been involved in any social services? How has the experience
contributed to your growth, and how are these experiences related to your goals?
* What extracurricular activities have you participated in and how do they contribute
to your professional goals?

D. Always consider the audience
* Who will be reading the personal statement?
* How can the essay be more compelling to the readers?
* Why are you applying to this program?
* Why are you applying to this institution?
* How will attending this graduate school help you grow as an individual and prepare
you for your career goals?
* What do you have to offer the graduate program? Why should a faculty member
take you under his supervision?

E. Writing the draft
Now that you have identified a theme, prepared an outline, and created a list of all
the information you need, you can integrate them into an essay. This is the time to
thresh out the ideas you have listed and combine them into manageable paragraphs
that can be revised and re-revised later on. When writing your draft, a very important
thing to consider is to write first and edit later. Do not worry about word count limit
at this point, as you might prematurely edit your essay and unwittingly remove
interesting or important information.



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To help you begin the writing phase, it is advantageous to split the writing task into
three parts: the body, the conclusion, and the introduction. You can do so
chronologically or follow your own sequence depending on your personal preference
and style.

Here are five important tips to consider when composing your draft:
1. Do not include information that does not support and complement your theme.
2. Do not try to impress your reader with your vocabulary.
3. Do not launch into a lengthy discussion explaining your low GPA or test scores.
Instead, try to focus on more positive experiences.
4. Do not invent information, exaggerate, or make things up.
5. Do not be afraid to start over if the draft you produce is not satisfactory.

i The body
To compose the body, go back to your theme and identify the major ideas
that could support that theme (which has now become your main thesis
statement). Each point should be supported by specific evidence, examples,
or arguments. Quantify your achievements and use clear, positive language.
Write about unique personal information because this is what the evaluations
committee wants to read. Continue brainstorming. Write the topic sentence
for your first body paragraph. Make sure it provides a focus for your
paragraph and is not overly general. Do the same for the other body
paragraphs. To generate interest, try searching for examples related to the
literature (direct quotes, paraphrasing, etc.) that you can use in your first body
paragraph.

In the samples below, notice how the first sentences establish the idea for the
rest of the paragraph:

Example 1:
This program complements and enhances the knowledge and experiences I
have gained in the past. My passion for this allowed me to understand the
intimate relationship between culture and the arts. From a practical
perspective, it is my desire to possess an organic and holistic understanding
of the many forms of art in our industry. Your interdisciplinary program allows
students to utilize a broad range of analytical tools from sociology, history,
and cultural studies, and draw on the teaching, research, and professional
expertise offered by the school. This is one of the most important reasons
why I chose xxxx College.

Example 2:
As the team leader, I ensured my teammates diverse talents were used to
our advantage. My approach was to initiate group discussions to examine
our understanding of the entire project. This effectively led to the generation
of improved ideas. Furthermore, motivating my teammates proved essential
in the accomplishment of tasks. Overall, my experiences provided relevant
insights into finance and management, and more importantly, lessons in
team work.



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Use your outline as guide and present the information in full sentences that
flow logically from one to the next. After writing down all your points, arrange
these points such that they smoothly follow one section after another. In the
samples below, notice how the paragraphs are composed of sentences that
flow smoothly from one to the other:


Example 1:
My recent academic and work experience, including my view on the
inevitable importance of Law in society, further strengthened my resolve to
pursue advanced studies in the field. Particularly, I wish to study at the
University of xxxxx, a renowned academic institution providing among the
best programs in the region. Similarly, its location at the heart of xxxx, known
as a world-class financial and trading center, brings the opportunity to deal
with people from diverse cultures, allowing me to develop my skills and
learning attitudes in dynamic situations.


Example 2:
It might seem incongruous at first, yet I should point out the special link
existing between my undergraduate major and the program I am applying for.
In my few years of studying, internship, and employment in xxx, I realized
there are limited areas that co-exist smoothly with our daily lives quite as
intimately and as importantly as finance and marketing. In a dynamic modern
market economy, economic units constantly deal with other financial
institutions using currency as the medium of exchange, and it is marketing
that hastens this exchange. This inescapable part of our daily rituals comes
to mind as I define my choice of specialization.

Next, write your concluding statements for each paragraph. Note that it
should clearly state the point you are trying to make and lead it into your next
body paragraph. Use concrete examples from your life experiences to
support your theme and distinguish yourself from other applicants.

In the samples below, examine how the last sentences conclude the
paragraphs effectively and transition smoothly onto the next:

Example 1:
Engaging in research, I was an active participant in practical projects. These
allowed me to apply and enhance the knowledge I have acquired. Among
others, I was a Project Assistant for the xxxx Laboratory, and a bronze and
gold medalist for the xxxx Cup National Undergraduate Electronic Design
Contest and the xxxx Intel Cup Undergraduate Electronic Design Contest -
Embedded System Design Invitational Contest, respectively; I was also
employed as a part-time Software Engineer for the University Computer
Center. However, enriching as these achievements may have been, I realize
the necessity to engage in further studies in my quest to constantly improve
myself. My purpose was to test the validity of my previously acquired
knowledge and seek better methods to contribute relevant research in my
field of interest.



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Example 2:
To obtain the necessary skills and specialization entails years of studying
and training in the proper school. Therefore, I enrolled in the University of
xxxxx, which graced me with the opportunity to build a solid foundation in
business while allowing me to enroll in modules that enhanced my
knowledge in accounting and finance. A deep comparison of my career goals
and my educational background led me to realize the amount of training I still
need. This is in accordance with my goal of becoming a qualified financial
manager who can contribute to the development of the field of Finance in
China. This awareness led me to the realization that achieving my goals
entails a pursuit of higher learning.

ii The conclusion
Afterwards, go over your draft and try to summarize your points. Do not
suddenly introduce any new information in this section; read through the body
of your paragraph again and base your concluding paragraph from it. You
need to reiterate all the points you made in the body and briefly relate them to
your theme to show how they are all connected. More importantly, the
conclusion should reiterate your main theme and tie up to the introduction to
neatly sum up your essay.

Example 1: My intensive and extensive networking will facilitate and benefit
bilateral business and the academic interaction between these two countries,
and I am determined to improve the trade relationship between them. As I
desire to bridge the existing technology and trade gap, I am certain xxxxx is
the best venue for me to achieve this goal.

Example 2: Once I have gained adequate training and expertise in the field
of finance, I will return to my country to be of service to my fellowmen. In the
process, I will be in a position to aid people in being free from the questions
of life. This, after all, is the essence of financial management, and this is
what I aim to achieve.

Example 3: Ultimately, I am a person who never backs down from a
challenge, and undertaking advanced study and research in Applied
Chemistry certainly counts as a challenge. I am capable of facing up to the
challenges this field offers, and I am certain my theoretical foundation and
my ample communication skills will aid me in my quest.

iii The introduction
This may sound strange but saving the introduction for last is more
advantageous than it may seem. Having written the body and the
conclusion, you are now in the best position to tell the reader, as creatively
as possible, what they are reading into. In the introduction, explain your
thesis statement and how you are going to affirm it without being too


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specific. Do not use typical introductions such as "This essay is about..." or
"The topic of this essay is..." or "I will now show that..." It is not only boring
but also uncreative.
Example: I grew up in a small quaint town near the city of xxxxx in China.
For neighbors who are generally laid back, one could imagine that the dream
of working for an Information Technology company, which I have aspired of
achieving since childhood, is considered an astounding feat.

Instead, say:
In the small town of xxxx where I grew up, life is generally laid back. The
aspiration to gain employment from an Information Technology company,
which I have nurtured since childhood, is considered an astounding feat.

One approach is to begin with an interesting statement, then follow it with a
brief overview of your main theme.
Example: In her historic speech addressed to the US Congress in 1943,
Madame Chiang Kai Shek said, The term hands and feet is often used in
China to signify the relationship between brothers. Since international
interdependence is now so universally recognized, can we not also say that
all nations should become members of one corporate body? This statement,
made 65 years ago, embodied the general principle students of International
Affairs such as myself embrace and uphold in our respective endeavors.
Be creative with your introductory paragraph. Another approach to make it
unique is to use personal information that distinguishes you from the rest
and makes the essay stand out from others.
Example: As a Munchu, I have heard many stories of the Qing Dynasty
from my great grandmother. These imbibed a sense of attachment to my
home country and my culture, and although my rich educational journey has
been interesting and multicultural, I find myself looking back at my roots with
a desire to study further.
Another approach is to use a fact or a literary concept, which is relevant to
your theme. Paraphrase it or use a direct quote, and add in whatever point
you are trying to make.
Example 1: To paraphrase Einstein, creativity and vision are just as crucial
as arming oneself with the proper tools and hypotheses. This is why I now
seek to pursue advanced studies in a well-renowned academic institution
which, as I interact with fellow students from all over the world, will ignite the
creative spark to set me off on an academic and professional journey.

Example 2:

Signals are so rich and complex that a single analysis method cannot serve
them all.
-Yves Meyer, Wavelets: Algorithms and Applications



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My academic interest is signal processing, in which as Mr. Meyer has said,
there are almost as many algorithm analysis methods as there are signals.
This truism may sound discouraging to some, yet it is this notion that attracts
me to the subject. The diversity of knowledge and methodologies involved in
signal processing has introduced me to various interdisciplinary applications
as well as encouraged me to approach problems from different perspectives.

As much as you would like to present a good introduction, do not fall into the
trap of making hasty generalizations, sweeping statements, and/or other
pronunciations. Keep the tone light and personal. After all, you are telling
your own story.

F. Polishing your essay

After going through the steps above, you now have in your hands a working draft of
your essay. Definitely, however, it is not yet in its best form. At this point, some
sections may sound illogical or incongruous with the rest. The entire essay may not
be as coherent as you wish it to be, or it may be plagued by too many paragraphs
containing three or four sentences. Do not be disheartened, for this is the time that
you enter the next phase and begin polishing your essay.

i Conducting a read-through
A read-through is extremely important. It allows you to step back and
examine the points you have made and their relation to the theme and the
entire essay. For example, you might discover a certain section that did not
help at all in supporting your main theme, or some details that could be better
placed in the CV instead. Some even prefer to read their essay aloud or have
it read to them so that they can spot lapses or gaps in coherence.


ii Revising and proofreading
Upon examining your essay and discovering a few unwanted elements or
grammatical mistakes, it is now time to start revising it. First, search for
grammatical mistakes and spelling errors. The prompts in most MS Windows
programs help you identify these (green squiggles for grammatical mistakes
and red squiggles for spelling errors). As long as they do not appear under
proper names, it is safe to modify them. However, do not rely exclusively on
your computer for spell checks. Go over each word on your own.
Often, the first draft is not the essay you originally envisioned. You might
even discover that your ideas about your theme have changed as you have
been writing. If you do not like the way certain sections are stated, re-arrange
them. Once you are pleased with the body, make sure the conclusion and


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introduction still match it and complement the way you see your topic at this
point. If not, rewrite them to fit the essay you did write and the way you see
your topic now.

After grammar and spelling, the next problem that needs be checked is
transition. Read your essay. Go through it from end to end, and check to
see if your essay flows smoothly. Does each sentence flow smoothly to the
next? Does each paragraph flow logically to the next? Each statement
should be connected or somehow related to the one before it, not thrown
randomly together. Notice how key words were added in the sample below
to strengthen coherence.

From:
I have worked hard in my major, but did not neglect to explore the possibilities in
related fields. I have been especially attracted by the opportunities in
bioengineering, since polymer has many applications in biotechnology. The basic
units of all living organisms are proteins and nuclear acidi.e. bio-
macromolecules. So I have become much more focused on the interfaces between
polymer science and biology. I have participated in several related research
programs in this area. I have worked on grafting hydrophilic chains onto bio-
degradable polylactide, investigated biomimetic polymers, and done research into
the uses of egg membranes. These projects exposed me to many innovative ways
of thinking and provided me with invaluable experience in solving complex
biological problems by applying polymer science on a micro scale.
You can re-write it to the following:
Although I have worked hard in my major, I nevertheless did not neglect to explore
related fields. I have been especially attracted by the opportunities in
bioengineering because polymer has many applications in biotechnology. The
basic units of all living organisms are proteins and nuclear acid, that is, bio-
macromolecules, so I have therefore focused on the interfaces between polymer
science and biology. To aid my exploration, I have participated in several related
research programs in this area and have worked on grafting hydrophilic chains
onto bio-degradable polylactide, investigating biomimetic polymers, and conducting
research into the uses of egg membranes. In all, these projects exposed me to
innovative ways of thinking and provided me with invaluable experience in solving
complex biological problems by applying polymer science on a micro scale.

Next, limit the use of I in the beginning of most sentences as it is already
obvious that the essay is a piece written by an individual.

For example, instead of saying:
I am one of those whom my town folks consider as fortunate for having
parents who are professionals.
Try re-writing it into the following:
Acquaintances would consider me fortunate for having parents who are
professionals.




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Another problem often discovered at this stage is the presence of too many
short sentences and paragraphs that seem choppy and abrupt. As a
solution, try to develop these into longer, more graceful sentences. Formal
writing generally utilizes longer sentences, so try using more compound
and complex sentences. Using long sentences add flavor and variety to
your writing, not to mention the fact that it also showcases your proficiency
with words.

For example, instead of saying:

My university education and subsequent work experience provided me with
the necessary knowledge and proper perspective a rigorous graduate
program will require. I obtained a degree in xxxxxx from xxxxx University.
Choosing this major allowed me to fully understand the system of education
in China and its current status. This fact was further driven home during my
teaching practice. To complete the requirements of my course, I participated
in a teaching internship in a high school in xxx for two months. I taught
Information Technology and handled the day-to-day issues of a class. My
experiences during this period allowed me to realize the students education
was inflexible and suffered from lack of innovation. For example, I frequently
had to remind them what to do next, because the students did not possess
the initiative to learn and were concerned only with scores. As well, I
observed that the management in the school was lagging, which was
unfortunate, considering that xxx is a well-developed city in China.

Try re-writing it into the following:

My education and employment experience provided me the necessary
knowledge and proper perspective a rigorous graduate program requires.
Choosing xxx as my major allowed me to fully understand xxxs education
system and its current status, a fact that was further driven home during my
teaching practice. To complete the requirements of my course, I participated
in a two-month teaching internship in a high school in xxxx during which I
taught Information Technology and handled the day-to-day issues of a class.
My experiences allowed me to realize how students education was inflexible
and suffered from lack of innovation, such as when I constantly reminded
them what to do next because they did not possess the initiative to learn and
were concerned only with scores. At the same time, I observed that the
management in the school was lagging, which was unfortunate considering
that xxx is a well-developed city in xxx.


You can also consider the word-count limit at this time and begin omitting
unnecessary details that may only bog down your essay and make it
unfocused. How can information be condensed while keeping the essence
and maintaining the relevance of the essay? Take a look at the following
examples:

Instead of saying:



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As a student, I describe myself as highly conscientious. As a person, I am
optimistic, emulative and sociable. As young as I am, I have realized this
gem of wisdom: Action is the proper fruit of knowledge. All my hard work had
borne fruit as can be proven by my achievements. For two consecutive
years, I am a recipient of the 3
rd
Class Renmin Scholarship. Moreover, I
have gained English proficiency by diligently undergoing campus training.
The rigorous training involved classes which made us read aloud in English.
After a series of difficult practices everyday, I even found that I lost my voice.
At the end of it all, however, my English was enormously improved which
was a great help for the study of my professional courses. Through these
experiences, I did not only realize that nothing is impossible, but I likewise
proved that persistence leads to success.

Remove adverbs and excessive modifiers, such as the following:

Conscientiousness and optimism have always been my strengths as a
student and as a person, and young as I am, I have realized this gem of
wisdom: Action is the proper fruit of knowledge. Indeed, my hard work had
borne fruit as demonstrated by my achievements, such as obtaining the 3
rd

class scholarship for two consecutive years. Moreover, I have gained English
proficiency by undergoing campus training, which involved classes that made
us read aloud in English. After a series of daily exercises, I even found that I
lost my voice. At the end of it all, however, my language skills were
improved, thereby enhancing my ability to perform well in my professional
courses. Through these experiences, I realized that persistence and
enthusiasm lead to success.


Instead of saying:

My admission to the program on Computer Science, my undergraduate
major, at the xxxx University brought me closer to my childhood ambition. I
performed relatively well in my classes on Principles of Database, Computer
System Design, C++ Programming, Principles of Microcomputer, and
Network Technology. From what started out as a curiosity with the computers
and the ways by which they are utilized by people, I eventually developed my
practical knowledge and skills on computer processing and software
programming. My GPA is xx/100 (or xx/4.0), and I received a second-class
scholarship during my first year (xxxx) and a third-class scholarship during
my third year (xxxx),

Transform detailed sections to general statements, such as the following:

My admission to the undergraduate program on Computer Science at xxx
University brought me closer to my childhood ambition. There, I performed
relatively well in my core subjects, which allowed me to explore my childhood
interest. From what started out as a curiosity with computers and the ways by
which they are utilized by people, I eventually developed my practical
knowledge and skills on computer processing and software programming. My
GPA and the various scholarships I have received demonstrate the
dedication I have shown in this endeavor.


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Part 4. Common Errors in Composing Personal Statements

The following lists some of the more common errors in most compositions:

Inappropriate use of punctuations such as excessive commas, and incorrect
placement of apostrophes and quotation marks, colons, and semi-colons. When in
doubt, consult a basic style guide to check your usage.

Contractions. Contractions dramatically reduce the formality of your composition.
Use the more formal cannot, would not, or should not, instead of cant,
wont, or shouldnt.

Slang and common colloquial words and expressions. Words and phrases like
a lot, aint, got, big, for sure, gonna, sort of, kinda, and the like should
never be used.

Clichs. These make your writing informal and unintentionally funny. However,
when employed correctly, they can actually help add variety to your essay.

Repetitive use of words such as (likewise, thus, and the like). Keep a
thesaurus handy so that you can vary your language. However, do not use big
words just to impress the reader.

Vagueness. This may lead to open interpretation that does not express your ideas
as well as more precise words would. "A few" or "enough" can often be replaced by
a word that is more precise. Phrases such as these will only leave the reader
confused. Make your claims clearer and justified.

For example, instead of saying, I supported the change process or I assisted in
financial planning for the company, try re-writing these into, The position involved
analyzing previous financial performance to identify areas for future improvement,
and preparing budgets to ensure sound financial planning.

Part 5. Steps to Follow to Ensure the Further Improvement
of a PS

Once you have produced an essay by going through the steps enumerated above, you can
improve it further by going through this last section for added measure. These will help you
check for final errors.



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A. Follow a simple checklist
Five of the most important factors to consider in the finalization of your essay
include the following items. Once you have addressed all of them, your essay is
almost ready.
Grammar
Spelling
Coherence
Transition
Word count

B. Consult the opinions of your advisor/mentor/colleagues

Allow someone to read through your essay. Ask for their opinions and keep these
in mind. Do not forget that you can still revise your essay even up to your
targeted day of submission.

C. Have your essay reviewed by professionals

Finally, if you are still dissatisfied or simply want to enhance your chances of
being accepted by creating a perfect PS for your application needs, then
consider hiring the services of a professional like KGSupport. If this is your first
time to compose a personal statement, chances are, you may still have missed a
few points. Having your essay professionally evaluated therefore allows you to
improve it by drawing on the expertise of professionals toward the further
improvement of your essay. With thousands of edited essays to their credit, they
can compare your work with those they have already evaluated and improve your
essays in ways you cannot imagine.


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This booklet has been provided to you free of charge by
Knowledge/Growth Support
www.kgsupport.com
KGSupport is a leading English language solutions provider that offers superior round-
the-clock services and support to academics, professionals, and businesses at the most
reasonable costs.
Our Organization
We are a team of English language specialists with years of combined professional
experience in language review, composition, and online research.
Our Solutions
We provide specialized editorial review services for academic journal submissions,
university documents, contributions for publications, and marketing copy.
Our Clients
Our clients include scientists, professors, and students from most major universities,
as well as businesses throughout Asia, Europe, and North America.

Our Vision
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operate continuously in compliance with accepted standards, while maintaining
organizational flexibility by adapting to international language trends.