Graduate schools often require prospective students to submit a personal statement as part of the application process that helps the admissions committee decide whom to send a letter of acceptance to. The importance of putting together a killer personal statement cannot be overstated when considering the level of competition for coveted program spots. After all, well-crafted personal statements can provide that extra bit of oomph to help prospective candidates set themselves apart from the pack.
Writing a good personal statement is one thing; editing it is another thing. The admissions committee not only wants to know about the prospective students, but also wants to see how well they can communicate via written means. So editing is critical.
After putting together a rough draft, the first round of editing should take the form of reading the enter document out load to uncover any awkward phrasings, incorrect worse usages or incomplete sentences. People writing a personal statement for graduate school should then take a pen to paper and cross out anything that does not specifically support their thesis statement. At this point, it wouldn’t hurt to have an impartial, tell-it-as-it is friend to give the personal statement a sober second look. In other words, another opinion could help to fine-tune the personal statement so that it makes maximum impact when it is read by the admissions committee. After incorporating the suggestions, the prospective graduate school student should then ask someone to look over the revised draft.
When considering the personal statement editing process, it’s important to consider questions as they relate to content, style and organization. Questions to ask including the following:
• Does the personal statement answer the question posed?
• Does it comply with the word limit?
• Does it include the sort of introduction that will grab the admission committee’s attention?
• Are skills and capabilities adequately highlighted and supported by concrete examples?
• Is it free of hyperbole?
• Is there anything in it that detracts from the overall purpose of the paper?
• Is the conclusion satisfying?
• Is the chosen style used consistently throughout?
• Does the style support the end goal?
• Is the active voice used rather than the passive voice?
• Are a variety of sentence constructions employed?
• Have over-the-top words been edited out?
• Are the points presented in a logical manner?
• Do the paragraphs fit together?
• Could it be better organized by perhaps rearranging the paragraphs?
• Are transition statements employed to enhance organization?
Editing for things like content, style or organization is important, and those who do so will most certainly improve the readability of their personal statement for graduate school. But there’s more to keep in mind.
What follows are some more practical tips for editing a personals statement for graduate school:
Steer Clear of Lengthy Sentences
People working on a personal statement for graduate school should be wary of long sentences. Think about breaking up long sentences for the sake of clarity. It’s said that the average sentence in the English language is south of 20 words. Following that rule of thumb will help to keep sentences short and sweet.
Drop the Big Words
Those working on a personal statement for graduate school need to resist the urge to impress the admissions committee with pretentious verbiage because it won’t work. It’s better to choose a shorter word over a longer word when the former will more than do.
Avoid Lengthy Paragraphs
The typical personal statement might be about three pages long, which isn’t really a lot, come to think of it. In putting their thoughts to paper, prospective graduate school candidates should prefer shorter paragraphs – up to, say, 150 words – over longer ones. Doing so will almost certainly result in a personal statement that is easier on the eyes – someone’s got to read and assess it, after all – and easier to digest for content.
Never underestimate the importance of crafting a killer personal statement for graduate school. It could be the difference between being admitted and declined, so much effort should be put into both writing and editing it. Following the aforementioned personal statement editing tips will help to increase the odds of being accepted into a graduate program. Best of luck!
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