Personal Statement Writing Guide

Grammar & Style 语法和风格

Hot Tips from our Editors

Limit use of long words: 尽量少用长的词语

The first mistake students make is to use very long words. There's nothing wrong with long words, but if used inappropriately - long words can hinder your application. Words such as functionality and methodology have their correct uses. If you need a concise approach, think about using function and method.

Use a combination of long and short sentences 长短句灵活交替运用,增加节奏感

Perfecting your sentences is the most critical element of any personal statement. A good personal statement will contain a mixture of both long and short sentences. Read your personal statement aloud, count how many words each sentence contains and look to omit unnecessary words.

Apply - Show, Don’t Tell rule (SDT) 采取;展示而不是讲述的原则

One law in writing is ‘Show Don’t Tell’ The rule is not always obvious. Admissions officers don’t necessary believe what they are told. So when you really need them to believe something, it's better to show it to them rather than to tell them about it. A persuasive personal statement convinces the reader. 循循善诱的

‘I'll never forget how upset I felt after Sarah died. I was sad.’

The passage above names the feeling rather than showing what they felt. Wording can be improved from changing "upset" to "distressed

Get your grammar right!

Given the importance of your personal statement, grammar and punctuation are critical. Punctuation can change the meaning of a sentence or paragraph; it is useful to be aware of the grammar and punctuation errors that frequently occur. Please see our grammar guide and get it right.

Grammar guide:

1. Keep your sentences short and to the point. 句子短小
2. Every sentence begins with a capital letter and ends in a fall stop, question mark or exclamation mark.
3. Avoid using superfluous word 删除多余的字
4. Use simple words: for example, use instead of utilise/utilisation, sign(s) instead of signage, link instead of linkage, and (as an adjective) local instead of localised 简单的词汇
5. Use serial commas, those commas that are before the “and” in a series.
6. When using quotation marks, the comma and the period are placed inside the closing quotation mark. The semicolon is placed outside the closing quotation mark.
7. Use one space after periods and colons (referred to as close spacing). Word processing programs now incorporate proportional spacing, which typewriters did not, and this precludes the need for double spaces between periods.
8. Most words with “multi” (multipage, multidisciplinary, multimedia) do NOT have a hyphen. This is also true for most “non” words; nonnative, nontoxic, nonmotorised.
9. Use that for clauses that restrict the meaning of a sentence; use which for clauses that provide additional information and are not necessary to understand the sentence.
10. Avoid the overuse of bold and italics to emphasize text. If everything is in bold or italics, then nothing is being emphasised.
Cut down your word count
Just finished the personal statement? Run the word count and panic sets in. Use these hints to reduce your word count now!
You can normally delete the following without changing the meaning of the paragraph
‘’amazing, fantastic, nice, terrific, cohort, context, interaction, materialise, syndrome, pretty, ambience, wanted, really, very, believe, always, honestly, seriously, confidentially, personally, surprisingly, even, for my sake, as much as possible, even, only, concerned, why, where, who, what, how, if, ideally, economically, officially, obviously, clearly, surely, undoubtedly, to conclude, conclusion, introduce, knew, surprised, therefore, however, moreover and Illustrating’’

· Remove "that" - unless it's necessary
· Reword sentences containing "and, I, the, he, she, his, and her,"
· Delete adverbs ("ly" endings,)
· Amend using the ending "ing."
· Delete "just" and "so."
· Erase "was" and "were" (These normally make the sentence passive and you should not have more than 2% in one document).
Revising 修改
The advice of other readers is invaluable as you build and improve your essay.

· Does your personal statement original purpose?
· Are the paragraphs linked to represent you in a clear and concise way?
· Are your sentences short?
· Are there errors?
· Are sentences clear and easy to read?
· Is the vocabulary admission officers?
· Are the long sentences easy to follow?
· Have you avoided excessive repetition? 是否言过其实