The university admissions application essay, a.k.a your personal statement, is your chance to demonstrate your character and abilities beyond your grades and test scores. Grab the chance to impress the admissions committee with a taste of your personality.

Decide which personality traits you want the admissions committee to remember before deciding on the essay topic. Remember: this is a personal essay; not an expository essay you write for an assignment. It should definitely not restate your CV, activities and accomplishments in an essay format.

  1. Learn by example: read a lot of examples of well-done personal admission essays
  2. Avoid overused topics
  3. Draft Do’s
  4. Engross the reader with a good opening statement

In other words, tell a story based on your personal experiences that only you can narrate. While doing so, write in first person, present tense. Your essay should be a slice of your life – a moment in time that’s unique to you. People visualise the narrative in their heads, so show them the story through rich narratives, rather than telling them boring, factual statements. Provide rich sensory detail; use metaphors, but be sparing with adjectives. First, try to get the story on paper without editing. Putting your thoughts on paper helps to focus on the essentials. Then, you can edit the text to match your personality.

A good narrative consists of at least some these components:

  • The Anecdote: dive into the story; share interesting life scenarios
  • The Why?: make the reader ask the question
  • The Shocker: takes the reader off balance
  • The Curmudgeon: refutes conventional wisdom
  • The Split: there are two types of people…
  • The Confession: become the reader’s confidant
  • Stating the Obvious: that was hidden

A good ending is just as important as the starting sentence / paragraph. The final paragraph should ties to the lead, but should simultaneously add a deeper insight. Make sure the tone and the ending sounds like you. To ensure this, try reading your essay aloud. Eliminate needless restatements, verbosity and unnecessary complexity. At all times, prefer a good punch over perfect grammar.