Writing Your Personal Statement and What To Do If You Need More Content
This blog is mainly aimed at those applying for undergraduate studies, sorry to anyone applying for PGCEs etc. But it may still be able to help you grasp the basics.
The most important thing is to convey your passion WITHOUT using the word passionate. This is grossly overused and doesn't actually show the potential reader why you are passionate. I started my statement off with why Biology was so important generally (in one sentence) and then covered when I was first inspired by it. Firstly, you need to be truthful with this because interviewers can stem questions from your experience so truth will always avoid a red face.
Read your personal statement before your interview. The interviewer will have so it's best you do to. I personally took my EPQ with me to read in the car. It really helped me be sure on the specific elements that I had forgotten. Luckily, they asked me about it so I was able to explain, in detail, gene therapy very confidently.
Research around a topic if you're struggling what to write. My EPQ focused on HIV so I conducted some research into possible treatments. This shows the person reading your statement that you are actually interested in the degree as you have taken the time to research, read and understand an off-curriculum topic. I completed a couple of online courses that were free at https://www.edx.orgto provide the perfect evidence in taking the subject further. The courses are ran by universities over a couple of weeks and you complete online quizzes to gain a certificate. Personally, two was too many as I struggled to fit everything into my statement.
Modesty is a big no no. You need to sell yourself, everyone else will be! Don't go crazy and make out that you're the next Einstein but if you have achieved something you need to show it off. It's really about showing why they should choose you over any other candidate.
Helping with the lower years in your school can give you experience to talk about. This should be at the bottom of your statement as it is extracurricular. But you should still include it! Helping with younger children is a communication challenge, you have to adapt how you explain concepts which is a necessity for both work places and oral presentations (some universities use this as an assessment method).
Get teachers to read through it. Not just those in your subject area, I passed mine to a couple of Science teachers initially to check through the content. A Maths teacher that had taught me throughout secondary school and knew me well checked that I had really captured my skills. Finally, an English teacher checked my grammar.
Good luck with your submissions! It took me two days to write my statement, once you get into it the words just write themselves.