Revising Your UC Personal Statement
Personal Statement Content
The most important part of the personal statement revision process is the content revision part. Does your personal response adequately answer the prompt? What does your response to the prompt show the reader about you? These are two of the most important questions you should ask yourself when revising for content.
Continuously asking yourself if you are answering the question presented in the prompt will help you find focus throughout the writing process. Applicants too often get so caught up in telling their story when writing their response that they forget to clearly and explicitly address the question asked of them.
Forgetting to write about themselves is the second most common blunder applicants make in the personal statement writing process. Instead of writing about what they’ve learned from an experience, for example, they only write about the experience. Asking yourself what your response shows the reader about you as a person will remind you to make your personal statement centered around you. It will remind you that you will need to examine, for example, the experience you have written about and show the reader how such an experience has impacted you.
Show, Don’t Tell
Refrain from making statement without providing concrete examples. This is another rookie mistake. Why merely tell the reader that you are, for example, determined when you can show the reader. Write about how you continued practicing tennis, for example, even though your back hurt and your hands were covered in blisters. Provide a detailed description of the blistering backbreaking practices and write about how championed throughout that with determination.
Adjectives, Tone, Syntax
Pick up a thesaurus and look up adjectives to use into your response. Adding descriptive adjectives to the appropriate places will breathe life into your personal statement and take it to the next level.
Tone is another important thing to revise for. Tone in literary terms, is the attitude the author gives off about the subject he or she is writing about. The most common mistake applicants unknowingly make regarding tone is sounding negatively. Instead of saying “Although I am to very interested in Biology, I am unsure of what profession I may want to pursue”, you may want to say “I am very interested in Biology and I am open to the various career paths that my journey with Biology may lead me to”. Notice the dramatic difference in tone between the two sentences. Note how the first sentence sounded negative and unsure while the second sentence sounded positive and open-minded. Remember, you can put a positive spin to any sentence.
Syntax is, in short, sentence structure. You will want to think about the construction of your sentences and how you can revise them to best make your statement and establish your points. Have someone who has not yet read your personal statement read it. Then have this friend asterisk any sentences whose meaning may not be completely clear. Having a set of new eyes read our personal statement can be very helpful because you probably already know your personal statement backwards and forwards by now. Your response, however, may not be as clear to others as it is to you. Reconstruct any sentences that do not clearly and indisputably get your point across.
Less Can Be More
Your first couple of drafts are bound to go over the word limit. That’s perfectly fine. Do not worry about the word count until you have finished revising all other aspects of your personal statement. After you finish revising all other aspects of your response, you will need to then go back and cut out unnecessary words. Remember that less can be more. If you can say something in in five words versus ten words, do so. We often have the tendency to add unnecessary filler words like “that”, “so”, “which”, etc. to our writing since we use them when speaking. Looking for such filler words and cutting them out will make your sentences stronger and direct. Be prepared to cut out parts of sentences if cutting the filler words does not do the job. In this case, do not be hesitant to take out parts of or even whole sentences that are not essential to your response. Cutting out such parts will make your overall point more clear and concise.