A good personal statement is split into 5 paragraphs: intro, topic, topic, topic, then your extracurriculars & conclusion paragraph:
With the introduction covered in our last post…let’s move onto your topic paragraphs!
Your three topic paragraphs will go in the middle of your personal statement – in between your introduction and extracurriculars/conclusion paragraph.
Topic paragraphs are really the heart of your personal statement – yes, the introduction is the first thing they read…it has to be good enough for universities keep reading…but the topic paragraphs are where we show we’re really serious about our subject…where we get down and dirty with in-depth research, and our own personal reflection on academic topics!
For example, if you’re applying for economics – you first topic paragraph might discuss behavioural economics, mentioning a book you’ve read plus a lecture you’ve watched.
Next topic paragraph could be on monetary policy – where you cite a news article you read, and some work experience you did at a local highstreet bank.
And your third topic paragraph could be on econometrics – where you discuss an online course you took in statistics & regression.
Here’s what it looks like in practice:
Three topics you find interesting – one for each paragraph – with references to books, lecture, articles and online courses mixed in.
If instead, you’re applying for medicine, your first topic paragraph could describe your work experience shadowing doctors at your local ward…& what you learnt from it.
Next paragraph could be on a recent breakthrough in cancer treatment you found particularly interesting, a lecture you attended on the topic…and an academic paper you tried to read for further insight.
In you third and final topic paragraph, you could get in your time volunteering for St John’s Ambulance…what it taught you, how it built your character.
Once again, three topics you find interesting – one for each paragraph.
And notice again how we’ve mixed in references to: lectures, articles, academic papers and work experience.
It’s really important in these topic paragraphs that we provide evidence of our subject interests. It’s no good just saying you like reading about Geogrpaphy- anyone can say that!
No! Universities want to know exactly what you read, what you learnt from it, and how you tried to research your topic further. They want evidence of your interest in your subject!
And that evidence includes: books & articles you’ve read, lectures you’ve attended or watched online, online courses you’ve completed, academic papers you’ve read and any other subject-specific activities like essay competitions, debates or group projects.
And don’t worry if you haven’t done any of these things…the Perfect Statement course will show you how to catch up fast. Next we’ll see how to structure the perfect topic paragraph!