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How to Get ahead on Building your Personal Statement

When you’re staring at a blank page in front of you in five months’ time, with application deadlines looming, you’re going to look back at this winter/spring period and wish you’d started sooner with your Personal Statement! But how to get started? What things can you be doing now to make sure that, when it comes to writing the thing proper, you’ve got everything ready at your disposal to make the process as painless as possible.



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Read, Read, Read

Perhaps the most obvious, but still the most useful, piece of advice we can give you is to just keep reading as many books as possible in relation to your subject. If you’re struggling to think of materials, head to the university or course webpage - perhaps they have a freshers’ reading list or some recommended readings for applicants that could help you get started? In addition, think about what you’ve read in previous books and pursue further works that focus on specific areas or topics that you’ve found interesting. Why not look at the reference list of any books you’ve read (if they have them) for other books that you might be interested in? The key to getting ahead in your wider subject knowledge, and therefore for writing a well-rounded personal statement, is to read as much outside of your school course as much as possible. If you need more advice on reading during your school breaks, check out our blog on summer reading.

Not a Big Reader? No Problem!

Okay, perhaps this is misleading - you will have to do at least some reading. But, if you’re finding it a struggle, you can always pad out some key readings with other media that might keep you entertained*. Films, blogs, audiobooks, documentaries, podcasts, exhibitions, music… the list goes on! Think about any and every avenue that you are interested in regardless, and then see if you can find content relevant to your subject in that arena.

*If you are finding reading academic sources particularly difficult, we do recommend that you work on this as well as looking at other resources (rather than just ignoring reading altogether). Try out some of the advice in our article on how to read difficult texts and see if that helps make it a little easier!

Read/Watch/Listen Actively

Reading lots of books, watching lots of documentaries, and listening to lots of podcasts (or whatever media you choose to consume) make sure that you’re not just letting it go in one ear and out the other. Remember that everything you’re using for research, whether it’s strictly academic or not, is with the aim of writing about it and discussing it in an academic way - so make sure that you can analyse and pick out points that you can learn from or apply academic parameters to from each one of your sources. The key thing that you are trying to show with these sources is that you are capable of reading/watching/listening to something and gleaning something about your subject or topic (be that facts, ideas, or inspiration) from it.


Keep Track of your Progress 

What’s the point consuming all of these sources, thinking about them academically, and getting new ideas from them if you then just forget everything you have learned? A good habit to get in right from the start of your research journey is to keep a diary (either physical in the form of a notepad or digital in a word document or spreadsheet) of everything you have been reading and the things you’ve learned from them/key ideas you’ve got whilst reading. This can make it much easier to collect your thoughts when the time comes in a couple of months to look back on what you have read and the ideas you have taken from it.


Personal Statement Support and Private Consultations

If you’re struggling to plan your approach to the personal statement and are looking for expert tips, advice, or personalised guidance, why not get in touch with a member of our consultancy team on +44 (0) 20 7499 2394 or via email at [email protected] for advice or information on our Personal Statement packages.

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