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Different personal statement formats
Subheadings and bullets or Essay style? I was just wondering what format you all used for your personal statement.

I assumed that it had to be in essay format, but after having my essay critiqued, I was told that subheadings and bullet format was also used by some.

I hadn't even thought about the latter format. This format (subheadings and bullets) can display tons of information and is easy to read. I guess I'm just worried about being informal. Maybe a combination of both would be best?

Just curious as to what others used. Do you have any suggestions?
Out of all the personal statements i have seen, i have never seen bullet point style used, or subheadings. If you've had an essay style critiqued, that may be understandable because you have to keep in mind that the space you have to write your statement is severly limited, and full on essay style is preferred for long, more in depth discussions. You don't have time to write in depth, you need to get your points across clearly and quickly. But bullet pointing is just the other end of the scale; it's too short and snappy, and i would advise against it, because it makes you look like you are incapable of writing in a flowing manner.

So, you need to get your points across quickly and clearly, yet you need it to flow! Always easier said than done. The tactic here is PARAGRAPHS. You need to divide your statement into at least 3 paragraphs. If you are applying by paper application, leave a small space between each paragraph. If you are applying via the website (which i strongly recommend, it makes life so much easier), you don't want to leave a line between paragraphs, because it wastes space - instead use an indent (just hit the space bar 3 times, that will do).

Now the advantage of paragraphing is that you can make each one sort of lie under it's own subheading, without actually writing the subheading at all. For example, the first paragraph should be "Why i like my subject". You dont start with "I like my subject because...", you talk about something interesting within your subject (see the various guides on this website). Your second paragraph can then be something like "why i am keen to continue studying" - once again, you only subconciously suggest that by talking about all the extra books you've read and extra stuff you've done involved with your subject. The next paragraph might be "My other interests". You see, you're getting the idea. A final paragraph should only be 2 or 3 lines and should be subconciously titled "why you should pick me" - sum it up in only a few words.

formal is good, but not too formal, it just gets heavy. It needs to give off a relaxed tone, almost as if you were talking to them directly.

hope that helps a little!
Personally I've never seen a personal statement that uses bullet points or headings. They seem a nice way to get points across quickly and concisely but it's my opinion they don't really give you a feel of the person who's written the statement, unlike an essay where you can tell a lot about a person from thier writing style.

If anyones written a statement with bullet points or headings i would be interested to read it and know where they were accepted to.
Quote:If anyones written a statement with bullet points or headings i
would be interested to read it and know where they were accepted to.

I did. I only applied to one place (Graduate entry scheme at Swansea) and was interviewed and offered a place. I'm not sure it is appropriate for me to share my ps with others who are in the process of applying.

This is only my opinion, but I don't think admissions tutors are looking necessarily to 'get a feel' of the person. It is important (and will become more important throughout your career as a doctor) to put across information in a succinct manner, particularly as admissions tutors will have lots of forms to read and decide who to short list. Shortlisting is usually carried out according to scoring on certain criteria, so to get the maximum 'points', you need to make sure all the pertinent information is clearly stated. That said, you can still get a good idea of the person from a ps that is not written in an essay

I think the style of the ps needs to suit you. I write a lot of reports and papers for my current job but if you are not used to that style of writing, you might find it easier to take an essay style approach.

I hope that this is helpful.

Jools, you make some interesting points. I agree it's important to get the relevent information over as efficiently as possible, which bulletpoints certainly achives, though I think essay style gives you an extra edge.

I can't see how you could easily display emotions such your enthusiam for a particular subject usig bulletpoints without your statment sounding like a shopping list. Also with bullet points, things like your sentance structure are going to be constrained.

Personlly I think using an essay style will get across far more information to the admissions tutors than writing in any other form. This may not always be a good thing, eg if you have a different sense of humour / different politics to your admissions tutor, but with the amount of competition for many universities these days, you need every advantage you can get.

Just a couple of other points:
1. With the majority of ps's in essay style - a bullet pointed statement will stand out
2. Don't listen to me - if you think you can do your statement best will bullet points then do!
I think I need to clarify (maybe my writing is anot a concise as I think Wink ).

I didn't write my whole PS in bullet points, rather used them where appropriate (mainly around my work experience, what I did and when - being a mature student I had a fair bit to get in). I did use prose for the rest, but I wouldn't say it was 'essay style', more 'report style'. I would define the difference between the two as the type of language used. Essay style tends to be more 'flowery' and descriptive, where as report style in more factual and concise.

Headings are useful to define sections of your PS, becuase you don't have to waste space with 'link sentences'. My point was that you shouldn't be afraid to use a style that best suits the information you are trying to get across. There is no 'correct' style, as there is no perfect PS, but it needs to be easy for the reader to determine whether you are someone they are interested in.

I think it is important, as bleufaerie and others have stated, you need to view your PS from the perspective of the reader and not just ask 'have I sold myself well enough?'. When you have written each sentence, ask yourself 'so what?'. If you can't produce an answer that says the sentence adds further weight to your argument that they should offer you an interview at least then you need to consider if that sentence needs to be there.

Not sure if I have clarified or complicated things...


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