This article contains a short guide on how to edit your personal statement and create tension and suspense within your writing. For most potential students there are some clear reasons why they wish to embark on university. Writing the personal statement for university submissions is one of the most difficult, daunting tasks for any potential student. This article will offer insight into how you should build up tension and suspense and how to edit your personal statement – which is one area where students tend to overlook.
It is often said that personal statements are often autobiographical. This may well be true, because a wise maxim is “write about what you know.” And, if there is one thing we all know more about than anything else it is our own lives. Often students only write about the reasons why they wish to embark on a particular university course and many personal statements lack emotion, suspense, and tension. However, in a work of fact, emotion, is a key ingredient in successful personal statements. And, while students life’s may differ considerably from one other, we will each have known the full gamut of emotions. It is important when writing your personal statement that you convey a sense of place to your reader and the way to do that is with the five senses sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. It is all too easy to forget that scenes, which are indelibly etched on your own mind, will not be equally clear in the reader’s unless you make them so by your writing.
Tension is one of the second most important elements in writing, closely allied to suspense – the “what happens next” ingredient. The problem for many students is to try to condense the personal statement into 600 words. Obviously, the admission officer knows you only have this limited space, but nonetheless does judge you on the four minutes it takes to read your personal statement, if your personal statement includes tension and suspense – it is sure to be a winner. The secret to a good personal statement is not to give away too much to quickly, keep us guessing, hanging onto every word, thus building up tension and suspense. In order for there to be tension in your personal statement, there must be (or have been) something important at stake. Perhaps this was your family life or what you believe is your future. Perhaps the reason why you chose the course you wish to study. Whatever it is, by not divulging the outcome too soon, you will maintain the reader’s interest for that much longer. The following personal statement starts with a powerful suspense filling introduction:
“The prospect of helping people has driven me to fulfil many goals in life and this is truly my dream. Although it is great to have ambitions – I now want to translate my goals into reality. Becoming a nurse is a natural extension of my interest in medicine. Following graduation, I found myself advising investment bankers on the stock exchange, secretly desiring the opportunity of helping others overcome illness and promote health.”
In this personal statement introduction the reader is captured by the reason why they chose to become an investment banker. The author of this piece has demonstrated a powerful introduction, the style is simple, straightforward narrative. This personal statement will surely provide a valuable insight as to why she wishes to become a nurse.
In order for there to be tension in your personal statement, it will help to describe a highly charged incident, part of a particularly difficult period in your life. Whatever it was, you will maintain your reader’s interest for that much longer. The example below shows perfect tension and suspense build up:
“When the airmail letter arrived bearing an American stamp, I knew immediately, it was from my university with my degree results, and I tore it open as excitedly as if it were a birthday present. With trembling fingers, I took out the sheets of thin blue paper – and my heart started to pound as I began to read.”
Remember that tension, like all techniques, is merely another tool for making your writing more vivid and interesting to read. However, if you do use it, you must make it clear to your readers that the events you are describing have some relation to your study topic. If not, they will be confused, will have to re-read to make sense of it and may end up feeling irritated enough to stop reading.
The words and phases often used to build up tension include: intimidated; heart pounded; ferocity. Thus, tension and suspense is built up so that metaphorically, we hold out breath impelled to read on to find out “what happens next.”
How to edit your personal statement for university submission
When you’ve finished the actual writing, what do you do? Well, for a start, don’t be in a hurry to send off your personal statement before checking it. Few, if any, experienced writers never need to revise their work. Some do as they proceed but most will get their first Personal Statement draft down on paper without worrying too much how it’s written, and then, when it’s finished, go over it, pruning, polishing and tightening the general content. Therefore, this section is about how to edit the personal statement. It is advisable to check the following:
oThat you haven’t been over-lavish with adjectives and adverbs. If you find you have, customer some of the former and, where possible, exchange the latter for stronger verbs.
oThreat you haven’t used clichés or hackneyed phrases bit have found fresh images always of describing yourself in the best possible light.
oMake sure you haven’t constantly used the same word in the same paragraph. This can be very irritating to the admissions officer and it only needs a little more thought to re-word or, very often, it can be omitted without affecting the sense. A thesaurus is useful for finding alternative words.
oMake sure your spelling and grammar and impeccable. If in doubt, consult a dictionary and/ or grammar book or ask someone whose knowledge of English your trust to read this through for you. Alternatively, send your personal statement to Get Into Uni Oxbridge editors http://www.getintouni.com who will edit this for you – to perfection.
oMake sure you haven’t used over long, unwieldy sentences or paragraphs. If you have you must break these up.
oThat you’ve started your personal statement with a powerful introduction so this captures your reader’s attention – straight away.
oThat your structure is easy to follow and that each sentence hooks into the next line.
oThat you finish with your future career goals.
A key advantage is to use a professional to edit and improve your personal statement. If, however you are working in isolation and do not have that advantage, be wary of allowing family or friends to read and comment on it. For one thing, an outside will be objective and critical: they may be full of praise or go to the other extreme so far as style, at least, is concerned.
Long before you have reached the point of revision, however, it is important that you personal statement is intended as a selling tool for you to gain entry to your chosen university. If you wish to interest the reader it is important that you are your own critic. You will need to prune and polish, check grammar and spelling, take another look at your style: in fact, you may need to re-write your first few sentences to ensure your personal statement is powerful and will capture your readers attention instantly. A great way to help with this is to read sample personal statements these samples will give you a clear idea of how you may improve your opening.
Get Into Uni offers students personal statement editing and tips on how you can get an edge over the competition when applying for university. The website includes sample personal statements, a free writing guide, and lots of information to aid you in writing the personal statement.
Your personal statement is crucial to your application. Planning your personal statement is therefore your fist step to success. Gain competitive advantage and order the best editing service on the web.
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