You’ve worked hard to get this far – well done! Make sure you don’t fall at the final hurdle
You may have been the only person so far to have read what has been written so far. Staring at the same piece for too long can make it much harder to spot mistakes as mentally you are used to them and your mind simply skips over them.
Find as many people who are willing and trustworthy to look over your draft, this might include showing them the exercises you have completed to see if they would have done anything differently.
We have already covered techniques to keep the character limit under 4,000. The linking exercise Prioritising Experiences is designed to group ideas that you want to portray in a succinct way that limits the amount of interesting information lost. The third exercise can sometimes inadvertently introduce phrases of speech or quirks of language which add no new information.
For example ‘After completing my GCSEs I then went on to gain my Grade 5 Piano that summer before performing a recital at my local church’ is descriptive but wasteful.
‘I have performed at my local church after gaining my Grade 5 in Piano’ gives as much useful information but wastes a lot less space with unnecessary description. In fact is only takes up 60% of the character space of the original. This needless story spread over the whole statement could waste around 1,400 characters out of 4,000.
Wasting space inherently makes your personal statement less interesting to read and by definition will leave out other important information you could be telling the reader.
If you find you are still struggling it can help to look at each sentence one by one and ask a few questions of each.
Does this sentence explicitly tell the reader something useful?
Does it simply restate something already said or clearly implied elsewhere?
If it is a supporting statement, can it be removed from the paragraph and still leave the point made clear and understandable?
Don’t forget the basics, especially spelling mistakes that aren’t picked up by a spell checker. Remember that you are applying for a UK university! Don’t let all those ‘Zs’ through that should be an ‘S’. If you have Word or a similar program set to Eng US you will autocorrect words like ‘analyse’ to ‘analyze’.
Leaving these in will seem like very lazy work. As you should already know spellcheckers can also miss contextual errors, such as writing ‘their’ or ‘they’re’ instead of ‘there’. In other words, check your spelling manually, don’t rely on technology!
As previously covered, try to speak concisely and to the point. Use of the active voice is more confident and will reassure the reader that you know what you are talking about. As with spelling, spell checkers will not catch all grammar mistakes. Make sure you read through this guide again concentrating on Chapters 4 to 6 if you feel your grammar is not up to scratch.
Despite writing in three distinct sections and working your way from bullet points to prose you will want the end result to read in a seamless fashion. An essay which leads clearly from one section to the other and is interconnected will be easier to follow and crucially will be better remembered by the reader as it represents a coherent story. A telltale sign of rushed work is an essay made up of bullet points that are simply crushed into paragraphs so that they look like prose. This stuttery way of speaking will stand out and leave readers unimpressed.
Regardless of which course you attend at university you will inevitably be writing papers and instructing others. In essence you will need your teachers and peers to effortlessly understand what you are saying.
Your application is in fact the only direct indication that the university will have regarding your communication, empathy and writing skills; abilities that are clearly core to your overall future medical career.
Make sure you enlist family and friends to read your completed work. If the same question is raised repeatedly you can be sure the admissions team will be asking the same one.
Writing your personal statement for university is a marathon, not a race. The winning prize definitely goes to those who plan ahead and write multiple drafts. With that being said, go back to the start of this workbook once you have pulled together your first draft to make sure you are writing with the tone and voice of a future uni student!
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