Step 3) Building Paragraphs

A personal statement usually has between three and five paragraphs. Each paragraph has a main idea that is supported by specific details. 

If your main idea is that you have been inspired to apply for the course by talks and lectures you have listened to, your claim (that you have been inspired) will be backed by the names of the speakers and their talks, and at least one example of an inspiring point that was made in each talk. Simply stating names, or name dropping, proves nothing, so always supply the specific details. 

Here is how a paragraph in a real personal statement was built up from a mind map bubble. The students main idea was that interest in the course had been generated by reading books about the subject. The mind map bubble for books contained these works and authors:

  • "Voices of the Civil War" Anthology 
  • "Battle Cry of Freedom" by James McPherson
  • "May 1865" by Jay Winik

And here is the finished paragraph that shows how the main idea is backed up by the names and precise details. 

"I have loved history since I first read a book set in the past. My voracious reading of history includes many areas outside of the A-level syllabus. The American Civil War is a particular enthusiasm. The different motives behind this war are exceptionally intriguing. They are well illustrated in the compilation "Voices of the Civil War", but especially enlightening is James McPherson's "Battle Cry of Freedom" as it combines a works eye perspective with a cohesive overview. More recently, reading Jay Winik's "May 1865" game me an insight into the facility of the fledgling American nation and the difficulties of post-war reconstruction." 

 

UCAS Personal Statements – Building Paragraphs

Example paragraphs