Step 5) Things to avoid

Draw attention to yourself but don't boast

Remember that self-praise is no praise. Not only can it sound arrogant, but it is less powerful than when it comes from others. 

TOP TIP: Remind your referee (your tutor) that you are remarkable in many ways and ask them to include these facts in your reference. You should write your tutor a list of bullet points (your bgar sheet) for possible inclusion in the reference, and if the list is presented politely as a series of suggestions (rather than a set of demands) they will be delighted to have some of the hard work of researching and drafting a reference done for them. 

Words to avoid

Psychologists and admissions exerts at the University of Hertfordshire (2005) have found that specific words and phrases can damage chances of acceptance. 

As you can see, the top 10 words to exclude either sound exaggerated or negative: 

  1. always 
  2. fault
  3. never
  4. hate
  5. nothing
  6. mistake
  7. awful
  8. panic
  9. bad
  10. problems

Never, ever, ever...

Everyone has someone in their life, possibly a sports coach, teacher, friend or parent who loves sarcastic, passive aggressive, barbed modes of communication. One persons sense of humour is another persons sarcasm. There is no room for funny comments or sarcasm in your personal statement.

It might make your personal statement stand out for the wrong reason.

Here is a short list from the University of Glasgow archive: 

  • "My ambitions include learning to sky dive, becoming fantastically rich as well as improving my A-level grades."
  • "At school I held the position of Head Bog."
  • "I'm training a pet rat and have recently become interested in reading." 
  • "I also enjoy driving, especially off the road."
  • "I have many interests, both interlectural and social." 

First, second, third and fourth draft of your personal statement

Make sure you show your personal statement to at least two or three other people, including; 

  • A subject teacher linked to the degree you are applying to
  • Your tutor
  • Your House Parent
  • Your parent(s) or guardian(s) 

and listen to the feedback you get.