Jun 14 2019

6 Mistakes that Will Ruin Your Personal Statement for Grad School

Adela Belin photo Adela Belin Content strategist and writer
Knowledge Cell

College is soon coming to an end. You thought grappling with those essays, projects and assignments was tough till suddenly one day, you are asked to justify everything you have done so far, explain your professional goals and prove that you are worth being part of an esteemed institution.

The grad school applications have begun and one of the most important elements of your application is the personal statement. We agree, the thought can be daunting because it might be something you have not done before.

While GPA and competitive exam scores are metrics the admissions committee looks into, it is the personal statement that gives them an insight into your personality and helps them decide whether you are a good fit for the program and school.

Here is What to AVOID while Working on Your Graduation School Personal Statement

Original: SourceGiven the umpteen number of personal statements the admissions board reads in a day, you need to ensure you submit a stellar one that catches their attention. Here are 6 common mistakes you should AVOID while writing your personal statement for grad school:

#1: Generic Statements

  • “I am sincere, dedicated and hard-working”
  • “I enjoy reading”
  • I love psychology and want to understand people better”

If any of these statements or the likes of them feature in your personal statement, you need to revisit them because they are too generic and mean nothing to the person reading your essay.

There is no place for vagueness here. You need to back every statement you make with strong real-life examples and experiences.

It’s not enough to “love psychology” and “want to understand people better”. Instead, you can strengthen this statement by adding what made you want to understand people better - what was it that triggered this emotion in you which led to you opting for psychology?

Remember – the key is in the details. So, always justify your statements with examples – it brings out your uniqueness.

#2: Exceeding the Word Limit

If there is no word limit specified and you are wondering how long your grad school personal statement should be, it should ideally be between 500 – 700 words.

While you might be tempted to include too much in the personal statement in the attempt to show yourself in good light, remember that this is a grave mistake. You need to choose your strongest points and connect it to what is relevant to the program and grad school you are applying to.

Pick two or three personal stories that throws light on your personality, motivations, ambitions and values. A focused personal statement is more appreciated than one that says a lot yet reveals nothing.

#3: Repeating your Resume

Considering that most grad school applications require applicants to submit their resume along with other essential documents, imagine the reader’s plight if he/she has to read a personal statement that is nothing but a repetition of a resume.

Personal statements are not meant to be a summary of your resume. Instead, highlight a few strong points from your resume and elaborate on them with the help of anecdotes. Use this space to say something different that will let the reader get to know you better.

#4: Playing the Sympathy Card

Talking about your weaknesses is as important as highlighting your strengths. However, the key to addressing weaknesses needs to be approached tactfully.

Addressing shortcomings shows vulnerability and self-awareness. The idea is to explain how certain roadblocks or challenges shaped you and added value to your life. Instead of stressing on WHAT happened, talk more about HOW it impacted you.

While writing this section, a lot of students end up sharing sob stories and playing the sympathy card which is never a good idea.

#5: Trying Hard to Impress

If you think using long words and complicated theories will project you to be highly intelligent and do the trick, you are mistaken. Admissions officers can see through all these false claims and exaggerations.

Don’t write to impress. The best quality to retain while writing a personal statement for grad school is authenticity. Present the real ‘you’ because your individuality is what makes you unique.

So, be authentic and write in simple, clear language.

#6: Poor Writing

A very important element that often goes overlooked – your writing skills. This includes vocabulary, choice of words, sentence formation and use of grammar. Having exceptional writing skills is extremely important in order to convey your message well.

Your personal statement needs to be devoid of errors. So, however busy you are, don’t submit it without proofreading it a couple of times. It is also a good idea to get your friends and family to read it and get their perspective.


While these are technical mistakes students are prone to making, the biggest mistake is not asking for help you need it. If you are unsure about how to write an impressive personal statement or are not confident about your writing skills, understand that it is okay to ask for help.

Don’t risk your chances of getting accepted. Reach out Writers Per Hour and have us write you a strong personal statement for grad school that will get your application noticed. Our professional team of experts will work with you to understand your life experiences and guide you on what should be included in the statement.

With exemplary writing skills and the expertise required, we are well-equipped to deliver high quality personal statements that will make a great first impression.

last edit at Sep 22 2022