Writing a good personal statement is crucial for encapsulating your qualities and skills as a prospective law student. You need to be concise and provide concrete examples.
Here are some tips to crafting a personal statement.
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Find a structure that works for you.
A general approach would be different paragraphs branching out from why you want to study law and your achievements and relevant work experience. It works best as compared to purely anecdotal personal statements, which risk digressing.
Be clear with your sentences.
Every word should be weighed in comparison with other alternatives, but try not to use bigger words just for the sake of it. Every paragraph should have a clear function.
Concrete examples are crucial, as they aid in supporting your claims.
Include all relevant scholarships, work experiences and experiences with the law. Try to ensure they are personalised by including what you learnt and the skills you have gained. This aids in distinguishing your personal statement from others.
Quotes can be useful when used appropriately. For example, it is advised to quote prominent scholars or judges as they provide insight into what the law entails.
Of course, be wise as to which quote you use as you have to explain why you used it and how it links to your desire to study law. Lifting quotes simply to impress will not impress.
Perhaps think about why you hope to study law and look at the writing of famous judgments or books of renowned judges. This includes Lord Tom Bingham and The Rule of Law or the biographies of renowned scholars such as Nicola Lacey’s A Life of HLA Hart.
Phrasing concise opinions is crucial in law, and you can show you’re able to adapt to this in your personal statement. It subtly showcases your summary skills.
At best, it reflects your firm grasp of the language. Less is more in this regard. Having short sentences as illustrated here conveys a clear, succinct message, which can sometimes allow for an easier read.
Remember: university admission tutors trawl through countless personal statements. 50 word sentences simply do not help.
Be confident in your claims. A personal statement involves you selling your qualities to the university. Therefore, you should try and avoid indecisive phrases such as ‘I believe’ or ‘I think’.
Before starting on your personal statement, read and write. A lot. This helps in crafting a personal statement.
Reading widely helps with adducing examples for why you have chosen to study law. Writing helps with perspective and structure.
Never submit the first personal statement you write. Flaws are bound to exist, so work and re-work the drafts. Get friends to proof read and re-work what you’ve already written. Never assume that while it sounds right, that it’s perfect. Polished personal statements will only add shine to your glossy academic results.
Try to allocate one idea per paragraph, as repeating yourself reflects poor planning.
Sometimes you can reuse the same example for different reasons to study law. For instance, pro bono may justify your aspirations to study law. It can also shows your desire to help others.
Be clear from the onset of each paragraph to avoid repeating your example.
Law is not studied in a vacuum. You can show your awareness of this by reflecting the skills you can gain from studying law and how these skills can be adapted to changes in the law and in the world.
A personal statement can be daunting to craft. However, with practice and multiple drafts, they can be polished. Having an experienced friend proofread your drafts is ideal.
While being concise is vital, do not restrain yourself in expression. Be creative but not excessive. All the best!
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Author: Edwin Teong Ying Keat
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