PERSONAL STATEMENT: How do I rewrite my draft?

So you have finally written the first draft of your personal statement. How do you go about rewriting it? Here are several tips to consider as you rewrite your statement:

  1. Have I addressed all the questions asked in the scholarship essay or personal statement prompt?
    • Look through the prompt of the scholarship essay. If the prompt asks you to state why you want to study in a particular university, ask yourself whether you have addressed that question.
    • Scholarship essay reviewers often have a rubric that they use to assess your statement. The easiest way to make sure you meet all the requirements is to make sure that you have addressed all the prompts.

  2. Have I received any feedback from friends or family?
    • I highly encourage you to share your personal statement with at least 2 other people who can give you feedback on what you’ve written. Make sure you tell them what the scholarship is looking for so that they can be a second eye for you. They can help to identify typos or even assumptions that you may have made in your writing.
    • After you receive feedback, you should review whether the feedback fits or not. Not every advice you receive will always be useful, but it will help you get better clarity about your work.

  3. Do my paragraphs flow together?
    • You want your scholarship reviewer to start reading your essay and be drawn into everything that you are sharing. Make sure that your paragraphs flow together.
    • Using transitions is key to helping you write a good essay that hangs well together. Words and phrases such as in addition to, also, apart from, as a result, are all helpful in signaling how your ideas relate to one another. Your essay is not a list answering the prompt, but a story that makes an argument about why you are a great candidate for the scholarship.

  4. Have I phrased this sentence in the best way possible?
    • When you write your first draft, the goal is to just get words on paper. Write as much as you can. Write as many ideas as possible. However, rewriting is a time for you to go back and ask whether you have phrased your sentences in the best way you can.
    • One thing that we often lapse into using is the passive voice when the best choice is the active voice. Consider these two sentences:
      • The program to help grade one students learn about coding was started by me.
      • I started a program to help grade one students learn about coding.
    • The first sentence is passive, and the verb appears close to the end of the sentence. As a general English rule, the closer the verb, the easier the comprehension. The second sentence reads much better, as we are able to see what the subject is doing right from the start. So as much as possible, stick to using the active voice.

  5. Have I made any other obvious grammatical errors?
    • Rewriting is a time for you to look through any common grammatical errors you might have made. Did you write it’s instead of its? Did you use I instead of me?
    • The easiest way to check for grammatical errors is to print out your essay. Reading through a printed version helps you to spot errors faster. Additionally, reading out loud will help you get a better sense of whether the sentence “sounds okay.”

All the best rewriting your personal statement! Remember, writing is rewriting.

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