How to Write a Personal Statement:

A Step-by-Step Guide

Writing a personal statement for can be a daunting task. In a page or two, it is your opportunity to showcase yourself — and so much depends upon it!

To help you succeed, we’ve outlined a step-by-step process for writing a personal statement. Just remember to BOOKMARK this page and return whenever you need help!

Step 1: Understand the Purpose

Before you begin writing, determine the purpose of your personal statement. In most cases, the essay is used to communicate your motivation, fit, and potential. Your personal statement should reflect your passion for the field, relevant experiences, and career goals. Keep all of that in mind as you get started.

Step 2: Research the Program or Job

Each application is unique, so you must tailor your personal statement. In other words, you should write a new version of the personal statement for each application. Of course, you can have a similar starting point, but then you should modify accordingly for each application.

For a graduate school application, research the faculty, curriculum, and specializations offered by the program. Highlight how these align with your interests and goals, demonstrating that you are a well-informed and enthusiastic candidate. It is often a good idea to name a specific person that you’d like to study under and why — demonstrating that you genuinely know what they have published. Lastly, remember that each school is looking out for their best interests, so show how you will contribute to the student body and community.

For a job application, check out the company or organizational website. Review the mission statement, and integrate that into what you write. (Note: You don’t need to quote it directly, but try to capture the essential ideas.) Then you can observe key themes, terms, or ideas that the company emphasizes. Use those as well, since you’ll seem like a better fit and will then be a more appealing candidate. 

Step 3: Reflect on Your Experiences

Take some time to reflect on your academic, professional, and personal experiences that have prepared you for the next step, whether than be graduate school or a new job. Consider the challenges you’ve overcome, the skills you’ve developed, and the accomplishments you’re proud of. Select experiences that are most relevant to the program and that showcase your strengths and growth. 

The key here is to be very, very specific. Ideally, use details that will give your story more veracity. For example, if you led a summer camp with 7 kids, it is better to say the amount than to not. Do not “cover” yourself with vagueness, since that will do more harm than good. By specifying very clearly, your experience will be more believable.

Step 4: Outline Your Ideas

An outline will help you organize your thoughts and ensure your personal statement has a clear structure. In editing countless personal statements, we’ve found that writers struggle here a lot; many applicants will be intelligent and talented, but only some will communicate that in a structured, clear, comprehensible manner. 

A typical outline includes:

  1. Introduction: A strong opening that grabs the reader’s attention and introduces your main theme.
  2. Educational Background: A summary of your academic journey, highlighting relevant coursework, research, and achievements. (This is especially important when you are applying to graduate school.)
  3. Professional Experience: An overview of your work experience, internships, or volunteer activities that relate to your field of study.
  4. Career Goals: A clear statement of your long-term career aspirations and how the graduate program will help you achieve them.
  5. Conclusion: A compelling closing that reinforces your enthusiasm for the program or job, which is customary and will leave a positive lasting impression.

Step 5: Write the First Draft

Using your outline as a guide, start writing your first draft. Focus on being clear and concise, and avoid using overly complex language. Be honest and authentic, allowing your personality to shine through. Do not worry about imperfections or shortcomings; instead, you want to show how you overcame those. The goal is to tell your unique story and explain why you’re a great fit. 

Step 6: Seek Feedback

Once you have a draft, it’s essential to seek feedback. Working with a professional editor like PaperBlazer can make a significant difference. Professional editors specialize in providing individualized feedback and can help you refine your personal statement to ensure it’s polished and impactful. Keep in mind that your “competition” is often getting feedback, so if you want a level playing field, it is important not to skip this step. In some unique cases, a parent might be able to do this, but for the great majority, you’ll want to connect with a professional.

Note: Graduate schools and employers understand that applicants will seek feedback from others. They are ultimately looking for your ideas and personal character, and they recognize that refining your writing is part of the process. In fact, they often expect that your personal statement will be reviewed and improved with external input.

Step 7: Review and Edit

Based on the feedback you receive, revise your personal statement. Focus on improving clarity, coherence, and flow. Ensure that your narrative is compelling and that your key points are well-supported with examples. Pay attention to grammar, punctuation, and formatting to ensure a professional presentation. Here again PaperBlazer will help during this process; we check the grammar for you and provide helpful suggestions.

Step 8: Finalize Your Statement

After multiple rounds of revisions, your personal statement should be nearing completion. Review it one last time to ensure it meets all the application requirements. Confirm that it adheres to any word or page limits set by the program.


Writing a personal statement is a significant step in your journey. By writing carefully and working with a professional editor, such as PaperBlazer, you can create a powerful, persuasive personal statement. Invest in this document so it showcases your strengths and potential. The key is to be authentic, focused, and reflective — demonstrating your readiness and promise

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