Personal statement structure: body paragraphs

Body paragraphs make the greatest part of your personal statement with between two and four main paragraphs that expand on one of the main points tied to your theme and to the primary question provided by the University. Each paragraph provides a way to expand on a particular point through a topic sentence for every body paragraph that serves to introduce an idea and transition from the previous idea.

From there, you will develop the ideas that are introduced in the topic sentence and support the personal statement theme. Lastly, the ending sentence for each body paragraph of your personal statement summarises and wraps up the ideas and helps to transition to the next body paragraph or the concluding paragraph.

In the first body paragraph that follows the introductory paragraph should start with the smallest facets of your personal statement theme and build toward the most significant facets to be introduced in the last body paragraph. This will make the greatest impact on the reader. Another way to organise the body paragraphs in a personal statement is to arrange the information in chronological order to tell your story. The method you choose depends on the question, the information you have to use, and the decision as to which would make for the most persuasive and impactful effect of the reader.

Just remember when creating your transitions between the body paragraphs to not resort to simplistic tactics, such as using “first,” “second,” and “third” as openers. Instead, elevate your writing standards by using more sophisticated transitions that illustrate your ability to be creative and unique as a reflection of your individual capabilities.

This is the prime section to illustrate how you are different than everyone else. Here are some ideas to focus on how you can use your writing to differentiate yourself :

  • Offer personal stories that illustrate your social, political, or religious commitment or interest in others in terms of how you have helped other people overcome problems or barriers.
  • Talk about how you developed admirable skills tied to the University’s list of character traits that they tend to look for, including  interpersonal skills, self-confidence, creativity, intellectual curiosity, integrity, initiative and maturity just to name a few.
  • Illustrate how your individual personality and skills could further diversify the University population, including stories about your family, heritage, role models, travels or even a learning disability.

Although it may not be the kind of differentiating factor that you would like to note, you can turn deficiencies, blemishes, and gaps in your history into a positive by providing an explanation and showing how you learned from these mistakes and become a standout applicant for that reason. These negatives might include everything from a criminal record, poor grades and scores, lack of work experience or community involvement, gaps in education or employment history or disciplinary action by another school.

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