Good personal statement openings are crucial when it comes to engaging admissions tutors.
But in the process of writing your personal statement, you might realise that you’re repeating the words you use in your opening sentences and paragraphs.
This lack of variety can lead to a sense of monotony in tone and content, alienating the reader.
But don’t worry!
There are several sentence starters you can use that won’t leave your personal statement sounding stilted or unnatural and that will help your personal statement stand out.
Here’s an expert guide to using effective sentence starters to improve your personal statement…
Personal statement sentence starters fall into three specific categories. Introductions, comparisons and conclusions are effective ways to start paragraphs. Use connections, additions and relationships when developing content. Starters relating to the presentation of ideas work well throughout.
From sixth-form personal statement sentence starters to postgraduate applications, you’ll discover specific examples of each of these personal statement sentence starter categories in the sections below…
Introduction, Comparison and Conclusion Starters
Having a practical understanding of personal statement sentence starters in this category is extremely valuable if you want to achieve greater variety and originality in your writing.
Introducing a new point or topic can become repetitive quickly; how many times have you written “I also” or “as a result”?
Avoiding these common phrases can add depth to your statement, but also encourage the reader to view you as an informed and versatile candidate.
As Mary Curnock Cook, a former UCAS Chief Executive states:
“The personal statement is supposed to be personal. Learning to write about yourself in a compelling way is a vital skill when applying for jobs; using hackneyed phrases is not the best way to stand out.”Mary Curnock Cook
Have you ever felt the need to write the kind of overused opening sentences that start with “At a young age..?”
If so, here are some introductory personal statement openings that will add to the compelling quality of your writing, without making it sound as though you’ve plucked words from a dictionary:
|The definition of…||It is thought that…||My experience of…||I justified my…|
|The key aspects…||It has always…||Engaging with…||Having analysed…|
|The central theme…||I have researched…||In advance of…||My understanding of…|
If you can make good use of comparative sentence starters, your writing will be increasingly concise, your points will be made with greater precision and you will be more likely to meet the word or character limit.
Here are some effective examples:
|Similarly…||Conversely…||However…||In opposition to…|
|While this is the case…||In response I…||When set against…||As a reaction to…|
|In contrast to…||My previous experience…||By comparison…||Although the…|
What follows are some excellent ways in which to start a concluding sentence or paragraph.
Remember that your aim is not to repeat previous content, but to use the opportunity to lead into the next paragraph or topic:
|It has been proven that…||Applying my practical experience…||I believe that this research…||The values of…|
|As a consequence…||My volunteering experience has…||My high level of engagement in…||It is my ambition to…|
|This experience illustrated…||In conclusion…||As a committed student…||Having successfully…|
Connection, Addition and Relationship Starters
Once you’ve begun writing about a specific point or topic, you’ll find you need to connect one idea with another in order to make a concise or compelling point.
This connection can be challenging, as very quickly you might start to use a limited range of vocabulary such as “also” or “along with” or “as well as”.
These are the kinds of words that applicants use frequently, and they can indicate a lack of breadth, vocabulary or research in the mind of an admissions tutor.
Unoriginal vocabulary can also lead to your personal statement being rejected, or even to your entire application being refused, in the case of plagiarism.
According to Carly Minsky at timeshighereducation.com these are some of the most overused phrases featured in UCAS personal statements, so do make sure you don’t repeat them.
Below are some excellent suggestions for connecting or adding phrases, concepts or ideas in your personal statement:
|Specifically…||As an example…||Subsequently…||In opposition to…|
|To illustrate…||Of equal importance to…||To elaborate…||As a response to…|
|In addition to…||Furthermore…||By definition…||To counter this I…|
|By definition…||Equally…||Inspired by…||To compliment my…|
It can be vitally important to effectively illustrate the relationship between an experience or piece of knowledge that you hold and the demands of the course or role that you are applying for.
The focus of the reader needs to be on the content itself, not the words you use to compare or contrast it, and these personal statement sentence starters will help you achieve this, every time:
|The evidence suggests…||The correlation between…||This outcome shows that…||This research demonstrates my…|
|Considering this approach…||The effect of my…||Both experiences emphasise my…||The outcome of this internship…|
|It is apparent that…||The combined results of my…||The links I have developed between…||This qualification supports my…|
Now you’re feeling more confident about your vocabulary, you should get to grips with the right structure to use for your personal statement.
My Personal Statement Template eBook gives you 10 original templates to follow when you’re writing a personal statement, meaning you’re guaranteed to find the right structure for your application.
It’s packed full of useful advice and shows you exactly what content to include. You’ll also discover how many words or characters to use for each paragraph for maximum effect!
Perfect for UCAS undergraduate applications, Oxbridge and Medicine, master’s degrees and employment, my eBook also includes exclusive guidance for writing a perfect statement of purpose.
Click on the image below to discover how my eBook can help you write the perfect personal statement…
Sentence Starters for Presenting New Ideas
An important aspect of your personal statement is the presentation of new ideas and concepts that illustrate your understanding of the course topic.
You should also show that you can synthesise aspects of your prior experience and knowledge.
This can be a complex process to write about, so having dynamic and effective vocabulary to work with can be extremely valuable.
The table below gives you a selection of examples of the kinds of sentence starters you could use to introduce a new concept in a personal statement opening sentence:
|Seldom have I been…||The majority of…||As identified by…||Similarly, I…|
|I have further…||It is often presumed…||I challenged this by…||To better prepare for this application…|
|Having been inspired by…||Prior to my…||According to…||Additional research has revealed…|
It’s worth noting that, generally speaking, new ideas and concepts should be contained within a specific paragraph. If you’re looking for advice on how to structure the paragraphs in your personal statement, check out my article here.
You may have noticed that I haven’t included a section in this post devoted to the kinds of sentence starters you shouldn’t use in your personal statement.
That’s because each personal statement is unique, and good sentence openers need to focus on different aspects of your experiences and ambitions. Try not to think about avoiding specific words or phrases and focus more on including content that best represents your ambitions!
If you really want some pointers on what not to include, Amy Davies has a great article on words you should never use in your personal statement over at whatuni.com.
If you want to focus on writing an amazing opening paragraph, then check out my post that tells you exactly how great first paragraphs are created!
If you’re just starting out, then this is the post for you…
Good luck with your personal statement, and don’t forget to contact me if you’d like some 1-1 support.
You’ve got this! D
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