Researching the positives and negatives from a range of examples of personal statements can be valuable when applying to a university or college course.
After all, personal statement examples can teach you how to write and structure your application, and you can quickly learn how to write a personal statement by examining others.
But with so many university personal statement examples available, how do you know if you’re reading a good one?
Postgraduate personal statements should highlight relevant academic and practical experience, research skills and ambitions and their suitability for the course. This postgraduate personal statement example for English clearly illustrates these three critical elements.
Studying master’s degree personal statement examples can be especially valuable. They’re sometimes referred to as personal mission statements or statements of purpose, so if you’re tasked with writing a personal mission statement, the following example will work for you.
I’ve broken down this personal statement example section by section, with a commentary on each element.
That way, you’ll see its strengths and weaknesses and get some inspiration for your own personal statement.
Once you’ve read the personal statement example and analysis, you can download a pdf of the whole document to use as inspiration for your own!
Postgraduate Personal Statement Example: English
Personal Statement Example: Introduction
“When I first started learning English, my goal was to become a native speaker with a clear understanding of its forms and functions. However, watching “The Adventure of English”, a documentary written by Melvyn Bragg and produced by the BBC, I began to develop a more scholarly interest in the historical origins, development and current state of the English language. It gave me an insight into how vast and valuable the world of language is, dramatically changing my perception and ambition. Instead of merely becoming a native speaker, I am now determined to develop my skills and knowledge of English as a linguist. I am confident that this MA in English Studies is the next step in my academic journey.”
My Commentary and Analysis
The writer begins this introduction convincingly. By establishing an initial goal related to the study of their subject, they can go on to illustrate how far they have come in their learning and show that they understand the level of research and academic depth needed at postgraduate level.
Similarly, by identifying an inspirational experience, they combine a motivational moment with some relevant terminology. This shows intention and knowledge, both of which work well at the start of a personal statement example.
They then affirm their new goal and take the positive step of indicating that the course they are applying for offers the logical next step for them to attain it.
In summary, this first paragraph gives the reader confidence in the applicant’s written and persuasive abilities and introduces their suitability in an effective way.
If you’re struggling with your personal statement introduction, check out my article on how to write perfect opening paragraphs here.
Personal Statement Example: Academic Background
“As an English major, I was rigorously trained in numerous aspects of the language through courses such as Introduction to English Linguistics, American Literature and Contrastive Linguistics. I have realised that linguistics is a ‘big picture’ discipline and that language is a carrier of culture, both as a tool of expression and a worldview. I developed a depth of knowledge and confidence in language analysis and contextual understanding as a result of my undergraduate studies, laying strong academic and practical foundations for this graduate course.
My interest led me to take Applied Linguistics, and I was particularly impressed by Selinker’s interlanguage hypothesis and the related process of fossilisation. Selinker uses this term, which refers to the tendency of many learners to stop developing their interlanguage grammar in the direction of the target language when analysing the phenomenon of a permanent halt in L2-learning progress. Through my studies of Selinker’s work, I understood that the concept of fossilisation is helpful when analysing the challenges faced by learners of English as a second language. As a result, I undertook independent research on second language acquisition, analysing the research experiments and methodologies applied by numerous scholars.”
My Commentary and Analysis
This section begins by outlining the relevancy and value of some aspects of the writer’s undergraduate study. As the courses taken have a direct application, this is an effective strategy, and explicit modules are referenced, each of which connects to the postgraduate course being applied for. The writer also illustrates their conceptual understanding of the role of linguistics in written culture in a thoughtful and sophisticated way, reiterating their academic and intellectual suitability for this kind of course.
The skills and knowledge developed as an undergraduate are again linked to their suitability for the new course of study, which is a convincing strategy for engaging and convincing the reader.
The section half of this section reveals experience and understanding of the value of research in academic work, and the writer references some complex analytical approaches. They also discuss the value of this research and consider how it encouraged them to delve further into the subject. Not only does this show an inquiring mind and the capacity for deeper research, but it also indicates that this student will probably replicate this approach in the course they are applying for, which is exactly what an admissions reader wants to see.
If you’d like to learn more about how to structure your personal statement or statement of purpose, check out my awesome Personal Statement Template eBook here. It’s full of detailed examples of what to include!
Personal Statement Example: Research Experience
“My research revealed the relationship between musical talent and foreign language learning outcomes and argued that language learning and music are inextricably linked in three ways. First, language and music have similar structural sequences, and musical ability is predictive of language ability. Second, musical ability determines listening ability and affects pronunciation. Third, the development of musical ability contributes to the development of oral skills, and therefore music can be used to underpin learning in foreign language classroom instruction. In addition to learning about scientific experiments and methods during research and group work, I also learned that linguistics has a wide range of applications. Consequently, gaining a greater understanding of the scope and potential of the English language is a motivating factor behind this application.”
Commentary and Analysis
A relatively straightforward section that indicates the findings of the writer’s research. This is valuable to include, as it lets the reader see that the writer’s work had tangible outcomes. Additionally, it shows that the writer is able to synthesize opinions and hypotheses and present findings in a logical format.
Those are excellent postgraduate skills, and if you can evidence them in your own personal statement example, you will create a compelling piece of writing.
The writer then explains how this experience has generated a new academic ambition and goes on to connect that ambition with accessing the contents of the course. This is excellent, as it allows the reader to see how their goals are directly connected with the course they are applying for.
When an admissions reader can see that the course being applied for acts as the link between previous experience and future goals, they are far more likely to make an achievable offer.
Check out lots more examples of personal statements here, and see how they can inspire your application!
Personal Statement Example: Academic Suitability
“Studying phonetics and phonological systematics, I focused my attention on studying pronunciation, vowel consonants, phonemes and superlative segments. During a group project, I explored the phonological features of English variants in eleven countries along the Belt and Road. Using Standard English pronunciation and the formation of English variants in each country, I compared and analysed the phonological features of each variant at the phonetic and suprasegmental levels. After researching and examining various literature, I found that a common feature of the suprasegmental segment in English spoken by people in Southeast Asian countries is that they do not distinguish between accents. For example, Thai English pronounces each syllable heavily, with any stress frequently placed on the last syllable of the word or sentence. By contrast, Vietnamese uses tones to distinguish meaning, but there is no distinction between accents.
The varied accents of people from countries along the Belt and Road make it more difficult to hear and understand them, which often makes oral communication and interpretation a complex task. However, language interchange is the foundation of Belt and Road interconnection. Through this project, I realised that categorising and summarising the phonetic features of English in the countries along the route would help enhance the sensitivity of Chinese English learners. This has deepened my appreciation of the power of language analysis to reduce barriers to comprehensibility and improve cross-cultural communication skills. Furthering my theoretical and practical understanding of this valuable analysis will be critical to my MA studies.”
My Commentary and Analysis:
The first paragraph above goes into a great deal of relevant and convincing technical detail. The writer manages to do so without making the contents sound like a descriptive list. They do this by rooting their writing in the idea that they are showing the reader the value of the experoiences and knowledge they possess.
This convinces the reader that the writer has a sound academic understanding of the kinds of knowledge elements critical for success in the course, which is critically important.
The second paragraph becomes more descriptive and less relevant initially, as it discusses the writer’s observations rather than their actions or their skills. However, the last two sentences are very valuable convincers and connectors and bring each element to a conclusion very precisely.
The one thing that all successful personal statements have in common is that they are concise, engaging and accurate in spelling, punctuation and grammar. Consequently, I always recommend Grammarly to my students and clients.
It’s an outstanding tool for ensuring your personal statement is rich with detail whilst hitting those all-important word limits. Check out the free version of Grammarly here, or hit the banner for more information.
Personal Statement Example: Conclusion
“The study of linguistics offers us an advanced, systematic approach to decoding language, helping us explore its mysteries and our social and cultural relationships. Linguistics also allows us to make new advances in fields that add significant value to local communities and global societies alike, such as artificial intelligence, healthcare and cultural preservation. The MA in English Studies program offered at Slater University will allow me to participate in an innovative programme that explores the latest developments in literary, cultural and linguistic theory. Studying rigorous courses such as Analysing Speech and New Media, I intend to participate in discourse and research which examines the ideas, languages and literature of cross-cultural exchange. I am excited to complete these studies at Slater and eager to develop further my English expertise in this platform of academic convergence.
After graduation, I plan to enter a research institution or continue my studies to the doctoral level. Ultimately, I aspire to become a linguist and undertake research into areas such as phonetics, vocabulary and syntax. Different uses of vocabulary, grammar and phonology combine to create new linguistic perspectives. I aspire to apply my newly-found linguistics knowledge as a powerful tool for exploring these magical worlds. My long-term academic ambition is to use Foucault’s approach to analyse how discourse production affects our world from a philosophical perspective whilst, influenced by Chomsky, studying human nature and politics from a philosophical perspective. I look forward to achieving these goals at Slater and playing an active and positive role as a valuable member of your learning community.”
My Commentary and Analysis
The writer exhibits a sound understanding of the value of the subject they are applying for and gives a compelling summary of its potential applications. This shows that they have a sound understanding of the function and possibilities inherent in their specialism and gives the impression that they are capable of securing a future career in this sector. Again, this gives the reader confidence that the author is applying for a course which will allow them to succeed in a professional capacity.
They then outline exactly why this particular university faculty and course is the right choice for them. This is an essential aspect of any personal statement example, and one which indicates that the writer has researched the institution (and has consequently written an original, bespoke application).
They then conclude with a clarification of their professional and academic goals. This is effective, as rather than simply repeating or reiterating what’s gone before, they develop new material and phrase it in the context of a successful graduation. In short, they project success and show the reader that their goals are achievable due to their successful study. That’s a win for each party.
This is, therefore, a very compelling and successful example of a personal statement for graduate study. It is academically rich and mature in tone and content. However, I would suggest that two key elements are missing. Firstly, there is no reference to internships or relevant ‘real-world’ experiences. As a result, transferable and practical skills aren’t really considered. Secondly, there is no real consideration of the value that the writer will bring to the university. Aside from being an evidently capable academic student, how will they enhance the profile, success and advancement of the faculty and their peers?
They don’t really explain, and the application is weaker as a result.
For more great advice, check out my article on writing an excellent final personal statement paragraph here.
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Whether you’re looking for personal mission statement examples or an example of personal purpose statement, I hope this personal statement example has been helpful. Above all, I wish you every success in your academic career.
If you’d like to work with me to develop your personal statement 1:1 and write a powerful mission statement, I’d be delighted to hear from you.
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