How Long Should a Personal Statement Be?

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How Long Should a Personal Statement Be?

Entering the university of your dream, you are required to write the personal statement essay, and while doing it, you may come up with the question: how long should a personal statement be to become the greatest one. Achieving an ideal college personal statement length can make the difference between a personal statement that is read in its entirety, one that is skimmed, or one that is quickly dismissed. This is something that many applicants struggle with as they work to create their personal statements. And it is completely understandable. In an effort to fully convey a story or to explain complicated situations, people often end up with a college personal statement that is significantly longer than what is allowed for the application process.

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Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for applicants to write out their entire essay, only to realize that they will need to cut one-third or more of the essay to bring it within the personal statement word or character count limits.

However, this situation can be avoided through careful planning so that you can keep your college personal statement the right length.

The most amazing anecdote, the story of your above-and-beyond most significant accomplishment, or the explanation of the most challenging experience will not work in your favor if it does not fit into the length of the essay. Therefore, brainstorming your essay ideas and creating a basic outline will prove helpful in the creation of your college personal statement. If you know you only have 500 words to work with, decide in advance how much space to devote to each average paragraph length and stick to it when you are in the actual writing process.

Create the plan of your ideas that are worth sharing

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The hardest part of any piece of writing is the moment when you try to start. The most helpful decision, in such a case, would be to use a template or a format that can help you quickly create a roadmap of how the finished application essay should look like. It is always a good idea to get a starting point and define the general direction of your writing. Also, you should think about the questions related to your main academic area of interest, activities, and life-events.

Remember about the word count guidelines of your program

Programs are increasingly imposing hard word count or character count limits, especially for centralized application systems. This is true even if there are no set word counts or character limits for your college personal statement. However, other programs offer guidelines, approximate, or ‘ideal’ lengths while still allowing you to submit a college personal statement that is the length that you choose. While your application will not be rejected outright if you include a personal statement that is significantly longer, take your program’s guidelines very seriously. They’re telling you what they want. They’re just also giving you some leeway to say what you need to say.

Think carefully about how long should a personal statement be, if there are no requirements

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If it is not obliged to stick to a certain word count, you are to write the essay to your reasoning. Think over the life experience and achievements that may be interesting for the person who reads your statement. Choose several ones that will create the best impression of you as a personality.

It would be a good idea for you to divide the information into paragraphs:

  1. Provide information about life events
  2. Describe the reasons for your application
  3. Tell about your previous studying achievements
  4. Explain what you want to achieve from studying
  5. Assure the admissions committee that you are that one to get the offer

Also, it is a useful approach to read several guidelines about the approximate personal statement word limit in universities all over the world. After looking through all the given information, you will understand the common obligations and be familiar with those conditions while writing your essay. In this way, you will be supposed to follow the general requirements.

Questions to the Expert
Julia Z.
Professional Essay Editor. Education: PhD, University of Oxford, Experience: 8 years. Member of EssayEdge team.
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Questions to the expert
Are 600 words too long for a personal statement?
Julia Z.
Generally, 500-600 words is the best choice for the personal statement word count. But it’s crucial to pay attention to the requirements provided by the chosen university. If there are no specific instructions concerning the word count, I would aim for approximately 500-800 words.
Can you go over 500 words in a personal statement
Julia Z.
Yes, you can write more than 500 words if you have rich experience and a lot of achievements. The personal statement can take 2-3 pages, depending on the applicant's background. The only thing to take into account is the committee’s instructions. If there are no limits, you can write up to 1000 words.
How do I cut down my personal statement?
Julia Z.
The first step is to re-read your sentence several times. If you see that some sentences are too long, try to re-phrase them by eliminating wordiness. Also, avoid writing long sentence and overusing linking words. Finally, some words and adverbs like “very” or “actually” can be easily deleted because they have no specific meaning in the sentence.

Try to stick to the thought that you have to make the reader interested in you, don’t write a very long text, sometimes it is not suitable to write a lot, because in this case the interest can be lost. You can try different strategies while considering what information is the most essential: read some examples, look through the articles on how long are personal statements for the specialization you are applying for, write the outline, try writing several drafts to understand which one fits the best to the obligations you already know, examine some blogs about the personal statement.

What is the difference in length for Law, Medical, MBA, and College Personal Statements?

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Generally, personal statements are short. Most schools require approximately 1-2 pages, but you should take extra care of the instructions you get from the particular Law school, Medical school, MBA program, or college.  Don’t view ‘soft’ guidelines as a free-for-all. Not going over 10% of the recommended length is a good rule. Therefore, if the program asks for a single-spaced personal statement of approximately one page, think carefully before submitting a college personal statement that is longer than one page and one paragraph. The admissions committee will be happy to read an extra paragraph for a strong essay, but not an extra page or two.

How to provide all the necessary information and still keep the required personal statement length?

As a rule, your essay should stick to the requirements on the length of personal statement given by the university you apply to. Here are a few features for you to save the space for the facts that must be mentioned:

  1. Remember that your essay shouldn’t be wordy and contain plagiarism.
  2. Be sincere and tell only the real facts.
  3. Don’t use cliches and the information that is the same for each student.
  4. Try not to use long and awkward sentences.

In case when the university gives you an option to decide the ideal personal statement length by yourself, you should still attach to this advice.

Consider what unique or valuable experience you have through your life and present it in a well-written form, decide on the words that will describe your passion for future studying as well as possible. Try to write several drafts to see the written variant and understand what is possible to be missed in the text. By the way, while drafting, try not to think about how long should personal statement be. All the unnecessary information will be cut after a few perusals.

It can be really difficult to consider which facts of your life are worth sharing with the admission committee. Sometimes you have to choose among the stories that are interesting for you, but for some reason, it won’t be engaging for the reader. Try to tell only the points that will help the admission tutor know you better, don’t include the facts that don’t bring up any important information. If you are still not sure whether the facts mentioned fitting the general requirements, you can use the personal statement editing service. 

If you want to write an outstanding personal statement, take a look at these EssayEdge articles and remember that our professional editors are always ready to help with your writing.

Keep in mind the information you learned here, but focus on the word count limit specified in the requirements. Add only meaningful details in your paper, don’t think that the longer paper will help you stand out. Our cover letter proofreading service can help you reduce the word count and preserve the message you convey.

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Robin W.
Professional essay editor and proofreader with 10+ years of experience. Education: Cornell University. PhD in English Studies and M.F.A in Creative Writing.
Update: June 27, 2022

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