For the past 2 weeks now, I’ve been writing this short series of email newsletters in hopes that it would help you in your PS writing process. In each issue, I aim to address the three main parts of any writing process: Brainstorming, Drafting, and Editing.
In the first week, I shared a few tips that proved useful for me to get started on writing my Personal Statement. I also included a clear 10-step action plan that anyone can follow through to have a productive brainstorming session that promises at least one good essay prompt. If you missed out on that, you can read it here.
In the second week, I wrote on the 3 writing guidelines that supercharged my writing as I drafted the first iteration of my Personal Statement. I also shared a few tools that made writing a more enjoyable process for me. Towards the end, I also share a couple of guidelines that you can follow when asking for feedback on your PS. If these seem to be areas that you need some work on, feel free to read it here.
Now that we are done with our initial drafts, it’s time to tackle the final component in this writing process - Editing. With that said, let’s get right into this week’s issue!
By the end of this week, we want to cross the following tasks off our checklist.
- Editing our PS to fit the word/character limit.
- Adding final touches to our PS (if the word limit allows)
- Get more feedback from people. (Refer to the 2nd issue here)
✂️ Editing our PS to fit the word/character limit
Both UK and US universities/colleges restrict their applicants to a certain word/character limit. This doesn’t come as a surprise because Admission Officers only have a certain period of time to go through a particular applicant’s PS.
However, we as applicants are expected to present our best selves and fit as much content as we can within the pre-determined word limit to ensure that the Admission Officers deem us worthy of the university/college they represent. This can be quite a challenge for many applicants, myself included.
Here are 2 tips that were absolutely crucial for me to ensure my PS stays within the word limit.
1. Write a one-line summary of what your PS is all about
Once you’ve finished drafting your PS, it is highly possible that you’ll realize your PS is over the word limit (by maybe a couple hundred words or so) . I was in the exact same position. That was when I came across this “one-line summary” tip and I couldn’t be more excited to share it with you guys.
I summarized the entire process into a flow chart to make it more intuitive for you.
2. Come up with substitute phrases that don’t change the context of the story
When we write, we often fall back on old habits and resort to using cliche phrases to express ourselves. You’ll be amused to see how many of us do this.
This is completely normal, especially when we’re in an education system where we’ve been taught to read and memorize model essays since our primary school days. While it helps amateur writers to fill in their required word count, it presents a couple of shortcomings in our direction:-
- Not all words are useful. Some are clunky and redundant, while others make your writing mumbling. Some you use for word count rather than meaning, and they make essays sound complicated yet empty.
- The tone of our essay becomes generic and this might lose readers’ interest in our writing.
Now, the way we combat this is by eliminating those common clunky phrases and substituting them for simpler, shorter words. Taking this step makes your writing more concise and the Admission Officers would find your essay a more enjoyable read.
If you would like to read more about clunky phrases that you should eliminate, check out this article by the Oxford Royale Academy.
💎 Adding final touches to your PS
On the off chance that your essay has some words/characters to spare, consider adding a few final touches to it. You can either add more content that directly relates to your one-line summary or add some descriptive phrases to captivate your readers’ attention.
Another way to go about this is to add one or two sentences that create an image in your readers’ minds. For instance, instead of: -
"Book ABC is talked about concept PQR and I learned about subject XYZ. I constantly re-read this book because it exposed me to many concepts that sparked my interest in subject XYZ. "
You can use:-
"Book ABC is one that I revisit every couple of years or so because it was my first exposure to concept PQR. I distinctly recall curling up in my cozy reading nook and flipping to the first page of the book, completely unaware that this book was about change my life. With every re-read of this book, I find myself learning new things and considering alternate perspectives. It brought me far beyond my reading corner to discover whole new dimensions that I’d never imagine existed. Besides, it was through this book that I found my passion for subject XYZ."
Presenting an image always helps the reader to relate more to your story as it is more likely that you’ll evoke their emotions.
With that said, I hope that the tips that I’m sharing with you today adds value to your life in some shape, way, or form.
Have a great week ahead and see you in the next issue of Sunday Scoop!
📝 Article - If you’ve been working on your writing, I’d highly recommend that you read this article by George Orwell that highlights the modern style of writing (that he finds inflated) and the 6 rules to follow when writing. It was such a short good read and completely changed my perspective about writing with big, bombastic words and phrases I used to think would show my flair for writing.
🎧 Podcast - This episode of The Ground-Up Show hosted by Matt D’Avella is one of my favorites so far. The guest on this episode is Thomas Frank and its a no brainer that the title of this episode is 'Productivity'. Give it a listen if you’re a Productivity Enthusiast like me or if you’ve been following Thomas’s and Matt's content.
What are your best takeaways from writing your Personal Statement? Have you learned more about yourself and if so, what?
Tweet of the Week
Long term consistency trumps short term intensity.— JiaShing (@JiaShingWee) August 21, 2020
-run a marathon
-write a book in 1 month
-study entire syllabus in 1 week
-jog every morning for 2 years
-write 1 chapter per week
Intensity makes a good story. Consistency makes progress.
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