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Personal Statements 101

The personal statement is your only chance before the interview to demonstrate, in your own words, why you want to study law and why you should be picked. 

It also offers the assessors a sample of the way you write and, by extension, the way you think. 

The Basics

Word limit

4,000 characters or 47 lines, whichever is shorter. 

That's a lot shorter than you think. You have to be judicious.

Having said that, don’t write with that limit in mind. As with all writing, I always find it easier to write first, trim later. 

 

Submission deadline

Submit it on UCAS. UCAS deadline: 15 Oct for Oxbridge applicants, 25 Jan for all other applicants.

What makes a good personal statement? 

Key criterion

In a nutshell, you must demonstrate academic aptitude for law. This encompasses your academic potential and interest in the subject.

I emphasise the word 'academic' because that's really the focus of UK law schools--less important are your volleyball and outdoor adventure club achievements. 

How do I show academic aptitude for law? 

The hundreds of students we've taught over the years have taught us a basic formula to a killer personal statement: it must contain an academic discussion of law anchored by key experiences. To put it simply,

Academic discussion + anchor experiences = academic aptitude 

Need help with your personal statement? Book a free consultation here. 

How do I get started on my personal statement? 

Plan first

I’m a firm believer in planning your essays before you write them. This is true not just for personal statements, but for every essay you will write as a law student.

Start first with listing out your achievements and experiences. If you have a CV already prepared, all the better. Look at the experiences you have. Start grouping them into three to four themes.

These experiences will then lead you to the academic discussion you can have. That’s why I say your discussion is anchored by your experiences.

How do I write my introduction? 

We suggest writing your introduction at the end.

Why? This is tip I learned at law school. Simply put, it's more time-efficient. Your introduction will have to be tweaked according to the content of your body paragraphs. Thus, if you write your introduction first, you'll have to come back to revise it later several times. 

What makes a good introduction? First impressions count. The introduction should be attention-grabbing, but not cliché. There is no formula to a good introduction. In fact, many of our students (who were selected) had personal statements with no independent paragraph--they just cut straight to it. Whatever you do, keep it short and succinct.  

Final tips

Here are some final tips.

 

Get everyone you can to read your personal statement, especially those unacquainted with the law.

 

Start early! Good writing takes time. The best ideas come not as you are revising your personal statement, but during the time you take away from it. The time lends perspective. 

Your personal statement is one of many a tutor will read. Give it your best shot. 

FAQ

To be continued. 

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