Personal statement types

Personal statement types

Grades test scores and letters of recommendation are all instances where a third party makes a statement about an applicant. The personal statement and autobiographical sketch give the applicant the opportunity to make his best case in his own words!

Not all schools require a personal statement. However, most schools require some kind of “autobiographical sketch” in which candidates are required to list their activities and achievements. Completing an “autobiographical sketch” in an effective manner requires more than “substance.” “Form” matters as well. It must he well written. There can be neither typos nor grammatical errors. It must also be visually pleasing. The way you describe your activities matters as much as what the activities are.

Direct applicant input will take one of the three following forms:

1. Autobiographical Sketch – The applicant is asked to list his/her activities, jobs, awards, education, etc. The answers are generally to be completed on a prescribed form. Here are some examples:

“List in chronological order, beginning with the most recent year. It is important that you complete this section carefully providing details of extracurricular activities, non-academic achievements and community involvement. Indicate the nature and duration of your involvement beginning with the most current activities.”

“List in chronological order, beginning with the most recent year, all post-secondary schools attended. Include all courses completed through professional associations.”

2. Multiple Questions Personal Statement – Short answers to a number of specific questions. This form of personal statement has the effect of forcing the applicant to think about himself in terms of very specific issues. Some examples of these kinds of questions are:

A. How has your university program aided in your personal development and prepared you for the study of law?

B. Do you think that your employment, business or professional experience will aid you in the study of law?

C. Which of your extracurricular activities have been important to you?

D. Why do you want to study law? What is your career objective?

E. Do you have any special skills or interests that will assist you in law school or in your future career?

F. Are there personal facts or issues relating to your application that you would like the admissions committee to know about?

(Notice that all these questions focus on the applicant.)

Short answer questions are often required to be answered on a prescribed form. Practice completing copies before completing the original!

3. One Question Personal Statement – The applicant is required to write an essay in response to one specific question (or in some cases to no specific question). This form of personal statement gives more room for the applicant ton determine what is important. Some examples of these kinds of questions are:

A. With specific reference to you r experiences, concerns and values, what is your objective in seeking a legal education?

B. Each applicant is required to submit a brief but reasonably detailed personal statement. This is your opportunity to in form the committee about your interests, accomplishments, and goals. It should include any special facts which should be brought to the attention of the committee.

The above has been reproduced and/or adapted from Mastering The Personal Statement by John Richardson. Copyright remains with the author.

Copyright © 1998, John Richardson. All Rights Reserved.