This is part II in a three-part series on how to format a personal statement or application essay.

Personal Statement Essay Structure

Many students fail to understand that there really should not be a structure or format to their personal statement essays.  Students feel they should write an essay using the standard 5 paragraph format they use for their English papers or their SAT/ACT essays.  They want to use an introduction that ends in a straightforward thesis statement, has 2-3 body paragraphs to back up the thesis, and then a conclusion.  Other students believe they need to have the first paragraph set the scene for the reader…before they really get to writing.  Still others feel they need to end the essay with a standard summary of their feelings or summary of their experiences.

As I’ve said before: Throw formatting out the window!

The best personal statement essays really have no structure at all.  That’s what makes them more unique.  That’s what makes them more memorable.  These essays may use narrative or quotes.  They may have a line or two in a paragraph and then a much longer paragraph that follows.  They may have a one worded sentence just to emphasize a point or be more deliberate.  In all cases, the best personal statements just do a really good job at SHOWING the reader instead of TELLING the reader who they are.

NOTE: This article is Part II of How to Format Your Personal Statement.  You can follow this link to read Part I, “Personal Statement Essay Format.”

Formatting Your Personal Statement Part II last edited by Danielle Bianchi Golod on