How (not) to apply
for further training
What should a personal statement achieve?
It should explain:
• Why you are applying
• Your (relevant) interests and motivation
• Something of your personality
If you seem suitable, it should get you to the next stage.
How can I achieve these aims?
A good personal statement is:
• Relevant to the application
• Clear and well-written
• Honest about yourself
Relevant to the application
Be specific: what attracts you?
Since I first heard that statistics is useful in medicine, I’ve
wanted to pursue this. My final-year project was on DNA …
Avoid general comments
Mathematics is fascinating because it is the foundation of
just about everything in life.
Don’t be vague
I would be interested in taking your course because it has
the sort of things that I like doing …
Use short(ish) well-formed sentences
This year, I have reviewed the literature on numerical
approximations to the diffusion equation. I was particularly
interested by the Monte Carlo method, which was new to me.
Try to avoid lists, abbreviations and jargon
MS305 Financial Modelling, MS311 Numerical Methods for PDEs …
Don’t be formulaic – make it a good read!
Don’t over-use particular phrases, adjectives or adverbs
(especially ‘very’). Ask others how it could be improved.
Check for grammatical errors
For instance, biology, economics, phsyics, chemistry and
Avoid slang, colloquialisms, etc.
What else can I tell you about myself??? I am not your
usual nerdy type … ;)
Check for typographical and spelling errors –
don’t rely on spellcheckers
… phsyics, chemistry and the weasther. People I have
spoken too …
Honest about yourself
Say what you really think – it won’t hurt!
I am really enjoying the statistical part of my current degree
programme, but I cannot say the same about real analysis.
Don’t write anything that you can’t defend
There is quite a lot of overlap with your course …
Express confidence, but not blind over-optimism
… which makes me very convinced that I can certainly
succeed at it with no problems.
A few more points
Don’t say what you think the reader wants to hear
I would be honoured if you would accept me onto this
course at your world-renowned university.
Be enthusiastic, but not jokey
I would very much like to come to your university so that I can tell
people what life is like as a masters student ;)
Don’t feel that you need to be ‘well-rounded’
The only thing that admissions tutors want to know is this.
How suitable are you for what the institution is offering?
Failure to get what you want is not always bad!
"If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
and treat those two imposters just the same"
Rudyard Kipling: If
Written at the players’ entrance at Centre Court, Wimbledon