Write a Compelling Graduate School Application Essay
Personal Statement... Statement of Purpose... Candidate's Admission Statement... These terms bring a shiver to the spine of many a potential grad student. However, you should think of the personal statement as an opportunity to show admissions officers what you're made of. They want to know why you want to attend their grad program and this essay is your chance to tell them as clearly and compellingly as you can.
Find your prep
Pick your course option
GRE Prep Course
Brand new course, now with more live GRE instruction than anyone else:
- Unlimited access to The GRE Channel - a Kaplan exclusive. Get 35 hours of live, highly-interactive unique instruction on everything from the basics to advanced topics taught live and online by Kaplan’s highest rated faculty
- The most live instruction available, covering all the content and skills on the GRE
- Taking a simulated GRE at an actual testing facility—a Kaplan exclusive.
- Dynamic, classroom sessions featuring comprehensive instruction by expert teachers
- 5,000+ practice questions, including Qbank to create custom quizzes
- 7 full-length computer-based practice tests
- More than 180 hours of online instruction and practice
- Convenient class times and locations
- Free make-up sessions: live classroom sessions or self-paced
- The following books: GRE Premier: Course Book Edition, GRE Math Workbook, GRE Verbal Workbook, and GRE Pocket Reference
- An exclusive flashcard app for on-the-go study, available for iOS and Android™ devices*
GRE Prep PLUS Course
Get the full GRE Prep course and student materials, PLUS additional coaching and resources including:
- 3 hours of one-on-one time, live online with a GRE expert (over $400 value): Personalized coaching, review and analysis of practice test results, assistance building a study plan, and guidance on the graduate school application process.
- GRE Math Foundations - Self-Paced ($299 value): A collection of online videos and practice questions designed to build a strong foundation in the basic math skills essential for success on the GRE (on demand lessons & online workshops, and 400+ practice questions).
- GRE Advanced Math - Self-Paced ($299 value): In-depth online course covering the most advanced math topics you’ll see on the GRE (Instructional videos that break down each topic to make the difficult math easy to understand, 200+ high-difficulty practice questions, and immediate feedback after practice quizzes and lessons).
How Do Schools Use Your Application Essay?
Personal statements serve two basic purposes. First, they show whether you can write a clear, coherent essay that's logically and grammatically correct. These days, students' writing ability is often presumed deficient unless proven otherwise.
Second, essays give you the opportunity to present the admissions committee with more of a "three-dimensional" portrait of yourself as a deserving candidate than GPA and GRE numbers possibly can. What you choose to write sends clear signals about what's important to you and what your values are. You can explain why you really want to pursue grad work and the career path it will enable you to follow. Your essay also enables you to explain things like a dubious grade or term in an otherwise creditable record.
Essays are the best way for admissions officers to determine who you are. So, don't hesitate to go beyond your current experience for essay topics. Feel free to discuss other events that help define who you are. If you have overcome significant obstacles, say so. If you were honored with an award, describe the award and what you did to achieve recognition.
Preparation pays off on your essays, so start early. Go over your goals and aspirations, write several drafts, talk to students and professors. Then give some thought to your goals. How will you accomplish them? What can you contribute to the grad school community? What can you contribute to this particular school or program? If you can answer these questions in a clear, concise manner, the statement will be a breeze.