How Long Should a Personal Statement Be?

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When entering the next stage of your career or education, many institutions and businesses will require personal statements. These allow you to showcase your skills, goals and personality in a creative way, and they can add individuality to an otherwise dry resume or application. Other candidates may have similar certifications and skills, but a personal statement can paint a picture of who you are on a deeper level.

What Is a Personal Statement?

A personal statement is an essay type of statement that can reveal why you’re the perfect person for the position or school you’re applying to. While some universities or organizations may have specific guidelines to follow, there are no set rules when it comes to a personal statement. In fact, there is freedom in writing it.

A personal statement is an opportunity for applicants to express themselves beyond grades, test scores and extracurriculars. The goal of a personal statement is to grab the reader's attention and persuade them to accept your application or bring you in for an interview. A personal statement is a testimony of your life and experiences with an open and honest voice.

When to Write a Personal Statement

If you are applying to college, graduate school, law school, medical school or an internship, you will most likely need to provide a personal statement.

How Long Should a Personal Statement Be?

Typically, length requirements are noted by individual institutions and companies. Most internships, colleges and graduate programs will ask for 500 to 800 words or limit applicants to one or two pages. A good personal statement is around two single-spaced pages. Shorter personal statements may be deemed sparse, and longer ones could be considered wordy or repetitive.

Medical school personal statements are submitted through the American Medical College Application Service database, and there is a 5,300-character limit (or 1.5 pages, single spaced, using a 12-point font). Length requirements for law school personal statements vary from school to school. For example, Harvard Law School has strict requirements: It asks that personal statements be no longer than two double-spaced pages with 1-inch margins and a minimum of an 11-point font. The University of California, Berkeley requires personal statements to be under four double-spaced pages.

Personal statements are a personal reflection, and because of that, there is no one type or style of writing that is required or set out to be the "right answer." Style can fluctuate from person to person, but each personal statement should have the same objective--to show who you are.