PS Tip 78: Ask a friend to read it to you, and listen for where they stumble

Don’t worry; we’re on the home straight now. (Cliché alert)

This step will not always be possible, but it really does pay off if you can manage it. All you need to do is convince a friend to read your statement out loud for you, whilst you follow along on your own copy and mark any sentences that they stumbled over. Ideally, ask them to read it two or three times – they’re not familiar with the statement like you are, so there’s a good chance that they’ll make some reading comprehension errors that aren’t your fault.

If errors are consistently made in the same places, it will benefit you to address those sentences before you submit your personal statement.

It does pay off to pick a friend who you know has good reading comprehension abilities – there’s no value in asking for help from a friend who struggles with reading, so if this step can be skipped if there are no appropriate friends available.

Finally, I want to address a (not so) small concern that many people will have with this step; letting other people read something you’ve written.

Don’t panic, you’re not alone, many people find this extremely daunting. Being criticised isn’t fun.

If this is a major concern for you, you can always ask your friend not to provide feedback on your statement. For a start, they haven’t gone through the same planning process as you, they probably aren’t familiar with the job or course you’re applying to, and there’s a very high chance they don’t know a huge amount about writing personal statements in the first place.

Having said all that, I would encourage you to at least hear their thoughts – you can always choose to ignore them, but it never hurts to have an extra opinion. Just don’t feel that you have to agree with them.

On this note, please be aware that not all advice is good advice – plenty of well-meaning friends will make bad suggestions simply because they don’t know what goes into a winning personal statement. In fact, even recruiters and teachers often provide poor quality advice to job hunters and students; whenever you’re given advice, just be aware that the person providing it probably isn’t a personal statement expert, and probably hasn’t done any research on the subject.

So when you receive advice, simply weigh it up in your head and decide whether you think it’s worth considering.

<< Tip 77 Personal statement format >>

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