My Top 10 Most Common Personal Statement Errors - (8) Overuse of a thesaurus

burning books

“The amplification of the inexplicable joy as I finished producing my first piece was too palpable to ignore. It perpetually hung in the surrounding air as waves of electrifying impetus to the growth of the infantile writer residing in every fibre that constitutes my body…”

Sadly, lots of applicants appear to believe that their personal statement is the perfect time to start experimenting with a thesaurus. Simply put, it isn’t. By all means have one handy. It can be useful to have if you are getting into a habit of overusing a particular word and need to identify some alternatives. But please do not use them to construct whole sentences. It will ruin the flow of what you are trying to say and, believe me, it will be very obvious to the reader of your statement that this isn’t how you normally communicate. Keep it clear and concise. That will make it much easier (and more enjoyable) for the admissions tutor to read.

Whilst on the subject of choosing the right words to use, I want to give a mention to the subject of plagiarism. Plagiarism is a red-hot issue with admissions tutors at the moment, due to the explosion of sample personal statements that can be found on the internet. It is very important that every applicant understands that their personal statement will be scrutinised by anti-plagiarism software and if it brings up a suspicious amount of similarities with other personal statements either submitted in the past or found on the internet then it will be flagged up and, in worse case scenarios, your application/s will be rejected because of it. I want to emphasise just how sensitive this anti-plagiarism software is. ‘Borrowing’ a sentence and using your thesaurus to change 2 or 3 or the words in it will get picked up. The best way to ensure that you don’t fall foul of the plagiarism rules is this: by all means, read all the personal statements you want to in preparation of writing your own. Use them to let you form your own ideas on what makes a weak and a strong application. But when it comes to physically writing your own, put everyone else’s away. Don’t have any access to them. Certainly don’t have them in front of you as temptation. That way, the words that you write will truly be your own and no one else’s.


Don’t forget that Momentum Careers Advice offer a personal statement review service for just £55. Email info@momentumcareersadvice.com if interested or read my blog post What is involved in a UCAS personal statement review?

If you want to browse through the other blog posts that I’ve written on the subject of UCAS applications then please click on this link.