Personal Statement Word Count

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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Perjury
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Personal Statement Word Count

Postby Perjury » Thu Mar 04, 2010 9:48 pm

A school I am applying to states that a personal statement should be no longer than 500 words. The personal statement that I am using has 1060 words. If use my 1060 personal statement would this negatively affect my application. Past experiences?

This is so stupid because every school has different requirements for the length of personal statements and I can't convey myself accurately in less than 3 pages (double spaced). 500 words is 1.5 pages (double spaced).

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voice of reason
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Re: Personal Statement Word Count

Postby voice of reason » Thu Mar 04, 2010 9:53 pm

If you submit 1060 words where they asked for 500 it will show the committee that you cannot be bothered to follow directions and cannot write concisely. They will, accordingly, ding you.

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autarkh
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Re: Personal Statement Word Count

Postby autarkh » Thu Mar 04, 2010 11:55 pm

Perjury wrote:I can't convey myself accurately in less than 3 pages


Then don't. Choose a narrower topic that conveys SOMETHING about yourself, and focus on that.

I ignored a 500 word requirement on one of my apps and got in, but my PS was ~650 words (two pages double spaced).

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Mattalones
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Re: Personal Statement Word Count

Postby Mattalones » Fri Mar 05, 2010 12:24 am

They aren't going to count the words, but they will know about how long 500 words is, and, if your essay looks too long, then they will not think that it is okay. They talk about setting those limits, and carefully consider them when taking into account peoples' workloads, and writing significantly over that undermines their systems.

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Perjury
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Re: Personal Statement Word Count

Postby Perjury » Fri Mar 05, 2010 12:51 am

You think I can slip by with 807 words?

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JazzOne
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Re: Personal Statement Word Count

Postby JazzOne » Fri Mar 05, 2010 12:53 am

Perjury wrote:I can't convey myself accurately in less than 3 pages


Perjury wrote:You think I can slip by with 807 words?

lol

TLS is on fire tonight. How about this? Stick to the word limit? You're not special.
Last edited by JazzOne on Fri Mar 05, 2010 12:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Anastasia Dee Dualla
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Re: Personal Statement Word Count

Postby Anastasia Dee Dualla » Fri Mar 05, 2010 12:53 am

Perjury wrote:You think I can slip by with 807 words?


As long as its not GWU and GMU who expressly said at their student forum that they will reject ppl who go over by more than 50 words.

And also conciseness is fantastic so probably best for us to learn it now...see if you can pare it down some more.

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vespertiliovir
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Re: Personal Statement Word Count

Postby vespertiliovir » Fri Mar 05, 2010 12:54 am

Perjury wrote:You think I can slip by with 807 words?

That's an entire extra page, double-spaced. If you're going to go over the limit (which I wouldn't advise, but you seem to be set on), you need to make it less conspicuous. If everyone else is turning in two pages and you give them three, that really stands out.

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Perjury
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Re: Personal Statement Word Count

Postby Perjury » Fri Mar 05, 2010 12:58 am

Its 691 words now - 2 pages. 500 is 1.5 pages.

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vespertiliovir
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Re: Personal Statement Word Count

Postby vespertiliovir » Fri Mar 05, 2010 1:01 am

lol that doesn't really change my point.

I think you could probably get by with that number, but I would have to reiterate what JazzOne said: you aren't a special snowflake. Stick to the word count.

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JazzOne
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Re: Personal Statement Word Count

Postby JazzOne » Fri Mar 05, 2010 1:02 am

Perjury wrote:Its 691 words now - 2 pages. 500 is 1.5 pages.

Well, since I flamed your thread, I'll try to be helpful. Instead of trying to get away with too many words, ask some TLSers to help you edit it down. There are some people on this forum who offer good advice about PSs.

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goosey
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Re: Personal Statement Word Count

Postby goosey » Fri Mar 05, 2010 1:09 am

voice of reason wrote:If you submit 1060 words where they asked for 500 it will show the committee that you cannot be bothered to follow directions and cannot write concisely. They will, accordingly, ding you.


no idea what ure talking about.

gw has a 500 word limit on their app--I called and asked and they said it really doesnt matter just dont send 20 pages. They said the reason they say that is so they dont get realllllly long essays but as long as its reasonable (2 pgs, 2.5 max) thats absolutely fine.

in fact every school I applied to (and asked) said that.

that said, my ps started at about 1800 words and I swore there was nothing that could be cut without losing meaning. by the time i sent in my apps it was about 1200 or something--2.5 pgs. I am assuming youre applying for 2011. if so, good job writing it now. edit it, leave it alone for 2 weeks, come back to it, edit it again. You will come to see where you can trim off the fat. Its more important to pull the reader in than make sure its 500 words, seeing as adcomms dont really care (as long as its not ridiculously long). Unless your ps legit needs 1063 words--meaning your story is so amazing that you cannot tell the whole thing without even one of those words, cut it.

I cut a lot of the "very" "extremely" words out unless they were absolutely necessary. Get it edited by as many people as you can---take their advice with a grain of salt (trust ur instincts for the most part) and when the advice is good, take it.

icydash
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Re: Personal Statement Word Count

Postby icydash » Fri Mar 05, 2010 1:10 am

Going over the word count significantly (more than 75 words) is going to stand out. Like previous posters mentioned, they won't count your words, but if it's obvious it's way over the limit, they'll be pissed. It will show lack of ability to follow directions, and lack of regard for the school's application procedures.

If they are asking for 500 words, it's for a reason. Because they read so many apps a day, they probably don't want to read personal statements that are 3 pages long. If you're that special out lier, they're not going to take kindly to it. As someone else previously mentioned, it may also be because they want to judge your ability to write concisely. It's easier to write more than it is to write less. As Mark Twain said when talking about a letter he wrote to a friend, "I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead." Concise writing takes time, effort, and skill, and that is probably why it's being asked for.

BenJ
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Re: Personal Statement Word Count

Postby BenJ » Fri Mar 05, 2010 1:14 am

I'm assuming this is GW? They've told people who asked that the word count doesn't actually matter, and that they just want two pages max. Quite why they ask for 500 words baffles me, as that's no more than a page and a third or so. So, if it fits on two pages double-spaced and with a reasonable font size and margins, you're fine. At least, if it's GW. Other schools probably would get annoyed.

I cut my ~800-word PS down to 496 words just for GW, even though they were a safety. I suspect they appreciated it.

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Perjury
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Re: Personal Statement Word Count

Postby Perjury » Fri Mar 05, 2010 1:16 am

Its 685 now. 1.75 pages.

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Perjury
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Re: Personal Statement Word Count

Postby Perjury » Fri Mar 05, 2010 1:17 am

Everything I am taking out, I am including it in my addendum as they didnt specify word count for an addendum. :mrgreen:

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vespertiliovir
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Re: Personal Statement Word Count

Postby vespertiliovir » Fri Mar 05, 2010 1:20 am

Perjury wrote:Everything I am taking out, I am including it in my addendum as they didnt specify word count for an addendum. :mrgreen:

That is a terrible idea. Addenda are meant to be a paragraph, maybe two at most. Adcomms spend something like five minutes per application -- the thought of having to spend 30 on your will probably get you a quick trip to the "reject" pile, especially at T1 schools, where they're essentially looking for an excuse to reject people.

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Perjury
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Re: Personal Statement Word Count

Postby Perjury » Fri Mar 05, 2010 1:32 am

fuck. I sent an addenda that was 1.5 pages before.

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Perjury
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Re: Personal Statement Word Count

Postby Perjury » Fri Mar 05, 2010 1:39 am

one of my professors was on an admissions committe and said they really don't read personal statements. They quickly skim through it looking for something that will stick out.

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JazzOne
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Re: Personal Statement Word Count

Postby JazzOne » Fri Mar 05, 2010 2:15 am

Perjury wrote:one of my professors was on an admissions committe and said they really don't read personal statements. They quickly skim through it looking for something that will stick out.

This is probably correct, but why would you want to be an angle shooter? Developing the habit of bending rules is a bad start IMO to a legal career. We hear stories of courts that reject filings for failing to conform to the rules even in minor ways (ie, wrong font). Granted, I'm a 1L, and I don't have any experience practicing law, but let's just say that I won't be asking for a word-limit extension when I file my first brief.

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DeSilentio2728
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Re: Personal Statement Word Count

Postby DeSilentio2728 » Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:33 am

goosey wrote:
voice of reason wrote:If you submit 1060 words where they asked for 500 it will show the committee that you cannot be bothered to follow directions and cannot write concisely. They will, accordingly, ding you.


no idea what ure talking about.

gw has a 500 word limit on their app--I called and asked and they said it really doesnt matter just dont send 20 pages. They said the reason they say that is so they dont get realllllly long essays but as long as its reasonable (2 pgs, 2.5 max) thats absolutely fine.

in fact every school I applied to (and asked) said that.

that said, my ps started at about 1800 words and I swore there was nothing that could be cut without losing meaning. by the time i sent in my apps it was about 1200 or something--2.5 pgs. I am assuming youre applying for 2011. if so, good job writing it now. edit it, leave it alone for 2 weeks, come back to it, edit it again. You will come to see where you can trim off the fat. Its more important to pull the reader in than make sure its 500 words, seeing as adcomms dont really care (as long as its not ridiculously long). Unless your ps legit needs 1063 words--meaning your story is so amazing that you cannot tell the whole thing without even one of those words, cut it.

I cut a lot of the "very" "extremely" words out unless they were absolutely necessary. Get it edited by as many people as you can---take their advice with a grain of salt (trust ur instincts for the most part) and when the advice is good, take it.


TITCR

Don't worry about word count. Just stick to 2 pages double spaced. If you are over, then you stand out. You do not want to stand out in this regard, though you do want your PS to stand out. Make the best with the limited space you got.

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flyingpanda
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Re: Personal Statement Word Count

Postby flyingpanda » Fri Mar 05, 2010 4:04 am

Anastasia Dee Dualla wrote:
Perjury wrote:You think I can slip by with 807 words?


As long as its not GWU and GMU who expressly said at their student forum that they will reject ppl who go over by more than 50 words.

And also conciseness is fantastic so probably best for us to learn it now...see if you can pare it down some more.


I don't think GWU actually does this, I was over by 100 words. 807 is definitely way too much though. I think the guideline is get it to 2 pages or under.




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