本文由芝士圈首席文书官Andrew Daum(牛津大学PPE)撰写,芝士圈CEO 黄宇人 热心翻译(特此感谢)。



How much relevant experience or conceptual knowledge should I mention to prove that I am knowledge and experienced enough? I found it hard to cover concepts as much as possible while showing abilities.



Thank you for the question! It reflects a common concern. I’m going to make a few general but important points which will serve as a basis for answering your questions.


Your statement is not a transcript; it’s not a resume. It’s a distinct type of document, with a distinct objective and set of audience-expectations. It therefore requires a different type of writing.


The goal of the PS is to


1. Convey you as a person, and your academic potential; its goal is to make you an individual the reader can visualize to some extent (this is something resumes and transcripts or scores and grades cannot achieve).


2. Underpinning the presentation of you as an individual should be your case for admission; speaking somewhat generally (because I don’t know the exact wording of your school’s PS prompt) this will essentially involve explaining your answer to the question “Is Sheryl equipped to be a success at this school and beyond?”


Addressing these questions means:


Taking important and relevant experiences from your recent development history;


Presenting them with engaging factual detail that engages the reader’s attention and introduces you on a personal basis; and Using that material to support points which prove:


Abilities in the subject and skills that will help you given the nature of the advanced program you’re applying for; and

Motivation, which will sustain you on the program, enabling you to contribute and excel (before and after the program is completed) at an outstanding level.


Start with where you are now: The most recent point in your development; how did you get here (usually best to restrict the explanation to experiences within the last 3 or 4 years); and then, why is the program the next logical step?


Based on the above:


Information in your PS should be included to support specific points that are relevant to your case for admission: You can select the information from your background to support your case (obviously this should be the most impressive and recent information); your PS doesn’t and shouldn’t need to cover everything like an autobiography (or a curriculum vitae, perhaps). Be aware of the other documents that will support your PS, their requirements and the information they contain. They will be right in front of the person reading your PS as well! Therefore, avoid listing out or merely referencing particular areas of knowledge (that are already communicated—even implicitly—on other documents in your application such as your transcript or resume).


You should always seek to demonstrate knowledge by example rather than merely state knowledge, because it’s more engaging and persuasive; it shows more understanding of the document and the application context. Remember, you can communicate knowledge by showing abilities. By saying…


“I used SPSS to analyze a dataset generated from 12,000 respondents in order to identify serious shortfalls in healthcare quality in Belgium,”
…you’re already demonstrating a significant amount of knowledge and ability without having to specifically state it. It is so much better thanwriting:“Outstanding SPSS skills.”
It could also be made a lot better still by making it more specific, but it depends on the context, of course.


The purpose of a PS is to introduce you (and make your case). Therefore, the foundation for this document is factual information from your life, anecdotes about your experiences. It’s not the place for long sections of abstract information, because those can be looked up and restated by anyone. In a PS, the point is to write about yourself, your perspective on why your research goals are important, or your career ambitions and the experiences you had that formed them. In summary: [1] Don’t tell the reader things they already know; [2] limit material that does not help build and communicate your case for admission to that school! You can assuredly assume a reasonable level of professional knowledge on the part of the reader. [This answers your second question: How much detail should I go into? Is it enough to mention the concept name? It takes a lot of words and is hard to organize.]


Should I mention the strict grading rules? My college has a low overall GPA average.


I’d say that unless you have a way of accounting for the GPA that is more specific to you… I would suggest you focus on demonstrating and building a positive case for admission. They may be difficult to explain and they’re not part of your experience or your case.


I think one solution might be to mention your ranking in your resume (with some emphasis in the formatting or location choice)? This would show where you stand against your peers, thus demonstrating the implications of the school’s grading rules without having to explain them. This is just an idea.


Last thing I’d add: a lot of people worry unduly about ‘low’ scores and place undue emphasis on them (either in their applications or in their minds). Maintain perspective at all times, by knowing your true worth, which comes to some of us simply by figuring out how explain our qualifications and make a positive case for ourselves, effectively, to other people!


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