Biography statements are important if you want to apply for a place in a graduate or doctoral program. These statements are intended to be succinct; they describe who you are and outline your greatest strengths in as few words as possible. A strong biography statement is usually under 150 words and profiles your accomplishments, abilities and attractiveness to your desired school or program of study.
Keep It Brief
Biography statements must first and foremost remain brief. List your three most important accomplishments and use no more than two sentences to describe each of them. The biography statement is similar to a resume; you want your reader to take no more than three to five minutes assimilating the information. If the person reading it cannot develop a specific picture of you and your abilities in three minutes, your message is unclear. Describe your best traits in no more than 150 words, and spend about half of those words on your accomplishments. Some institutions, such as the University of Chicago, request that the biography statement should be no longer than 75 words.
Introduce Yourself First
Your first sentence or two should be a personal introduction. Explain why you are interested in your field. Building specific connections that stretch all the way back to childhood are also helpful, because that indicates your natural ability for a skill. For example, if you are applying for a graduate program in education, you can state that you always wanted to be as organized, confident and intelligent as your favorite teacher. The introduction must develop an emotional connection between you and your readers, such as "I have had a deep passion for teaching since I was in third grade."
Choose Three Accomplishments
Three clear, measurable personal accomplishments are excellent reading for a biography statement. Listing eight or 10 accomplishments might create the opposite effect, especially for an admissions committee, who might suspect embellishment. One or two accomplishments won't be enough: That would be interpreted as a sign of inexperience or lack of achievement. For a graduate program, list grades as only one of the three accomplishments. Others might include internship experience in the specific field, or a related extracurricular activity.
Double Check With Another Person
Give your biographical statement to a trusted person for review, asking her to read the statement aloud and express her opinion. Feedback will allow you to make the edits required. For example, if your reader suggests that the statement is self-congratulatory or embellished, reduce the number of first-person references.
Make It Unique
Universities are looking for trendsetters who will improve upon the knowledge and practice within a field. While writing, think of aspects of your experience that are unique and relevant to the institution. Prestigious graduate schools and doctorate programs receive thousands of personal statements per year, and only accept a fraction of applicants. Avoid cliches or hackneyed sentences. Admissions personnel read the same tired platitudes every day, and are looking for a fresh statement apart from the norm.
- Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images