Tension is one of the second most important elements in writing, closely allied to suspense _ the "what happens next" ingredient. The problem for many students is to try to condense the personal statement into 600 words. Obviously, the admission officer knows you only have this limited space, but nonetheless does judge you on the four minutes it takes to read your personal statement, if your personal statement includes tension and suspense _ it is sure to be a winner. The secret to a good personal statement is not to give away too much to quickly, keep us guessing, hanging onto every word, thus building up tension and suspense. In order for there to be tension in your personal statement, there must be (or have been) something important at stake. Perhaps this was your family life or what you believe is your future. Perhaps the reason why you chose the course you wish to study. Whatever it is, by not divulging the outcome too soon, you will maintain the reader's interest for that much longer. The following personal statement starts with a powerful suspense filling introduction:
In order for there to be tension in your personal statement, it will help to describe a highly charged incident, part of a particularly difficult period in your life. Whatever it was, you will maintain your reader's interest for that much longer. The example below shows perfect tension and suspense build up _ "When the airmail letter arrived bearing an American stamp, I knew immediately, it was from my university with my degree results, and I tore it open as excitedly as if it were a birthday present. With trembling fingers, I took out the sheets of thin blue paper _ and my heart started to pound as I began to read."