The personal statement (or application essay) is a standard component of most graduate and professional school applications. Essay requirements vary from program to program. Application essays give you an opportunity to explain -- through narrative, example, and analysis -- aspects of your personal, educational, and professional history that may have led you to pursue an advanced degree at a particular institution. Admissions committees rely heavily on these essays to put a face on impersonal test scores and grade point averages. For this reason, it's important to use details and thoughtful self-presentation to make your face the one that stands out in a crowd. Have fun writing your personal statement. It is one of the best (and only) opportunities you will have to demonstrate your creativity and personality to the graduate school admissions staff.