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Please rate the importance of the following elements in the personal statement evaluation process: creativity, clarity, personal feel, format or organizing theme, and voice or perspective taken by the applicant. Please rate each of these on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most important.

Mr. Fong-Sandoval:
Well, most of the criteria you mentioned are interrelated and all are important. Indeed, I expected each one to be present in the statements I was reading. It's hard to separate them, so it is hard to rate them on a 1 to 10 scale. However, since you posed the question, here are my estimations

8. This element is important because you want to connect with the reader early and maintain that connection throughout the statement. Dull, boring, uncreative writing will not draw the reader in, and will not hold the reader's interest.

8. This is important because this element is assumed to exist in all the personal statements that the Admissions Committee reads. It is a threshold assumption of competent writing. Now, if the applicant does something to shake that assumption, I'd say the applicant would have serious problems getting accepted. A reader must be able to follow along with the personal statement. The writer must be able to clearly communicate his or her character, feelings, thoughts, or messages.

Personal Feel:
10. My definition of "personal feel" is how much the applicant connects with the reader. The personal feel is what can really convey your character and potential if done correctly. Creating or developing a personal feel, or personal connection, is the most important aspect of writing a personal statement, that's why I gave it a 10. However, it is probably also the most difficult aspect of writing a personal statement. An applicant might want to have a neutral person, someone who doesn't know the applicant well, read the personal statement to test for this personal feel. The neutral reader's feedback is valuable because they are in the same position as the Admissions Committee--anything unclear to your reader will most likely be unclear to the Admissions Committee, too.

Format or Theme:
9. In my opinion, regardless of how personal or creative the statement is, if it's unorganized, it shows that the applicant does not know how to write well. A format or theme is basic to any essay. We assume that given the application schedule, each applicant will have come up with some theme or format. The absence of a theme or format is absolutely inexcusable!

Voice and Perspective:
8. I would rate and analyze this element the same as "creativity" because it involves the same concerns.

Above all else, what mistake should an applicant avoid in drafting their personal statement?

Mr. Fong-Sandoval:
Avoid a superficial approach, you must be PERSONAL that's why this essay is called a "personal statement."

So you would agree with the summary that personal connection/revelation is the most important element of a law school personal statement?

Mr. Fong-Sandoval:
Yes, because it shows me and the school what makes you a viable candidate, what will contribute to your success, and it conveys your character. We are looking for people, not numbers.

Thank you for your time and your insight, Mr. Fong-Sandoval.

Mr. Fong-Sandoval:
You're very welcome.
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