Choosing an essay topic can be one of the most difficult aspects of the entire admissions process. Questions often ask you to think about your entire life, pick just one thing, and talk about it in great depth. Even the most reflective writers are left wondering: “How am I supposed to know the ONE event that has changed my life or the one thing that represents my entire personality.” In all likelihood there isn’t just one. But there probably is one that you can write about most passionately and effectively. The most important part of your entire essay is finding this one subject. Without a topic you feel passionate about, without one that brings out the defining aspects of you personality, you risk falling into the trap of sounding like the 90 percent of applicants who will write boring admissions essays. Coming up with this idea is difficult and will require a great deal of time. But whatever you do, don’t let this part stress you out. Have fun!

Picking Your Personal Statement Topic Video Summary

  • 00:15 – A good personal statement topic is something that matters to you and that you can turn into an interesting story.
  • 01:08 – Here are 6 different ideas you can use to help you brainstorm:
  • 01:14 – 1. What’s most important to you?
  • 01:47 – 2. When did you change your mind, beliefs, or goals?
  • 02:26 – 3. What’s the most challenging thing you’ve ever done?
  • 02:50 – 4. What’s most surprising about you?
  • 03:53 – 5. What 5 seconds changed your life?
  • 04:13 – 6. What made you want to be a lawyer?
  • 04:53 – Here are 3 more tips to remember:
  • 04:57 – 1. The size of the topic doesn’t matter. You can write about a small but meaningful event.
  • 05:26 – 2. Think events not themes.
  • 05:43 – 3. Think in terms of “the time that…”


The first important step of beginning your personal statement is brainstorming topics. When thinking about topics, focus on three areas: your personal characteristics or skills, activities that you’re involved in, and significant events in your life. Write down as many ideas as you can, even if you don’t think certain topics will ultimately work.

The next step is to narrow your list down to the topics that are most suited to an admissions essay. For each item on your list, answer the following questions. Some of your ideas may reveal themselves as dull, while you will find plenty to discuss for others.

For each of the personal characteristics or skills you have listed, ask:

  • Does it distinguish me from others I know?
  • How did I develop this attribute?

For each of the activities you have listed, ask:

  • What made me join this activity?
  • What made me continue to contribute to it?

For each event in your life you have listed, ask:

  • Why do I remember this particular event?
  • Did it change me as a person?
  • How did I react?
  • Was the event a moment of epiphany?

One Essay, Multiple Applications

By now, you have figured out that you can save time by submitting the same or similar essays for the applications to various schools. If you are creative, you will be able to plug in many of your answers into some not so similar questions, too. It is fine to lift whole paragraphs or even entire essays and apply them to different questions, as long as you do so seamlessly. Be absolutely sure that you have answered the question asked. Pay special attention to the introductions and conclusions – this is where cutting and pasting is most evident. Thorough proofreading is imperative if you take shortcuts like these. If a school notices that you have obviously swapped essays without even bothering to tailor them to the questions at hand, it shows them that you are lazy and insincere. If the question requires an answer specific to the school, you should show that you have read the law school’s web page, admissions catalog, and have an understanding of the institution’s strengths.