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How to explain poor grades in Personal Statement

Explaining poor grades in a personal statement can be a challenging task, but it’s an opportunity to demonstrate your honesty, self-awareness, and resilience.


Although a personal statement is an opportunity to showcase your academic background, professional experience, and personal qualities to the admissions committee you can also use it as a medium to explain poor grades you have had in your academics.

If you do not already know how to write a Personal Statement, read this guide “Example Personal Statement for Graduate School” to grasp the tips on writing a Personal Statement.

Here are some tips to help you explain poor grades in your personal statement:

How to explain poor grades in Personal Statement

Be honest

Explain the circumstances that led to your poor grades. Did you have to work part-time while studying? Did you face any family issues or personal struggles that affected your academic performance?

Show self-awareness

Take responsibility for your poor grades and show that you understand the reasons behind them. Explain how you have learned from your mistakes and what steps you have taken to improve your academic performance.

Highlight your strengths

Use your personal statement to showcase your strengths and achievements in other areas of your life, such as extracurricular activities, volunteer work, or employment. This can demonstrate your ability to balance multiple responsibilities and overcome challenges.

Discuss any challenges you have overcome

If you have faced any significant challenges, such as a health issue or a difficult family situation, explain how you have overcome them and how they have made you stronger and more resilient.

Provide evidence of improvement

If you have improved your grades over time, provide evidence of this in your personal statement. For example, you could include your most recent transcript or highlight any academic awards or achievements you have received.

Sample: How to explain poor grades in Personal Statement

Let us take a look at this Personal Statement Sample where the writer explains his poor grades in school:

“During my first two years of college, I struggled to balance the demands of my coursework with my involvement in extracurricular activities and part-time work. As a result, my grades suffered, and I received several C’s and even a few D’s.

However, I didn’t let these setbacks define me. Instead, I took proactive steps to improve my academic performance. I met with my professors and sought their guidance on how to study more effectively and stay on track with assignments. I also made use of campus resources like tutoring and academic coaching to strengthen my understanding of difficult subjects.

As a result of these efforts, my grades improved steadily over time, and by my senior year, I was able to maintain a GPA of 3.5. I learned valuable lessons about the importance of time management, prioritization, and seeking help when needed, which I know will serve me well as I pursue further academic and professional goals.

While my early academic record may not be perfect, I hope that my dedication and growth mindset will demonstrate my potential to succeed in the future.”

The conclusion of the Personal Statement is very crucial and it must be concise, memorable and original. Read an article on “How to Conclude a Personal Statement“.


By following these tips, you can ensure that your personal statement ends on a high note and stands out from the crowd.

Remember, the goal of explaining poor grades is to show that you are capable of succeeding in college despite past academic struggles. Be honest, take responsibility, and showcase your strengths and resilience.

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