Five Questions Future Professors Might Ask You If You Are Suspected of AI Use

AI, Personal Statements

5th December 2023

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In our previous posts, we recommended using AI to support rather than write your personal statement. This ensures that AI is used correctly and that you will not get in trouble at your chosen university. Yet, as mentioned earlier, AI detectors can flag your work incorrectly. To help you out, we prepared five questions your future professors might ask if they think you used AI too much. Knowing how to answer them will help you prove you did nothing wrong.

1. How did you plan and structure your personal statement?

If you wrote your personal statement yourself and used AI merely as an aid, you should be able to describe the thought process behind your writing. At least this is what your reviewers will assume. One thing they might ask you is to outline how you went about planning and structuring your personal statement. If you can locate some brainstorming notes, drafts, or revisions, that would be a great aid. If you do not have any notes, try to remember how you organised your initial ideas and decided on the narrative flow and best way to present yourself.

2. Can you describe how your personal statement reflects your unique motivation and experiences?

If written by AI, your personal statement will be too generic and will not reflect your unique experiences and motivation for the degree. To show you were the mastermind behind your statement, you will need to pinpoint how the statement communicates your unique background and motivation. Go through your statement and identify parts that can be linked to your CV directly. Also, be ready to elaborate on why you are applying to the degree and how this motivation was reflected in your statement. Stressing the links between your statement and your experiences will reduce your reviewers’ suspicion of alleged AI use.

3. Can you prove you have well-developed writing skills?

If your reviewers suspect AI wrote your statement, they will assume you have used AI because you are not a good writer. To prove the statement’s originality, they might ask you to showcase your writing skills. Get ready in advance by locating and printing an essay you wrote recently that clearly demonstrates that you can excel as a writer. This could be an essay that adopts a similar writing style as the one you used in the statement. Apart from demonstrating your writing capabilities, this essay will reinforce the authenticity of your statement by signalling your possession of a unique writing style.

4. Did you use AI and, if yes, how?

If your application reviewers inquire into your AI use directly, don’t panic and be honest. Feel free to explain that AI helped you get ideas, improve clarity, check grammar, paraphrase, and optimise word choice. Using AI for these purposes is acceptable and you will not be penalised for it. Just clearly state you have used AI as a tool to improve your personal statement and that you have not directly copied any AI-generated text.

5. Could you provide examples of sentences or paragraphs where you used AI?

After establishing that you used AI as an aid, your application reviewers may want to know how used it exactly. Go through your personal statements and try to locate some sentences or paragraphs that were aided by AI. Explain clearly what went wrong with your original writing and why you needed AI assistance. For example, you may note that you struggled with a specific sentence because you could not express your thoughts concisely, and AI provided alternative phrasing that improved clarity and coherence. This will be sufficient to demonstrate your responsible AI use.

A key message

If you are well-prepared to defend the originality of your personal statement, nothing can go wrong. Professors understand that AI detectors can make mistakes, and if you are honest about your writing process, you will not get into trouble. Clarifying how you thought about your statement and used AI as a tool will clear any doubts and keep you from facing application rejection.