Writing a graduate school application can be intimidating. It’s not easy to know the best approach, format, or style. That’s where reading sample personal statements can help. But be careful. While the samples may look great, don’t let the drama of these samples overtake your own story.

A study conducted by members of the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), the organization that handles undergraduate applications to universities and colleges in the U.K., found numerous plagiarized personal stories in the applications they reviewed. Whether it was a retelling of a burning-building story or a description of the crystalline moment in an applicant decided his life’s calling was to become a doctor, these plagiarized stories were easily detected.

Despite your honest intentions, if you read too many sample personal statements, you may unintentionally end up plagiarizing your own story. Reading too many sample statements of purpose can make it difficult to approach yours with a fresh perspective. The cadence and style of the samples will creep into your mind. Before you know it, yours will end up sounding like all the others.

Copying material from a sample essay is not only wrong, but it’s stupid because if admissions committees pick up even a whiff of plagiarism, your application will end up in the reject pile. And it is so easy for admissions officers to detect, especially when multiple applicants use the same plagiarized story. Remember, truth and honesty have a feel like nothing else.

While it doesn’t hurt to read a couple of sample essays to help you get your creative juices flowing, keep it at that. Your personal statement is one of your best tools to make the admissions committee remember you. It’s your chance to introduce yourself as a unique individual. If you’re serious about getting into graduate school, make the most of the platform that a personal statement provides.

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