Tips On Writing Your Personal Statement
A quick and easy job?
Every student applying to uni now has to submit a personal statement with their application. Sounds like a quick and easy job? Spend half an hour writing a few words about yourself and get it filed... But think again, your personal statement will be read by experienced university staff who know what they are looking for and who can also spell and notice poor grammar. It may mean the difference between an offer at your top choice uni and disappointment, or acceptance versus rejection if you drop a grade in your A levels.
Writing your personal statement: the basics
- Your personal statement must be no longer than 4,000 characters with spaces. You need to use your word processing program to measure what you have written and make sure any modifications along the way do not take you over that limit. As an example, this article is just over 3500 characters with spaces.
- Do not be tempted to copy from someone else or crib text from the internet. Most universities run every student's personal statement through an online plagiarism checker. It’s possible to add a library of documents to also check against, so any plagiarism will be found out and your application will be kicked out for this year. Be original – too much is at stake.
- Don’t make stuff up. Yes, you want to portray yourself in the best possible light, but claiming to have done things you haven’t, or even just exaggerating ridiculously will damage your credibility once you are rumbled.
- Don’t mention specific universities or courses at named institutions. Your personal statement is sent to all your five choices, so keep it general and talk about your subject more generally about the type of course you are interested in.
- Get it in on time. Don’t leave things to the last minute and write a rushed statement, or miss the deadline.
Writing the best personal statement for you
The key to producing a good personal statement is preparation. You should start thinking about what you would like to put in it right at the start of your A levels, or even earlier. The top ranking universities and the most sought after courses want to choose students who are enthusiastic about their subject, who have some experience of real life and who are good all-rounders. If you want to put it in your statement, you have to get on and do it, not just join clubs at the last minute or have grand plans.
Make your personal statement just that – personal to you. Take time to think about how you want to get across key elements of your personality and achievements. Not everyone is Captain of the school football team, completes the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award or goes back-packing in India in the holidays but everyone applying to uni does have a unique set of characteristics. Being honest and describing yourself in your own style is crucial.
Tips for producing a personal statement with the wow factor
- Make sure your statement sticks to the basics(see above).
- Take time to write a draft statement, and then revisit and revise it over a few weeks to improve and refine your ideas.
- Explain clearly and honestly why you are interested in studying your chosen course and do some reading and activities to demonstrate that interest.
- Get feedback from your teachers, parents and other mentors about the content and the way your statement reads. Friends can be of some help, but people your own age in the same position won’t really have the experienced view you need.
- Check your spelling and grammar, then check it again.