A Guide To Writing Your Personal Statement

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Your personal statement

When you are applying to university, your personal statement is a crucial part of the process. Most universities do not offer prospective students an interview now (interviews used to be much more common). So a personal statement is the only way that a university can ‘get to know you’ albeit virtually through your own words.

How to approach writing a personal statement

Start by considering the purpose of the statement. It’s intended to convey important information about you to the tutors considering your application. They are looking for answers to the following questions:

  • Are you going to be a good match to the course you have chosen to apply for. Tutors want to see evidence of your interest, aptitude and enthusiasm. They want students who are sufficiently motivated and inspired to work and enjoy university life so that their drop-out rates are as low as possible. Demonstrating that you have a real interest in your chosen subject is a must.
  • Do you have good reasons for studying your chosen subject? Explain the background of why you are interested in your topic.
  • Does your interest in your chosen subject extend beyond school and college life? If you have done part-time work include that and the skills that you have gained. Have you done any sports, volunteering or other activities that will show commitment?
  • Will you have staying power once you get to university? Demonstrate examples of how you have aimed for a goal in your life and achieved it, even when things got tough.
  • How are you at working when there is pressure on you? Having a good clutch of GCSEs should help with that one, but try to think outside the box and present other examples. Have you competed in sports to a high level and combined this with studying? Have you done, or are you doing, a Duke of Edinburgh award, a World Challenge or participating in Young Enterprise?
  • Can you communicate well? Most courses at university involve communicating and discussing your ideas with others – fellow students and lectures and tutors. You will also be doing essay-based coursework for most subjects, so show that you can structure your statement well and that your vocabulary goes beyond the basics (don’t overdo it though...). If you speak another language fluently, say so.
  • Don’t copy someone else’s statement– that’s plagiarism and if found out, your application will be quashed. UCAS has thousands of personal statements on their system and can instantly check for plagiarism and duplication.
  • Don’t leave it till the last minute– start drafting and planning your statement NOW.
  • Don’t include specific university or course information– this statement will go to all five of your choices, so it shouldn’t concentrate only on one institution.
  • Don’t be tempted to lie, or even to stretch the truth.

Dos and Don'ts when writing a personal statement

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