How to Get Started on Your Personal Statement

Student sitting thinking in park

A strong personal statement is often the key to success for prospective university students and really could make the difference between you getting into university and ending up in the rejection pile.

It’ll probably take you a few drafts before your personal statement is perfect, in fact many admissions tutors recommend at least three drafts before you even think about submitting it, but the effort will be worth it when you receive an offer from your first choice university.

When you’re up against hundreds, if not thousands, of students with identical academic records all declaring that they’re “passionate and committed” to their subject your personal statement is your opportunity to shine.

Here’s where to start to ensure you come out on top:

Know what you want to study

It sounds obvious, but you’re going to have to discuss what you want to study, and more importantly, why in your personal statement.

This means you need a clear idea of the answers to both those questions before you start. Just saying “I want to study English because I like reading.” isn’t going to impress anyone.

The majority of students will study for a single honours degree i.e. just one subject which means that will be the focus of their personal statement.

If you’ve chosen to study for joint honours i.e. combining two different subjects then you’ll need to carefully blend your personal statement equally so that the admissions tutors can see why you want to study both subjects.

You’ll need to make a clear case for study two subjects and not give the impression that you were indecisive about your options so simple picked both subjects.

Remember you can apply for five universities

You can apply to up to five universities, but you can only submit one personal statement. This means it’s important not to name any university in your statement.

It wouldn’t look good saying you’ve always wanted to study at Oxford if your personal statement is also going to be read by Cambridge, Reading, Nottingham, and UCL!

Even if one particular university is your top choice you need to avoid naming them or any specific details about the course in your personal statement so that it appeals to all of the admissions tutors.

Give evidence of your skills, qualities, and experience

If you’re applying for similar courses then chances are they’re going to be looking for similar skills, qualities, and experience in prospective students.

Thoroughly research each course and make a note of what they’re looking for beyond academic achievements. You can then build your personal statement around showing the admissions team that you have everything they’re looking for.

Make sure you give examples rather than just saying “I am good at team work” or “I have strong communication skills”. For example, you could discuss working with colleagues in a part-time job or writing for your school newspaper.

Have a clear structure

To ensure that your personal statement is clearly structured you might find it useful to write the first draft in bullet points and then expand the bullet points to build paragraphs.

Remember you only have 4000 characters so being clear and concise is the vital to fitting everything in.