Here’s how to write a shining personal statement

Depending on the course you're applying to, the personal statement may be the only chance or the first encounter that universities have with you, so it’s really important that you stand out and create a good first impression. This guide contains some tips and tricks as well as common dos and don'ts.

Unfortunately, UCAS (the platform through which UK university applications are sent through) has a very limited capacity for how much can be written. Students are capped at 4000 characters and 47 lines, making it crucial to be concise and selective about what you include.

A strong place to start is outlining why you want to study your chosen course. It’s really important to make this reason authentic and genuine. Take the admissions tutor through your journey and avoid using cliches like ‘I’ve always wanted to be a banker, doctor, lawyer, etc ever since I was a baby’ because it just isn’t realistic. Maybe there was a course that you did, books that you read, or a subject that you studied that made you want to pursue your chosen career. Be specific and reflect on exactly what it was that stood out to you and what you learnt from it.

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In the body of your statement, you can include what you have done to actively demonstrate your passion for your future career. It’s all good and well saying you’re enthusiastic and excited but what have you done to show this. Examples of this could include work experience, volunteering, part-time jobs, internships, future learn courses, MOOCs, wider reading (journals, books, articles), or listening to related podcasts. Don’t just name-drop your experiences, make sure you reflect! This is arguably the most important component of your personal statement. You should explore how it has enriched you or what it’s taught you. Depending on the type, of course, you’re applying to (for example Law or Medicine), it’s good to have a meaty part of your statement dedicated to academia. To give you a rough idea 75% of your statement should be to do with academics and about 25% can be related to extra-circulars and hobbies etc.

It’s important to show that you’re a well-rounded individual. This can be shown through the extracurricular that you do. For example, being part of a sports team, playing an instrument, or baking. It’s really personal to you so don’t be shy to share what you have done!

When ending the personal statement, a cyclical structure can be impressive which means that you link the ending back to the beginning in a subtle and clever way. This can be hard to do so don’t try and force it if it’s not possible but do try and make the ending stand out.

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Once you’ve written your first draft, expect to write several more. It takes quite a few edits to get it to where you want it to be. Get some advice from your teachers and peers, they might spot mistakes that you missed. And don’t worry if you get writer’s block, there are so many resources out there to help including youtube videos, articles, blogs, and guides.


Photo: Ivelin Radkov/Shutterstock


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