How to write a great personal statement

How to write a great personal statement

What is a personal statement?

A personal statement is a piece of writing about yourself. It outlines why you want to study your chosen course at university. It’s a great opportunity to demonstrate that you have the skills, knowledge and experience to succeed on the course that you are interested in. You submit it online as part of your UCAS application, and can be a maximum of 47 lines or 4000 characters of text. If you do several drafts, you may find yourself counting characters in order to fit in all the interesting things you have to say! From your personal statement, admissions tutors should be able to find out more about you, your academic achievements, your interests and motivation for studying at Higher Education level.

Who reads my personal statement?

Admissions tutors are university staff who set entry criteria for courses. They will assess your application, read your personal statement and decide whether or not to give you an offer. Remember, they have to read a lot of these statements, so you need to stand out without leaving a negative impression. This means you need to show off your achievements, without being too gimmicky or trying to be funny when you aren’t.

There are certain cliches it is best to avoid, such as long quotes by historical figures or trying to incorporate song lyrics throughout for a laugh. You probably didn’t dream of studying finance since you were a young child, so don’t make a big deal about the jaw-dropping moment you experienced when you filled up your first piggy bank.

What are admissions tutors looking for?

Admissions tutors do actually want to see you succeed! They want to see the proof that you have the skills required to be a student on the course. Also important is convincing them that you are enthusiastic about contributing widely to university life through extra-curricular activities, societies, sports and volunteering.

“Enthusiasm, motivation and focus about the subject you’re applying to. Mention extra- curricular activities, transferable skills and include what your future career plans are after your degree.” – Admissions tutor

Although you complete your UCAS application online, draft your personal statement in rough first, then copy and paste it into the ‘personal statement’ section on your online application.

Top tip

Make sure you spell check thoroughly. No matter how good your personal statement sounds, if there are spelling or grammatical errors it will not give a good impression. Don’t be stupid and plagiarise.

UCAS offer advice and a very helpful video about getting your personal statement right, which is well worth a look. One to one support is also available from CU CoventryCU London and CU Scarborough, for anyone looking for help with an application.