How to Write a Personal Statement
A personal statement is a piece of writing, no longer than 4000 characters or 47 lines (which ever comes first) including blank lines/spaces, which are sent to universities along with your application. Your aim, when writing a personal statement, is to sell yourself. You have to tell the admissions tutors why you are right for this course. However, you can only write one statement to be sent to all of your chosen courses. This can be hard if you have chosen very different courses to apply for. In that case, you will need to find an underlying theme, such as creativity or logical thinking, and write about that.
What to Include
Below are some things you should include in your personal statement. This is a guideline only and some sections may not apply to you personally.
Write About Your Chosen Course
You need to tell the admissions tutor why you have chosen this course, especially if you haven’t previously studied it before, and why you are right for the course. Include relevant skills and experiences that will help you excel in your chosen course. You might also want to say why you want to go to university, rather than going straight into work, and you should show a clear understanding of your chosen course.
Skills and Achievements
Admissions tutors like to know what skills you have that will help you on your course and make you stand out from the crowd, as well as any awards you have received, such as the Duke of Edinburgh award and the AimHigher Certificate of Personal Effectiveness (CoPE). You can also include any other achievements you are proud of, even if you think they may seem insignificant.
Hobbies and Interests
If you do any extracurricular activities, then think how it can demonstrate your skills and ability to complete your chosen university course. Don’t just say ‘I enjoy badminton’, though. Instead say something like ’I play badminton three times a week with a club that has won two local competitions this year. It requires good team work and the ability to devise a game plan, but also be flexible enough to adapt to what it happening and react quickly. Fitting in these activities as well as keeping up with my studies requires good time management, which I believe I do effectively. ‘
Work experience can be hard to obtain. If you have any, paid or unpaid, then it will look impressive in your personal statement, especially if it’s related to your course. Include details on your responsibilities in the job and how it can help with your course content. This is a great opportunity to show your knowledge and understanding of your course and say why you want to study it. For example, if you worked with customers, then you can say that ‘in my time working in customer enquiries in a department store, I found that effective communication between a business and its customers is paramount to good customer service. I would like to develop my skills in communication by studying a degree in public relations.’
If you know what you want to do after studying your chosen course, then you can explain how you intend to use the knowledge and experience you gain by studying this degree.
If you are applying as a mature student, then a personal statement is a great place to explain what you have been doing since leaving education. You may have some valuable experience that can help you get an offer. You may also want to mention why you want to return to education and how this degree will help you with your future plans.
If you are applying as an international student, then a personal statement is a great place to tell the university why you want to study abroad and that you will be able to successfully complete a course taught in English. If you have any experience being taught in English, for example if one of your classes was taught or examined in English, then mention it in your personal statement.
Dos and Don’ts
Do write in your best, but natural, English writing.
Do sound enthusiastic.
Do plan the structure and only write what is really relevant.
Do write lots of drafts.
Do ask your teacher, parents, career advisor or anyone you trust to look over it and give you honest feedback and suggestions.
Do ask the universities what they look for in a personal statement. Look at prospectuses and the university’s website to see what they look for in students and reflect that in your personal statement.
Do remove all distractions.
Don’t name a university; you can only write one application, so saying you love one university won’t look good from the perspective of other universities.
Don’t make spelling or grammar mistakes.
Don’t write jokes; the admissions tutor may not have the same sense of humour as you and it may offend them.
Don’t rely on a spellchecker, as sometimes it misses grammatical issues.
Don’t think you have to write elaborately; some of the best writing is concise and unnecessary elaboration can simply damage your word count.
Don’t lie or exaggerate; admissions tutors may refer to your personal statement in an interview and will be able to spot any lies or exaggeration.
Don’t leave it till the last minute; it will look rushed.
Don’t use bold, italics or underlining; formatting will be removed when the application is sent.
Please note, copying other people’s personal statements is illegal. It must be your own work. All personal statements are checked for similarity to previously submitted personal statements. If your statement has 10% or more similarity, then it is reviewed by a team of people and universities are then notified by email of a similarity detection in your personal statement. The universities can then choose what further action to take, if any.