Tips and tricks for writing your personal statement

11 Oct 2022
Person writing in a notepad with a pencil, pencil sharpenings on the paper

The personal statement is your opportunity to bring yourself to life for your chosen universities. If you’re at any stage of working on a personal statement here are some tips for how to approach it when it is feeling overwhelming. There is no right or wrong way to go about writing a personal statement so go with what feels best for you.

Top tips

Work(sheet) it out

Our lovely Future Students team have made you a worksheet to help guide you through the process of writing a personal statement. They literally travel around the country delivering talks on this exact subject, so you know this is solid stuff. Give the Personal Statement Worksheet a try.

Here’s a really good way to structure it

  • Briefly summarise your excitement for and understanding of the course

  • Give us evidence to prove your interest in and understanding of the subject or career area. This could be from previous study, wider reading, MOOCs, lectures or any other resource

  • Reflect on work experience that’s relevant to your course or career

  • Think about the relevant skills you bring to it

  • Reaffirm your desire to study this subject and what you’ll gain or where you hope it will lead you

Just write

Don’t edit yourself as you write. Own the fact that you are not producing the best thing ever as you write it for the first time, just write. The power of the personal statement is in the editing and polishing. You’re likely to do that a lot before you’re happy with it.

Why University?

You definitely want to show off your knowledge, skills and past experiences that make you a great candidate for your subject or career. However, you want to make sure that you demonstrate that you are not a finished product. You’re keen to learn more, push yourself further and develop your skills. Make sure you communicate how your experience at university can help you to achieve your career dreams or engage in an academic community you are passionate about.

Getting the right information in there

If you’re unsure what to write use the websites for the universities you’re applying to and look at what modules or topics you’re going to be studying. Talking about 1 or 2 of those can really help to show your understanding of the course.

Type and edit on a separate document

Don’t draft your personal statement straight into the UCAS application as it times you out.

Save often and create new copies of each draft. If you take something out and then wish you hadn’t at least you can go back to a previous draft to retrieve it.

Read it out loud

Really. You’ll catch spelling and grammar errors, be able to crop those run-on sentences that just go on and on for no good reason at all, and you’re more likely to hear if you’ve used the same word lots of times.
If you get called for an interview remember to re-read your personal statement beforehand to remind yourself of your key points.

Nitty gritty FAQs

  • What is the word limit? Just to keep it interesting, there’s not a word limit but rather a character and lines limit. You only have 4,000 characters and 47 lines to play with. If you’re trying to get those characters down think of each sentence individually and ask if it’s telling us something about you and what you know about the course or career. If it is, that’s great, but if it isn’t then consider leaving it out.
  • What font should I use? Don’t waste your time on selecting a font. UCAS will turn it into a generic serif font when you paste it into your application anyway.
  • I’m mature/international/part-time, etc. What do I do? Exactly the same as above. Fundamentally, you’re a student first. Talk about what makes you unique, whether that’s skills you gained from the workforce, or the perspective you have coming from a different country and culture.
  • Is it really a problem if I copy a personal statement or use a service to write one for me? Yes, this is a problem. UCAS checks every personal statement and a plagiarised one will be flagged. You can write this thing and you do have plenty to write about.

You can do it!

Believe in yourself. That stands both for the content of what you are writing and the very act of writing your personal statement. Keep it in perspective; you’re doing this all for the bigger purpose of getting you onto the next amazing step of your life.

Have some questions?

Feel free to get in touch with us on Live Chat, we’re always happy to hear from you. You can ask for contact details for the Future Students team if you want advice on writing your personal statement.

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