Tips and tricks for writing your personal statement

28 Sep 2023
Person writing in a notepad with a pencil, pencil sharpenings on the paper

A personal statement is a great way to show the admissions team who you are, beyond your grades. With so much competition for university places, it’s your opportunity to set yourself apart from other applicants and showcase your ambition, skills and passion for your chosen degree course. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to go about writing a personal statement. It should be personal, engaging, and most importantly, written by you. Take a look at our top tips below.

Work(sheet) it out

The Future Students team, who are our resident experts in delivering presentations on how to write a personal statement, have prepared a brilliant Personal Statement Worksheet for you. This worksheet has lots of tips and exercises to help you create a personal statement that showcases your skills and achievements. Once you’ve finished reading this blog, we’d recommend you take a look at the worksheet.

Here’s a really good way to structure it

Personal statement structure

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 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. On our website you will be able to find a drop-down menu of modules with descriptions on the course pages. Talking about one or two of the modules you find can really help to show your understanding of the course.

Just write

Don’t edit yourself as you write. Own the fact that you are not producing the best thing ever for your first draft, just write. The power of the personal statement is in the next stage of editing and polishing. You’re likely to do that a lot before you’re happy with it, so remember to draft your personal statement in Word rather than straight into the UCAS application system as it times out and you’ll lose your work.

Read it out loud

It’s a great idea to do this. You will spot spelling and grammar mistakes, be able to trim those lengthy sentences that have no clear purpose, and you are more likely to notice if you have repeated the same word too often. It’s also always handy to get a family member to proofread your final version before you submit. If you are invited for an interview, make sure to re-read your personal statement beforehand to refresh your memory of your main points.

You can do it!

Have confidence in yourself. This applies to both the substance of what you are writing and the very act of writing your personal statement. Remember the bigger picture; you are doing this to achieve the next remarkable step in your life.

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 a mature/international/part-time student. 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. Believe in yourself - you can write this thing and you do have plenty to write about.

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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