Writing your Personal Statement
Once you've decided which universities and courses to apply for, completing your application is pretty simple – until it comes to writing your Personal Statement.
This guide covers everything you need to know about writing your Personal Statement. We look at what it is and how you can plan and write it. We've also got questions to guide you and a suggested structure you can use so you don't miss anything out.
What is the Personal Statement?
The Personal Statement is part of your UCAS application. It's how you show your chosen universities why you'll make a great student and why they should make you an offer.
Your Personal Statement also helps you think about your choice of course and your reasons for applying, so you know you’ve made the right decision.
Personal statement length
Your Personal Statement can be up to 4,000 characters long.
This may sound a lot, but it's only about 1 side of typed A4 paper. You need to keep it concise and make sure it's clear and easy to read.
Applying for multiple courses
Although you can apply for up to 5 courses on your UCAS application, you can only submit 1 Personal Statement. So it needs to cover all your course choices.
How universities use your Personal Statement
Lots of students who apply to university have achieved the basic entry requirements and many more students apply than there are places available. Admissions teams can use your Personal Statement to get to know you and decide why you're more suitable than other applicants.
Some universities read every Personal Statement and score them. Then they use them alongside your qualifications and grades to decide whether to offer you a place or interview. Other universities put less emphasis on the Personal Statement and use it with students who have borderline entry requirements.
Universities might refer to your Personal Statement again on results day if you don't get the grades you need. So a good Personal Statement could clinch you a uni place even if your grades aren't what you hoped for.
Planning your Personal Statement
Planning and writing your Personal Statement can seem scary when you're staring at a blank screen. But, things will seem less daunting once you start.
- Set aside some time in a place where you're comfortable and won't be disturbed. Grab a notepad or computer.
- Write down anything and everything that's influenced your decision to go to university and study your chosen subject. Jot down your skills and experience too.
- Use the questions below to guide you. Don't worry about the Personal Statement length at this point – you can cut things out later.
When to write your Personal Statement
Ideally, you want to leave yourself plenty of time – a few weeks or even months – to plan and write your Personal Statement.
Try not to leave it to the last minute, as tempting as this may seem when you've got so many other things to think about.
- Why do you want to study at university?
- Why do you want to study this subject?
- How did you become interested in this subject?
- What career do you have in mind after university?
- How have your current studies affected your choice?
- What do you enjoy about your current studies?
- What skills have you gained from your current studies?
- How can you demonstrate you have the skills and qualities needed for the course?
- What qualities and attributes would you bring to the course and university?
- What work experience (including part-time, charity and volunteer work) do you have and what have you learnt from it?
- What positions of responsibility have you held? (For example, prefect, captain of a team or member of a committee)
- What relevant hobbies or interests do you have and what skills have they helped you develop?
- What transferable skills do you have, such as self motivation, team working, public speaking, problem solving and analytical thinking?
- How do you keep up with current affairs or news in your chosen subject?
- What journals or publications relevant to your chosen subject do you read?
- Which people have influenced you, such as artists, authors, philosophers or scientists?
Writing your Personal Statement
Now it's time to write your Personal Statement using your notes. It's best to draft it on a computer, and remember to save it regularly.
You can copy and paste it into your UCAS application when you're happy with it.
Personal Statement structure
While there's no set layout for a Personal Statement, you may find it useful to follow this structure:
- Reasons for choosing this subject(s)
- Current studies and how these relate to your chosen subject(s)
- Experiences and how these relate to your chosen subject(s)
- Interests and responsibilities and how these relate to your chosen subject(s)
- Your future after university
- Summary including why you'll make a great student
Further Personal Statement tips
- Use information on university websites and the UCAS website. This often includes the skills and qualities universities are looking for in applicants
- Ask friends, family and teachers to remind you of activities you've participated in. They might remember your successes better than you do
- Don’t include lists in your application, like a list of all your hobbies. Focus on 1 or 2 points and talk about them in depth to show their relevance to your application
- Explain and evidence everything. It’s easy to say you have a skill, but it's better to demonstrate it with an example of when and how you’ve used it
- Avoid clichéd lines such as ‘I've always wanted to be a teacher’ as it says nothing about your motivations or experiences
- If you’re applying for a joint degree or different subjects, give equal time to each area and try to find common aspects that show their similarities
- Never lie or plagiarise another statement – you'll be caught and it could result in your application being automatically rejected
- Proofread your Personal Statement by reading it out loud and ask friends, family or a teacher to check it for you