Writing your personal statement

girl writing her personal statement

Perhaps you're just starting to think about writing your personal statement or you're suffering from a case of writer's block, we've got some useful hints and tips for you to make the process easier.

It's never too early to start working on your personal statement, it's advisable to give yourself as much time as possible. It may well be the only chance you have to 'speak' directly to an Admissions Tutor, so it's important to make that right first impression.

applying to university front cover

Many courses are highly competitive with candidates having similar grades, so conveying your enthusiasm about the course you've applied for and setting yourself out from the crowd is key.

So take a look over our top tips below and download our 'Practical Guide to Writing Your Personal Statement' for everything that you need to know to make sure your personal statement is the best it can be!


Top Tips

number 1

Don't over complicate it

It can be tempting to try and include everything you have ever done in your personal statement but it's key to keep your statement concise, natural and relevant to the course you are applying for. Don't include irrelevant facts and adopt the approach of always trying to explain how a point relates. If you find that it doesn't, leave it out.

personal statement number 2

Prepare to write several drafts

Practice makes perfect. With your personal statement, prepare to write several drafts before you feel confident with the end result. Did you know the average applicant writes six versions of their personal statement? A good statement goes through several drafts, so don't be disheartened if it doesn't come to you straight away.

number 3

Be mindful of the character limit

On personal statements, UCAS have a 4000 word character limit, which is roughly about 500 words. It may seem tough to put across your academic and personal achievements to your Admissions Tutor in such a short amount, but being concise is not only crucial to making the best personal statement, it's a key skill to adopt for future University essays and beyond.

number 4

Be honest

While you want to impress, you must prepare to talk at length about everything written within your personal statement if you're invited to interview. If you can't be honest about why you are a good candidate for your potential course, it may be worth considering whether it's really for you.

number 5

Check, Check and Check again

Spelling, grammar and cross checking your statement for mistakes is key to the success of your submission. Remember that a spell check is not always "foolproof" and can't pick up on everything. Read it out loud, even ask a friend or a family member to take a look over it. Sometimes when you've spent a long time writing something and you know how it's going to make sense in your head, you may not pick up on the odd word that's out of place. A fresh set of eyes can always help.


girl studying

When writing your personal statement, it can be easy to go off on a tangent. So look at bullet pointing your ideas on a piece of paper and once your ideas are in place, look at structuring these in a simple but effective way.

The introduction

  • Start with an engaging first sentence and catch the eye of your Admissions tutor. Make it unique, the most overused phrases range from "From a young age I have always been interested in" to "I've always wanted to study...".
  • Why do you want to do the course? Talk about what made you want to apply for the course. Show that you have researched what the course involves. What motivates you to study a subject in-depth for the next 3-4 years?

Skills, achievements and your experience

  • When you start each paragraph, highlight a new skill, achievement or experience that either relates to your course or shows how you are able to meet the demands of it. Try not to start each paragraph with 'I'.
  • Keep the relevant points first. Think about how your experience relates to the course you want to apply for, what is the most interesting?
  • Point, Evidence, Explain. Make your point, provide the evidence behind it and explain. An example, if you wanted to study Journalism and wrote for a local newsletter, explain how this experience is relevant to the course you are applying for. 

The end

  • Ensure that you conclude by summarising everything that you have mentioned. Finish on a high note reiterating your commitment to study the course you're applying for.

Top Tips from an Admissions tutor

When writing your personal statement, it’s the Admissions Tutor you’re looking to impress. Andy, a Psychology Admissions Tutor has looked at many personal statements over the years and has some important advice…

“When looking at applicant personal statements, I look for an understanding of the motivation to study the subject. What sparked your interest in the topic? What experience have you had of the area you’re applying for? I look to find out more about the person’s career goals and how the course helps towards this. Top tip: You should be careful not to make claims about career pathways that are not accessible via the course you’re applying for. Another top tip would be to indicate your wider interests, where, if at all, these relate to the course.” 

Andy Morley