Top 5 tips for writing a personal statement

Written by Calvin Bowers

A personal statement is a short piece of writing used when applying to university. It should focus on you as a person, why you want to study a course, and any evidence you have to support that.

Starting a personal statement can feel very daunting. You may feel pressure having to write something that represents you, while also meeting the standards and criteria of the university. However, it doesn’t have to be that way.

To start off, focus on getting some words on the page. What you write in the first instance might not even end up in the final draft, it’s just about getting the ideas flowing.

Think about all the things you might want to include: work experience, hobbies, books you have read, places you have visited, reasons you like the subject, reasons you want to study it etc. The more ideas, words, notes and scribbles you can get down, the more you will have to work with.

To get you started here are our top 5 tips and tricks for writing a great personal statement:

1. Start early

You would be surprised how many people leave their personal statements to the last minute. The earlier you start, the more time you have to do multiple drafts, giving you a better chance of producing a powerful statement.

The biggest thing you will learn at university is that the more drafts you do, the better the final result! With every draft, your statement will become more concise and direct; and with a limited word count, you can’t afford to waffle.

2. Write about what you care about

Try not to let what other people think influence what you write. Admissions teams are looking out for authentic enthusiasm from people who care about the course.

There is no point in pretending to know about a book you haven’t read or saying you are passionate about a subject you don’t know anything about. Universities want to see students who are engaged with the course, not ones who say things to try and look like the best student possible.

3. Avoid clichés

One of the most common downfalls of personal statements is when students used clichéd phrases that they don’t mean; for example, “I’ve always dreamed of becoming a doctor” or “Geography is my life’s passion”. These tell universities nothing about who you are and don’t help your statement to stand out.

4. Make sure it’s relevant to all courses you are applying to

With thousands of undergraduate courses available, it’s no wonder that some students can’t narrow to just one. Suppose you are applying to differing courses. In that case, your statement must reflect all of them, as you are only allowed one.

Usually, the courses students are applying for are connected or similar in some way, such as Maths at one university and Accounting at another, which makes this job more manageable. Try and find connections between your subjects and frame your interest in multiple subjects in a positive light.

5. Get someone to check it

Before you submit your statement, somebody must check it for you. Ask a teacher at school to check the content and a parent or friend to help you with your grammar and spelling.

An extra tip is to read it on a different medium; if you have been reading it on your computer the whole time, try printing it out! You’ll be amazed at how much a different perspective improves your work.

Last Updated: Friday October 9 2020
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