University Applications: How to Write a Killer Personal Statement

A good personal statement can mean the difference between receiving an offer at your chosen university and being unsuccessful, which is why it’s one of the most important parts of your UCAS application. It gives you the chance to stand out from the other candidates, meaning being able to write a killer statement that’s original, showcases your strengths and has perfect spelling and grammar is crucial. Most students find it tricky to talk about themselves, and trying to condense everything into 4,000 characters can certainly be an overwhelming task. Here’s some fantastic tips to help you write a statement that really makes you shine.

Firstly- don’t wait to get started!

One of the big mistakes many students make is not giving themselves enough time to write a killer personal statement, so end up writing a rushed version just to meet the deadline. Be sensible and get started as early as possible. Give yourself enough time to plan out and structure your personal statement, ensuring you include everything you want to say. You will probably have to redraft your statement a number of times, so having the time to do this until you get it exactly right is essential.

Make a plan BEFORE you start writing

A great tip when starting your personal statement is to sit down and organise your thoughts before writing anything. Remember, there’s no one size fits all method, so try to be engaging and tell a story as this can make your statement more memorable. Create a brief outline of what you want to say, a theme or story you want to include and create a rough plan of the paragraphs, introduction and final sentences. This will help you see how much ‘space’ you have and make it easier to identify what sections need cutting down or areas that need more information.

Know what’s expected

It’s also useful to know what most university admissions teams expect to see. Here’s some key points to consider including:

  • Evidence of your enthusiasm and knowledge for your chosen course
  • Why you are interested in the subject
  • Your life ambitions and how the course will help you achieve them
  • Your skills and relevance to the chosen subject
  • Reflections on any work experience- especially if you are applying to courses linked to the profession
  • Any achievements or prizes you have won during your time studying
  • Your wider interests and hobbies
  • Any career plans you have

Top Tip: If you’re struggling to get started- don’t start at the start! Concentrate on the main content of your statement and write the introduction last.

Perfect the format

You want your personal statement to be easy to read, so avoid big blocks of text and long sentences. Write well-structured paragraphs with short sentences, so your experience, additional qualifications and aspirations are clearly defined. It’s also a good idea to have a great opening sentence- try to start it with something funny, unusual, interesting or surprising as it will leave a good first impression and make sure the reader keeps going. Don’t overthink it though- we promise it will come to you after you’ve been working on your personal statement for hours and hours!

Top Tip: Remember to avoid clichés, quotes or anything too cheesy at all costs- just be yourself!

Let your personality shine

Don’t forget you’re an interesting person, so your personal statement should be too! Just let your personality shine through while you’re writing and only include things you really mean or think, as it will be more obvious than you think if you don’t. Personal statements should be original and reflect who you are as an individual. Remember, you’re unique so be yourself and don’t worry about trying to show off extravagant claims that aren’t true or be someone you’re not.

Show real interest in the subject

It sounds obvious, but showing a real interest and passion in the subjects you’re applying for is the key to standing out. In fact, a significant amount of the statement should focus on your chosen subject and details of what you have read or participated in to show evidence of your genuine interest.

Top Tip: If you’re applying for a variety of different courses -try to write about common themes that are relevant to them all.

Tell them why should they choose you

The key theme of your personal statement is telling the universities why they should choose you- so make sure you address this throughout! Ways to do this include:

  • Presenting yourself in a positive light and letting them know what you can bring to their institution.
  • Be analytical rather than just descriptive – don’t just discuss what you’ve read or done. Universities want to know what you’ve gained from your experiences and how it’s changed your perception.
  • Go beyond your qualifications and tell them what else you have been doing apart from studying your subject.

Get someone to proofread your writing

Poor grammar and spelling mistakes will likely mean your application is disregarded without a second thought. Ask your parents, teachers, tutors and friends to read over for grammar, spelling and their general feedback. The more people you show it to, the more feedback you will get, and the better your final statement will be. It’s also a fantastic idea to read it a few times out loud, as this can help you identify where you may need commas, have misused a word or where a few paragraphs don’t flow or make sense.

If you’re struggling to get started…

Read a couple of examples

Reading some examples of successful personal statements is a great way to get some new ideas and start to feel inspired. Take notes on the types of stories included, the language used and general structure as this can help you when you start to flesh out your own.

For more information on how to write a personal statement, check out this UCAS guide here.