Your personal statement is a crucial element of your university application, often making the difference between acceptance and rejection. While grades and experiences matter, a compelling personal statement can set you apart from other candidates with similar credentials. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the process of planning, writing, and refining your perfect personal statement.
The key question to think about when you are writing your personal statement is: Why should YOU get a place on the course?
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Know Your Deadlines! 2024 Entry
Plan your personal statement well in advance of application deadlines. Different courses and universities may have varying deadlines, so stay informed and ensure you have ample time to refine your statement.
16 October 2023:
- Oxford and Cambridge universities
31 January 2024*:
- Majority of undergraduate courses
*You can still apply after this date, however course spaces will start to fill up and your application may not be considered equally.
Top things to consider when writing a personal statement:
- Understanding the Purpose: It’s not merely a summary of your achievements; it’s a narrative that paints a vivid picture of who you are, your motivations, and why you are the right fit for your chosen course.
- Plan Thoughtfully: Before diving into writing, create a plan. Answer key questions about what you want to study, why, and how your personality and experiences align with your chosen course. Consider your interests, skills, and relevant extracurricular activities.
- Effective Openings: Avoid clichés and get straight to the point and capture your reader’s attention from the outset. Create an effective opening that sets the tone for your personal statement. Whether it’s a compelling anecdote, a thought-provoking quote, or a bold statement of intent, make sure it resonates with your story. Examples of what not to include:
- From a young age I have (always) been [interested in/fascinated by]…
- For as long as I can remember, I have…
- I have always been interested in…
- I have always wanted to pursue a career in…
- Throughout my life I have always enjoyed…
- Reflecting on my educational experiences…
- [Subject] is a very challenging and demanding [career/profession/course]…
- Academically, I have always been…
- I have always been passionate about…
- Be Bold About Achievements: Don’t downplay your achievements. Boldly present your accomplishments, ensuring that the reader sees you as an exceptional candidate. Use concrete examples to back up your claims. Don’t waste a single character going on about how great your GCSE grades are – it’s not what the admissions tutor wants to read. What have you done that is different?
Top tip: Getting someone else’s view here can help you get some perspective.
- Showcasing Your Passion: Your personal statement is the canvas on which you paint your passion. Use it to express your genuine enthusiasm for the subject or course you’re applying to. Relate personal experiences, encounters, or moments that ignited this passion and influenced your decision to pursue higher education in this field.
- Keep it Simple and Concise: Write clearly and concisely. Avoid flowery language and focus on communicating your ideas effectively. Stick to the facts and ensure your enthusiasm for the subject shines through. You only have 4,000 characters, but you will be limited to your line count. 3,500 is a more realistic word count target.
Top Tip: Use 60% of your word count to talk about your course, why you want to do it and how you’re suited to it, 30% on your work experience and any other activities that are relevant to your subject and 10% on your career aspirations.
- Demonstrating Academic Interest: Align your academic interests with your aspirations. Discuss relevant books, articles, or projects that have inspired or deepened your understanding of the subject. University admissions teams are interested in candidates who are not only passionate but also intellectually curious.
- Reflecting on Extracurriculars: Extracurricular activities are a valuable component of your personal statement. Reflect on how your involvement in clubs, sports, or community service has shaped your character and skills. Highlight specific achievements and draw connections between these experiences and your academic and career goals.
- After-school clubs
- Debating societies
- Blog writing
Top tip: You are not writing about what you are learning in your school syllabus
- Addressing Challenges and Growth: Don’t shy away from discussing challenges you’ve faced. Embrace the guide’s advice and use these experiences as opportunities for personal growth. Explain how overcoming obstacles has strengthened your resilience and contributed to your readiness for the challenges of university life.
- Concluding with Impact: Craft a conclusion that leaves a lasting impression. Summarise your key points, reiterate your passion, and express your excitement for the educational journey ahead. Leave the reader with a sense of anticipation about the unique contributions you’ll bring to the academic community.
- Edit and Proofread: Edit your personal statement meticulously. Check for grammar and spelling errors, and seek feedback from peers or online tutors. Ensure that your statement is well-organised and aligns with the character or line limits specified by UCAS.
Crafting an exceptional personal statement requires careful planning, bold expression, and meticulous editing. As you embark on this journey, remember that your personal statement is a reflection of you—your passions, achievements, and aspirations. Take the time to make it compelling, genuine, and tailored to the course you’re applying for. Best of luck in your university application!