Personal Statement Advice

Your personal statement

Tell the universities and colleges why they should choose you

The personal statement is your opportunity to tell universities and colleges about your suitability for the course(s) that you hope to study. You need to demonstrate your enthusiasm and commitment, and above all, ensure that you stand out from the crowd.

The personal statement can be different to application essays or personal statements from other countries, so please read the guidance in this section before completing the statement.

Does it matter?

Some course tutors find personal statements crucial when making decisions, whereas others might not put as much emphasis on them. Since you do not know who will be looking at your statement, the safest thing is to do a good job. In many cases, applicants are not interviewed, so this may be your only chance to make the case for you to be offered a place. Remember that the person reading your statement is an expert in your chosen area of interest so they will want to know the reasons why you have chosen the subject.

Make sure that your personal statement is your own work

We put all applications through similarity detection tests, which identify statements that have been copied from another source. Do not be tempted to copy another person’s application materials, or download your personal statement from a website. There could be serious consequences to using other people’s work. If any part of your personal statement appears to have been copied, we will inform all the universities and colleges to which you have applied. They will then take the action they consider to be appropriate.

Dos and don’ts when constructing your personal statement

Do create a list of your ideas before attempting to write the real thing.

Do expect to produce several drafts before being totally happy.

Do ask people you trust for their feedback.

Do check university and college prospectuses, websites and Entry Profiles, as they usually tell you the criteria and qualities that they want their students to demonstrate.

Do use your best English/ and don’t let spelling and grammatical errors spoil your statement.

Do be enthusiastic – if you show your interest in the course, it may help you get a place – at least 2/3 of your personal statement should be subject/academic based.

Don’t feel that you need to use elaborate language. If you try too hard to impress with long words that you are not confident using, the focus of your writing may be lost.

Don’t say too much about things that are not relevant – if you think that you are starting to, take a break and come back to your statement when you feel more focused.

Don’t lie – if you exaggerate you may get caught out at interview when asked to elaborate on an interesting achievement.

Don’t rely on a spellchecker as it will not pick up everything – proof read as many times as possible.

Don’t leave it to the last minute – your statement will seem rushed and important information could be left out.

Don’t expect to be able to write your personal statement whilst watching TV or surfing the internet – this is your future, so make the most of the opportunity to succeed.

Points to consider when writing your personal statement

Explain why you want to study the course you are applying for. If you mention your personal interests and hobbies, try to link them to the skills and experience required for the course.

The personal statement could be used as the basis for an interview, so be prepared to answer questions on it.

This may be your only written work that the course tutor sees before making a decision: make sure it is organised and literate. Get the grammar, spelling and punctuation right. A statement filled with errors will give a negative impression of your skills and the effort you have put in to being accepted. Your statement must be written in English (or it can be in Welsh if you are applying only to Welsh universities and colleges).

Writing about yourself is probably not something you do very often, so you might need to practise writing in this particular style. It is a good idea to list your hobbies and achievements, and then you can decide which ones demonstrate your strongest skills and personality.

Expand upon your interests and experiences

Your statement will be more convincing and personal if you write about why an experience, activity or interest makes you a good candidate for the course. Include enough additional information to make it interesting and to demonstrate your own interest. Rather than making a statement such as:

‘I enjoy badminton’

try to provide context and show what you have learnt

‘I play badminton twice a week with a club that plays in local competitions and I play in both singles and doubles matches. Doubles matches requires good team working, an ability to support your partner, to devise a game plan but be able to adapt it as required and fast reactions. I enjoy the social side of the club and take responsibility for organising the social activities and fundraising events. This gives me an opportunity to develop my organisational and planning skills. Fitting in all these activities while keeping up with my academic studies demands good time management and I think I do that very well.’

Applying to multiple courses

Remember that you only write one personal statement so it will be used for all your choices. Try not to mention a university or college by name, even if you’re applying to only one university – your personal statement cannot be changed if you apply to a different place later.

If you are applying for a joint degree you will need to explain why you are interested in both aspects of this joint programme. If you are applying for different subjects or courses, you need to identify the common themes and skills that are relevant to your choices. For example, both mathematics and law are subjects where you have to think logically and apply rules. You may like both subjects because you enjoy solving problems, using theory and natural or man-made laws to come to a correct conclusion.

If your chosen courses cannot be linked by a common theme, think about your reasons for applying to such varied courses – it might be useful to speak to a careers adviser to get some guidance.

If you mention a subject in your personal statement and are applying to other courses, you may be asked by the university or college for additional information about why you have chosen alternative courses.

Attention-grabbing

Some statements start with quotes, some include jokes, some set out to be unusual or eye-catching. Sometimes it works, but it might have the opposite effect to what you hoped. The admissions decision maker may not share your sense of humour so be careful when trying to make your statement stand out.

What to Include

Interests, experiences and abilities that can be included in your statement

Below are some suggestions of what to include in your personal statement. These are guidelines only so don’t worry if some of the suggestions do not apply to you.

Why you have chosen the course(s) – this is particularly important when you’re applying for a subject that you have not studied before.

The reasons why that subject area interests you.

Evidence that you understand what is required to study the course, eg if applying for psychology courses, show that you know how scientific the subject is.

How your current or previous studies relate to the course(s) that you have chosen.

Any activities that demonstrate your interest in the course(s).

Why you want to go to university or college.

Details of jobs, placements, work experience or voluntary work, particularly if it’s relevant to your chosen course(s).

Hobbies, interests and social activities that demonstrate your skills and abilities.

Details of non-accredited skills and achievement which you have gained through activities such as:

ASDAN (Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network) awards,
for example, Universities Award

Diploma of Achievement

Duke of Edinburgh Award

OCNW Level 3 Certificate in Personal Development for Progression
(previously known as the Liverpool Enrichment Programme)

Millennium Volunteers Scheme

v 50 Hour Award

WorldWide Volunteering Certificate of Volunteering Achievement

Young Enterprise

Details of accreditation achieved for any activities in preparation for higher education, for example through the ASDAN Aimhigher Certificate of Personal Effectiveness (CoPE qualification).

Any other achievements that you are proud of, eg reaching grade 3 piano or being selected for the county cricket team.

Positions of responsibility that you hold/have held both in and out of school, eg form prefect or representative for a local charity.

Attributes that make you interesting, special or unique.

Whether you have any future plans of how you want to use the knowledge and experience that you gain.

If you are not in full-time education, you should give details of any relevant work experience, paid or unpaid, and information about your current or previous employment.

If you are an international student, also give your answers to these questions:

Why do you want to study in the UK?

How can you show that you can successfully complete a higher education course that is taught in English? Please say if some of your studies have bene taught or examined in English.

Have you taken part in any activities where you have used English outside of your studies?

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