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How to write a good Personal Statement

30 Oct 18

It may seem like the term has only just started, but the UCAS deadline isn’t too far away. So if you’re planning on going to university next September, now would be a good time to start your personal statement. 

Your personal statement forms a core part of your university application and should explain why you’ve chosen that particular course and why you will be good at it.

Your personal statement should be 4,000 characters or 47 lines (whichever is shortest). To give you an idea of what this looks like, one page of Word is 51 lines. So to try and sell yourself in one page of text will be quite challenging and you will need to make sure that your writing is to the point. 

So to get you started, we thought we’d give you our top tips on how to plan, write, and check a good personal statement.

Plan your content

Start by making a rough plan of what you need to include. Try to remember that universities want you to tell them why you should be accepted onto their course. 

So before you start writing, make a few notes about why you want to study there.

Ask yourself:
  • Why do you want to study that subject?
  • Why do you want to study at that university? 
  • How will your experiences and skills help you to be a success? 
  • What work experience do you have?
  • What relevant clubs or societies are you apart of?
  • What career goals do you have?

If you’re still struggling to make a start, take a look at the UCAS page on Turing and pick up a UCAS Handbook from student services.

Make it manageable

Once you have an idea of the content, try separating it into manageable chunks. This will help you to decide what is essential and what isn’t. 

Like with most pieces of writing you’ll need a beginning, middle, and an end; so getting your content into manageable chunks will also help you to decide what should go into each section. 

Arguably, the first and last paragraphs are the most important so you can make a good first impression and leave a good lasting impression.

With this in mind, you need to cut to the chase in this first sentence and tell the reader why you want to study this course. Allow yourself 5 lines to do this.

Use the next 25 lines to explain and provide evidence of why you deserve the place, then summarise and recap in the last 15-17 lines.  

*Top Tip*

Think about your experiences, what skills these have given you, and how these will be useful to help you in your studies and future career.

Write a rubbish first draft

So now you have your content and you know what you’re going to include in each section, it’s time to write your rubbish first draft.

We call it a rubbish first draft because we don’t want you to be too precious about this one. Don’t spend too long trying to get it right first time. Just get some words down and give yourself something to build on. Good writing isn’t about the quality of your first draft. It’s about nurturing your ability to spot what’s good in your draft. 

Read, refine, and repeat

Now you have something to work with, you can spend some time tightening up your introduction, really selling yourself in the body of your statement, and finishing it off with a memorable ending.

Try to avoid using clichés and over-used phrases such as: For as long as I can remember I have… It has always been my dream to work in… Just write in a clear and simple way.

Make the final paragraph bold and memorable, leaving the reader with no doubts as to why you will be an excellent addition to their university. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through in this part either. You want to stand out, not blend in.

While you’re reviewing, keep asking yourself – is this to the point? Am I telling them why I deserve a place on this course? You are not writing an essay. What matters are the facts - get these across clearly and avoid the temptation to embroider your writing with flowery language. 

*Top Tip*

Keep communicating with your tutor and book in time to see them so they can provide you with feedback. Make sure you do this well in advance of your deadline because their time will be booked up quickly.

Before you send it…

Leave your personal statement for a couple of days and come back to it with fresh eyes. That way you’ll be able to sport any glaring errors. Once you’ve read it, ask a friend to read it. Then ask your parents to read it too. This will be useful because they should be able to let you know if it reflects who you are.

For even more tips and information about writing your personal statement, why not try:

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