How to Write a Personal Statement
Most students who sit down to plan or write their Personal Statements won’t be able to complete the entire thing straight away.
Here, we’ll help you with how to write a personal statement. This will be how to write a personal statement for uni, but these tips may also be useful if you're looking for tips on how to write a personal statement for a job or how to write a personal statement for a CV (yes, that works for a student CV too).
Make notes and use bullet points when planning
This is key when looking into how to write a good personal statement. There is no need to waste your time writing out a full and detailed plan for your personal statement. Try to use bullet points at this stage, or jot down simple notes.
What should I put in my personal statement?
There are many things to put in a personal statement, and it’s vital to only include related and positive things about yourself, this is true for undergraduate personal statements, but it’s also vital if you're looking into how to write a masters personal statement.
Why do you want to study that course?
How do your experiences and interests prove that you are committed to it? Are you right for this course? When looking at how to write a personal statement for university, you should be looking at the things that make you...well, you.
Once you begin to map out in your mind the answers to these questions, words, memories and experiences should begin leaping out towards you. Write these down as they will probably be an asset to your personal statement.
I find it hard to write about myself
It can be really tough to write about yourself, in a formal manner and know that someone else will be reading it – smart and important people that decide whether or not to offer you a place – no pressure!
However, we all have to get over this hurdle when we write our personal statements, covering letters for jobs, UCAS Application or applications in general. Plenty of students look up how to write a good personal statement, but in the end, it all comes down to how well you communicate your interests and everything about you.
Do I write my personal statement in the first person?
All personal statements should be written in the first person. As you are writing about yourself to someone else. Even though you may not know that person(s), you are directing that writing to them, and your writing should reflect this.
An introduction can be tough to write at the beginning because it is meant to work as a general opening and introduction to the writing.
I find it hard to write to someone I don’t know
It’s tough for students that are looking into how to write a UCAS personal statement to get their head around this and we can’t blame you!
Each university has a very different system in how they narrow down their prospective students. They deal with personal statements (hundreds of thousands) each year during application season.
Although it may feel strange to write to someone, about your life and your hopes and dreams and you will probably never meet them ever. However, when you start to adjust to the flow of writing your statement, it becomes a lot easier to write.
I find it hard to praise myself in my personal statement
Again, this is also normal, even for people looking into how to write a personal statement for masters, it can also help if you're looking into how to write a personal statement for college as well.
It can sometimes be much easier to list weaknesses than strengths, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have any! Start to really think about what makes you a good person and why you excel in your subject. You wouldn’t be able to pass or apply to university if you weren’t intelligent and had strengths to list!
You could also ask your friends, family and teachers to list five things that they believe are your best qualities, both personally and academically.
You might gather ideas as to what to write about yourself in your personal statement. For example, your English Language teacher could tell you that you are really good at researching, planning and implementing feedback, which means you may be suited to an English Language degree. When you discuss this during your Personal Statement, you could state how this will help you during your independent study and to progress through coursework.
Should I download a template for personal statements?
Using a template is a very good idea, but you have to make the personal statement unique to yourself. Copying someone else’s personal statement will result in a dismissal of entry to university.
We recommend viewing personal statement examples, so it can give you an insight into what universities are looking for.
You wouldn’t want your application to be ignored, or that the universities cancel and withdraw their offer. It is the same that you wouldn’t condone plagiarism during an exam or on an essay, so don’t lower your expectations when it comes to writing your personal statement. If you’re unsure if your statement is totally unique, then check out a plagiarism checker.
Do I need to write my introduction first in my personal statement?
Even though you don’t necessarily need a full introduction, if you’re wondering how to write a university personal statement, then the best advice is that a few sentences summarising yourself and your intention to study a certain subject is a strong introduction. However, that doesn’t mean you have to write it first.
Actually, an introduction can be tough to write at the beginning because it is meant to work as a general opening and introduction to the writing. If you haven’t finished the statement, how can you introduce it?
Students can always go back and write their introduction at the end, where they can work on ensuring it is a strong piece of text.
Try writing random sections, sentences and paragraphs
This is great as well if you’re looking at how to write a good personal statement for a CV and for how to write a good personal statement for a job as well.
A great way to get your mind flowing is to begin writing random sections, sections or even paragraphs. Don’t worry too much about the ‘correct’ order at this point in time. Just work on getting your thoughts down on paper and to get your point across.
Open up a word document and start writing about different parts of your life and leave spaces in between each set of words. Later on, you can start to piece them together and edit them, which is what every personal statement needs to include.
How do I get everything down that I want to say?
First, stop panicking about what you need to write in your personal statement or how to write a good personal statement for UCAS.
There is enough time to edit, and have your friends and family to look at it. Tutors and career advisers at your sixth form and further education college care about you applying to university and are just some of the people that you can ask for help with your personal statement. They will also invest time to help you get everything you want to say down on paper.
Additionally, after you have received your feedback, you can look back to that initial list of strengths, experiences and interests that you wrote when you began planning your personal statement.
Check back to this now and again to ensure you haven’t missed anything from the list. Keep the list with you when you are writing your personal statement so that you can refer to it at any time, or write down more notes throughout the process.
There is no need to waste your time writing out a full and detailed plan for your personal statement.
Who should I ask to read the first draft of my personal statement?
Once you have finished your first draft, let others read it, the same if you're looking at how to write a personal statement for a job application. Then you can look through all of their feedback and change the points that you want to. Remember, you can’t satisfy everyone when it comes to constructive feedback.
Your mum, dad, teacher, brother and BFF may have conflicting advice. If this is true, then you can’t implement all the changes that they think you should. Therefore, it is important to be able to gather all the feedback and work out which is best for you and what makes sense to your statement.
How do I motivate myself to begin my personal statement?
Firstly, how many weeks or months do you have until the UCAS deadline? Students should maybe tell themselves that the UCAS deadline is a week before it is so that they plan to get everything sorted in enough time.
When you think about how many weeks you have left to complete the entire application, consider the time you won’t have to do it. For example, you probably won’t work on your personal statement when you have mock or real exams to revise for, when you have coursework due or during Christmas break. Take these weeks away, and you’ll find that you won’t have as long as you initially thought.
It may seem far away, but the UCAS deadline will arrive quickly. Start working on small amounts as soon as you can. Even if you only get a chance to write down a list, or to look back at all of your previous work experiences on the weekend.
A small amount of work is better than leaving the entire job. As when it comes to writing it, you will feel overwhelmed by the amount of work you need to do and most likely, freak out or procrastinate.
If you can only spare a few hours a week to look at it, then that is better than nothing. Just don’t let yourself ignore it completely.
How to end a personal statement
The conclusion to your personal statement is just as important as the introduction. Your ending should bring the whole statement to a close satisfyingly and neatly.
Be sure to revisit some of the key points you have made earlier in the statement. This gives a feeling of unity and allows you to reinforce key messages and topics.
Ending on an optimistic note is always a good idea. Look to the future and what you plan to achieve by attending university and by studying the course you have applied for. Your ambitions don't necessarily need to be related to your course, but rather a general goal or milestone you want to reach.
Try to avoid repeating yourself, stick to reinforcing the overall message. Ending on an optimistic note that supports your earlier statements is an excellent way to end your statement with a flourish.