This is the tough part - turning your ideas, achievements and ambitions into a succinct, flowing personal statement that will help to sell yourself to a university admissions tutor. Here are five top tips to get you writing.
If you can’t think of anything to include in your personal statement yet, see part one of our personal statement guide for some ideas on how to get started. You might also want to see what admissions tutors have to say about making your statement stand out.
Use course information on university websites, the UCAS website (or take a look through and compare course pages on Which? University) to start focusing on the specific criteria courses or professions are looking for. Your suitability to the course should form the backbone of your personal statement, so start gathering material from your personal experience that relates to those criteria.
Get it down on paper any way you can. Try using mind-maps or spider diagrams. Alternatively go for bullet point notes, or scribble things down in a long stream of consciousness, which you can cut back to the 47 line / 4,000 character limit later on.
For a few pointers on what admissions tutors are looking for see our 10 things to put into your personal statement guide.
Think about your studies, wider reading, extra-curricular interests, achievements or experience that you want to put into your personal statement.
If you're applying to a degree course that’s training you for a specific profession (such as social work, speech therapy, primary teaching or dentistry), it’s important to demonstrate your commitment to a career in your chosen field and your understanding of what it involves, by giving an insight into what you’ve learned from your work experience, volunteering or any other research you’ve done.
Other courses will expect you to have done some in-depth research into the subject and be able to talk about what you think and not just what you’ve done. Strike a sensible balance between your academic interests and your extra-curricular ones - a 2:1 ratio, 75/25 or 80/20 are generally perceived to be about right.
Don’t just say what you did. Reflect critically on your experience, achievements or knowledge. So:
Action = Explaining what have you done, achieved, read or experienced
Benefit = Reflecting on what have you learned or gained from it, or what you think about it
Course relevance = Making sure you convey why this makes you a good applicant for your chosen course (you don’t necessarily have to spell this out after each point – tutors can read between the lines).
Read it back to yourself out loud – and get parents, friends and siblings to take a look through, too. Ask these questions:
Hopefully, you’ve got four yeses!
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