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Start writing your personal statement – students’ top tips

Struggling to know where to start with that personal statement? With so much depending on it, actually beginning can be intimidating...

Many Ucas applicants would agree that the hardest part of writing your personal statement is knowing where to start. But once you’ve cracked that opening paragraph, the rest is easy (well, easier, at least...).

Here’s some advice from both applicants and current university students about how they made a start on their personal statement. 

Struggling to draft your personal statement? Our builder tool can break it down into more manageable chunks...

1. List what you want to include in your statement

Example opening lines and more tips to help you start your personal statement in this video... 

Watch now: How to start writing your personal statement

2. List reasons why you love the subject

I received advice from college on how to structure the statement but other than that I just sat down and wrote very honestly about my reasons for wanting to study the subject. This helped it to sound genuine, and I tidied it up afterwards. Second Year Biology Student | University Of Sheffield

3. Bullet point your strengths

I took a piece of paper and listed my strengths in bullet points – you may not think you have strengths at first, but think on it for a bit. I then took five of these bullet points and expanded them into a short personal statement. Third Year Media Student | Liverpool John Moores University

4. Think about your achievements

It's difficult to boast about yourself because it makes you feel arrogant. But the trick to it is just to write all your achievements down and what makes you a good candidate, and then start writing multiple drafts of it until you get the right one. First Year Psychology Student | University Of Stirling

5. Ask for extra help

I found the most difficult part was getting started. I bullet pointed all of my qualities and experiences which I thought would be good to mention and then wrote a paragraph about each and edited them all together to make my personal statement. Make sure you get a parent or teacher to read through yours to get their opinions on how to improve it. First Year Pharmacology Student | Robert Gordon University

6. Look at personal statement structures

The hardest part is starting it off. Once you've got that first paragraph it gets easier. I would recommend asking a teacher for a paragraph outline and then bullet pointing all you have to say in each section. Think outside the box to get yourself noticed. First Year Physics Student | University Of Strathclyde

7. Break it into bits

Just getting a good starting line was difficult enough. My advice would be to break it up into sections and approach them one at a time – you don't necessarily have to fully write up your opening paragraph first. Once you've produced your first draft, get other people to critique your statement – especially students who are currently doing the same course you're applying for, and professionals in the field. Also, aim to start in good time. Third Year Medicine Student | St George's - University Of London

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