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Uni applicant diaries: personal statement writing

Writing a personal statement is, for many, the most daunting part of the uni application process. Our applicant bloggers Amy and Scarlett explain why it's not actually that bad – once you get going...

"My top five personal statement tips" by Amy Jones 

For more video tips, see these personal statement dos and don'ts from admissions tutors. 


Our bloggers talk personal statements"Why personal statements aren't that scary..."

- Scarlett Regan

“We want you to hand in a first draft of your personal statement on Wednesday.”

The prospect of writing a full 47-line statement about myself in the space of less than a week was wholly and utterly daunting. However, with hindsight, I want to emphasise that it’s really not as scary as it initially seems actually, it can be quite fun. I'm hoping to study history at university, but my advice is relevant to all subject areas.

1. To ease you into writing your personal statement, draw a mind map of everything you have seen / done / read that is related to your subject, and then take a coloured pen. Draw arrows linking things together and scribble ideas and thoughts. This will make it easier to turn it into fluent prose and will ensure that your personal statement isn’t just a list disguised in sentences.

2. Writing succinctly is the key. Be reflective; be concise. Critically analyse how that lecture / book / trip shaped your view of a topic, and don’t be scared to say that you disagree with the lecturer or author.

3. Write about things that you would be confident talking about in an interview.

4. Don’t write too much about your extra-curricular activities (this applies especially to Oxbridge candidates). Where possible, link them to your subject, but don’t make the links too tenuous.

5. DON’T follow a personal statement template. Template = generic ≠ personal! Be individual you’ll stand out more.

To get ahead on your personal statement this summer, see our guide to 10 things to include in your personal statement


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