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How to write a personal statement

Learn 4 easy steps to organise your personal statement and write it the way that it catches college admission’s attention. Remember to download the guide I have created for you to help you write the best possible personal statement.

What is a personal statement?

A personal statement is a perfect opportunity to say why you are suitable for the degree course of your choice, and why it is you that should be selected by admission tutors for an interview, and eventually, for the course. The admission tutor is often an academic, thus he / she will be looking for a valid reason why you are cut out for the course. Apart from showing off your skills and knowledge, you need to express excitement about the course you wish to study.

How to get started?

Before you even start writing, first you need to brainstorm all the information you can say about yourself. This can go back to your childhood, your school or family events – anything that will enable you to make your personal statement more interesting, but also trustworthy (you can give real-life examples of your skills or achievements). At this stage, do not limit yourself. When brainstorming, put on a piece of paper anything that comes to your mind. You will evaluate it later. So what can you jot down?

  • What makes you unique and special
  • Your hobbies and interests
  • Your achievements, may it be taking part in a national poetry contest, or being selected a class representative
  • Any details of work experience, including voluntary work
  • Think why you are a good student and why you think you will excel at university

What to remember about?

While a personal statement is a representation of your character traits and interests, you cannot forget that it is read by academics, so you need to sound professional, too. Thus, remember to:

  • Redraft your personal statement a couple of times before the final submission
  • Make sure you are happy with your personal statement
  • Ask you former teachers or lecturer for their insight on your performance

At the same time, you should forget about:

  • Using any obscure or colloquial language – remember that you write to university
  • Joking about past events – admission tutors might not share your sense of humour
  • Saying anything that is not true – admission tutors will easily pick up on any inconsistencies in your documents
  • Leaving writing your personal statement to the very last moment
  • Using someone else’s personal statements or templates from the Internet.

What do admission tutors look for in a personal statement?

It is important to remember that a personal statement is a written form of communication and it follows a very specific pattern. It is also read by academics, who have seen thousands of personal statements in their lives, so it is extremely easy for them to tell the difference between a good and weak personal statement straight away. Remember to:

  • Highlight study skills – both independent and teamwork (talk about self-organisation skills, including time management) – at university you will be working on your own, but also in groups, that’s why, you need to demonstrate that you can organise and manage your time, set priorities and communicate with other students
  • Show that you understand what the course is about – how can you do it? It’s simple. Go the university website and check what subjects are taught on your degree. That’s how you will demonstrate your understanding of the course.
  • Demonstrate academic skills (research skills plus numeracy and literacy skills) – at university you will be requested to do research, which requires finding the right sources, paraphrasing and synthesising them, and eventually arriving at you own original conclusion, and this is what admission tutors want to know you are capable of
  • Write an essay, not a list – always give examples as a proof of what you can do – remember that your personal statement is not about bragging about yourself, but showing evidence of your skills and achievements – what you did, how you did it, and what you’ve learnt as a result
  • Be enthusiastic – motivation and commitment are sought-after qualities. Nothing speaks louder that your motivation and commitment to your studies, so show it!

How to talk about my subject?

Even though you have the most interesting personality in the world, it will not grant you a place on the course if you cannot show your understanding of the subject. It vital to highlight your interest in the subject by showing your experience. How can you do it? For example, when applying for a course in medicine, you could say that when you were a child you were stressed with doctor’s appointments, but because the doctors were smiling to you a lot, you realised that non-verbal communication is particularly important in this profession.

How to give examples?

As I mentioned before, your personal statement is some sort of an essay, thus listing a number of skills you have is not enough. You need to be able to support your points with specific examples. For instance, you might want to say that in secondary school you were chosen a class leader. This information is incomplete because it does not say what you have learnt as a result of being a class representative. You need to say e.g. ‘While being a class representative, I have improved my negotiation skills. I would often address other students’ issues by talking about them with teachers.


Most frequent questions and answers

It is 4,000 characters with spaces or 47 lines

Try to use a personal story to make it more interesting.

Think of what you like doing in your free time and remember it doesn’t have to be anything extra special.

Say why you have decided to change your career path as most probably you will select a degree that will help you achieve your professional objectives.

Be honest! Say what you have done and learnt during that time.

Don’t sound cliché. You do not want to use phrases such as ‘You should choose me because I’ve always wanted to help others, and medicine is a perfect choice for me’. Be more specific and to the point. Say how you can apply the knowledge you will gain on the course in the future, e.g. I feel passionate about working with children and teenagers, and I would love to combine that with my deep interest in medicine, thus I would love to become a paediatrician.  

A 4-step guide to a personal statements

Download the worksheet that will guide you step-by-step through the process of writing a personal statement. It will organise your ideas and help you plan your ideal personal statement. The 4-step guide makes it super easy for you to write a personal statement that will perfectly support your university application.

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