Writing your personal statement

As part of your UCAS application, you'll be asked to write a personal statement. This can be quite daunting, but we've got some important information to help you figure it out.

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Why you need a personal statement

As well as your grades, and any other conditions you need to meet, your personal statement will be used to decide if you receive a place at your chosen universities.

Your statement will be read by academic and admissions staff from the department you've applied to. A lot of universities won't interview you, so your personal statement is a way to show your passion for the subject you want to study.

Writing a personal statement

Your personal statement should be about you, but it should focus on what you've done since high school or college.

There are three key areas your personal statement should cover:

  • Why do you want to study your chosen subject?
  • What relevant skills and knowledge do you already have about this subject?
  • What do you do when you're not studying? 

It's important to remember that you only write one personal statement, which is read by all the universities you apply for, so you should avoid naming a specific university or course.

Your writing should be authentic, focused, positive and show that you're confident and enthusiastic about studying at university. Anyone can say "I'm passionate about studying English" so make sure you provide examples that demonstrate your passion and commitment. These examples could be any relevant work experience, volunteering you've done, or anything else that shows you have a genuine interest in the subject.

Your personal statement must be easy to read, so use plain English, be conversational and stay focused and concise. You should also avoid clichés and exaggerating things that you've done.

Remember, the admissions team will be looking for your potential to succeed. They don't expect you to know everything already but want someone that will work hard and learn.

Formatting your personal statement

Your personal statement can't be over 4000 characters or 47 lines depending on which is greater. It can sometimes be tempting to write one long paragraph to make the most out of the character limit, but it's important admissions, and academic staff can read it easily, so don't forget paragraphs and line breaks.

Formatting your personal statement into three paragraphs is a good way of making sure it stays focused. Below is an example of how to format your personal statement.

  • Opening paragraph: This should introduce who you are, what subject you want to study and why.
  • Second paragraph: This should be all about what skills you already have, evidence to back this up, what you're excited to learn and hoping to gain from studying your chosen subject.
  • Third paragraph: This should be all about the personal touch. This is the space to tell us about the extracurricular activities and the other things you've done that are relevant to studying at university.

Check your personal statement

Make sure you proofread your personal statement. Spelling and grammar checkers don't pick up everything, so try to go through it as much as possible before the deadline.

You should also give your personal statement to someone else to read like a teacher, friend or parent. Getting someone else to proofread your statement is always a good idea because they'll pick up things you might not have noticed.

Tips from the experts

We've gathered some comments from our admissions staff about what makes an excellent personal statement.

"The best personal statements get to the point quickly and demonstrate real enthusiasm – I look forward to teaching these students."

"I really like a well-structured personal statement; one that's easy to read and understand."

"I like to know why the student has got to where they are now. If they have an interesting life story, then they should tell it. However, if this has no relevance to the subject, then it can put me off."

"I like information in the statement that shows that the students understand the subject that they have applied for and what using the degree professionally might entail after university."