How to write a personal statement for University

Our Admissions Tutors give their tips
Students in Newport Library

Persuading Admissions Tutors in under 4,000 characters that you deserve a place on their course can be pretty daunting. So here are some dos and don’ts that will help.


Do

  • Tell us, in your own words, why you deserve a place.
  • Be organised. Before you start writing, make bullet points of everything you want to include and order them in terms of importance.
  • Start writing early. Give yourself plenty of time to re-read it, edit and check, check and check again.
  • Be specific. Don't just say you're interested in a subject because it's interesting. Talk about what it is that interests you and why.
  • Show passion. We want to know where this interest comes from, what excites you and how you indulge your passion.
  • Show you are up-to-date with the subject: perhaps you could analyse a recent article or news event, or write a short blog post. Talk about any specialist magazines, blogs or websites you read and why you enjoy them.
  • Only mention hobbies that reveal something relevant about you. Perhaps they have taught you good timekeeping skills, teamwork or given you extra insight or experience in your field of interest.
  • Dedicate the majority of your statement to your studies and work experience and how this links in with the course you have applied for. Keep  extra-curricular activities such as hobbies to a minimum unless they are closely linked to the course you have applied for.
  • Proof read. Correct spelling and grammar is absolutely vital. A misplaced apostrophe or absence of capital letters can be seriously off-putting to Admissions Tutors. Use the spell-check on your computer and get parents and teachers to proofread your statement.


Don't

  • Don't simply list what you have done. Saying you were captain of the cricket team or spent a week at a local newspaper is not very helpful unless you use it to show what you learned from the experience.
  • Don't spend too long on the introduction. Concentrate on the main content of your statement and write the introduction last.
  • Don't use cliches. One of the most overused opening sentences is: "from a young age I have always been interested in..."
  • Don't use famous quotes from people you admire. We are interested in what you have to say - not James Dyson, Coco Chanel, Mark Zuckerberg...
  • Don't list your interests, demonstrate them. Actually doing something such as joining a national society, volunteering for a conservation organisation or being involved in a charity shows you have passion and drive.
  • Don't use slang, but on the other hand, don't be overly wordy or pretentious either. Keep it simple and clear.
  • Don't ask too many people for advice. Input from parents and teachers can be helpful, but this is a personal statement - we want to hear your voice and personality.
  • Finally, don’t feel pressurised into providing the full 4000 characters in order to impress. Quality is far more important that quantity.


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