Writing your personal statement

Before you start writing, you need to recall some special memories and decide your unique properties. 

Take some time, brainstorm first and take notes and come back later.

The following question may guide you:

  1. Why have you chosen this course?
  2. What excites you about the subject? 
  3. Is my previous or current study relevant to the course?
  4. Have you got any work experience that might help you?
  5. What life experiences have you had that you could talk about?
  6. What achievements are you proud of?
  7. What skills do you have that make you perfect for the course?
  8. What plans and ambitions do you have for your future career?

Some useful tips

The personal statement allows admissions tutors to form a picture of who you are. So, for the opener, think about writing down things, such as:

  • why you’re a good candidate
  • your motivations
  • what brings you to this course

Try not to overthink the opening sentence. You need to engage the reader with your relevant thoughts and ideas, but not go overboard.

The opening is your chance to introduce yourself, to explain your motivation for studying the course and to demonstrate your understanding of it. 

The best personal statements get to the point quickly. Go straight in. What excites you about the course and why do you want to learn about it more?

Think about why you want to study the course and how you can demonstrate this in your written statement:

Your interest in the course is the biggest thing. Start with a short sentence that captures the reason why you’re interested in studying the area you’re applying for and that communicates your enthusiasm for it. 

Don’t waffle or say you want to study something just because it’s interesting. Explain what you find interesting about it.

Try to avoid cliches and the most obvious opening sentences so you stand out from the very first line

UCAS publishes a list of common opening lines each year. Here are just some overused phrases to avoid using in your personal statement:

  • From a young age…      
  • For as long as I can remember…
  • I am applying for this course because…
  • I have always been interested in…
  • Throughout my life I have always enjoyed…

Quotations are top of the list of admissions tutors’ pet hates.

Concentrate on the main content of your statement and write the introduction last. The opening line is the hardest one to write, so it might be better to leave it until the end.

It may be easier to get on with writing the main content of your statement and coming back to the introduction afterwards –that way you will also know what you’re introducing.

Think about making a link between your opening sentence and closing paragraph – a technique sometimes called the ‘necklace approach’.

You can reinforce what you said at the start or add an extra dimension. For example, if you started with an interesting line about what’s currently motivating you to study your chosen degree course, you could link back to it at the end, perhaps with something about why you’d love to study this further at uni.

Take some time to think about the key things you’d want an admissions tutor to know about you, and get them down on paper. Don’t worry too much about making your notes perfect – this is more about making sure you know why you should be offered a place

Don’t waffle

Think about what you’re writing in this critical spot – what’s your reason for including it here? Keep the ending of your personal statement short, concise and to the point.

Avoid famous quotes

Like the start of your personal statement, try to avoid cliches, quotes or asking rhetorical questions you're not going to answer.

Make yourself stand out

Give them one more little insight into your ideas, interests, or skills, or be specific about something you personally want to achieve from the course or from your wider university experience.

Keep notes as you write

Inspiration can strike when you least expect, especially while you’re writing the main section of your statement. Note any thoughts down straightaway so you can come back to them when you’re ready.

Admissions Tutors will be reading a lot of personal statements.  Remember, it can only be 4,000 characters, which is about two sides of A4. So, you’ll need to use your words wisely to fit everything in. Please read what we advice for the whole process.


  • Do talk about why you’re a good candidate – talk about you, your motivations and what brings you to this course.
  • Do be enthusiastic – if you show you’re interested in the course, it may help you get a place.
  • Do make it relevant. Connect what you’re saying with the course and with your experiences.
  • Do outline your ideas clearly.
  • Do avoid the negatives – highlight the positives about you, and show you know your strengths.
  • Do expect to produce several drafts of your personal statement before being totally happy with it.
  • Do ask people you trust for their feedback.


  • Don’t be modest or shy. You want your passions to come across. 
  • Don’t exaggerate – if you do, you may get caught out in an interview when asked to elaborate on an interesting achievement.
  • Don’t use quotes from someone else, or cliches.
  • Don’t leave it to the last minute – your statement will seem rushed and important information could be left out.
  • Don’t let spelling and grammatical errors spoil your statement, but don’t just rely on a spellchecker. Proofread as many times as possible.
  • Don’t copy and paste – make yours original.
  • Don’t worry about it – we have all the advice you need to help you stand out in your personal statement.


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