University Personal Statement in 7 Steps
How to start? What do I talk about? Your personal statement marks the very beginning of your journey into third level education. Whether it’s for undergrad, postgrad or PhD it’s the first chance you have to impress. So it’s worth putting time aside and really thinking about what you want to say. Use these tips to stand out from the crowd!
How long is a personal statement?
It really depends on what university you are applying to. In general personal statements are essays. The length of these essays ranges from 200 – 500 words or 900 -2,000 words. UCAS, for instance, allows for 4,000 characters with a maximum of 47 lines. That’s roughly 500 words to write everything you believe a University would want to know…which isn’t that much. So make sure to structure the information efficiently, choose what you want to say and be concise.
How to structure your postgraduate Personal Statement
A well-structured essay can make all the difference. Remember you are trying to impress course admission tutors. They are probably academics themselves and can spot a poorly structured essay. They will also enjoy reading a fluent, well planned personal statement which could give you the edge.
Write out the points you want to make. Then follow this method:
- What was the action?
- “I was head of the debating team”
- What was the benefit of the action?
- “I learned how to formulate arguments”
- Why would this benefit the course?
- “As a potential law student I believe making concise, logical arguments will greatly help me to succeed in this course”
Try the method below for the actual essay structure:
Introduction – Why do you want to study this course?
Academic achievements – What skills have you gained from education that will be relevant to the course and that you are proud of?
Work Experience – What skills have you acquired by working a part-time/summer job?
Hobbies/Extra-curricular activities – What achievements have you had in your personal life? How will they help you in the course?
Conclusion – A summary of what you just said and why you think you would be well suited for the course.
7 Tips to ace your personal statement:
Don’t copy and paste:
It is always wise to apply to more than one university. Resist the urge to just copy and paste the same personal statement for all your choices. Each university (and each course) will be looking for different criteria in potential students. It’s up to you to suit the course, not vice versa. Give yourself the best chance and make a personal statement for each application.
Demonstrate you have researched the course and university
People like to talk about themselves. The same thing can be said for universities. Make sure to demonstrate you have researched the course and university. Consider the fact that admission tutors often draft course outlines. This often takes months of planning and a lot of effort. If you can demonstrate your research into the course they have drafted they will naturally be interested in your personal statement.
Hook the reader in with the first line
A “hook” is used to describe an opening that immediately grabs the audience's attention. Think of any of your favourite tv shows; Game of Thrones, House of Cards etc. how many of these shows opened the very first scene of the very first episode with something that immediately absorbed you?
You have to think of the person reading your personal statement in the same way. Some ways of doing this are:
- Start with a famous quote
- Start with a question
- Start with a fact
Spellcheck, spellcheck, spellcheck. Admission officers can be pretty ruthless when it comes to correct spelling. Don’t put your first choice at risk! Read through your personal statement 3 times before submitting it. If possible have someone else read over it also.
**Tip – The UCAS personal statement is submitted online. Make sure to write your first few drafts in a word processor. It is easier to spot spelling (and grammar mistakes) and can be backed up.
In the age of the internet, it is easy to verify the truth of an application. It’s very difficult to lie in your personal statement. Universities will research their students before sending an acceptance letter and can easily spot where people have fabricated the truth. If you are caught doing it…you simply won’t be admitted. It’s not worth the risk.
Try the Studentroom personal statement builder
Without a doubt, the toughest part of a personal statement is just stating it. Most students struggle at the beginning. Which is why the student room personal statement builder is really useful. It’s free – all you need to do is sign up
Can’t think of what to write? Try starting with these 3 questions:
-What is interesting about you outside of school (hobbies, extracurricular activities)
-What skills do you already possess that you can further develop in the course?
-How have you developed through your undergrad? What’s changed about you?
Best of luck with your personal statement! If you need any help financially throughout your time in university be sure to give us a call :)