How to write a successful personal statement

Elizabeth Tan on 27 September 2017
Open notebook and pencil with sharpener and pencil shavings

We’ve created a quick breakdown of the essential steps to creating a successful personal statement you’ll be proud of.

Remember that there is no definitive formula or method to writing a personal statement. This piece of writing embraces creativity, ingenuity and offers you a chance to show your chosen universities what you can do. You can use quotes, but it is not recommended that you use them at the beginning (many students will use them as an opening, but having an application that is different is the best way to stand out). If it is a quote that has inspired your interests then you need to explain why that is. With any piece of writing, if it essential that you explain your reasoning so the reader can follow your thought process without getting lost.

As a general rule of thumb, begin your personal statement with why you want to study the subject you have chosen. Explaining why your current interests are suitable for your chosen field of study can help you back up why you would be suitable for the position on that course.

Then, you may want to briefly explain how your A-level subjects relate to your degree choice. If your A-level subjects don’t directly relate to your subject choice, try and break down certain elements or topics that relate or how the skills you’ve learnt from studying them will help you in your chosen degree. For example, studying maths and science gives you a foundation of how to organise results for a report on experiments, or gives you a foundation knowledge of how to analyse data. These are essential skills for a variety of different subjects from geography to medicine.

Next, this is a great chance to mention any extracurricular activity that you take part in, any competitions you’ve entered, any clubs you’re part of, and any other skills and hobbies that you do outside your studies. Why is this relevant? It’s a good indicator to the universities that you’ll positively impact the university community. It also shows that you’re proactive and are capable of handling a big amount of work. If you aren’t part of any club or feel your hobbies are relevant, try and take part in any opportunities your school or college offer (such as, helping out at open days, award ceremonies etc) or you can take part in discussions and charitable events held by your council.

Finally, make sure you always explain why you’re interested in something or exactly why you are stating something. This tip applies to academic writing, too, both in school and university. Be confident in your own abilities and use the feedback of your friends and teachers to help draft, redraft and redraft again! Whether you draft three time or ten times, take your time to write your personal statement and stick to your strengths. Good Luck!

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Elizabeth Tan
Elizabeth Tan on 27 September 2017