Tips for writing your personal statement

Although personal statements may appear formulaic, they are important in the admissions process, and admissions tutors do read them.

If you’re applying for a popular course, your personal statement might determine whether or not you get an interview.

In this video, the University of Gloucestershire’s Director of Marketing and Student Recruitment, James Seymour, gives some advice on how to write a personal statement.

What characteristics distinguish a strong personal statement?

This is your opportunity to show us your excitement and devotion, as well as the value you can bring to a university.

In the vast majority of cases, universities are looking for ways to make you an offer rather than reject you; your personal statement is your opportunity to assist them in making this decision!

To begin with, you must describe why you wish to enroll in a course.

Take a look at James’ suggestions for what to include:

Explain why you made this decision and how it aligns with your long-term goals.

Give specific examples of any relevant academic or professional experience.

Demonstrate that you’re familiar with the course’s content and that you’re interested in any particular subjects.

List any jobs you’ve had, team or society memberships, and interests and hobbies to demonstrate who you are.

Consistency in your five UCAS choices is important.

If your other options and references to them are completely different, it may be difficult for an admissions tutor to take you seriously.

If you made different decisions, you should explain why in your statement.

The UCAS application is blind.

Admissions tutors don’t know about your other applications or interests, but you should stay the same.

Keep it simple and straightforward-

Most admissions tutors and officers will read your statement digitally because UCAS admissions are becoming increasingly paperless.

Explain what you can add to a course, and don’t just list your experiences; instead, discuss how they’ve given you abilities that will help you succeed at university.

Don’t just state, “I’m a member of the chess club at my college.”

In the orchestra, I also play clarinet.

When you could say: “Playing chess for college has helped me strengthen my problem-solving skills because it involves attention and analytical thought.”

As a clarinetist in the college orchestra, I am used to working as part of a group and collaborating with others to complete a project.

Universities and colleges are interested in how you present your academic record and potential in order to determine if you’re the right fit.

This should be supported by a reference.

Admissions officers search for evidence of:

Motivation and dedication

Communication, leadership, and teamwork

Investigate the topic you’ve chosen.

Any critical talents that are relevant?

Nobel laureates aren’t sought by admissions tutors.

They’re looking for passion for the course you’re applying for, as well as self-reflection on why you’d be a good fit for it.

What kind of value could you provide to the course?

What do you want to do once you graduate?

Ben, the University of Birmingham’s law admissions manager, told us what he wants applicants to say in their personal statement:

The personal statement not only offers us insight into the type of student they desire to be and how they might fit into the academic community, but it also allows us to highlight candidates’ specific abilities, expertise, and achievements.

Ben Atkins, the University of Birmingham’s Law Admissions Manager

An example from real life: the good

A real-life example is the less-than-ideal situation.

How to Stand Out in Your Personal Statement

Even if you have amazing experiences, the power of your statement will be diminished if it is poorly stated.

As a result, it’s critical to carefully plan your statement.

Make your content stand out by writing your personal statement in a way that makes it clear that you have a good sense of how to organize written work, which is a skill that is important for many university courses.

You can also use it for gap year applications, jobs, internships, and apprenticeships, as well as keep it on file for future applications.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to writing a personal statement.

However, it’s a good idea to add the following information:

An introduction that explains why you want to take the course and why you want to study it.

In about 75% of the time, you can show that you’re qualified to study it by focusing on your academic record.

Around 25% of the time can be spent on any extracurricular activity to demonstrate what else qualifies you.

A conclusive statement

What is the best way to begin a personal statement?

Your personal statement is your opportunity to demonstrate why you deserve a spot on the course of your choice.

Keep the following in mind:


Be succinct and unambiguous—the more focused the statements and data, the more powerful they will be.

Use phrases like “achieved,” “developed,” “learned,” “discovered,” “enthusiasm,” “commitment,” “energy,” and “fascination.”

Avoid using grandiose or artificial wording.

Use short, uncomplicated sentences in plain English instead.

If feasible, add a personal touch, but be cautious of humor and talkative methods.

Support claims and statements with evidence of your learning and improvement (when possible).

Prepare the statement in the same way that you would an essay or a letter of application for a job or scholarship.

Divide the statement into five or six paragraphs, using headings if necessary.

Spelling and grammar are important, so write and rewrite as needed, and have someone else proofread and give feedback.

Refer to the problems you had during the epidemic in a positive light for 2022–23 applications.




Come on, act haughty.

Include as much of your personal history as possible.

Begin by saying, “I’ve always wanted to be…”

Unless they’re very important and you handle them in a way that shows your skills, don’t use gimmicks or quotations.

Don’t be tempted to buy or copy a personal statement—plagiarism software has advanced significantly in recent years, and if you’re detected, you won’t be admitted.

Make excuses for not being able to participate in activities or gain experience—instead, focus on what you were able to achieve constructively as a result of the coronavirus, for example.

For more information, read our comprehensive guide to what to include in a personal statement and what to avoid.

It’s worth noting that if you decide to reapply for university the following year, you should think about changing your personal statement.

Mention why you took a year off and what talents you’ve gained as a result.

You’ll need to make extra adjustments if you’re applying to a completely different topic.

James gives us instances of things to avoid in real life:

I adore going to the theater and used to go a few times a year.


I am a huge fan of reading, and I spend a lot of time studying human behavior through TV shows.

Over the last 18 years, I’ve lived a full life, and I aim to keep that tradition going.

In two words, I’d want to characterize myself:

The old Viking war cry was “To Odin!”


Beekeeping is my favorite interest, and I aspire to be an engineer.

My fascination with medicine stems from my love of TV shows like Casualty and others in the medical field.

I’ve always wanted to pursue medicine or, if that’s not possible, pharmacy.

(After four medical school selections, a student chooses pharmacy as her fifth option; pharmacy can be just as popular and high-status as medicine.)

Some final words of advice

Above all, keep in mind that your personal statement is your chance to persuade a university to accept you.

Make it compelling, and there’s a good chance they’ll listen.