If you have read the guide on how to plan your personal statement, you should now be ready to construct this information into an effective piece of work. The more you have planned, the easier it will be to write. There’s no exact answer on how you should write your statement, and as you may have seen from our large database of examples there are a range of different styles that people like to write in. However, it is important that you at least answer all the questions listed in the planning guide. If your statement doesn’t sound right after the first attempt – re write it. If it doesn’t sound right to you then it’s definitely not going to sound right to someone else. Even the world’s best writers redraft their work until it’s perfect!
Writing a well structured personal statement is important, especially because you’re given a word limit of around 4,000 characters (UCAS) which may sound like a lot at first, but if you have planned effectively and ticked all the boxes, you will realise that you have a lot of points to cover so it’s vital that you construct your words carefully. First have a look at your course details to see which skills your university values highly for this particular course, and structure your statement in an order that is most relevant to them.
Here’s how you could structure your statement:
Introduction – start with an interesting opening sentence that will encourage the reader to read on. Some people like to start with a quote that’s relevant to their chosen subject, but make sure it has relevance and you have something substantial to say about it. Talk about why you are interested in higher education and the subject you have applied for.
Paragraph 1 – Talk about your understanding and enthusiasm of the subject and the skills that are required to study it. Mention any specific areas of interest; for example, if you want to study psychology you may be interested in clinical psychology or neuropsychology. Remember to say why these areas interest you, so rather than saying ‘I am particularly interested in the field of neuropsychology’, it would be more effective to say ‘I am particularly interested in the field of neuropsychology because I find the study of the brain and its relation to psychological behaviours fascinating, and I would like to be able to use my knowledge of neurological dysfunctions to be able to suggest different treatments to patients and their family members.’ You already sound like an expert!
Paragraph 2 – Talk about how previous study, work placements or voluntary work will help you study your degree. Again, remember to explain why your skills are useful. Write this paragraph enthusiastically and show them that you are proud of what you have achieved so far.
Paragraph 3 – Mention any hobbies that are relevant to the subject or show that you are an active, interesting individual. For example, if you enjoy going indoor rock climbing with friends in your spare time, this may not seem relevant to a psychology degree but you could link that to your ability to work effectively as a team and the importance of communication, and this would be particularly important when working as a team of psychologists! Most hobbies can be made to sound relevant. You could also mention any personal qualities you have that make you a desirable candidate.
If you have space, you may wish to mention what you have been doing since leaving school/college (applicable for older applicants), but try not to tell them too much of your life story if it is not relevant. You may wish to mention gaps in your career and the reasons for these. You could mention non-accredited training or personal achievements that you are proud of.
The conclusion should not be too long and you just need to reinforce what you gave said in your statement – round it off with something that shows your commitment and enthusiasm to study your chosen course at university.
You are usually required to write in English or Welsh if writing to a Welsh university (there may be exceptions) and avoid italics, bold or underlining. Try to sound enthusiastic when you write and try to write as you would speak – the statement may found too fake if you’re including too many complex words that you wouldn’t normally use. At the same time, try not to sound too chatty and informal, and avoid abbreviations. Remember your statement will be read by tutors and academic experts, who will be impressed by well written communication. Be careful with using humour and too many quotes – although you want to sound individual, if the tutor does not have the same humour as you then this may not go down well!
Make sure that your grammar, punctuation and spelling are perfect. It is important that you get others to read your statement before you submit it, such as friends, family and tutors. Consider any suggestions for improvements you could make, especially from your tutors who have years of experience reading students’ personal statements.
I recommend that you write your personal statement in a word processor with spell check on, and then copy and paste it into the box they provide. Remember to save your work regularly!
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