‘How do I write a personal statement?’ is a common question many students face when it comes to completing UCAS applications or creating CVs. We get it, writing a personal statement can be scary and you might not know where to start, that’s where we come in. We have spoken to our careers experts and gathered the most comprehensive guide to help you nail that all-important UCAS application or CV.
What is a personal statement?
A personal statement is an account of your achievements, interests, goals, and skills, and is often used in a University application or in a CV. A UCAS personal statement is a short, reflective essay that demonstrates why you are interested in the course, and what makes you the perfect candidate. It’s a key part of your UCAS application and will be read by admissions tutors at the universities you apply for. When it comes to your CV, a personal statement is a short, concise paragraph that sits at the top, and tells the employer why you would be a fantastic asset to their business.
Now we’ve established the different purposes of a personal statement, let’s dive into the specifics of writing one.
How long should a personal statement be?
Well, depending on what you intend to use your personal statement for will determine how long it should be. For UCAS, you should aim to create one that is 3-4 paragraphs long, this equals roughly around 47 lines. Personal statements in CVs are most effective when they are short and concise. As a guide, you should aim for 150 words.
What to include in a personal statement?
The purpose of your personal statement will determine what you need to include. As a best practice, we have compiled our top tips for how to structure a personal statement and what to include.
Your opening sentence is the first impression an admissions tutor will get of you, so make it one to remember! It is a good idea to begin by telling the reader why you want to study the course. Remember, your personal statement will be seen by all your UCAS choices so don’t make specific references to any institution.
This section should make up the majority of your personal statement, here you should include subjects you have studied that are relevant to the course/ subject that you’re applying for. Include specific topics or projects you completed that are relevant.
- Demonstrate how you have gone above and beyond
Whether you have read books, listened to podcasts, attended seminars or events, include any additional study you have done that relates to the subject/ course you are applying for.
- Skills and experience (paid or unpaid)
Did you take part in some work experience that was in your chosen subject? Pick out one or two key occasions from your experience and include details of what you learned during this time.
- Interests and hobbies
Keep this paragraph brief and aim to only include interests and hobbies that are relevant. Applying for a degree in Sport Education, and you are the captain of your school’s football team? Make sure to include these key details, as they will demonstrate to admissions tutors your passion for the subject you are applying for.
- Add a Conclusion
Use your conclusion to go over the key points you have mentioned throughout your personal statement. If you have any ideas for your future ambitions, careers goals, or plans after graduation include those here.
- Introduce yourself. Briefly introduce yourself to the employer… ‘’I am a school leaver with 9 GCSEs, and 3 A-Levels, looking to begin my career in the Health and Social Care Sector.’’
- Reference key skills and attributes within your personal statement. Do you have strong problem-solving skills? Are you an excellent communicator? Including examples of skills will demonstrate to the employer why they should consider you for the role.
- Showcase what can you offer to the employer. Now for the important part, this is your chance to demonstrate to the employer what you can bring to their business, include your relevant skills and attributes.
- Career goals. Include details of your career goals and where you see yourself progressing in your professional career.
To make sure you’ve included everything listed above, why not use sub-headings and bullet points when drafting your personal summary? Once you are happy with your content, you can remove your bullet points and headings.
Things to avoid in your UCAS personal statement!
There are a few rules of thumb when it comes to UCAS personal statements and what to avoid. Firstly, avoid using the below generic sentence openers:
‘From a young age…’
‘I have always been interested in…’
‘Throughout my life, I have always enjoyed…’
As a second rule, you should avoid using the words of others to ensure originality. As best practice, you should avoid using famous quotations. Admissions tutors are eager to hear your thoughts and ideas.
Top 5 Tips for writing a personal Statement
On a final note, we will leave you with our top 5 tips for writing the perfect personal statement.
- Get to the point quickly
- Don’t undersell yourself
- Be specific and include examples where possible
- Be enthusiastic
- Write what comes naturally
And there you have it, our comprehensive guide on how to write a personal statement, whether it’s for a Uni application or a CV.