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Make a statement with your personal statement

Week 5

9 October 2023

Probably by now, you’ll be familiar with the term ‘personal statement’. If you’re not and you’re thinking of applying to uni, you soon will be.

Here we’ll help you begin to understand the types of things you need to include, tips for getting started, and where you can find the best information to write a strong personal statement.

It’s no secret - your personal statement is an important part of your UCAS application. It’s your opportunity to ‘sell’ yourself. It gives you the chance to show how passionate you are for your chosen subject and why you’re suitable for the course. It’s also a way for university admissions officers to find out more about you as a person. And on competitive courses it could very well be the deciding factor in you getting offered a place or not.

There’s A LOT of really useful information and advice online about writing personal statements. We’re not going to reinvent the wheel here so we’ve rounded up some of the best resources to help you get started and ultimately write a strong personal statement.

Let's get going

Just a few key things to consider before you start:

  • Allow yourself plenty of time - don't leave it to the last minute.
  • Get planning. Before you start, make a list of things you want to include in each section of your personal statement.
  • Do your research. What are your preferred universities looking for in applicants for a specific course?
  • Think about why you're applying for the course you've chosen, and why you're suitable for the course.
  • Try to be original. Times Higher Education has a list of the 11 most common opening lines used in personal statements.
  • Your personal statement is the same for all universities you apply to - don't mention universities by name.
  • The maximum length is 4,000 characters, including spaces (around 500-600 words) and 47 lines. (UCAS has a great tool for starting the first draft of your personal statement that counts how many characters you've used.
  • Be honest - don't be tempted to bend the truth in your personal statement, instead focus on your true strengths and successes.
  • You'll probably do a few drafts and a lot of edits before submitting your final version.
  • Use a spell check and also ask someone to proof-read it for you (but don't let them rewrite it - it should be your work).

Where to look

The best place to start online is the UCAS website. Here you'll find tons of advice on writing your personal statement. To help you prepare your first draft, their personal statement worksheet is very useful.

If you're applying to Solent University then we have a helpful personal statement hub where you can send in your statement and get it checked by our teams.

Other websites, such as The Student Room, Studential and Which? University also have lots of great tips for writing your personal statement.

And don't forget to speak to your tutor or HE/careers adviser. Plus, if you know anyone who's recently applied to uni, ask them for some pointers.

Sample statements 

Reading sample statements is a great way to get inspiration - but DO NOT COPY THEM! Aside from everything that goes with plagiarism, UCAS checks all personal statements against a library of the last five years and against all major websites, so if you've copied any, your application could be automatically rejected.

Instead, use the examples to see what kind of language or structure other people who've applied for similar degrees have used. Compare them to your list of what you want to include - have you missed anything?

Your school or college may be able to provide you with some example personal statements, but here's where you can find some online:

More advice

Check out Solent Uni's recent Facebook Live video on writing personal statements.

tasks for this week

  • Start thinking about what you want to include - make a list.
  • There's loads of advice on how to get started, as well as what to include, formatting, etc, online, particularly on the UCAS website. Take a look at the links in this article.
  • Have a look at some sample statements to get some inspiration of what to include.
  • Watch the Facebook Live video for some great advice on how to write a strong personal statement.