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Personal statement help

A guide to your personal statement

A personal statement supports your university application. It’s important to get it right and to be the best reflection of you. We’ve provided information, examples and tips to guide you and hopefully lead to an offer that will change your life.

Getting started 

There are five sections to complete (six if you include a gap year). You’ll need to write a maximum of 4,000 characters in total. We’ve given an idea of the word count for each section and what to cover.

Start by writing notes for each section. Your family, friends and teachers may help to inspire you as they will know you best.

Our guide to personal statements

Sections of your personal statement

Section 1
Subject interest

This first section is critical. Show that you’re enthusiastic. State why the subject interests you and what specifically you like. Is it related to your planned career? It's a good idea to show that you understand the course on offer, by referring to specific modules or trips you're looking forward to.

Word count guide: 35%

Section 2
Work experience

An opportunity to explain how the experiences you’ve had in the last two years support your studies and career path. Have you gained skills that will support your degree? What knowledge have you gained that would be of interest to the admissions team?

Word count guide: 25%

Section 3
Hobbies and interests

Here's where you can really make an impact. Activities like the Duke of Edinburgh Award or after school/college activities such as sports, walking, reading or dancing will be of interest. But don't just list what you do; think about what these interests have taught you.

Word count guide:

15%

Section 4
Gap year

If you’ve not had a gap year and don't plan to, you can skip this section. But if you did, what did you learn? What were your achievements? If you're planning to take one, what do you have planned - travelling, volunteering with a charity, working in industry? What skills to you hope to gain?

Word count guide: 5%

Section 5
Achievements

Your achievements from the last 18 months don't have to be spectacular (though it's great if they are) - they just need to be important to you.

What are you most proud of? Have you raised money for charity, run a marathon, or passed a grade playing a musical instrument? Think about what personality traits your achievements show, and how they relate to your chosen subject.

Word count guide: 10%

Section 6
Career goal

Where do you see yourself in ten years' time? This is your chance to talk about your ambitions. Is this degree a direct path to the career you want? Where do you plan to go in life? And – just as importantly – why?

Word count guide: 10%

Five things your personal statement needs

1. Interest in the subject

Show why you want to study the subject and what you've read or participated in to demonstrate your genuine interest. This could be by reading around the subject area, talking to someone in the relevant profession or gaining some relevant work experience. 

2. Your personality

Personal statements are, well, personal so it should be original, sound like you and not a copy of examples you might have seen online. Be confident in who you are and what you want to achieve. 

3. Your value-added skills and learning 

Tell us what you've been doing to develop your awareness and understanding of the subject above and beyond the requirements of your current study or work. 

4. Your experiences 

It's not what you've done, it's what you think about it or learned from it that matters. 

5. Your focus 

Throughout every bit of the personal statement remember to answer the question "why should we give you a place on the course?" rather than just writing about yourself.