Getting Started on your Personal Statement

OK, let's get going with your statement. There are at least 5 areas that your personal statement should cover (6 if you're planning, or have taken, a gap year).

The percentages behind each section reflect the amount of word count you should allocate. So for your interest in the subject you should allow about 35% (around 1,200 characters).

Start by writing notes for each section by answering the questions in each area. If you're struggling, speak to the people who know you the best. Your family, friends and teachers can help you with your first notes as they know just as well as you do.

Section 1Subject interest

The first section is the critical one. Why does the subject you want to study interest you? What specifically is it about the area of study that you like? Is it related to a career you are planning on? 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.

Top tip: Be enthusiastic! Admissions tutors are looking for students who are full of energy, not half-hearted.

Word count guide: 35%

Section 2Work experience

This is your chance to explain how any experiences you have had in the last 2 years might support your studies and career path. What skills have you acquired that relate to your degree? What knowledge have you learned that could be of particular interest to the admissions team?

Word count guide: 25%

Section 3Hobbies and interests

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

Word count guide: 15%

Section 4Gap year

If you haven't done a gap year and don't plan to, you can skip this section. But if you did have a gap year, 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 5Achievements

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.

These should be the things that you are 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 6Career goal

Where do you see yourself in 10 years' time? This section 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%