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Personal statement help

A personal statement supports your university application. It's important to get it right and for it 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.

  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%)

  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%)

  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%)

  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%)

  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%)

  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%)

Advice from students

Improve your personal statement

Need some further advice on writing your personal statement? We've provided common dos and don'ts to help you write a great personal statement.

Things your personal statement needs

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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.

Your personality

Personal statements are personal, so it should be original and 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.

Your 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.

Your experiences

This can be experiences such as work, volunteering, or life experiences where you have learned key skills or overcome challenges. It's not what you've done, it's what you think about it or learned from it that matters.

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. We like to know your future ambitions and how the course can help you reach them.

Things to avoid when writing your personal statement

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Leaving it until the last minute

It's important to take the time to write a thorough, good quality personal statement. You want to plan out what you're going to write in each of the sections so you don't leave out any important details. It may need multiple edits and reviews and you have a deadline to work towards.

Spelling and grammatical errors 

Proof-read your personal statement several times before submitting. It's normal to make lots of spelling and grammatical errors when writing, but it's important to fix them before you submit it. You can start by using a spellchecker and you may find it helpful to print a copy and read it outloud. You may want to ask a teacher, friend or family to read it with a fresh pair of eyes.

Making unsupported claims

Be honest about yourself and don't exaggerate. You will want to share relevant interests, skills, achievements and experiences, but remember to back these up with concrete scenarios and examples as this will make you stand out from other applicants. Don't lie about jobs you've had, places you've travelled, or books you've read as this may trip you up during a later stage. Never copy from a friend or from the internet, the UCAS plagiarism software will detect it.

Clichés and quotes

Avoid writing overused clichés such as, "I've always dreamed of being an engineer" or "I've loved space since I was five years old." This does not reflect much about your current motivations or experiences and why you're a suitable candidate. Avoid using quotes unless they have real purpose because you only have 4,000 characters to tell us about why you want to study the course, what makes you suitable, and what makes you stand out.

Bland writing style and repetition

Write your personal statement in an authentic, enthusiastic and persuasive tone. Don't write in a negative manner or use slang or jokes. Allow each sentence flow naturally instead of writing a chronological history or listing your life events. Think about what you want to feature and make it memorable and engaging for the reader. Avoid repeating points you have made previously and what you've already included on your UCAS application form.

Need a Helping Hand?

We’re here to give you a helping hand in perfecting your personal statement as part of your university application. Register on the site to get step-by-step instructions, examples and helpful feedback.

  • Video tutorials – Meet Ashley and Phil who will guide you section by section giving advice plus helpful hints, tips and examples.
  • Statement builder – Use the videos as a guide then fill in each section at your own pace. It’ll track your character count as you write.
  • Personalised feedback – we have a personal statement checking service giving expert feedback to perfect your statement.
Get a Helping Hand

You also find more personal statement guidance on the UCAS website.

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