Writing a Killer Personal Statement for University I Oxford Open Learning


    Writing a Killer Personal Statement for University

    University applications are sent out by the thousands each year, with the personal statement a key ingredient. So it is important that yours stands out for all of the right reasons.

    Before you start writing, it is important to consider the purpose of your personal statement. It is of course to represent you and your passion for the course you are applying for. But it is also important to understand how universities will use your personal statement.

    For Universities that Don’t Interview:

    • You should use the statement to represent yourself in the way you would want to come across in an interview.

    For Universities that Do Interview:

    • You should still use the statement to represent yourself, but think along the lines of what might make the university decide to offer you an interview. Ask yourself, why should they want to meet me?

    Don’t Just Focus on Academics

    Your academic background, predicted results and interests are of course a core part of your statement. However, universities also want to know more about you as a person.

    It is always a good idea to write about extra-curricular activities. However, when doing so, try not to focus on explaining what your activities involve – a common mistake. Instead, write about what skills you have developed through them and how they will be valuable to you and the university if they offer you a place.

    Get the Structure and Balance Right

    There is no hard and fast rule of how many lines each part of your personal statement should be. Here, though, is a suggested guide:

    Introduction – maximum 6 lines

    Academic – up to 30 lines

    Extra-Curricular – up to 10 lines

    Conclusion – maximum 4 lines

    You don’t have to stick to this rigidly. But try and get your proportions right. Your introduction should be strong and concise, you should discuss your academic information in detail (and keep it relevant), your extra-curricular information should be shorter (about a third of the size of your academic paragraph) and you should have a short conclusion.

    Writing a Strong Introduction

    One of the hardest parts of writing a personal statement is knowing how to start. The trick is to be succinct (get to the point) and keep it interesting. A good way to start is by briefly explaining why you have chosen the course you are applying for. You could explain your motivation for selecting it, demonstrate your understanding of it and express why it excites you.

    You don’t have to say, “I have always wanted to do this.”

    Don’t be afraid to show passion for your subject, but when you do, be honest. If someone has wanted to study their course since they were little, they will not be favoured over someone who was attracted to the course during a university open day.

    Whenever and however you decide upon applying to a course, just make sure that you justify your reasons. Show the university that you are truly passionate and enthusiastic about the subject.


    For more information on Personal Statements, you can visit UCAS’ official site. They offer further information and examples of statements: https://www.ucas.com/undergraduate/applying-university/how-write-ucas-undergraduate-personal-statement


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    Sumantha is an education and training specialist with over ten years' experience in developing and delivering adult and secondary level education. Her professional journey includes a six-year stint as a secondary school teacher. She is currently a freelance content writer and learning and development consultant. Sumantha also has a portfolio of private students who she teaches up to GCSE level.