So, it’s time to get writing your undergraduate personal statement. First impressions aren’t everything, but this statement is your 4000 character opportunity to sell yourself - so make every word count!
You’ll probably have quite a few questions when tackling this task from planning and how to structure a personal statement, to how to conclude a personal statement.
Thankfully, Scoodle’s got some quality advice on how to ensure university admissions officers are dazzled by everything you have to offer.
Picking the right university is a two-way street. You’ve done your research, travelled halfway around the country attending various in-person or virtual open days to determine which universities you like best. Now, as well as on results day, it’s time to highlight to your chosen universities, why you’re suitable to study with them.
Try to imagine the personal statement as a short academic essay on yourself, your studies, and your passions. You need to be concise, express why you’d like to study your particular course, and highlight what skills and experience you possess that demonstrate your motivation.
Remember, although you have three final university choices, you can only write one personal statement which is sent out to them all. If you’ve applied to multiple universities or for different courses it’s best to avoid mentioning them by name and keep your statement general, speaking about common themes, like problem-solving, communication or creativity.
What to include
Of course, you want to make the best possible impression with your application. So use it to highlight your strengths! You should explain clearly to the admissions team why you are a good fit. The best way to explain this is to start by asking yourself some questions. Perhaps consider the following:
- What do I like about the subject?
- Why am I suitable to study at this particular university?
- What do I already understand about the subject?
- What are my academic strengths?
- What excites me about the subject?
- What are my ambitions? If you dream of pursuing a particular career path or you simply love learning and want to continue on this academic path, nows your time to say so!
- What relevant experience do I have? Include skills and achievements developed at school, in clubs, societies, extracurriculars, at work, volunteering, summer schools and so on. Be sure to also tie these experiences to the course description and entry requirements.
How to structure a personal statement
Once you’ve answered the questions above you should have a good idea of what to include. If you think you need more ideas to show off your academic prowess, by all means, try mind-mapping further.
Next up, it’s time to consider how to structure a personal statement. At the fore of your mind should be the fact that admissions officers will read hundreds, if not thousands of personal statements. It is vital then, that yours is concise, clearly demonstrates your passion and that it’s personal.
When it comes to putting pen to paper don’t let the blank page intimidate you! First consider your structure, which should be simple and logical. Ensure that your points flow cohesively from one to the next but don’t worry about having anything too formulaic in place. As long as it reads well aloud and contains the right content you’ll make a good impression.
The best advice from admissions officers to applicants is ‘don’t just say it, show it.’
Remember, you are making a case for why you stand out and why you’re best suited above other candidates for this course. Almost like a lawyer, you need to back up your words with examples and hard evidence. Identify the skills and entry requirements of your chosen course. Then, where you have relevant skills and experiences, mention them with specific examples. The earlier on in your personal statement the better as this will catch the readers attention.
How to conclude a personal statement
When it comes to concluding your personal statement, it’s easy to make sweeping general statements to just wrap things up. Avoid this. As mentioned above, every word must count! Your conclusion is an opportunity to tie up any loose ends, linking your points together so that readers get a clear picture of how you’re a perfect fit for the course. Naturally, throughout the whole piece you should write positively about yourself, so don’t be shy about drawing attention to your impressive achievements even if it feels a bit unnatural.
Time to refine
Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, your personal statement cannot be written in one draft. Once you’ve written out a full first draft you need to sift through with a fine tooth-comb, editing and cutting down. As you only have 4000 characters to work with, you should avoid repetition and only focus on writing points that truly add value.
Try not to get too attached to what you’ve written as it’s necessary to be brutal in cutting down your work. Keep an eye on your spelling, punctuation and grammar, perhaps download a spellchecker like Grammarly but avoid depending on such tools as errors can slip through the net. Proofread aloud, on-screen and on paper with a red pen.
What’s more, it may be useful to have a fresh set of eyes look over your work. Ask friends, parents, advisors and teachers to read through your draft and be open to taking their advice. If you really want to be confident in your personal statement, we have a whole category of tutors who specialise in the university application process, so take a look and send a message today!
- Some people find it easier on their first draft to write without the word count in mind. This will allow you to freely get all your ideas on paper and is a great starting point.
- Write in a concise, positive and natural style- there’s no need to use a thesaurus for every word, just be yourself.
- Try to be memorable but do be careful with humour or quotes in case the admissions tutor doesn’t have the same sense of humour as you.
- Structure your statement to reflect the skills and qualities the universities and colleges value most.
- Don’t exaggerate anything. Make sure everything included in your statement is factual and that you can talk about everything in detail. You may be asked about it during your interview.
- Give yourself plenty of time! You’ll need to write a few drafts of your statement so make sure you have ample time to review and edit.
There is no doubt that writing your personal statement is a daunting task. Reassure yourself with the knowledge that the above advice will have you well equipped and Scoodle's excellent tutors are on hand to help! With a grand 130 PhDs and 500 Masters degrees between them, it's fair to say they know how to write a personal statement so if you need help, you know what to do!