#applyingforuni part 3: writing personal statement 101

Writing a personal statement (PS) can be a gateway for you to either get into the university of your dreams or fail to do so. In order to write a killer PS one has to understand the purpose of said document.

Personal statement is your professional advertisement. Once you’ll apply to a university an Admission Officer will have hundreds if not thousands PSs of people wanting to get a place to the same course as you. Your aim is to grab their attention, as they most likely won’t have the time to read every PS thoroughly. You have only 4000 characters and/or 47 lines in UCAS application to do that, so every word you put there has to add value, otherwise you should cross it out. My own personal was created over around 6 weeks and the version which I uploaded to the UCAS website was the lucky version 7.0. However the road between the first draft and the final upload was rocky and full of changes but in the end, I was very happy with the piece I sent.

A few things you should keep in mind when preparing for writing your own PS:

Quality over quantity

Personal is not about listing 50 things you did during high school. A few examples that are well incorporated will work better.


Applications of experiences + use extracurriculars smart

WRONG: ‘I participated in dancing classes, singing, I was writing for a school magazine and I was walking dogs in the shelter.’

RIGHT: ‘I spent 3 weeks in the ABC Laboratories where I was learning how to do X and Y. Through this experience, I gained [a skill] which later came in handy when I participated in a project about bees.’

Try to provide a story in 1-2 sentences that shows a problem that you managed to solve with your amazing skills.


Write with the course you’re applying for in mind

Try to mention most of the things that will be suitable for the degree that you’re applying for. So, I wrote mostly about my experiences in the labs, my science projects and an experience in a hospital which I smartly linked to the things that are yet to be discovered in science.


Show that you are a diamond in the rough

Look at the course programmes that you want to apply to and look for a common denominator. For example, if all of your course choices have a module in cell membranes, it’s good to say that you learned something about them (mention a key vocabulary word, e.g. symporters) and you’d love to learn more about them. But don’t lie and try not to stretch the truth just to write that. Interviewers like to ask about this kind of stuff during an interview.


If some genius concept for PS came to your mind quickly you’re most likely not the only one

You want your personal to stand out, be unique and show your personality a little but think the idea through before implementing it.


Admission Officers have read too many cliches and cheesy lines

Latin quotes, proverbs and ‘I wanted to be a [doctor] from a very young age’ were used so many times that they will impact the overall impression of your document in a negative, not positive way.


Don’t make them pity you

Just don’t.


Showcase strengths, not weaknesses

Personal Statement is about selling yourself as a prospective student every university would want to. So focus on positives. You can also show a negative thing that you managed to rectify.


Do not plagiarise as it will be discovered

UCAS checks for plagiarism. Admission Officers can check that too.


Check for typos, grammar mistakes, style etc.

Sending such an important essay about you without checking for mistakes is a no-no. Ask someone else to read your PS. There are also spellchecking sites, such as Grammarly.


Mention a group project or two that you participated in (courses in UK have a lot of group work)


Write about what you want to do with the skills obtained at the uni course.


If you’re applying from outside the UK say why you chose the UK.

Don’t complain about your country instead, praise something about UK universities.

Hopefully the tips will come in handy when your time to write a personal statement will come. Good luck xx


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