How to nail your personal statement

Writing a personal statement can be daunting, but you shouldn’t worry about it. Anyone can write a good one with a bit of hard work – here’s how to nail it.

Start early

It’s never too early to start thinking about it – I wrote a rough draft of mine the summer before Year 13. No matter how far you go – whether you just jot down some ideas, read some exemplary ones, or bash out a first draft, it’s never too early to start thinking about what you might include. If you think of it as a marathon, rather than a sprint, it becomes a lot easier. You’re trying to put down the academic highlights of the past 18 years of your life – that can be a little hard to remember in one go, so if you’re thinking about it from June, jotting down anything that comes to mind, it’ll be a whole lot easier when it comes to writing down a more serious draft.

Talk to your teachers

Whether you email them or organise a meeting with them, your teachers are there to support you. If you have a personal tutor or a form tutor, they might be your first port of call, but feel free to branch out and talk to any members of staff you feel you get on well with. It might make sense to allow a teacher or two who does your subject/deals with your area of interest to have a look at it, too – they might make some valuable suggestions.

Talk to your older friends

You can do this as well as or instead of talking to a teacher, but talking to any friends or relatives who’ve been through writing a personal statement is invaluable. Whether you want academic advice or simply support, a friend is an obvious go-to. It’d be even better to find a friend who’s doing the same or a similar subject as you, but that’s not essential. I relied heavily on a friend in the year above who studies Economics, but she still managed to help me with an English-orientated statement.

Make a list of everything you’ve achieved

Time to turn introspective. Just what have you done over the past 18 years? A lot of people instantly assume they’ve done nothing, but that’s never the case. Think of things relating to your subject if you can, but if not, not to worry. Start by making note of absolutely anything you can think of. Playing in a sports team, playing an instrument, having a part-time job – you can put anything like that in there. If you’re lucky enough to have done some pretty major things as well – think internships, awards, DofE – make sure you put those down too.

Don’t be afraid to boast!

It may feel like boasting, but you’re going for a place at uni here – it’s important. Some unis will have loads of competition, so make sure you present your best self. If you’ve done some pretty cool stuff, you have to put it down – and not hold back. That’s not to say you should phrase it as if to say ‘look at me, I’m the best person on the planet’. Focus on why you’re good at things rather than blindly asserting your excellence. For example, you can say you played in the A team for netball, but make sure to add in that it was because of your excellent teamwork and dedication – not because you’re the best netball player in the world.

Read over it

Make sure you read over it before it’s time to submit – the UCAS website will cap you at 4000 characters, so check your statement adheres to this in a word document beforehand. Check for any spelling or grammar mistakes, and if you can shorten any sentences, make sure you do. Concise writing usually reads better. Don’t show off using long, complicated words – just use whatever you think best fits what you’re trying to say.

With any luck, your statement will bang, and you’ll get all your offers!

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