How To Write A Personal Statement Introduction

The introduction to a personal statement can frequently cause applicants the most anxiety.

Knowing what to write in a personal statement introduction can be difficult because it’s often the first element that people try to put into words… sometimes before they have the rest planned!

So, how exactly do you write a personal statement introduction?

A well-written personal statement introduction contains three elements. It must establish your individual voice by referencing a personal experience or skill and evidence your academic or experiential credentials. Lastly, it should establish your suitability for the demands of the course.

If that sounds like a lot of content for an opening paragraph, you’ve got an accurate overview of the style in which you should write a personal statement.

It should be concise, rich with relevant information and compelling enough that an admissions tutor recognises your potential.

Here are those three elements in greater detail…

1 Your Introduction Must Reflect Your Individuality

There are several ways in which your character and life experiences can be used to good effect in the introduction to your personal statement.

You could offer an example from your personal life, such as a memorable experience on holiday, a family event or a time when you witnessed something revelatory or engaging. Equally, you might want to refer to an aspect of your life such as a club or society where you play an active role.

If you want to find out about some great volunteering opportunities that can add value to your personal statement, why not check this resource out?

The key is to create relevancy between your experience and how it has inspired you to apply for a particular course. If you don’t make the link, including this information doesn’t strengthen your application, it undermines it.

A good example might be the following:

This candidate has given a personal account of a meaningful experience and has also clearly linked it to the application. They’ve used some informed vocabulary and shown some relevant subject knowledge, all in two sentences.

Another good example might be:

This candidate has clearly outlined the inspiration for their application and an awareness of the potential demands of the profession.

They’ve also illustrated how this experience has led them to undertake further preparation, which is a requirement for a wide range of courses. 

A candidate who simply includes an example of their individuality without contextualising it is likely to write a weak opening paragraph.

It might look something like this:

I have spent lots of hours working in my school’s youth club and like spending time teaching younger kids how to play table-tennis. I also ride my mountain bike at the weekend, and I think this will really help me in my degree.

An Unsuccessful Applicant

There is little evidence here to show what the candidate has learned from these experiences, nor how those experiences have helped them prepare for the course. An admissions tutor will understand that this applicant volunteers but won’t be able to see how that is relevant to their application.

In summary, refer to your own experiences and write content that will help you stand out as a unique candidate, but make it relevant and concise.

For more helpful advice, check out my post on how to start a personal statement here, or click on the image below.

2 Your Introduction Must Evidence Your Skills

After you’ve established your individuality and connected a personal experience to the demands of the course, you must ensure that the introduction to your personal statement clearly evidences your academic or practical skills. 

Although your entire statement will play a role in doing this, experts at UCAS confirm that it is essential to illustrate to a course leader or tutor that you are a qualified applicant at the very beginning.

There are several ways that you can do this.

You can refer to a particular aspect of the course and illustrate how your skills relate to these demands:

Alternatively, you can use the introduction to demonstrate how your skills have developed during your time in education:

This candidate has demonstrated a range of skills and subject knowledge whilst at the same time valuing the importance of research skills in the successful completion of a Biochemistry degree.

By including this information in their introduction, they encourage an admissions tutor to read further in a positive light.

Not all skills have an immediate academic quality, but they are essential to include if they apply to you.

You can find out much more about how to write about transferable skills in this post, or click on the image below.

Illustrating your engagement with independent learning or explaining exactly how you have developed your academic research ability, shown a motivated attitude or demonstrated teamwork skills will add to the quality of your personal statement introduction.

Just remember always to give a contextual example that relates to the course to which you are applying.

If you’re not sure when to begin writing, check out my post on when to start your personal statement here.

If you’d like to find out how my awesome Personal Statement Template eBook can help you write the perfect personal statement, then click here or check out the link below.

You can watch the video that goes with this post right here

3 Your Introduction Must Establish Your Suitability

The last thing to make sure that you include in your personal statement introduction is a section that establishes your suitability. That is where your ability to reflect and connect with the demands of the course is so important.

For example, if the course you are applying for indicates that potential candidates should have a robust understanding of the basics of anatomy, then you might consider referencing your knowledge of this in your introduction:

This applicant has exhibited a range of specialist vocabulary and indicated a capacity for independent learning.

However, what makes this extract most compelling is how they have established their suitability for the course in the final sentence. By connecting your experiences and ambitions with what the course offers, you will stand a much greater chance of being made an offer.

Universities are exceptionally positive when they can match a candidate’s ambitions for study with the contents of their academic offer.

For a great guide to the ideal vocabulary to use, check out my sentence starter post here.

Lastly, an effective sentence to include in your personal statement introduction connects your broader career ambitions with the outcomes of the course for which you are applying.

By doing so, you are evidencing that you have researched the course, understand the fields into which graduates tend to enter, and again are connecting your ambitions with what an admissions tutor knows the course offers.

If they can see you as a perfect fit, you’re far more likely to get an offer.

Check out this example of the traditional career options that the University of Bath lists as relevant to its Modern Languages BA.

If you’ve been inspired to improve your personal statement and need a little more help, don’t forget to buy a copy of my Personal Statement Template eBook. It’s packed full of helpful suggestions for how to structure your personal statement, wherever you’re applying.

Good luck with your personal statement, and don’t forget to contact me if you’d like some 1-1 support.

You’ve got this! D

Research and content verified by Personal Statement Planet.

David Hallen

I've worked in the Further Education and University Admissions sector for nearly 20 years as a teacher, department head, Head of Sixth Form, UCAS Admissions Advisor, UK Centre Lead and freelance personal statement advisor, editor and writer. And now I'm here for you...

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