Sometimes, writing a fantastic personal statement seems just out of reach. Maybe you can’t get your writing to say exactly what’s in your head, or perhaps it seems as though you aren’t using enough examples and you’re confused about just how personal to make your writing.
Don’t despair! This post is packed full of personal statement tips to make sure you create a killer application.
These top personal statement tips clarify exactly what should be included in your application, as well as identifying the best ways to use wider reading, structure and proofreading techniques to maximum advantage.
You’ll find some of these powerful tips outlined in detail below. I’ve also included the answers to some frequently asked questions at the end of the post, to help you submit a dazzling personal statement…
Personal Statement Help for Standout Content
Let’s dig into some valuable content for when it comes to getting help with your personal statement. We’re going to focus on three key elements, and once you get these right, your personal statement will be super-successful.
Tell the reader why you’re applying – include your ambitions, as well as what interests you about the subject, the course provider, and higher education.UCAS
Personal Statement Reading and Research
Your personal statement should contain evidence of wider reading and research. This must go beyond the boundaries of the academic curriculum you are following and show the reader that you are capable of independent study. This is a key skill in higher education, and must be clearly demonstrated.
Simply stating that you have read a book, or just providing a list of online reference libraries isn’t enough. Instead, admissions teams want to see that you have:
- Taken the initiative to read and comprehend a range of texts that support your application
- Developed your own informed opinions based on the views of others, and can articulate your arguments with clarity and balance
- Improved your understanding of, and engagement with, your field of study as a result of your academic efforts
Here’s an example of a passage from a personal statement where the writer hasn’t followed this advice…
And here’s a better version…
Personal Statement Structure and Style
A personal statement should be written in a relatively formal style. Slang, unnecessary abbreviations and colloquialisms should be avoided, and an explanatory focus encouraged. It should be structured logically, beginning with the writer’s motivations and ending with clear evidence of value.
But what exactly is a ‘relatively formal style’?
Write in an enthusiastic, concise, and natural style – nothing too complex. Try to stand out, but be careful with humour, quotes, or including anything unusual.UCAS
This explanation from UCAS goes some way to explain it, but here are the key do’s and don’t’s:
- Do write about yourself rather than others
- Do write in a compelling style, outlining your suitability
- Do include personal experiences and reflections
- Do share your interests and ambitions
- Don’t use language likely to shock or cause offence
- Don’t use the same vocabulary repeatedly
- Don’t just describe your experiences and skills
- Don’t list qualifications or other factual content
Structure your info to reflect the skills and qualities the unis and colleges value most – use the course descriptions to help you.UCAS
When it comes to structuring your personal statement, you should try to develop a logical flow that allows the reader to:
- Understand your motivations and ambitions
- See the depth of your academic skill and knowledge
- Recognise your academic potential
- Connect your academic knowledge with your practical experience
- See your wider interests and personality
- Recognise your potential value to their community
My post on structure here is a great place to grab some detailed information, or if you’re applying for an undergraduate course through UCAS, you can download my helpful free structure template here.
Personal Statement Proofing and Editing
A perfect personal statement contains a range of relevant, subject-specific terminology and is exceptionally well proofread. It should be edited into a concise and compelling format, ensuring that the document is accurate and polished prior to submission.
One of the best ways to ensure that your personal statement is proofread and accurate is to use a piece of specialist software like Grammarly. Not only will this free software ensure that your writing is free from errors of spelling, punctuation and grammar, but it also offers extremely intuitive suggestions for developing original content.
I recommend Grammarly to many of the students I work with, as not only does it guarantee an error-free application, but it’s also an extremely valuable tool for university and college work too. You can check out the free version here, or hit the banner below.
Frequently Asked Personal Statement Questions
Some questions get asked a lot, and with good reason! Here are 5 of the most frequently asked personal statement questions, each with a quick and helpful answer…
Can you use the Word I in a Personal Statement?
You can use the word ‘I’ in a personal statement, as it should be written in the first person and directly relate to your own unique experiences, skills and ambitions. Using ‘I’ enables you to speak directly to the reader, giving them a strong understanding of your personality and level of learning.
However, using ‘I’ to begin every point or sentence will not only become repetitive for the reader, but will limit the range, impact and sophistication of your application. Try to use a range of relevant sentence starters, or check out my post on just how original a personal statement should be.
Do you Introduce Yourself in a Personal Statement?
There is no need to formally introduce yourself at the start of your personal statement, as other elements of your application will offer the reader personal and factual details. An introduction is likely to duplicate content and use up valuable word or character counts, so is best avoided.
However, you should illustrate your motivation for study and give some context for your course choices at the start of your document, so that the reader gets a clear picture of who you are and what drives your application.
How do I Make my Personal Statement Stand Out?
You can make your personal statement stand out by ensuring that each point you make clearly explains the depth, range and academic level of the activity you are writing about. You should also outline the benefit of each activity as well as the value of that experience in relation to the course.
Personal statements really stand out when they evidence the applicant’s skills, experiences and ambitions, and connect these with what the course has to offer. When a reader can see that an applicant is a perfect fit for the subject, is motivated and will add value to their institution, they’re much more likely to make an achievable offer.
You can discover even more of my powerful personal statement strategies here.
How do you Write a Good Personal Statement?
A good personal statement should contain three essential elements. Firstly, it must outline the writer’s relevant academic experience. Then it should evidence the writer’s connection with their intended field of study. Lastly, it must outline the writer’s ambitions in relation to the course content.
Don’t forget that a good personal statement is one that results in an offer being made and accepted. The content must lead to this outcome by being relevant, concise and by illustrating your suitability for the course or role.
How can I make my Personal Statement Better?
You can make your personal statement better by ensuring that each point or paragraph flows logically from one to another and that you explain the lasting value of your academic and practical experiences, rather than simply describing them.
Ensuring that you include evidence of your relevant transferable skills and additional hobbies and interests will more convincingly indicate your suitability for living or working within a diverse community.
You’ll find my post full of detailed support on exactly how to improve a personal statement here, so do check it out.
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.