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A practical guide to writing your personal statement

A practical guide to writing your personal statement

You’ve done your research and spoken to a Course Adviser, now it’s time to write your personal statement. This is your chance to ‘sell’ yourself to the university and show how and why you are a good candidate for your chosen course.

Many people find it difficult to write about themselves. That’s why we’ve put together some top tips to help make your statement the best it can be.

Don’t delay!

It’s never too early to start work on your personal statement. In fact, we’d recommend you give yourself as much time as possible once you know or have a good idea which course or subject area you want to study. This will make your writing easier since the statement needs to be specific to the course you are applying to.

It’s all in the preparation

It’s a good idea to check out course descriptions online to find out the skills and experience that you’ll need, so you can then reflect on how these relate to your own interests and qualities.

Since each university and course is different, it’s also worthwhile asking your Course Adviser what the Admissions Team feels is most important in a personal statement. Check whether there are any word limits or application deadlines.

Ask yourself:

  • Why do you want to study this subject?

  • Do you have a future career in mind?

  • What experience do you have that’s relevant to your chosen course?

  • What are you likely to study on this course and what skills will you gain?

Do it your way?

The great thing about a personal statement is that it’s exactly that – personal. It’s important that the statement reflects you, so you need to write in your own individual style.

The Admissions Team will notice grammar and spelling, but they will be more concerned if they feel you have copied content from someone else.

Everything that you write should be relevant and linked to the course(s) you are applying for. Be sure to sound interested in the course as the Admissions Team will recognise applicants who aren’t totally committed.

Don’t forget the essentials 

While you can personalise your statement, there are certain facts the Admissions Team will expect to see. It is important that you include these to ensure you give the best account of yourself, your skills and your experience. 

What to include:  

  • Why you want to study the course (your motivations)? 

  • What makes you suitable (your past academic, professional and personal experience)? 

  • What makes you stand out (your achievements)? 

Structure your statement 

Just like an essay or story, your statement should have a beginning, middle and end. Start with an engaging and positive introductory sentence which makes the Admissions Tutor want to read on. 

Structure your statement so that you mention the most relevant points first. State your reasons for applying to your chosen course and what it is that motivates you.  

Within the main body of your statement, use each paragraph to highlight a new skill, achievement or experience that either relates to your course or shows how you are able to meet the demands of it.  

Complete your statement by summarising everything you have already mentioned and try to finish on high note, to reinforce your commitment and desire to study and succeed on your course. 

Do it in style 

You want to stand out, so try to make your statement different – the most overused opening phrases are: “From a young age I have always been interested in…” and “For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated with…” 

Avoid repetition and don’t use bullet points because the Admissions Team will be looking to see how well you can make a reasoned argument in continuous writing. 

Remember too that you need to show rather than tell them that you are a good candidate. Don’t just list all your skills and achievements, instead pick the most relevant and provide examples. 

Explain yourself! 

Make sure you explain the reasoning behind what you have written. For example, don’t just say you led a project at work, explain why you were chosen and what attributes you brought to the role.

Use our ‘CAR’ technique below to prompt you when using an example of an activity or event to demonstrate your experience, skills or qualities. 

Context:

  • Briefly explain the situation or setting you were in. 

  • Be specific!  

 Action:

  • Describe what you did to remedy the situation.

  • What skill(s) did you use? 

 Result:

  • What was the outcome of your actions/how did your skills develop? 

  • What did you learn? 

  • What challenges did you face?

And finally… 

Check your statement for spelling and grammar. And then check again. Ask your partner, friends or colleagues to read through your finished statement to make sure it flows and that you’ve not forgotten anything. Good luck! 

Applications are now open for our part-time, online courses starting in September 2021. Find out how to start your application here:

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