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Posted 12.10.18

Five steps to building a successful personal statement

By Millie Cresswell

Submitting your UCAS application and writing a personal statement may seem like an impossible job to start with, but it's easier if you break it up into bite-size tasks.

To write a successful personal statement, you need to be confident in using your academic and character-building experiences as evidence, and concise enough with your language that you can discuss in detail how well-suited to the programme (or programmes, if you have chosen a few different options) that you want to study. Easy as that… right?

Starting your personal statement will require a good plan, and several drafts or edits before it’s ready to send off, but your patience will be worthwhile when you start your new journey into Higher Education!

We’ve put together a guide with five steps to help you write a personal statement that will impress any admissions officer...

Step 1: Start with a plan

Interview yourself with these questions, and use the answers as a starting point for your personal statement:

  • Why do you want to study your chosen programme (or programmes)?
  • Why does this subject (or subjects) interest you?
  • Why do you think you're right for the programme?
  • Do your current studies relate to the programme(s) you have chosen? If so, how?
  • What have you done outside the classroom to build your skills or character? This can include any employment you have undertaken, whether it's collecting empty glasses at your local pub, walking dogs for your neighbour, or having a paper round - holding down a job is a good way of showing that you can commit to something.
  • Have these experiences helped develop your interest in your chosen programme(s) or your career goals?
  • Do you have any transferable skills? Think about working independently, working as part of a team, or any positions of responsibility you've held. Expand on a few relevant points and give examples in detail.
  • Do you have a long term plan or career aspirations? If so, briefly explain. If not, don't worry; it’s not essential to include this as it can also be important to keep your options open.

Step 2: Develop your answers into an essay format

Take the answers from Step 1 and start shaping your personal statement, remembering to include specific examples that are personal to you to back up your claims. Be confident and take this opportunity to celebrate everything you’ve achieved that will make you a suitable candidate for your chosen degree course(s).

Step 3: Get feedback on your first draft

If you’re at school, college or sixth form, meet with your student support team to go through your first draft and receive critical feedback. If not, ask a friend or family member to read your first draft, as fresh eyes always spot mistakes you may have missed.

Step 4: Make changes and continue to get feedback

Feedback is an essential part of development, so be sure to take it all on board and make changes accordingly. Once you’ve made the changes, seek out help again to read your second draft and repeat this process until you’re happy with your final essay. Bear in mind that even at industry level, many professionals will make multiple drafts of written documents before the final product is ready.

Step 5: When you’re ready, submit your application!

This is the exciting bit… Once you’ve put in all the hard work of pulling your personal statement together, it’s time to submit your application. Input your personal statement into your UCAS application form, fill in all the other sections, double (and even triple) check everything is correct, and press send!