How to Write a Stand-Out Personal Statement


Where do you start with writing your personal statement? How can you make yours stand out? Knowing where to start with writing your personal statement can be a daunting process. The good news is, there is loads of support and reading out there to help you through this process!

UCAS provides you with a space to include a personal statement with up to 4,000 characters and 47 lines. It’s important to remember that there is no one set rule on how you should write your personal statement. Every person will have a different personal statement that suits their personality and showcases their capabilities in the course area they are applying for.

Why is your personal statement important?

There may be a number of students applying for a place on the same course as you with the same predicted grades, so you should see your personal statement as an opportunity to convey what makes you stand out from the crowd. You may feel pressure to cram everything into your personal statement. However, your personal statement is about conveying your relevant skills and experiences that will allow you to be successful on that course and within the career or industry that this could lead into.

What has made you choose this course?

Here is your opportunity to showcase your knowledge and experience in this subject area and demonstrate why this is the right course for you. Your personal statement should reflect your enthusiasm and passion, why you want to pursue this subject area further, and how this course may help toward your future career plans.

Remember: make sure your statement is relevant to this course across institutions, as all the institutions you are applying for will read this same statement.

How can you showcase your relevant skills and experiences?

When you’re gathering evidence/ pulling together all your relevant skills and experiences, it’s helpful to pair them up against key transferable skills: communication, organisation, leadership, teamwork, problem solving, and presentation skills. Ask yourself: where have you demonstrated these skills? Was it through:

  • Positions of responsibility, i.e. mentoring, being a sports coach, through paid or voluntary work?
  • Group work opportunities in your school or college subjects, i.e. a drama performance, a class debate, or a group presentation or project?
  • Opportunities to work independently, i.e. independent school/ college projects and coursework, additional qualifications, or personal hobbies and interests?

A helpful method to remember to when referring to your relevant skills and experiences, is the ABC method; a method suggested by many FE and HE institutions:

Activity – what is the activity? (i.e. work experience, volunteering, part-time work, extra-curricular activities, subject activity)

Benefit – what skills/ experience did you gain from this activity? (i.e. teamworking, communication, presentation skills, positions of responsibility, leadership, etc.)

Course – how will this help you on the course/ area you want to study/ work in?

If you aren’t able to discuss the benefits or relevance to your course, then you probably don’t want to talk about it in your statement!

Remember: it’s never too late to plan opportunities to develop your skill set before you submit your statement.

And lastly – don’t ramble on! Be specific. Take out unnecessary words. The more concise, the better.

Is there a set structure to use?
There is no one structure that you should use for your personal statement. Below are two example structures.
The Uni Guide outlines a structure that follows:

  • Introduction: why do you want to do this course?
  • Relevant work experience
  • Enthusiasm for current studies
  • Skills and qualities
  • Conclusion: summarise why you think the institution would want to make you an offer

Loughborough University suggests the following structure:

  • 30% on why you have chosen the course/ profession.
  • 30% on how your current studies have given you skills that will allow you to succeed at university.
  • 30% on work experience, voluntary work, or paid-work.
  • 10% on extra-curricular activities.

Although you don’t have to follow a set structure, it is important you plan. Make sure you draft your personal statement multiple times before copying and pasting it into the available space on UCAS (save often – it times out after 5 minutes of inactivity!).
Need some more support with writing your first draft? Check out the University of Derby’s personal statement writer tool. Good luck!

Helpful further reading: