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University Diaries | How Do I Write a Personal Statement?

By Bethtinkerbell @TinksLostGirls


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I’ve just finished writing my personal statement and it has been a nightmare! Everyone has different pieces of advice for you, or tell you different things you need to put in. Now that mine is written I thought I’d share with you some things I learnt along the way.

You definitely need to start off with a plan, like you would with any essay, even if all you do is list the different sections you are going to write about. Here is the plan I got given from my course tutor

1. Course you want to do and why

2. Course you are doing now
   - How the subjects will help you
   - How the skills you’ve learnt will help you eg. Time Management, Independent Study, Team Work

3. Work Experience
   - What you did
   - What you learnt
   - How will it help

4. Hobbies
   - What do they show about you eg. Running shows determination, ballet shows expression

5. Big Sell/Conclusion

If you are looking to go into nursing or teaching then work experience is essential for your personal statement, if you’re running out of space don’t put your hobbies in as they aren’t as important.

If you’re wanting to study English then work experience isn’t as important but your hobbies may be if you write poems or stories.

Once I had my plan I began to make notes about what I would include for each section, I then sat down and wrote it as though it was an assignment. I’m wanting to study Theology and so I got myself into the zone for writing with a number of my books about Christianity at my side along with some Christian music and I found it very easy for me to write the section about the course I want to do and why.

I also included a couple of sentences describing the type of university I want to attend. I said something along the lines of ‘I want to study at a university with a small campus as I believe it will allow staff to get to know me’. I don’t know anyone else who has mentioned it, as it’s not essential. If you have chosen universities which are very different to each other, or have very different locations then don’t mention it as it can look as though you are favouring one university over another. All of the universities I have chosen are small universities which when I have visited have said that they pride themselves on course staff being able to get to know each individual student as class sizes are small.

I think about 50% of my personal statement is about the course I want to do and why with another 20% about the course I’m currently doing, 10% about why I’m returning to study and what I’ve done since I left school, 10% on my hobbies, and the final 10% on the big sell.

A lot of people say to write 80% about the course you want to do and the course you are currently doing, with 20% about you.

I will say it’s a struggle to keep within the 4000 characters or 47 lines (whichever comes first) that UCAS allows. It does take a lot of rejigging, and seeing which bits you can reword or possibly take out. I had to join 2 of my paragraphs together so that my personal statement would fit on the 47 lines. 

The pain of writing your personal statement is well worth it when it finally fits within the space UCAS allows.

Do you have any tips for writing a personal statement? Leave them in the comments!

Beth x

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