Being clear about the type of course you're applying for (especially the balance of practice and theory) is key to an impressive personal statement, according to admissions tutors. For more advice, take a look at our guidance on writing your personal statement. And here's how to prepare that all-important audition piece.
We spoke to Nick Strong, Drama Admissions Selector at Aberystwyth University, to get an insight into what drama tutors are looking for you to demonstrate in a personal statement:
- Genuine enthusiasm for drama, along with evidence that you've studied or read beyond the curriculum.
- Good analytical and critical skills – with examples of how you've used and developed these in practice.
- Skills gained from your critical and creative experiences, both within and outside your studies, or how you feel you’ve benefited from them.
- How any positions of authority, charity work, employment, hobbies or other relevant activities have benefited your development, or their relationship to drama.
- Your interest in the professional expression of the subject, such as theatre-going or the work of particular directors, actors, designers, film makers or theatre companies.
More about what drives you:
- Ensure your personality comes across in your personal statement – in particular your creativity, enthusiasm, energy or dedication to drama.
- If you can, articulate your career aspirations and how your degree will help you gain the experience, knowledge, and skills to help you prepare for it.
- Professor Anna Furse, Head of Theatre and Performance at Goldsmiths, University of London, advises applicants to be clear about whether they are looking for a course with a practice-theory ethos at an interdisciplinary university like hers, or a more practical course at a conservatoire or drama school. 'It’s fine to apply to both,' she says, 'but simply be aware and don’t write too generically'.
- For her kind of course, she is interested in applicants who are looking for a broader education in the range of creative, technical, and intellectual skills, that will prepare them for a wide range of careers in the performing arts.
Language and structure of your personal statement:
- Your personal statement should flow logically and be as engaging as possible, making the reader want to read on and show you can articulate your ideas in a succinct but interesting way.
- Get the right balance between subject-specific material and outside interests, which Nick Strong suggests should ideally should be 75%/ 25%.
- Check punctuation, grammar, spelling and syntax very carefully, as it may make the critical difference between two otherwise identical applicants.
- Overblown quotes: avoid starting your personal statement with a highbrow or pretentious quotation – tutors want to hear what you have to say, in your own words.
- Not expanding on your experience: don't just say 'I am captain of the football team'. Try ‘through being captain of the football team I have gained the following experience…’.
- Humour: a touch of dry wit can sometimes be effective and memorable, but equally, experimenting with jokes in your personal statement can be risky and backfire badly, so judge this with care.
- Giving the impression you haven't researched the course content: that's why Professor Furse at Goldsmiths would advise applicants for her particular course to avoid saying things like 'I simply love to perform and want to be a musical star'. 'It's fine to have a passion to perform', she says, 'but think also about why you want a university degree and tell us about this'.
- Irrelevant experience: as Nick Strong told us, starting with something like ‘I have wanted to be an actor ever since I was third shepherd from the left in a nativity play when I was three’ is a definite no-no. Focus on your most recent and relevant creative experiences.