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What is a personal statement?
A personal statement supports your application to study at a university or college. It’s a chance for you to articulate why you’d like to study a particular course or subject, and what skills and experience you possess that show your passion for your chosen field.
If you’re applying for an apprenticeship – you probably won’t need to write a personal statement, but you’ll need to prepare a CV.
What to write about in your personal statement.
You’re telling admissions staff why you’re suitable to study at their university or college.
It’s important to remember you can only write one personal statement – it’s the same for each course you apply for. So, avoid mentioning any universities or colleges by name.
If you’ve chosen similar subjects, talk about the subject in general, and try not to mention courses titles. If you’ve chosen a variety of subjects, just write about common themes, like problem solving or creativity.
Here are some ideas to help you get started:
- Look at course descriptions and identify the qualities, skills, and experience it requires – you can use these to help you decide what to write about.
- Tell the reader why you’re applying – include your ambitions, as well as what interests you about the subject, the course provider, and higher education.
- Think about what makes you suitable – this could be relevant experience, skills, or achievements you’ve gained from education, work, or other activities.
- Include any clubs or societies you belong to – sporting, creative, or musical.
- Mention any relevant employment experience or volunteering you’ve done, such as vInspired Awards, Step Together, or Project Trust. With the current restrictions on our lives, carrying this out in-person can be difficult. Don’t worry, unis and colleges understand this and will take it into consideration – read our advice to find out lots of other ways you can gain useful experience.
If you took part in a higher education taster course, placement, or summer school, or something similar, include it.
- If there are any personal circumstances which have affected your educational performance, outline them in your personal statement. For example, this might be something that caused you to miss school - such as a physical or mental health condition, or caring for a family member.
- If your personal circumstances have affected your qualification choices, you can mention this in your personal statement. For example, a change of school which did not offer the same options, or having gained non-different qualifications, skills and experience to many other people (e.g. through the Armed Forces).
- If you have suffered financial hardship during your studies (e.g. received a bursary to cover the costs of your education), you can let the university know about that here.
If you have a question about writing your personal statement, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Here are some useful blogs to help:
- Five of the most frequently asked questions about personal statements, answered by admissions staff at uni and colleges
- Ten places to find pointers about writing your personal statement
- Aimee’s blog on how to complete your personal statement
- Charlotte’s blog on writing your personal statement
How to write your personal statement
Your personal statement should be unique, so there’s no definite format for you to follow here – just take your time. Here are some guidelines for you to follow, but remember your personal statement needs to be ‘personal’.
- Write in an enthusiastic, concise, and natural style – nothing too complex.
- Try to stand out, but be careful with humour, quotes, or anything unusual – just in case the admissions tutor doesn’t have the same sense of humour as you.
- Structure your info to reflect the skills and qualities the unis and colleges value most – use the course descriptions to help you.
- Check the character and line limit – you have 4,000 characters and 47 lines. Some word processors get different values if they don’t count tabs and paragraph spacing as individual characters.
- Proofread aloud, and get your teachers, advisers, and family to check. Then redraft it until you’re happy with it, and the spelling, punctuation, and grammar are correct.
We recommend you write your personal statement first, then copy and paste it into your online application once you're happy with it. Make sure you save it regularly, as it times out after 35 minutes of inactivity.
Here are some useful documents to get you started:
UCAS' personal statement builder
This tool is designed to help you think about what to include in your personal statement, and how to structure it. It also counts how many characters you’ve used, so it’s easy to see when you’re close to the 4,000 character limit. Use our tool to start building your personal statement over time by saving your progress as you go.
Need more help?
International and EU students
As an international student, there are a few extra things you should mention:
- Why you want to study in the UK.
- Your English language skills, and any English courses or tests you’ve taken.
- Why you want to be an international student, rather than study in your own country.
Here’s where you can mention any alternative entry requirements you’ve used – like an Access course or APL – demonstrating the skills and knowledge you’ve gained through your previous experiences.
We've worked with the SCip Alliance to develop guides for Service children and their schools and colleges.
See our guide to writing a personal statement as a student carer for more help.
Refugees and asylum seekers
Applying through UCAS Conservatoires?
Applying for Teacher Education in Scotland?
If you’re applying to study Teacher Education in Scotland, you’ll need to make your application through the UCAS Undergraduate scheme. Read dedicated personal statement advice from Scottish training providers (457.95 KB) about what to include in your personal statement.