Five top tips for writing your personal statement

This article was last updated 14 December 2021.

With applications for UK undergraduate uni courses due in January, it's all starting to feel pretty real. The deadline is on 26 January 2022 for a majority of courses.

Whilst it might feel a bit overwhelming, your personal statement is a great chance to tell your chosen universities all about yourself and why you're passionate about the course you're applying for. But how do you know what makes a good statement? We caught up with StudyTuber and second-year student, Fran Tchapdeu (aka Simply Fran), to get her top tips.

Don't feel that you need to fit any stereotypical mould... universities want you to be yourself – they celebrate diversity and they want to see students from all walks of life.

More on Fran's top tips

1. Make sure it's the right course for you

As Fran explains, making sure you've picked the right course for you is essential for keeping motivated both in writing your personal statement and once you get to uni! She recommends asking yourself the following three questions to suss out if you've made the right decision:

  • Which subjects or topics do I actually enjoy revising for?
  • Which subjects or topics do I find myself wanting to know more about? For example, you might find yourself reading about them or watching documentaries
  • What are my top skills and character traits and do they overlap with a profession that relates to that course? You could ask a parent, friend or teacher for some extra input if you're not sure.

2. Don't just list skills – give examples

Giving really solid examples of how you've demonstrated different skills or what you've learnt from different experiences will show the admissions tutors that you mean business. Here's a handy example from Fran's personal statement showing the difference between just listing skills versus demonstrating those skills:

  • Listing skills: "I have good communication and time management skills"
  • Demonstrating skills: "As Head Girl, I have enjoyed delivering various presentations and assemblies which have challenged my ability to confidently communicate. Also, balancing Head Girl duties alongside the workload of Year 13 demanded an increase in my time management skills."

3. Be authentic. Don't try to be someone else!

Getting your own voice, personality and passions across is really important, so your prospective universities can get a sense of what makes you tick. It's also important not to fall into the trap of accidentally copying bits of other people's statements, such as example statements you've seen online. They might be worded particularly nicely but be aware that the UCAS system has plagiarism software to make sure your work is original, so keep it true to you!

4. Get the details right. Grammar and structure count

OK, OK, we all know grammar is important, right? But what if it's just not your strong point? Fran suggests seeing if your teachers at school can help out, such as English teachers and subject teachers for the course you're hoping to study. If your school or college has a UCAS applications administrator, they could also be a good person to ask. Bear in mind that they may be getting requests from a lot of students so try to approach them early if possible! Or you could always call on a grammar-savvy friend or relative to help you dot the i's and cross the t's.

5. Balance academic and non-academic activities

As Fran says, different courses and universities may require different ratios of academic (super-curricular) to non-academic (extracurricular) activities to be discussed in your personal statement. To find out what your chosen universities expect, Fran suggests checking on their website for the information. If you're struggling to find it, she recommends seeing if there is a contact listed for their admissions team, who should be able to point you in the right direction.

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