Starting a personal statement is often the most difficult part of writing it. You have your tutor or head of sixth form pestering you for a first draft or even the final copy, and the deadline is just around the corner, and you’re still staring at a blank page.
The UCAS website
The UCAS website is a good place to start. They have very useful short videos and brilliant tips to help with writing your personal statement and everything else to do with making a successful application.
A personal reflection
Still stuck? Think of your personal statement as a 700 words or 4000 characters (with spaces) personal reflection on the course that you want to study. It is about that course, why you want to study it and why the university should choose you to study it with them. The person who will be reading it will be part of the admissions team of the department you are applying to, so be passionate and enthusiastic about that subject. If you love the subject you are applying for, you are much more likely to stick at it for the three, four or even five years (if medicine) of study and throw yourself into university life.
Where to start?
Brainstorm all areas that connect you with the course:
1.The topics or lessons that you have found the most interesting. Think specific and detailed. What area of the subject has ignited your passion for wanting to study it for three or more years? If your applying for Physics, was it those different wave patters, or was it the fall of the Berlin Wall when you were studying about post-war Germany in History? Why did you find it so interesting?
2. Articles, books, plays, podcasts, programmes you have read, listened to or watchedand influenced you to choose your subject, because your course will involve a lot of extensive reading. If you are wanting to study Politics was it that biography you read about Barack Obama or Margaret Thatcher or perhaps it was reading “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins that has ignited your passion to study Philosophy? Provide details of the book, article, play or podcast to show that you do have intimate knowledge of it.
3. Places you have visited that made an impression.When you visited the North Yorkshire coast on holiday and saw the erosion or the rock formations, it might have inspired you to study Geography or Geology or perhaps you made up your mind to apply for Architecture after seeing the Tate Modern? Provide some description of what you saw and reasons for your admiration.
4. Scholars and leaders in the field that you admire. It might be learning about feminism in Sociology and the work of Nawal el Saadawi that has made you want to study it further or you’re a big fan of Tracy Emin and seeing her exhibition has inspired your love of Art. What is it about them that you admire?
Other areas to think about are work or voluntary experience related to the subject you are wanting to study. Skills or qualities that you possess and will be useful for when you are studying or practising the subject. Examples are important as they provide evidence for what you write and give reasons for why you admire, enjoy, or are fascinated about what you are writing about.
Now start writing your personal statement
Your blank piece of paper will now be full of lots of areas that you can start with, so there should be no stopping you. All the areas mentioned connect you to the subject in an exciting, enthusiastic and personal way and give you an opening to write. Choose one of them for your introduction, zooming in, and then gradually zooming out to include other areas for your other paragraphs.
A personal statement needs to be an original piece of writing by you, that is personal to you. At we offer guidance and advice in writing a personal statement and making your UCAS application. Get writing!