How To Write The Perfect Personal Statement

A personal statement is a brief and focused summary about your career or research goals, and which is required for applications to universities, colleges, and jobs. It is an important selling tool to showcase your strengths, qualities and abilities, as courses in universities are very competitive and not all universities interview prospective students. Therefore, your personal statement may be the only opportunity for universities to gain an understanding of the type of student that you are. It also prepares you for future job applications and it is vital that you develop the skills required.

The top 6 most overused personal statement opening sentences that you SHOULD not include are listed below:

1. I am currently studying A-Level psychology…
2. From the age of 5 I have always been interested in becoming a psychologist…
3. From an early age I have always been interested in …
4. Becoming a psychologist is a very challenging and demanding career …
5. For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated with …
6. Avoid using quotes from books, articles or from an individual when you begin a personal statement.
The Telegraph (2012)

In my experience the above statements are not thought provoking and therefore looses the attention of the reader. Students who begin their personal statements with the use of clichés are often not asked to attend an interview or their application is simply rejected. Other major statements to avoid are listed below.

  • Irrelevant sob stories that inspired you to choose the course
  • Personal weaknesses
  • Spelling mistakes
  • Don’t repeat yourself
  • Bad grammar
  • Waffling
  • Swearing
  • Indecisiveness
  • Lies
  • Bad grammar
  • “Ever since I was…”
  • Too much
  • Too little
  • Abbreviation such as LOL is not acceptable
  • Smileys J

Having discussed the mistakes not to be made, I would like to introduce you to strategies to write a good personal statement.

Firstly it is important to note that this is the first academic piece of writing the university will view; therefore it must be logical and this involves writing in paragraphs.

Start by writing a draft in a word document. It is vital that you begin with an
introduction that shows your interest in applying for the course.

Here is an example of an opening introduction:

‘A degree in Psychology will actualise my aspiration of carrying out psychological research, contributing to the body of psychological theory and applications of methods used in practice. I believe that this is the ultimate course that will enable me to master diverse techniques of understanding the human body and mind when interacting with service users. In future I hope to become an Educational psychologist and a degree in Psychology is the perfect introduction into learning the importance of promoting positive physical, intellectual, emotional and social well-being of children, young people and adults. In achieving this qualification, I would be capable of maximising my full educational potential and assist others to achieve their personal best’.

The next couple of paragraphs should be about any relevant work experience and subjects you are taking in school/college. Ensure you include the skills and qualities you have developed whilst studying these subject and provide an example of how you believed you acquired them. Furthermore, include activities that you have done related to my subject that is not included on the UCAS form for example, visiting the brain exhibition at the science museum.
State your interests outside of school or college and responsibilities that will highlight your strength of character. Finally end with a closing statement to demonstrate your goal of going to university.

Here is an example:

Overall, I am an organised individual who is able to work effectively both within a team and independently. I believe that my learning coupled with my work experience has created a degree of professionalism in me and brought to the fore a genuine urge to study a degree in Psychology. I look forward to studying at your university.

Additional Tips:

  • Ensure your personal statement is not more than 47 lines and 4,000 characters
  • Get your tutor to check for grammatical errors, spelling mistakes and the use of informal language
  • Once the final draft has been completed, copy and paste it into the Statement section on the UCAS online application page.

Good luck with your university application.

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Additional resources:

Important Tips for Writing Your Personal Statement
Personal Statements
Personal Statements, Exams and The Value of the Passion

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