Uni Personal Statement Layout Examples

The personal statement is an important part of the UCAS application. It's your chance to describe your ambitions, skills, and experience.

Our personal statement tool

You can write up to 4,000 characters of text that show you’d make a great student – so it might take a few redrafts until you’re happy with it.

This tool will 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 that 4,000 character limit.

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  • Course descriptions mention the qualities, skills and experience it’s useful to have for each subject – take note of these to help you decide what to write about.
  • Remember it’s the same personal statement for all the courses you apply to, so avoid mentioning unis and colleges by name. Most students choose similar subjects, but if you’ve chosen a variety, just write about common themes – like problem solving or creativity.
  • If you've got a question about writing your personal statement, don't worry you're not alone. Check out our blogs:

What to write about

  1. Why you are applying – your ambitions and what interests you about the subject, course providers and higher education.
  2. What makes you suitable – any relevant skills, experience or achievements gained from education, work or other activities.
  • Extracurricular activities

    These are great ways to prepare for higher education.

    If you do or have done any of these before, they could be ideal things to mention in your personal statement. Or you might be able to organise or start a new activity before you send your application.

  • International and EU students

    As an international student there are a few extra things you should mention.

    1. Why you want to study in the UK
    2. Your English language skills and any English courses or tests you’ve taken
    3. Why you want to be an international student rather than study in your own country
  • Mature students

    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.


How to write it

Feel free to use our personal statement mind map and personal statement worksheet for planning your personal statement.

There’s no definite formula to follow – just take your time and follow these guidelines.

  • Structure your info to reflect the skills and qualities the universities and colleges value most.
  • 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.
  • Proofread aloud and get your teachers, advisers, and family to check – then redraft until you’re happy with it and the grammar, spelling, and punctuation are correct.

We recommend you write your personal statement first, and then copy and paste it into your online application when you’re done.

Check the 4,000 character and 47 line limits though – some word processors get different values if they don’t count tabs and paragraph spacing as individual characters.

When you do add it to your application, save it regularly as it times out after 35 minutes of inactivity.

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 about what to include in your personal statement.


  • European characters and other languages

    You can use some ​European characters in your personal details, personal statement, employment and referee details. Some of these will be substituted with UK equivalent characters. Check our Extended character sets substitutions​ for more details.

    It’s not possible to apply in an alternative language, unless you’re applying to Welsh course providers and you’d like to make your application entirely in Welsh.

    1. To register in Welsh, when you go to the application service ‘Apply’, you can select ‘Cymraeg’.
    2. When you’re logged in to your application you can change the language to English or Welsh on the ‘Options’ page.
    3. The help text in Apply is available in Welsh too.
    4. In Apply you can choose to receive correspondence from course providers and from us in Welsh.

    Sut i ymgeisio

  • What happens to personal statements that have been copied?

    We screen all personal statements across Copycatch our Similarity Detection system – so make sure your personal statement is all your own work. Don’t copy from anyone else or from the internet and don't share your personal statement with other applicants.

    If we find any similarity in your personal statement, your application will be flagged. Then we’ll email an alert to you and your university or college choices and this could have serious consequences for your application.

  • Want to say more?

    You can only submit one personal statement – the same one for all the courses you apply to – and you can’t change it after your application has been submitted.

    If you want to send any more information you can ask your university and college choices if they’ll accept further details.

    • If they agree, you should send it to them, rather than us.
    • After we receive your application, we’ll send you a welcome email that includes your Personal ID – quote your Personal ID along with the further information you send to the unis and colleges, so they can link it to your UCAS application.

 


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However, as Williams says, don’t go overboard. “The mistake people make is to mention too many clubs,” he says, “it makes us question how dedicated you’ll be to your study or work. Pick some key extra-curricular activities and think about the skills they give you and feed that into what you are doing.  

“Avoid the vacuous statement,” he adds, “the statement that seems to say a lot, but actually says nothing at all, for example ‘I am a people person; committed to doing my best at every opportunity’.”

Stock phrases should be avoided at all costs, and applicants should also be careful not to exaggerate their achievements. Be warned; if you are invited to interview, you should expect to be quizzed on what you have said in your statement. White lies won’t impress anyone and can become pretty obvious pretty quickly under pressure.

Applicants should also avoid copying anyone else’s statement or taking inspiration from the internet, says Balnaves. Ucas uses a program called Copycatch to identify similarities in statements and notifies the universities if it picks up anything suspicious. 

Balnaves also urges students to review their statements for spelling and grammar and to apply in good time. “We probably get about 10 per cent of our applications in the last week,” he says, “but it’s best to give yourself some breathing space. The best advice you can get is from a family member or a teacher, read it aloud to them so you haven't missed any crucial bits.

“Write about what makes you unique," he continues, "only you know your unique selling points. Ask yourself ‘what makes me different, what will I bring to the university and what will I get out of it?’”

It’s important to remember that not only will your personal statement be used in the initial process of making an offer, it could also be used at the end of the application cycle if you miss the grade requirements.  

As Hunt says: “The personal statement is something tutors will use to remind themselves why they made you the offer in the first place if things don’t go to plan -  they might give you the benefit of the doubt.”

With this in mind, it’s worth putting in the extra effort now, to give yourself every chance of success.

Dos and Don’ts of personal statement writing

DO check for spelling and grammar - get your parents to double check and then check again

DO link your extra-curricular pursuits with your course choice

DO show your teachers a draft first – so you will know what to change in plenty of time

DON’T leave it until the last minute – try to submit the application before Christmas

DON’T use suggested synonyms unless you’re sure what they mean

DON’T be tempted to exaggerate what you’ve done

DON’T talk about specific universities, only talk about the subject

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