Writing a personal statement is a little daunting for all of us, so I’ve put together this guide of tips and tricks, which I picked up while writing mine. I’ve split these tips into three different sections: things to put on your personal statement, planning and writing, and editing. So let’s get into it!
Planning & Writing
These steps come a little bit later, but it’s always good to get ahead and will make year 13 less hectic! Starting to write your personal statement is one of the hardest parts so here are some of my tricks:
Make a plan! This one might seem obvious but lots of students go straight into writing. Planning will keep your writing concise and structured, and just generally make it easier to start.
Make yourself stand out, especially in your introduction. I know it’s hard, but try to avoid cliché openings like “I’ve loved xyz since I was a child…”. Admissions tutors read hundreds of personal statements so you’ll want to have an engaging opening paragraph, which makes you stand out.
Explain! Whenever you mention an activity you’ve done or book you’ve read explain its significance; maybe you found reading about nuclear physics fascinating because of its real-world applications and this inspired you to want to study physics, or taking part in STEM challenges helped you develop the analytical thought processes required in a STEM degree. Whatever it may be, explain it in the context of your subject!
Be passionate. Okay, I keep going on about this, but it is what universities are looking for. Admissions tutors will want students who are engaged in their subject and show real interest and are ‘fun to teach’, so let that come through in your writing! Also, take a look at UCAS’s advice on personal statements here >>
So you’ve finally finished writing your statement, now it just needs some finishing touches and edits.
Choose one person to be your ‘main editor’. Find a teacher or mentor who you trust and ask them to look over your statement and give you feedback. Show it to your parents and other teachers, but be careful as often people will have different opinions. This can get confusing, so remember it’s your personal statement so you get the final say.
Keep a running log of your drafts. Don’t be afraid of completely re-ordering parts or having lots of drafts (I had about 7)! However save every draft and feedback either digitally or in print, so you can always change things back and look at past feedback.
Don’t be afraid of criticism! Getting feedback from teachers can be intimidating, but look at it positively; teachers have read hundreds of personal statements and have your best interest at heart.
Know your limits. Literally. UCAS has a character and line limit. Your statement has to be within 4000 characters and 47 lines when you submit it, so before you think you’re completely done copy and paste it into the UCAS website to check.
This article was written by Isadora Hugo, Stemette Society member.