BridgeU Logo

How to Write a UCAS Personal Statement [With Examples]

best way to start ucas personal statement

James is senior content marketing manager at BridgeU. He writes and directs content for BridgeU's university partners and our community of international schools

What are the big challenges students should be aware of before writing their UCAS Personal Statement?

  • The essential ingredients for writing a great Personal Statement
  • How to write the UCAS Personal Statement [with examples]

Final hints & tips to help your students

Join 10,000 other counsellors & educators & get exclusive resources delivered straight to your inbox.

The UCAS Personal Statement can sometimes be a student’s only chance to impress a UK university. Read our in-depth guide to helping your students plan & write a winning application.

There are hundreds of articles out there on how to write a UCAS Personal Statement that will grab the attention of a UK university admissions officer.  

But if you’re working with students to help them perfect their Personal Statement in time for the  relevant UCAS deadlines , we can sum up the secret to success in three words.

Planning, structure and story. 

The UCAS Personal Statement is a student’s chance to talk about why they want to study for a particular degree, course or subject discipline at a UK university. 

As they set about writing a personal statement, students need to demonstrate the drive, ambition, relevant skills and notable achievements that make them a  suitable candidate for the universities they have chosen to apply to . 

But the UCAS Personal Statement requires students to write a lot about themselves in a relatively short space of time. That’s why lots of planning, a tight structure and a compelling story are essential if a student’s Personal Statement is to truly excel. 

As important deadlines for UK university applications grow closer, we at BridgeU have put together a guide, outlining some of the strategies and techniques to help your students to write a personal statement which is both engaging and truly individual.

Handpicked Related Content

Discover the simple steps that will boost the confidence of your native English speaking & ESL students alike in  University Application Essays: The 5 Secrets of Successful Writing .

As they begin to plan their Personal Statement, students may feel intimidated. It’s not easy to summarise your academic interests and personal ambitions, especially when you’re competing for a place on a course which is popular or has demanding entry requirements. In particular, students will likely come up against the following challenges.

Time pressure

Unfortunately, the Personal Statement (and other aspects of university preparation) comes during the busiest year of the student’s academic life so far.

Students, and indeed teachers and counsellors, must undertake the planning and writing of the personal statement whilst juggling other commitments, classes and deadlines, not to mention revision and open day visits!

Because there is already a lot of academic pressure on students in their final year of secondary school, finding the time and headspace for the personal statement can be hard, and can mean it gets pushed to the last minute. The risks of leaving it to the last minute are fairly obvious – the application will seem rushed and the necessary thought and planning won’t go into  making the personal statement the best it can be . 

Sticking closely to the Personal Statement format

The character limit which UCAS sets for the personal statement is very strict – up to 4,000 characters of text. This means that students have to express themselves in a clear and concise way; it’s also important that they don’t feel the need to fill the available space needlessly.  Planning and redrafting of a personal statement is essential .

Making it stand out

This is arguably the greatest challenge facing students – making sure that their statement sets them apart from everyone else who is competing for a place on any given course; in 2024 alone, UCAS received applications from 594,940 applicants. In addition, UCAS uses its own dedicated team and purpose built software to check every application for plagiarism, so it’s crucial that students craft a truly  original personal statement which is entirely their own work .

The essential ingredients for writing a great UCAS Personal Statement 

We’ve already mentioned our three watch words for writing a high quality Personal Statement.

Planning. Structure. Story. 

Let’s dig deeper into these three essential components in more detail.

Watch: How to Write a UCAS Personal Statement with University of Essex

Planning a ucas personal statement.

It might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s vital that students plan their Personal Statement before they start writing it. Specifically, the planning phase could include: 

  • Students thoroughly researching the UK university courses they plan on applying to. 
  • Deciding on what relevant material to include in their Personal Statement (we’ll cover this in more detail later on). 
  • Writing an unedited first draft where they just get their thoughts and ideas down on paper. 

Structuring a UCAS Personal Statement

As we’ve discussed, the UCAS Personal Statement requires students to be extremely disciplined – they will be required to condense a lot of information into a relatively short written statement. This means that, after they’ve written a rough first draft, they need to think carefully about how they structure the final statement. 

A stand out Personal Statement will need a tight structure, with an introduction and a conclusion that make an impact and really help to tell a story about who your student is, and why they are drawn to studying this particular degree. 

This brings us nicely to our third and final ingredient…

Telling a story with a Personal Statement

The UCAS Personal Statement is a student’s opportunity to show a university who they are and how their life experiences have shaped their academic interests and goals. 

So a good Personal Statement needs to offer a compelling narrative, and that means making sure that a student’s writing is well-structured, and that every sentence and paragraph is serving the statement’s ultimate purpose –  to convince a university that your student deserves a place on their subject of choice. 

How to help your students start their UCAS Personal Statement

In order to ensure that a personal statement is delivered on time and to an appropriate standard, it’s essential to plan thoroughly before writing it. Here are some questions you can ask your students before they start writing:

How can you demonstrate a formative interest in your subject?

It may sound obvious but, in order for any UCAS personal statement to have the necessary structure and clarity, students need to think hard about why they want to study their chosen subject. Ask them to think about their responses to the following questions:

What inspired you to study your chosen subject?

Example answer:  My desire to understand the nature of reality has inspired me to apply for Physics and Philosophy

Was there a formative moment when your perspective on this subject changed, or when you decided you wanted to study this subject in more detail?

Example answer:  My interest in philosophy was awakened when I questioned my childhood religious beliefs; reading Blackburn’s “Think”, convinced me to scrutinise my assumptions about the world, and to ensure I could justify my beliefs.

Can you point to any role models, leading thinkers, or notable literature which has in turn affected your thinking and/or inspired you?

Example answer :  The search for a theory of everything currently being conducted by physicists is of particular interest to me and in “The Grand Design” Hawking proposes a collection of string theories, dubbed M-theory, as the explanation of why the universe is the way it is.

Asking your students to think about the “why” behind their chosen subject discipline is a useful first step in helping them to organise their overall statement. Next, they need to be able to demonstrate evidence of their suitability for a course or degree. 

How have you demonstrated the skills and aptitudes necessary for your chosen course?

Encourage students to think about times where they have demonstrated the necessary skills to really stand out. It’s helpful to think about times when they have utilised these skills both inside and outside the classroom. Ask students to consider their responses to the following questions. 

Can you demonstrate critical and independent thinking around your chosen subject discipline?

Example answer :  Currently I am studying Maths and Economics in addition to Geography. Economics has been a valuable tool, providing the nuts and bolts to economic processes, and my geography has provided a spatial and temporal element.

Are you able to demonstrate skills and competencies which will be necessary for university study?

These include qualities such as teamwork, time management and the ability to organise workload responsibly.

Example answer:  This year I was selected to be captain of the 1st XV rugby team and Captain of Swimming which will allow me to further develop my leadership, teamwork and organisational skills.

How have your extracurricular activities helped prepare you for university?

Students may believe that their interests outside the classroom aren’t relevant to their university application. So encourage them to think about how their other interests can demonstrate the subject-related skills that universities are looking for in an application. Ask students to think about any of the following activities, and how they might be related back to the subject they are applying for.

  • Clubs/societies, or volunteering work which they can use to illustrate attributes such as teamwork, an interest in community service and the ability to manage their time proactively.
  • Have they been elected/nominated as a team captain, or the head of a particular club or society, which highlights leadership skills and an ability to project manage?
  • Can they point to any awards or prizes they may have won, whether it’s taking up a musical instrument, playing a sport, or participating in theatre/performing arts?
  • Have they achieved grades or qualifications as part of their extracurricular activities? These can only help to demonstrate aptitude and hard work. 

How to write the UCAS Personal Statement [with examples] 

If sufficient planning has gone into the personal statement, then your students should be ready to go!

In this next section, we’ll break down the individual components of the UCAS Personal Statement and share some useful examples.

These examples come from a Personal Statement in support of an application to study Environmental Science at a UK university. 

Watch: King’s College London explain what they’re looking for in a UCAS Personal Statement

Introduction.

This is the chance for an applying student to really grab an admission tutor’s attention. Students need to demonstrate both a personal passion for their subject, and explain why they have an aptitude for it .  This section is where students should begin to discuss any major influences or inspirations that have led them to this subject choice. 

Example :  My passion for the environment has perhaps come from the fact that I have lived in five different countries: France, England, Spain, Sweden and Costa Rica. Moving at the age of 15 from Sweden, a calm and organized country, to Costa Rica, a more diverse and slightly chaotic country, was a shock for me at first and took me out of my comfort zone […] Also, living in Costa Rica, one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, definitely helped me realize how vulnerable the world is and how we need to take care of it in a sustainable manner. 

This opening paragraph immediately grabs the reader’s attention by giving the reader an insight into this student’s background and links their academic interests with something specific from the student’s personal backstory. 

Discussing Academic Achievements 

The next paragraph in this Personal Statement discusses the student’s academic achievements. Because this student has had an international education, they frame their academic achievements in the context of their personal background. They also cite useful examples of other curricula they have studied and the grades they have achieved. 

Example : 

Throughout my academic life I have shown myself to be a responsible student as well as a hard working one, despite the fact that I have had to move around a lot. I have achieved several other accomplishments such as a high A (286/300) in AS Spanish at age 15, and also completed a Spanish course of secondary studies for ‘MEP’(Ministerio de Educacion Publica), which is a system from Costa Rica.   

You’ll notice that this student doesn’t just list their achievements – their strong academic performance is always linked back to a wider discussion of their personal experiences. 

Showcasing Extracurricular Activities

As well as discussing academic achievements, a good Personal Statement should also discuss the student’s extracurricular activities, and how they relate back to the student’s overall university aspirations. 

By the third/fourth paragraph of the Personal Statement, students should think about incorporating their extracurricular experiences, 

Another valuable experience was when my class spent a week at a beach called ‘Pacuare’ in order to help prevent the eggs of the endangered leatherback turtle from being stolen by poachers who go on to sell them like chicken eggs. We all gained teamwork experience, which was needed in order to hide the eggs silently without scaring the mother turtles, as well as making it more difficult for the poachers to find them. 

When the poachers set fire to one of the sustainable huts where we were staying, not only did I gain self-awareness about the critical situation of the world and its ecosystems, I also matured and became even more motivated to study environmental sciences at university.

This is a particularly striking example of using extracurricular activities to showcase a student’s wider passion for the degree subject they want to study. 

Not only does this Personal Statement have a story about volunteering to save an endangered species, it also illustrates this applicants’ wider worldview, and helps to explain their motivation for wanting to study Environmental Science. 

Concluding the UCAS Personal Statement

The conclusion to a UCAS Personal Statement will have to be concise, and will need to tie all of a student’s academic and extracurricular achievements. After all, a compelling story will need a great ending. 

Remember that students need to be mindful of the character limit of a Personal Statement, so a conclusion need only be the length of a small paragraph, or even a couple of sentences. 

“ After having many varied experiences, I truly think I can contribute to university in a positive way, and would love to study in England where I believe I would gain more skills and education doing a first degree than in any other country.  “

A good Personal Statement conclusion will end with an affirmation of how the student thinks they can contribute to university life, and why they believe the institution in question should accept them. Because the student in this example has a such a rich and varied international background, they also discuss the appeal of studying at university in England. 

It’s worth taking a quick look at a few other examples of how other students have chosen to conclude their Personal Statement. 

Medicine (Imperial College, London) 

Interest in Medicine aside, other enthusiasms of mine include languages, philosophy, and mythology. It is curiously fitting that in ancient Greek lore, healing was but one of the many arts Apollo presided over, alongside archery and music.   I firmly believe that a doctor should explore the world outside the field of  Medicine, and it is with such experiences that I hope to better empathise and connect with the patients I will care for in my medical career. 

You’ll notice that this example very specifically ties the students’ academic and extracurricular activities together, and ties the Personal Statement back to their values and beliefs. 

Economic History with Economics (London School of Economics)

The highlight of my extra-curricular activities has been my visit to Shanghai with the Lord Mayor’s trade delegation in September 2012. I was selected to give a speech at this world trade conference due to my interest in economic and social history. […] I particularly enjoyed the seminar format, and look forward to experiencing more of this at university. My keen interest and desire to further my knowledge of history and economics, I believe, would make the course ideal for me.

By contrast, this conclusion ties a memorable experience back to the specifics of how the student will be taught at the London School of Economics – specifically, the appeal of learning in seminar format! 

There’s no magic formula for concluding a Personal Statement. But you’ll see that what all of these examples have in common is that they tie a student’s personal and academic experiences together – and tell a university something about their aspirations for the future.

Watch: Bournemouth University explain how to structure a UCAS Personal Statement

best way to start ucas personal statement

Know the audience

It can be easy for students to forget that the person reading a personal statement is invariably an expert in their field. This is why an ability to convey passion and think critically about their chosen subject is essential for a personal statement to stand out. Admissions tutors will also look for students who can structure their writing (more on this below). 

Students should be themselves

Remember that many students are competing for places on a university degree against fierce competition. And don’t forget that UCAS has the means to spot plagiarism. So students need to create a truly honest and individual account of who they are, what they have achieved and, perhaps most importantly, why they are driven to study this particular subject.

Proof-read (then proof-read again!)

Time pressures mean that students can easily make mistakes with their Personal Statements. As the deadline grows closer, it’s vital that they are constantly checking and rechecking their writing and to ensure that shows them in the best possible light. 

Meanwhile, when it comes to giving feedback to students writing their Personal Statements, make sure you’re as honest and positive as possible in the days and weeks leading up to submission day. 

And make sure they remember the three key ingredients of writing a successful Personal Statement. 

Planning, structure and story! 

Book a free demo

Learn how BridgeU can help deliver better outcomes for your students and improved results for your school

best way to start ucas personal statement

Get university advice on The Student Room app

  • Teacher training
  • Bangor University
  • Birmingham City University
  • Sheffield Hallam University
  • University of Aberdeen
  • University of East Anglia
  • University of Hull
  • University of Kent
  • University of Reading
  • A-level choices
  • GCSE choices and university
  • Choosing a course
  • Making firm and insurance choices
  • University open days
  • Top questions to ask at a university open day
  • Ucas Extra explained
  • Understanding conditional offers
  • University offers: what they mean and what to do next
  • Getting the most from Ucas university fairs
  • What do I need to get into Oxbridge?
  • What to do if you don’t get an offer from your first choice university
  • What you need to know about getting a university scholarship, grant or bursary
  • AS and A-levels explained
  • Is a higher or degree apprenticeship right for you?
  • Universities

By Nik Taylor (Editor, The Uni Guide) | 18 August 2023 | 22 min read

How to write an excellent personal statement in 10 steps

Stand out from the crowd: here's how to write a good personal statement that will get you noticed

Share this page

Email & print.

best way to start ucas personal statement

Your personal statement forms a core part of your university application, and the sooner you get going, the better you can make it. You may think that your personal statement won’t matter as much to unis as your grades and experience but a great personal statement could make all the difference between you and a candidate with the same grades. Sure, your application might not reach that deal breaker stage. But is it something you want to leave to chance?  Here we’ll take you through the process of planning, writing and checking a good personal statement, so you end up with something you can submit with confidence. And to make sure the advice we're giving you is sound, we’ve spoken to admissions staff at loads of UK universities to get their view. Look out for video interviews and advice on applying for specific subjects throughout this piece or watch our personal statement playlist on YouTube .

  • Are you looking for personal statement examples? Check our library of hundreds of real personal statements, on The Student Room

Personal statement deadlines

You'll need to make sure you've got your personal statement written well in advance of your application deadline. Below are the main university application deadline dates for 2024 entry.

2024 entry deadlines

16 October 2023: Deadline for applications to Oxford and Cambridge universities, along with most medicine, dentistry, and veterinary courses.   31 January 2024: Deadline for applications to the majority of undergraduate courses. After this date, universities will start allocating places on these courses –   but you can still apply after the 31 January deadline , as this article explains . 30 June 2024:  Students who apply after this date will be entered into Clearing .

  • Read more: Ucas deadlines and key application dates

What is a personal statement?

A personal statement is a central part of your Ucas application, where you explain why you’ve chosen a particular course and why you’ll be good at it. It's your chance to stand out against other candidates and hopefully get that all-important offer. You only write one personal statement which is then read by each university you apply to, so if you are applying for more than one subject (or it's a combined course) it's crucial that you include common themes or reference the overall skills needed for all subjects. Personal statements are especially important if you’re trying to get on a very competitive course, where you need to do anything you can to stand out to admissions tutors. Courteney Sheppard, senior customer experience manager at Ucas, advises that your personal statement is "the only part of the application that you have direct control over. Do lots of research to demonstrate your passion, curiosity and drive to pursue your chosen subject." There’s a limit on how much you can write: your personal statement can be up to 4,000 characters (including spaces) or 47 lines of 95 characters (including spaces); whichever is shorter. This may appear generous (read: long) but once you've got going you may find yourself having to edit heavily.

  • Read more: teacher secrets for writing a great personal statement

1. Plan what you want to cover

The first thing you need to do is make a plan. Writing a personal statement off the top of your head is difficult. Start by making some notes, answering the following questions:

  • What do you want to study?
  • Why do you want to study it?
  • What is there about you that shows you’re suited to studying this subject at university? Think about your personality, as well as your experiences.
  • What are your other interests and skills?

These few points are going to form the spine of your personal statement, so write them in a way that makes sense to you. You might want to make a simple bulleted list or you might want to get all arty and use a mindmap. Whatever you choose, your aim is the same. You want to get it clear in your own head why a university should offer you a place on its course. Getting those details down isn't always easy, and some people find it helpful to make notes over time. You might try carrying a notebook with you or set up a memo on your phone. Whenever you think of something useful for your personal statement, jot it down. Inspiration sometimes comes more easily when you’re thinking about something else entirely. It might help to take a look at The Student Room for some sample personal statements by university and sample personal statements by subjects , to give you an idea of the kind of thing you want to include. 

  • Read more: personal statement FAQs

2. Show off your experience

Some things are worth adding to your personal statement, some things are not. Firmly in the second camp are your qualifications. You don’t need to mention these as there’s a whole other section of your personal statement where you get to detail them very precisely. Don’t waste a single character going on about how great your GCSE grades are – it’s not what the admissions tutor wants to read. What they do want to see is: what have you done? OK, so you’ve got some good grades, but so do a lot of other applicants. What have you done that’s different, that shows you off as someone who really loves the subject you’re applying for? Spend some time thinking about all the experience you have in that subject. If you’re lucky, this might be direct work experience. That’s going to be particularly appropriate if you’re applying for one of the more vocational subjects such as medicine or journalism . But uni staff realise getting plum work experience placements is easier for some people than others, so cast your net wider when you’re thinking about what you’ve done. How about after-school clubs? Debating societies? Are you running a blog or vlog? What key skills and experience have you picked up elsewhere (eg from hobbies) that could be tied in with your course choice? Remember, you’re looking for experience that shows why you want to study your chosen subject. You’re not just writing an essay about what you're doing in your A-level syllabus. Use this checklist as a guide for what to include:

  • Your interest in the course. Why do you want to spend three years studying this subject at university?
  • What have you done outside school or college that demonstrates this interest? Think about things like fairs/exhibitions, public lectures or voluntary work that is relevant to your subject.
  • Relevant work experience (essential for the likes of medicine, not required for non-vocational courses such as English )
  • Skills and qualities required for that career if appropriate (medicine, nursing and law as obvious examples)
  • Interest in your current studies – what particular topics have made an impression on you?
  • Any other interests/hobbies/experiences you wish to mention that are relevant either to the subject or 'going to uni'. Don't just list your hobbies, you need to be very selective and state clearly what difference doing these things has made to you.
  • Plans for a gap year if you’re deferring entry.

Read more: 6 steps you need to take to apply to university

3. Be bold about your achievements

Don't be bashful about your achievements; that’s not going to help you get into uni. It's time to unleash your inner Muhammed Ali and get all “I am the greatest” with your writing. Do keep it focused and accurate. Do keep your language professional. But don’t hide your qualities beneath a layer of false modesty. Your personal statement is a sell – you are selling yourself as a brilliant student and you need to show the reader why that is true. This doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and if you’re finding it difficult to write about how great you are it’s time to enlist some help. Round up a friend or two, a family member, a teacher, whoever and get them to write down your qualities. Getting someone else’s view here can help you get some perspective. Don’t be shy. You are selling your skills, your experience and your enthusiasm – make sure they all leap off the screen with the way you have described them.

  • Read more: the ten biggest mistakes when writing your personal statement  

4. How to start your personal statement

Type your personal statement in a cloud-based word processing program, such as Google Docs or Microsoft Word and don’t copy and paste it into Ucas Hub until it’s finished.  One of the benefits of doing it this way is that you can run spell check easily. (Please note, though, that Word adds "curly" quotation marks and other characters (like é or ü) that won't show up on your Ucas form, so do proofread it on Ucas Hub before submitting it to ensure it is how you typed it.)  Another big benefit is that you'll always have a backup of what you've written. If you're being super careful, you could always save your statement in another place as well. Bear in mind that extra spaces (eg adding spaces to the beginnings of paragraphs as indentation) are removed on Ucas. In your first sentence, cut to the chase. Why do you want to do the course? Don’t waste any time rambling on about the daydreams you had when you were five. Just be clear and concise – describe in one line why this course is so important to you. Then, in the rest of your intro, go into more detail in demonstrating your enthusiasm for the course and explaining how you decided this is what you want to do for the next three or more years. However you choose to start your statement, just avoid the following hoary old chestnuts. These have been some of the most used lines in personal statements over the years – they are beyond cliche, so don’t even think about it.

  • From a young age I have (always) been [interested in/fascinated by]…
  • For as long as I can remember, I have…
  • I am applying for this course because… 
  • I have always been interested in… 
  • Throughout my life I have always enjoyed… 
  • Reflecting on my educational experiences… 
  • [Subject] is a very challenging and demanding [career/profession/course]… 
  • Academically, I have always been… 
  • I have always wanted to pursue a career in… 
  • I have always been passionate about…   

5. Focus your writing on why you've chosen that subject

So you’ve got your intro done – time to nail the rest of it. Bear in mind that you’ve got to be a little bit careful when following a personal statement template. It’s easy to fall into the trap of copying someone else’s style, and in the process lose all of your own voice and personality from your writing. But there is a rough order that you can follow, which should help keep you in your flow. After your opening paragraph or two, get into any work experience (if you’ve got it). Talk about extracurriculars: anything you've done which is relevant to the subject can go here – hobbies, interests, volunteering. Touch on your career aspirations – where do you want this course to take you? Next, show your enthusiasm for your current studies. Cite some specific examples of current work that you enjoyed. Show off your relevant skills and qualities by explaining how you’ve used these in the past. Make sure you’re giving real-world examples here, not just vague assertions like “I’m really organised and motivated”. Try to use examples that are relevant.   Follow this up with something about you as a person. Talk about non-academic stuff that you like to do, but link it in some way with the course, or with how it shows your maturity for dealing with uni life. Round it all off by bringing your main points together, including a final emphasis of your commitment to studying this particular course.

  • Read more: how to write your personal statement in an evening  

6. How long should a personal statement be?

You've got to work to a very specific limit when writing your personal statement. In theory you could use up to 4,000 characters – but you’re probably more likely to be limited by the line count. That's because it's a good idea to put line breaks in between your paragraphs (to make it more readable) and you only get a maximum of 47 lines. With this in mind, 3,500 characters is a more realistic limit. But when you’re getting started you should ignore these limits completely. At first, you just want to get down everything that you feel is important. You'll probably end up with something that is far too long, but that's fine. This is where you get to do some polishing and pruning. Keep the focus of your piece on the course you’re applying for, why you want to do it and why you’re perfectly suited to it. Look through what you’ve written so far – have you got the balance right? Chop out anything that goes on a bit, as you want each point to be snappy and succinct.

  • Read more: universities reveal all about personal statements  

7. Keep it simple

8. Smart ways to end your personal statement

Writing a closing line that you’re happy with can feel as tricky as coming up with your opener. What you’re looking for here is a sign-off that is bold and memorable. The final couple of sentences in your statement give you the opportunity to emphasise all the good stuff you’ve already covered. Use this space to leave the reader in no doubt as to what an excellent addition you would be to their university. Pull together all your key points and – most importantly – address the central question that your personal statement should answer: why should you get a place on the course?

  • Read more: universities explain how to end your personal statement with a bang  

9. Make sure your personal statement has no mistakes

Now you’ve got a personal statement you’re happy with, you need to make sure there are no mistakes. Check it, check it a second time, then check it again. Once you’ve done that, get someone else to check it, too. You will be doing yourself a massive disservice if you send through a personal statement with spelling and/or grammatical errors. You’ve got months to put this together so there really is no excuse for sending through something that looks like a rush job. Ask your teachers to look at it, and be prepared to accept their feedback without getting defensive. They will have seen many personal statements before; use what they tell you to make yours even better. You’ve also got another chance here to look through the content of your personal statement, so you can make sure the balance is right. Make sure your focus is very clearly on the subject you are applying for and why you want to study it. Don’t post your personal statement on the internet or social media where anyone can see it. You will get picked up by the Ucas plagiarism checker. Similarly, don't copy any that you find online. Instead, now is a good time to make your parents feel useful. Read your personal statement out to them and get them to give you feedback. Or try printing it out and mixing it up with a few others (you can find sample personal statements on The Student Room). Get them to read them all and then try to pick yours out. If they can't, perhaps there's not enough of your personality in there.  

10. Don't think about your personal statement for a whole week

If you followed the advice at the very start of this guide, you’ve started your personal statement early. Good job! There are months before you need to submit it. Use one of these weeks to forget about your personal statement completely. Get on with other things – anything you like. Just don’t go near your statement. Give it a whole week and then open up the document again and read through it with fresh eyes. You’ll gain a whole new perspective on what you’ve written and will be well placed to make more changes, if needed.

  • Read more: how to write your personal statement when you have nothing interesting to say  

10 steps to your ideal personal statement

In summary, here are the ten steps you should follow to create the perfect personal statement.  

Personal statement dos and don'ts

  • Remember that your personal statement is your personal statement, not an article written about your intended field of study. It should tell the reader about you, not about the subject.
  • Only put in things that you’re prepared to talk about at the interviews.
  • Give convincing reasons for why you want to study the course – more than just "enjoying the subject" (this should be a given).
  • For very competitive courses, find out as much as you can about the nature of the course and try to make your personal statement relevant to this.
  • Be reflective. If you make a point like 'I like reading', 'I travelled abroad', say what you got from it.
  • Go through the whole thing checking your grammar and your spelling. Do this at least twice. It doesn’t matter if you’re not applying to an essay-based course – a personal statement riddled with spelling mistakes is just going to irritate the reader, which is the last thing you want to do. If this is something you find difficult then have someone look over it for you.
  • Leave blank lines between your paragraphs. It’s easier for the reader to get through your personal statement when it’s broken into easily digestible chunks. Remember that they’re going to be reading a lot of these! Make yours easy to get through.
  • Get someone else's opinion on your statement. Read it out to family or friends. Share it with your teacher. Look for feedback wherever you can find it, then act upon it.
  • Don’t write it like a letter. Kicking off with a greeting such as "Dear Sir/Madam" not only looks weird, it also wastes precious space.
  • Don’t make jokes. This is simply not the time – save them for your first night in the union.
  • Don’t criticise your current school or college or try to blame teachers for any disappointing grades you might have got.
  • Be afraid of details – if you want your PS to be personal to you that means explaining exactly which bits of work or topics or activities you've taken part in/enjoyed. It's much more compelling to read about one or two detailed examples than a paragraph that brushes over five or six.
  • Just list what you're doing now. You should pull out the experiences that are relevant to the courses which you're applying to.
  • Mention skills and activities without giving examples of when they have been demonstrated by you or what you learnt from them. Anyone can write "I have great leadership skills" in a PS, actually using a sentence to explain when you demonstrated good leadership skills is much rarer and more valuable.
  • Refer to experiences that took place before your GCSEs (or equivalent).
  • Give explanations about medical or mental health problems. These should be explained in your reference, not your PS.
  • Apply for too many different courses, making it difficult to write a convincing personal statement which supports the application.
  • Write a statement specific to just one institution, unless you're only applying to that one choice.
  • Copy and paste the statement from somewhere else! This means do not plagiarise. All statements are automatically checked for plagiarism by Ucas. Those that are highlighted by the computer system are checked manually by Ucas staff. If you’re found to have plagiarised parts of your statement, the universities you apply to will be informed and it could jeopardise your applications.
  • Use ChatGPT or another AI program to write your personal statement for you. Or, if you do, make sure you thoroughly edit and personalise the text so it's truly yours. Otherwise you're very much at risk of the plagiarism point above.

You may want to look at these...

How to write your university application.

Tips for writing your university application, including deadlines and personal statements

What to do if you miss the 25 January Ucas deadline and still want to apply to uni

How long does it take for universities to reply to your application?

It might feel like it's taking forever for your uni offers to come through. Find out what's going on, and when you should hear back

Where could your A-levels take you?

Enter your a-level choices below to find out.

  • Enter A-level option 1 Accounting Afrikaans Anthropology Arabic Archaeology Art and Design Bahasa Basque Bengali Biology Business Studies Chemistry Chinese Classical Civilisation Communication Studies Computer Science Craft and Design Critical Thinking Czech Dance Danish Design Design and Technology Drama and Theatre Studies Dutch Economics Electronics Engineering English Language English Language and Literature English Literature Environmental Studies Fijian Film Studies Fine Art Finnish Food Technology French Further Mathematics Gaelic General Studies Geography Geology German Government and Politics Graphics Greek Gujurati Health and Social Care Hebrew Hindi History History of Art Hungarian ICT Irish Italian Japanese Latin Latvian Law Leisure and Recreation Malay Mathematics Media Studies Mongolian Music Nepali Norwegian Panjabi Performing Arts Persian Philosophy Photography Physical Education Physics Polish Portuguese Product Design Psychology Religious Studies Romanian Russian Sanskrit Science Slovak Sociology Spanish Statistics Syariah Tamil Textiles Travel and Tourism Turkish Urdu Welsh World Development
  • Enter A-level option 2 Accounting Afrikaans Anthropology Arabic Archaeology Art and Design Bahasa Basque Bengali Biology Business Studies Chemistry Chinese Classical Civilisation Communication Studies Computer Science Craft and Design Critical Thinking Czech Dance Danish Design Design and Technology Drama and Theatre Studies Dutch Economics Electronics Engineering English Language English Language and Literature English Literature Environmental Studies Fijian Film Studies Fine Art Finnish Food Technology French Further Mathematics Gaelic General Studies Geography Geology German Government and Politics Graphics Greek Gujurati Health and Social Care Hebrew Hindi History History of Art Hungarian ICT Irish Italian Japanese Latin Latvian Law Leisure and Recreation Malay Mathematics Media Studies Mongolian Music Nepali Norwegian Panjabi Performing Arts Persian Philosophy Photography Physical Education Physics Polish Portuguese Product Design Psychology Religious Studies Romanian Russian Sanskrit Science Slovak Sociology Spanish Statistics Syariah Tamil Textiles Travel and Tourism Turkish Urdu Welsh World Development
  • Enter A-level option 3 Accounting Afrikaans Anthropology Arabic Archaeology Art and Design Bahasa Basque Bengali Biology Business Studies Chemistry Chinese Classical Civilisation Communication Studies Computer Science Craft and Design Critical Thinking Czech Dance Danish Design Design and Technology Drama and Theatre Studies Dutch Economics Electronics Engineering English Language English Language and Literature English Literature Environmental Studies Fijian Film Studies Fine Art Finnish Food Technology French Further Mathematics Gaelic General Studies Geography Geology German Government and Politics Graphics Greek Gujurati Health and Social Care Hebrew Hindi History History of Art Hungarian ICT Irish Italian Japanese Latin Latvian Law Leisure and Recreation Malay Mathematics Media Studies Mongolian Music Nepali Norwegian Panjabi Performing Arts Persian Philosophy Photography Physical Education Physics Polish Portuguese Product Design Psychology Religious Studies Romanian Russian Sanskrit Science Slovak Sociology Spanish Statistics Syariah Tamil Textiles Travel and Tourism Turkish Urdu Welsh World Development
  • Enter A-level option 4 Accounting Afrikaans Anthropology Arabic Archaeology Art and Design Bahasa Basque Bengali Biology Business Studies Chemistry Chinese Classical Civilisation Communication Studies Computer Science Craft and Design Critical Thinking Czech Dance Danish Design Design and Technology Drama and Theatre Studies Dutch Economics Electronics Engineering English Language English Language and Literature English Literature Environmental Studies Fijian Film Studies Fine Art Finnish Food Technology French Further Mathematics Gaelic General Studies Geography Geology German Government and Politics Graphics Greek Gujurati Health and Social Care Hebrew Hindi History History of Art Hungarian ICT Irish Italian Japanese Latin Latvian Law Leisure and Recreation Malay Mathematics Media Studies Mongolian Music Nepali Norwegian Panjabi Performing Arts Persian Philosophy Photography Physical Education Physics Polish Portuguese Product Design Psychology Religious Studies Romanian Russian Sanskrit Science Slovak Sociology Spanish Statistics Syariah Tamil Textiles Travel and Tourism Turkish Urdu Welsh World Development
  • Get results

Related to this article

Search the uni guide, find further advice or search for information on a course or university.

  • Search Advice
  • Search courses &/or universities

The Uni Guide and The Student Room are both part of The Student Room Group.

Promoted universities

  • Durham University
  • Lancaster University
  • University of Glasgow
  • University of the Arts London
  • University of Southampton
  • Swansea University
  • Aston University, Birmingham
  • Ulster University
  • Cardiff University

Browse expert advice

  • Oxbridge applications
  • Ucas application
  • Personal statements
  • Ucas deadline 2024 countdown
  • Clearing and results day
  • Preparing for university
  • Student accommodation
  • Student life
  • Student finance
  • Advice for parents

About this site

  • Cookie policy
  • List of universities and colleges
  • Privacy notice
  • Terms and conditions
  • Where we get our info

Who we work with

  • Your account settings

Ad privacy settings

Popular tools and features

  • A-level Explorer
  • Course search

best way to start ucas personal statement

Connect with us

best way to start ucas personal statement

  • Oxbridge Law 24/25 Entry
  • Non-Oxbridge Law 24/25 Entry
  • Oxford PPE 24/25 Entry
  • Oxbridge Economics 24/25 Entry
  • Oxbridge Modern Languages 24/25 Entry
  • Cambridge Land Economy 24/25 Entry
  • Oxbridge Psychology 24/25 Entry
  • Oxbridge English 24/25 Entry
  • Oxford Human Sciences 24/25 Entry
  • Oxbridge History 24/25 Entry
  • Oxbridge Geography 24/25 Entry
  • Cambridge Philosophy 24/25 Entry
  • Oxbridge Classics 24/25 Entry
  • Cambridge Architecture 24/25 Entry
  • Cambridge HSPS Programme 24/25 Entry
  • Oxbridge Medicine 24/25 Entry
  • Oxford Biomedical Sciences 24/25 Entry
  • Oxbridge Engineering 24/25 Entry
  • Cambridge Natural Science 24/25 Entry
  • Oxbridge Maths 24/25 Entry
  • Oxbridge Computer Science 24/25 Entry
  • Oxford Physics 24/25 Entry
  • Oxford PPL 24/25 Entry
  • Cambridge Veterinary Science 24/25 Entry
  • Oxford Chemistry 24/25 Entry
  • Oxford Biology 24/25 Entry
  • Oxford Biochemistry 24/25 Entry
  • Non-Oxbridge Medicine 24/25 Entry
  • Non-Oxbridge Dentistry 24/25 Entry
  • IMAT Medicine 24/25 Entry
  • Can’t Find Your Subject?
  • Law Interview Programme
  • PPE Interview Programme
  • Economics Interview Programme
  • Oxbridge Medicine Interview Programme
  • Natural Science Interview Programme
  • Engineering Interview Programme
  • Maths Interview Programme
  • Dentistry Interview Programme
  • Medicine MMI Interview Programme
  • Our Guarantee

Our Students

Student Success Stories

  • University Access Scheme
  • New Tutor Application Form
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • How Does It Work?

Enrol on a UniAdmissions Programme by the 21st June and enjoy a £500 reduction on your fees. Schedule your consultation here today.

Secure your place on a UniAdmissions Programme by Friday, 21st June, and enjoy a £500 reduction on your enrolment fees. Schedule your consultation here today.

  • +44 (0) 208 068 0438
  • [email protected]

SCIENCE PROGRAMMES (25/26 ENTRY)

HUMANITIES PROGRAMMES (25/26 ENTRY)

GET STARTED

Can't find your subject?

OXFORD TESTS (25/26 ENTRY)

CAMBRIDGE TESTS (25/26 ENTRY)

MEDICINE TESTS (25/26 ENTRY)

View Our Free admissions guides & resources

How UniAdmissions Cracked The Oxbridge Formula

Applying for Oxbridge is an opportunity seldom approached correctly. So how do you enter the top 16% of a strong cohort of applicants that get an offer? Discover how UniAdmissions get 2/3 of our students in.

UCAT Registration 2024: What You Need To Know

Every year, thousands of medicine applicants take the UCAT aiming for top scores. To take the test, you must register first. This guide provides all the information you need to secure your UCAT registration.

Inside The UniAdmissions Portal: The UA Advantage

UniAdmissions students have access to the world's first dedicated Oxbridge admissions preparation platform, and this guide will help you discover exactly how the Portal will help you get your offer.

Discover all guides

ABOUT UNIADMISSIONS

Learn about who the world's first Oxbridge prep school are.

Learn about the Portal; the heart of our Programmes.

UniAdmissions' Foundation

The Foundation is our charitable arm to support disadvantaged students.

Students & Tutors

Discover who a UniAdmissions student is and our admissions criteria.

Learn about our high-performing Oxbridge tutors.

We're proud of our alumni. Read about their journey with UniAdmissions here.

Admissions Resources

Free Admissions Guides

Visit our Learning Centre and read our in-depth free guides.

We are the world's biggest Oxbridge application publisher. Learn more here.

Teachers Learning Hub

Learn about how to help your students get their place at Oxbridge.

Get Started

  • Access Student Portal
  • Oxbridge Programmes
  • Open Day Webinar
  • Tutor Application Form
  • Common Questions
  • Download Our Prospectus
  • The Ultimate UCAS Personal Statement Guide

Last Updated: 31st May 2022

Author: Rob Needleman

  • Getting started

Table of Contents

When it comes to completing your UCAS application, the Personal Statement is one of the most important parts to consider.

While your grades show your academic ability and Admissions Tests assess your knowledge and capabilities, a Personal Statement is all about you. Tutors want to see the person behind the application and understand why you’re a suitable candidate for your chosen course. 

Although each university will have its own unique way of shortlisting applicants, your Personal Statement is your opportunity to demonstrate your strengths and let your personality shine through.

However, over 20,000 students apply for Oxbridge every year which is a lot to compete with. As such, you need to stand out from the crowd and really get across your reasons for wanting to study your topic, which can make the prospect of writing one and including all the right things pressurising. To help you, we have written this ultimate Personal Statement guide. Let’s get started.

How to write a Personal Statement

Your Personal Statement isn’t a long monologue of your life so far, nor a gigantic list of all your achievements. Think of yourself as a storyteller. Start at the beginning with how you developed an interest for your chosen subject and end with where you see yourself after university.

Before You Start

How to get started.

Before you sit down to write your UCAS Personal Statement, the first thing we recommend is to research the courses you want to apply for. This will help you prepare your statement as courses vary from university to university, and your content should reflect these. Bear in mind, you are only able to send one Personal Statement to all your chosen universities, so you can’t overly cater to one. Look at all of the details, including the structure, modules and examination methods, as well as what they’re looking for from a student. This will support your first draft, though bear in mind you’ll redraft a few times before it’s perfect.

For example, Oxford lists the personal characteristics that they look for in applicants to their Medicine degree:

How many words should a Personal Statement be?

Personal Statements can be up to 4,000 characters long (615-800), and no more. This might sound like a lot, but it’s just one side of A4 paper. There’s plenty of information to include, so make sure it’s concise, clear and easy to read.

When to start writing it

It’s never too early to start thinking about your Personal Statement and what you’re going to write about. But there is a deadline : October 15th for all Oxbridge courses including Medicine and Dentistry, and January 25th for other undergraduate subjects. We suggest you begin preparing at the start of the year, as this gives you plenty of time to plan, draft and rewrite until it’s perfect for submission.

Your Personal Statement is the first thing Oxbridge Admissions Tutors will see about you. It’s imperative you get it right.

Our Oxbridge Premium Programmes help you write a successful Personal Statment that ticks all the Admission Tutor’s boxes. Our proven support is implemented through various mediums including Personal Statment Intensive Courses, Personal Statment Marking and Personalised Reading Lists.

Discover our Oxbridge Premium Programmes  by clicking the button below to  enrol and triple your chances of success.

What To Include

Your Personal Statement is a glimpse into your passion, how keen you are to learn and what you already know about your chosen subject. Express your interest by commenting on the areas that fascinate you most. For example, is it helping people that draws you into Medicine, or is it the fascinating human anatomy? 

Another great way to show your enthusiasm is through your previous experience in the subject. Demonstrate why you’re suitable for the course by providing evidence of any relevant skills and qualities that relate to this. What are you good at? What have you done that proves it? 

  • Answering Your Personal Statement Questions

Mention any additional projects, work experience or extra-curricular activities you’ve got involved with that further demonstrate you’re an ideal candidate. Reflect on the skills you’ve gained from these (as long as they’re transferable to your studies). Admissions Tutors will be looking for such information, as well as your unique selling points — give examples of things you’ve done that show you have a wider interest in learning. 

You should also try to link your interests, skills and qualities to your university research. However, Oxbridge are not interested in sports, hobbies or if you play any musical instruments — keep it academic.

Show you’re an interesting person and have a true passion for your subject, and your Personal Statement should be a winning one. Your enthusiasm is what will make your statement stand out, so don’t shy away from expressing your love for your chosen subject, though you don’t need to say you’ve dreamed about doing the course your entire life.

Aim to include things like:

  • Personal attributes, such as adaptability, problem-solving and organisation
  • Employment experience and volunteering work
  • Personal interests in your subject
  • Relevant extracurricular activities, like any clubs or societies you belong to
  • Your future after university

The Structure

The key to writing a good UCAS Personal Statement is getting the structure right, as this can have a huge effect on the message it delivers. Often, students get caught up in the content and forget that presenting information effectively is just as important as the words included.

Each section of your statement needs to be crafted correctly so that Admissions Tutors can digest the information easily. While there are no strict rules on how to structure it — since it’s personal to you — there are a few rules of thumb to use to find the right balance. In general, though, remember to consider the format, structure and content equally, and you’ll write a great Personal Statement.

  • Personal Statement Cheat Sheet

Here is a breakdown of how we recommend students to split up their essay:

  • Introduction - About six lines
  • Academic abilities - 22 - 27 lines
  • Extra-curricular information - 10 - 12 lines
  • Conclusion - No more than four lines

Personal Statement Introduction

Rightly or wrongly, it is highly likely that your UCAS Personal Statement will be remembered by its opening sentence. It must be something short, sharp, insightful, and catch the reader’s attention. It sets the precedent for the rest of your statement and unfortunately, decides whether your statement is paid particular attention to when read.

  • Avoid using overused words like “passionate”, “deeply fascinating”, and “devotion”.
  • Avoid using clichéd quotes like the infamous Coco Chanel’s “fashion is not something that exists in dresses only”.
  • If you are going to use a quote, then put some effort into researching an obscure yet particularly powerful one – don’t forget to include a reference.
  • Draw on your own personal experiences to produce something both original and eye-catching.

Once that’s out of the way, you need to answer the most important question:

The introduction does not need to be very long. It is generally a good idea to open the statement with something that sets the context of your application. For example, someone who is applying to study History may open: ‘History is all around us’, rather than ‘I have always been interested in History because…”

By the end of the introduction the reader should clearly know:

  • What subject you are applying for
  • What motivated you to apply for this subject

Make sure you keep it personal and honest! The exact phrase: “from a young age, I have always been interested in” was recently used more than 300 times in Personal Statements in a single year, and substituting “young” for “early” gave an additional 292 statements – these phrases can quickly become boring for Admissions Tutors to read!

Personal Statement Main Body

In the rest of your text, your aim should be to demonstrate your suitability for the course by exemplifying your knowledge of the course structure and its requirements through personal experience. Again, there are no rigorous guidelines on how to do this and it is very much down to your own writing style. Whereas some prefer a strict structure, others go for a more synoptic approach, but always remember to be consistent to achieve a flowing, easy to read Personal Statement.

Here’s the structure we recommend:

Paragraph #1: This should cover why you are suited for your subject. This will include your main academic interests, future ambitions (related to the chosen degree), and what makes the course right for you. This should be the academic side of why you want to study this subject.

Paragraph #2: This should still cover why you are suited for your subject. However, it can be less focused on academic topics. If you’ve had to overcome any significant challenges in life and wish to include these in your Personal Statement, this is normally the best place to do so. Similarly, any work experience or relevant prizes & competitions should be included here.

Paragraph #3: This is the smallest part of the main body and is all about extra-curricular activities. It is easy to get carried away in this section and make outrageous claims, e.g. claim to be a mountain climber if all you have ever climbed is a hill at the end of your street etc. Lying is not worth the risk, given that your interviewer may share the same hobby that you claim to be an expert in. So, don’t be caught out!

What you should include in your Personal Statement main body:

  • Sports and other hobbies
  • Musical instruments
  • Work experience
  • Personal interests in the field of study
  • Personal attributes

What you shouldn’t include in your Personal Statement main body (or anywhere!):

  • Negative connotations – always put a positive spin on everything
  • Lack of reflection
  • Controversy in whatever form it may come
  • Generic/stereotypical statements
  • Listing things

Personal Statement Conclusion

The conclusion of your Personal Statement should be more about leaving a good final impression rather than conferring any actual information. If you have something useful to say about your interest and desire to study your subject, you shouldn’t be waiting until the very end to say it!

A good conclusion should not include any new information, as this should be in the main body. However, you also need to avoid repeating what you have said earlier in your Personal Statement. This would be both a waste of characters and frustration for the tutor. Instead, it is better to put into context what you have already written and, therefore, make an effort to keep your conclusion relatively short – no more than four lines.

For more inspiration, take a look through our other successful Personal Statement a nalysis articles:

Successful Personal Statement For Natural Science (Physical) At Cambridge

Successful personal statement for economics at cambridge, successful personal statement for land economy at cambridge, successful personal statement for chemistry at oxford, successful personal statement for geography at oxford, successful personal statement for classics at oxford, successful personal statement for law at oxford, successful personal statement for classics at cambridge, successful personal statement for engineering at cambridge, successful personal statement for philosophy at cambridge, successful personal statement for veterinary medicine at cambridge, successful personal statement for psychological and behavioural sciences at cambridge, successful personal statement for psychology at oxford, successful personal statement for history at oxford, successful personal statement for physics at oxford, successful personal statement for cambridge mathematics and physics, successful personal statement example for computer science at oxford, successful personal statement for english at cambridge, successful personal statement for oxford english language and literature, successful personal statement for medicine at oxford university, successful personal statement for modern languages at oxford, successful personal statement for engineering at oxford, successful personal statement for natural sciences (biological) at cambridge, successful personal statement for economics & management at oxford, successful personal statement for ppe at oxford, successful personal statement for law at cambridge, successful personal statement for dentistry at king’s college london, successful personal statement for medicine at cambridge, our personal statement do’s.

1. Show passion for your subject

Admissions Tutors aren’t going to pick a candidate who doesn’t seem particularly interested in their field. Show your passion and eagerness to learn and succeed. Why do you love your subject? Why have you chosen it? What do you find most interesting and why?

2. Talk about you

This is your chance to talk about you, your interests and skills. It’s no good saying you’re passionate if you don’t prove that you are. Write in a natural style to show off your personality, making sure it’s genuine, relevant and specific.

3. Use appropriate language

Re-read your Personal Statement multiple times and check that the content is academic, engaging and clear.

4. Provide evidence to back up your claims

It’s all well and good saying you love medical science, but this is going to fall flat if you can’t back it up. Talk about your school subjects and results, any wider reading and relevant work experience. Perhaps you attended a lecture on your subject — this would be good evidence.

5. Link your activities outside of education to your course

Tell tutors why these activities are relevant and what you have learned as a result. Focus on transferable skills gained too, such as time management or organisational abilities.

6. Spell check and look for grammatical mistakes

Poor spelling and grammar makes for a terrible first impression, so ensure you triple-check it’s written to the highest standard before submitting it.

Our Personal Statement dont’s

1. Write a clichéd beginning

Don’t waste time thinking of a catchy opening. The best Personal Statements get to the point quickly, so avoid starting with phrases like “From a young age”, “I am applying for this course because”, and “Throughout my life I have always enjoyed…”. Go straight into why you are interested in your course subject.

2. Use cringe-worthy language and cheap gags

This is not impressive and can indicate that you’re not a serious student. It’s essential you don’t come across as verbose or pretentious too, as Admissions Tutors will spot this immediately. They are well-versed in the ramblings of students who think this tone makes them seem more intellectual.

3. Overcomplicate things

Say what you need to, be specific and don’t waffle too much — you’ll run out of characters fast.

4. Go overboard with extra-curricular activities

Talking about these is good, but the truth is, Admissions Tutors have very little interest in what you do outside of education unless you can find a way to directly link them to your subject.

5. Plagiarise content

You can read Personal Statement examples online for inspiration but avoid copying and pasting them. During your interview, you’re likely to be asked about specific parts of your statement, and if you’re caught off-guard, you’re going to look silly. This could ruin your chances of being accepted. Use a plagiarism detector to ensure your essay is unique.

6. Mention universities or specific courses by name

You can only write one Personal Statement, so it’s the same for each course you apply for. Avoid mentioning specific unis by name or detailing exact specifics of a module, for example. Keep it general.

Now you know what to include in your Personal Statement and the best practices for doing so, we hope you feel more confident writing it. We have plenty of guides and successful personal statement examples to go through in our Free Personal Statement Resources page. Good luck submitting your UCAS application!

First impressions count. Learn how to craft the perfect Personal Statement that demonstrates your suitability to Oxbridge Admissions Tutors.

We help you craft the perfect Personal Statement , achieve a highly competitive Admissions Test score and teach you how to Interview effectively – covering all areas of your Oxford or Cambridge application, from History to Medicine.

Discover our  Oxbridge Premium Programmes  by clicking the button below to  enrol and triple your chances of success.

UniAdmissions students placed at Oxford And Cambridge

Continue learning about Oxbridge...

5 study secrets from actual oxbridge students.

We reached out to some successful Oxbridge students to find out exactly what their study secrets are. Here's what we…

AI Writing & UCAS Personal Statements: What You Need To Know

When it comes to writing in the 2020s, AI-Generation has become one of the most important issues for many industries,…

Oxbridge Personal Statements: A Complete Teacher’s Guide

As a teacher, you will support students with their UCAS Personal Statements every year, but what about Personal Statements for…

UCAS Personal Statements Are Changing in 2025

On January 12th 2023, UCAS announced that the traditional Personal Statement would be replaced by a multi-question form for university…

Writing an Economics and Management Personal Statement for Oxford? If so, you’re in the right place! In this post, we…

Successful Personal Statement For Computer Science At Oxford

Read through a successful Computer Science Personal Statement for Oxford with a full analysis by Oxbridge Tutors. Find out why…

The Secrets to Oxbridge Admission.

  • We cracked the Oxbridge formula . Find out what we discovered here.
  • Looking for application support? Don't work with a random tutor. This is what you need to know first.
  • Get up-to-date Oxbridge advice with our webinars. Follow our Open Days led by our experts and stay updated.
  • Begin your Oxbridge journey with UniAdmissions through our programmes of support by clicking here.

How would you like to speak to an Admissions Consultant?

Search suggestions update instantly to match the search query.

University of Portsmouth logo

How to write a UCAS personal statement

A student writing a personal statement on a laptop

Writing a great personal statement

Read our guide on what it is, what to include, how to start, length and what makes a good personal statement 

Once you've decided which universities and courses to apply for, completing your application is pretty simple – until it comes to how to write your UCAS personal statement.

This guide covers everything you need to know about how to write a personal statement for university. We look at what it is and how you can start your personal statement. We've also got questions to guide you and a suggested personal statement structure you can use so you know what to put in it.

If you'd like even more resources, support and UCAS personal statement examples, you can sign up to access our personal statement hub .

What is the UCAS personal statement?

How universities use your ucas personal statement, how to start a ucas personal statement.

  • Get feedback on your UCAS personal statement

The personal statement is part of your UCAS application. It's how you show your chosen universities why you'll make a great student and why they should make you an offer.

Your personal statement also helps you think about your choice of course and your reasons for applying, so you know you’ve made the right decision.

Get feedback on your personal statement

Sign up to our personal statement hub to get feedback on your draft. You'll also get access to videos, help sheets and more tips.

Sign up now

UCAS personal statement word limit

Your personal statement length can be up to 4,000 characters long. 

This may sound a lot, but it's a word limit of around 550–1000 words with spaces and only about 1 side of typed A4 paper.

You need to keep it concise and make sure it's clear and easy to read.

Applying for multiple courses

Although you can apply for up to 5 courses on your UCAS application, you can only submit 1 personal statement. So it needs to cover all your course choices.

If you really want to show your commitment to applying for different courses, we will accept a second personal statement from you to reflect your application e.g. if you are applying for Law elsewhere, but Criminology and Criminal Justice with us.

Lots of students who apply to university have achieved the basic entry requirements and many more students apply than there are places available. Admissions teams can use your UCAS personal statement to get to know you and decide why you're more suitable than other applicants.

Some universities read every personal statement and score them. Then they use them alongside your qualifications and grades to decide whether to offer you a place or interview. Other universities put less emphasis on the personal statement and use it with students who have borderline entry requirements.

Universities might refer to your personal statement again on results day if you don't get the grades you need. So a good personal statement could clinch you a uni place even if your grades aren't what you hoped for.

Starting your personal statement can seem scary when you're staring at a blank screen. But, things will seem less daunting once you start.

  • Set aside some time in a place where you're comfortable and won't be disturbed. Grab a notepad or computer.
  • Write down anything and everything that's influenced your decision to go to university and study your chosen subject. Jot down your skills and experience too.
  • Use the questions below to guide you. Don't worry about the personal statement length at this point – you can cut things out later.

When to start your UCAS personal statement

Ideally, you want to leave yourself plenty of time – a few weeks or even months – to plan and write your personal statement.

Try not to leave it to the last minute, as tempting as this may seem when you've got so many other things to think about.

Questions to guide you

Your motivation.

  • Why do you want to study at university?
  • Why do you want to study this subject?
  • How did you become interested in this subject?
  • What career do you have in mind after university?

Academic ability and potential

  • How have your current studies affected your choice?
  • What do you enjoy about your current studies?
  • What skills have you gained from your current studies?
  • How can you demonstrate you have the skills and qualities needed for the course?
  • What qualities and attributes would you bring to the course and university?

Your experience

  • What work experience (including part-time, charity and volunteer work) do you have and what have you learnt from it?
  • What positions of responsibility have you held? (For example, prefect, captain of a team or member of a committee)
  • What relevant hobbies or interests do you have and what skills have they helped you develop?
  • What transferable skills do you have, such as self motivation, team working, public speaking, problem solving and analytical thinking?

Research and reading

  • How do you keep up with current affairs or news in your chosen subject?
  • What journals or publications relevant to your chosen subject do you read?
  • Which people have influenced you, such as artists, authors, philosophers or scientists?

Now it's time to write your personal statement using your notes. It's best to draft it on a computer, and remember to save it regularly.

You can copy and paste it into your UCAS application when you're happy with it.

Personal statement structure

While there's no set template for a personal statement, you may find it useful to follow this personal statement structure when you decide what to put in your statement.

What to include in a personal statement

  • Reasons for choosing this subject(s)
  • Current studies and how these relate to your chosen subject(s)
  • Experiences and how these relate to your chosen subject(s)
  • Interests and responsibilities and how these relate to your chosen subject(s)
  • Your future after university
  • Summary including why you'll make a great student

Further tips for a good UCAS personal statement

  • Use information on university websites and the UCAS website. This often includes the skills and qualities universities are looking for in applicants
  • Ask friends, family and teachers to remind you of activities you've participated in. They might remember your successes better than you do
  • Don’t include lists in your application, like a list of all your hobbies. Focus on 1 or 2 points and talk about them in depth to show their relevance to your application
  • Explain and evidence everything. It’s easy to say you have a skill, but it's better to demonstrate it with an example of when and how you’ve used it
  • Avoid clichéd lines such as ‘I've always wanted to be a teacher’ as it says nothing about your motivations or experiences
  • If you’re applying for a joint degree or different subjects, give equal time to each area and try to find common aspects that show their similarities
  • Never lie or plagiarise another statement – you'll be caught and it could result in your application being automatically rejected
  • Proofread your personal statement by reading it out loud and ask friends, family or a teacher to check it for you

Sign up to our personal statement hub

Watch videos, get top tips and download our help sheets – that's what our personal statement hub is for. It's for you to write your story, so you can show your strengths, ideas and passion to your chosen universities.

You'll also be able send us your draft, so you can get feedback and feel confident about what you've written.

TEF Gold 2023

Gold rating in national assessment of teaching excellence

Our TEF Gold rating ranks Portsmouth amongst the top universities in the UK for teaching. 

Find out more

We value your privacy

We use cookies to allow this site to work for you, improve your user experience, and to serve you advertising tailored to your interests. Let us know if you agree to all cookies. You can manage your preferences at any time

Your Privacy

We use cookies, which are small text files placed on your computer, to allow the site to work for you, improve your user experience, to provide us with information about how our site is used, and to deliver personalised ads which help fund our work and deliver our service to you for free.

The information does not usually directly identify you, but it can give you a more personalised web experience.

You can accept all, or else manage cookies individually. However, blocking some types of cookies may affect your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer.

You can change your cookies preference at any time by visiting our Cookies Notice page. Please remember to clear your browsing data and cookies when you change your cookies preferences. This will remove all cookies previously placed on your browser.

For more detailed information about the cookies we use, or how to clear your browser cookies data see our Cookies Notice

Manage consent preferences

These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems.

They are essential for you to browse the website and use its features.

You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not then work. We can’t identify you from these cookies.

These help us personalise our sites for you by remembering your preferences and settings. They may be set by us or by third party providers, whose services we have added to our pages. If you do not allow these cookies, then these services may not function properly.

These cookies allow us to count visits and see where our traffic comes from, so we can measure and improve the performance of our site. They help us to know which pages are popular and see how visitors move around the site. The cookies cannot directly identify any individual users.

If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site and will not be able to improve its performance for you.

These cookies may be set through our site by social media services or our advertising partners. Social media cookies enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They can track your browser across other sites and build up a profile of your interests. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to see or use the content sharing tools.

Advertising cookies may be used to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but work by uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will still see ads, but they won’t be tailored to your interests.

The shortcut to your shortlist

Make your university search faster and less stressful. Get a personalised shortlist by selecting what matters to you.

  • CHOOSE ONE OR MORE

Popular universities

  • University of Kent
  • University of East Anglia UEA
  • University of Chester
  • Coventry University
  • University of Aberdeen
  • University of Portmouth
  • Nottingham Trent University
  • University of Sunderland
  • London Metropolitan University
  • London South Bank University
  • University of East London
  • BROWSE ALL UNIVERSITIES

Course search

Popular undergraduate courses.

  • Computer Science
  • LLB Bachelor of Laws
  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Physiotherapy
  • Sports Science

Open days search

Upcoming open days.

  • Kingston University
  • Leeds Trinity University

Article search

Popular topics.

  • Clearing advice for students
  • Clearing advice for parents
  • Clearing advice for teachers
  • League tables
  • Getting ready for uni

Popular articles

  • What is UCAS Extra?
  • Applying directly into Clearing
  • Clearing success stories
  • What's a university open day
  • How university rankings can help you through Clearing
  • BROWSE ALL ADVICE

How to start a personal statement

The process of writing your personal statement can be simple if you know how to start. this is our guide on where to begin..

Author image

Looking for Clearing advice?

The Clearing concierge has the answers

Make a plan

Prepare how you’re going to write your personal statement before you begin any of the actual writing. Note down how you want to structure it and what you want to say in each paragraph. By summarising what you’re going to write in a plan, you can assess whether your personal statement will flow and if you have all the things you need to include.

  • What to include in a personal statement

Have a structure

Part of planning your personal statement is deciding how to lay it out. Keep in mind that you’re telling admissions tutors the story of you. All stories have a structure – there’s a beginning, a middle and an end. You can use a similar method to convey your motivation for choosing the subject you’re applying for.

There’s more than one way to structure a personal statement, but you should at least have a:

  • Clear introduction
  • Strong body of five–six paragraphs that link your experience and achievements to why you've chosen the subject
  • Conclusion to summarise it all

A structured statement also shows admissions tutors that you can communicate effectively.

Begin with you

Tackling the introduction first? This is your chance to talk about you, your background, and your excitement for the course. It should then flow naturally into the middle paragraphs, where you can expand on why you’re interested in the subject you’ve chosen.

Tina, Lead Admissions Tutor for Adult Nursing at the University of Brighton , shared with us what she looks for in the first few paragraphs of a student's personal statement:

They should start their application with the reason why they are applying and if they have any personal insight into a role such as being cared for when they were younger, attending hospital to visit a relative or any other experience as part of a course, volunteering, or work. Tina, Lead Admissions Tutor for Adult Nursing at University of Brighton

Be to the point from the beginning

Your introduction shouldn’t be long-winded, so two or three sentences are usually enough. You only have 4,000 characters and about 47 lines to play with for the entire statement.

Don’t be afraid to go straight into talking about what excites you most about your subject and the motivation behind choosing to apply. Use language that’s punchy, concise, and relevant too. This will help you to show your ambition and enthusiasm to admissions tutors.

Avoid cliché opening sentences

Clichés are clichés because they’re overused. Put yourself in the shoes of an admissions tutor – they’ll be reading lots of personal statements, so the ones that stand out will be those that aren’t like the others.

Make a note of any clichéd sentences you can think of or have seen online, and check you don’t include them when writing your personal statement. Some examples to avoid include:

  • ‘I have always wanted to study...’
  • ‘I feel I’ve always had a passion for...’
  • ‘From a young age...’
  • ‘Since I can remember...’

Don’t feel pressured to write the intro first

The introduction seems like the obvious place to start. But you may find it easier to leave the introduction until the end. Start at whichever point suits you best, provided you have a plan and structure in place.

Fortunately, the intro is only a few sentences, and given that the most important content will come in the body paragraphs, it may make sense to start with these paragraphs.

Just start writing! Don’t feel that you necessarily need to write your personal statement in the order in which it will be read. This is only for the author to know. Dr Ceri Davies, Economics Director of Admissions and Recruitment at University of Birmingham
  • Tips for writing your personal statement

Just get words down

The most important part of writing is to get words on paper. If you’re struggling to plan, try writing down the first words that come to your head about why you want to study the subject. If you do have a plan and structure, but don’t know where to begin, try taking the same approach. You can remove or edit any bits that you don’t like later.

Once you start writing you should hopefully enter a state of flow. You’ll piece sentences together and gradually craft an impressive personal statement.

Start by writing down all the reasons why you want to study the subject you are applying for and then, when all your enthusiasm is flowing, you can decide the order you want to put it in. Katherine Pagett, Student Recruitment Manager at University of Birmingham
  • How to make your personal statement stand out

The shortcut to your uni shortlist

Related articles.

Girl with disability studying at home

University guide to Disabled Students’ Allowance

You might not consider yourself disabled but if you have a condition that affects your...

best way to start ucas personal statement

Guide to UCAS Hub

If you’re applying to university, you’ll want to get to know UCAS Hub. Find out why, what...

Students receiving their results on A level results day

Results day 2024

This big day is the culmination of your hard work, where you’ll find out your grades and...

Is this page useful?

Sorry about that..., how can we improve it, thanks for your feedback.

The University Guys

UCAS Personal Statement and Examples

What is the ucas personal statement .

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) Personal Statement is the main essay for your application to colleges and universities in Great Britain. UCAS gives a nice explanation here , but in short, this is your chance to stand out against the crowd and show your knowledge and enthusiasm for your chosen area of study.

You’ve got 4,000 characters and 47 line limit to show colleges what (ideally) gets you out of bed in the morning. How long is that, really? Use your “word count” tool in Google or Word docs to check as you go along, but 4,000 characters is roughly 500 words or one page.

HOW IS THE UCAS PERSONAL STATEMENT DIFFERENT FROM THE US PERSONAL STATEMENT?

Think they’re the same? Think again. Here are some key differences between the UCAS and the US Personal Statement:

When you apply to UK schools, you’re applying to one particular degree program, which you’ll study for all, or almost all, your time at university. Your UCAS personal statement should focus less on cool/fun/quirky aspects of yourself and more on how you’ve prepared for your particular area of study.

The UCAS Personal Statement will be read by someone looking for proof that you are academically capable of studying that subject for your entire degree. In some cases, it might be an actual professor reading your essay.

You’ll only write one personal statement, which will be sent to all the universities you’re applying to, and it’s unlikely you’ll be sending any additional (supplemental) essays. Your essay needs to explain why you enjoy and are good at this subject, without reference to any particular university or type of university.

Any extracurricular activities that are NOT connected to the subject you’re applying for are mostly irrelevant, unless they illustrate relevant points about your study skills or attributes: for example, having a job outside of school shows time-management and people skills, or leading a sports team shows leadership and responsibility.

Your personal statement will mostly focus on what you’ve done at high school, in class, and often in preparation for external exams. 80-90% of the content will be academic in nature.

A QUICK STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO WRITING THE UCAS PERSONAL STATEMENT

This may be obvious, but the first step to a great UCAS Personal Statement is to choose the subject you’re applying for. This choice will be consistent across the (up to) five course choices you have. Often, when students struggle with a UCAS personal statement, it’s because they are trying to make the statement work for a couple of different subjects. With a clear focus on one subject, the essay can do the job it is supposed to do. Keep in mind you’re limited to 47 lines or 4000 characters, so this has to be concise and make efficient use of words.

To work out what information to include, my favourite brainstorming activity is the ‘Courtroom Exercise’. Here’s how it works:

The Courtroom Exercise

Imagine you’re prosecuting a case in court, and the case is that should be admitted to a university to study the subject you’ve chosen. You have to present your case to the judge, in a 47 line or 4,000 character statement. The judge won’t accept platitudes or points made without evidence–she needs to see evidence. What examples will you present in your statement?

In a good statement, you’ll make an opening and a closing point.

To open your argument, can you sum up in one sentence why you wish to study this subject? Can you remember where your interest in that subject began? Do you have a story to tell that will engage the reader about your interest in that subject?

Next, you’ll present a number of pieces of evidence, laying out in detail why you’re a good match for this subject. What activities have you done that prove you can study this subject at university?

Most likely, you’ll start with a class you took, a project you worked on, an internship you had, or a relevant extra-curricular activity you enjoyed. For each activity you discuss, structure a paragraph on each using the ABC approach:

A: What is the A ctivity?

B: How did it B enefit you as a potential student for this degree course?

C: Link the benefit to the skills needed to be successful on this C ourse.

With three or four paragraphs like these, each of about 9 or 10 lines, and you should have the bulk of your statement done. Typically two of these will be about classes you have taken at school, and two about relevant activities outside of school.

In the last paragraph, you need to demonstrate wider skills that you have, which you can probably do from your extracurricular activities. How could you demonstrate your time management, your ability to collaborate, or your creativity? Briefly list a few extracurricular activities you’ve taken part in and identify the relevant skills that are transferable to university study.

Finally, close your argument in a way that doesn’t repeat what you’ve already shared. Case closed!

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What if I’m not sure what I want to study? Should I still apply? 

There are a number of broader programs available at UK universities (sometimes called Liberal Arts or Flexible Combined Honours). However,  you should still showcase two or three academic areas of interest. If you are looking for a broader range of subjects to study and can’t choose one, then the UK might not be the best fit for you.

What if I haven’t done much, academically or via extracurriculars, to demonstrate that I’ll be able to complete the coursework for my degree? Should I still apply?

You certainly can, but you will need to be realistic about the strength of your application as a result. The most selective universities will want to see this evidence, but less selective ones will be more willing to account for your potential to grow in addition to what you’ve already achieved. You could also consider applying for a Foundation course or a ‘Year 0’ course, where you have an additional year pre-university to enable you to develop this range of evidence.

If I’m not accepted into a particular major, can I be accepted into a different major?

It’s important to understand that we are not talking about a ‘major,’ as what you are accepted into is one entire course of study. Some universities may make you an ‘alternative offer’ for a similar but perhaps less popular course (for example you applied for Business but instead they offer you a place for Business with a Language).At others, you can indicate post-application that you would like to be considered for related courses. However, it’s not going to be possible to switch between two completely unrelated academic areas.

What other information is included in my application? Will they see my extracurricular activities, for example? Is there an Additional Information section where I can include more context on what I’ve done in high school?

The application is very brief: the personal statement is where you put all the information. UCAS does not include an activities section or space for any other writing. The 47 lines are all you have. Some universities might accept information if there are particularly important extenuating circumstances that must be conveyed. This can be done via email, but typically, they don’t want to see more than the UCAS statement and your school’s reference provides.

Now, let’s take a look at some of my favourite UCAS personal statement examples with some analysis of why I think these are great.

UCAS PERSONAL STATEMENT EXAMPLE FOR CHEMISTRY

When I was ten, I saw a documentary on Chemistry that really fascinated me. Narrated by British theoretical physicist Jim Al-Khalili, it explained how the first elements were discovered and how Chemistry was born out of alchemy. I became fascinated with Chemistry and have remained so ever since. I love the subject because it has very theoretical components, for example quantum Chemistry, while also having huge practical applications.

In this introduction, the student shows where his interest in Chemistry comes from. Adding some additional academic detail (in this case, the name of the scientist) helps guide the reader into more specific information on why this subject is interesting to him.

This aspect of Chemistry is important to me. I have, for example, used machine learning to differentiate between approved and experimental drugs. On the first run, using drug molecules from the website Drug Bank, I calculated some molecular descriptors for them. I started with a simple logistic regression model and was shocked to find that it had apparently classified almost all molecules correctly. This result couldn’t be right; it took me nearly a month to find the error. I accidentally normalized the molecular-descriptor data individually, rather than as a combined data set, thereby encoding the label into the input. On a second run, after fixing the error, I used real machine learning libraries. Here I actually got some performance with my new algorithm, which I could compare to professional researchers’ papers. The highest accuracy I ever saw on my screen was 86 percent. The researchers’ result was 85 percent; thanks to more modern machine learning methods, I narrowly beat them. I have also studied Mathematics and Physics at A Level and have been able to dive into areas beyond the A Level syllabus such as complex integration in math and the Schrödinger equation in Physics.

This paragraph outlines a clear case for this student’s aptitude for and interest in Chemistry. He explains in detail how he has explored his intended major, using academic terminology to show us he has studied the subject deeply. Knowing an admissions reader is looking for evidence that this student has a talent for Chemistry, this paragraph gives them the evidence they need to admit him.

Additionally, I have worked on an undergraduate computer science course on MIT Opencourseware, but found that the content followed fixed rules and did not require creativity. At the time I was interested in neural networks and listened to lectures by professor Geoffrey Hinton who serendipitously mentioned his students testing his techniques on ‘Kaggle Competitions’. I quickly got interested and decided to compete on this platform. Kaggle allowed me to measure my machine learning skills against competitors with PhDs or who are professional data scientists at large corporations. With this kind of competition naturally I did not win any prizes, but I worked with the same tools and saw how others gradually perfected a script, something which has helped my A Level studies immensely.

Introducing a new topic, the student again uses academic terminology to show how he has gone beyond the confines of his curriculum to explore the subject at a higher level. In this paragraph, he demonstrates that he has studied university-level Chemistry. Again, this helps the reader to see that this student is capable of studying for a Chemistry degree.

I have been keen to engage in activities beyond the classroom. For example, I have taken part in a range of extracurricular activities, including ballroom dancing, public speaking, trumpet, spoken Mandarin, and tennis, achieving a LAMDA distinction at level four for my public speaking. I have also participated in Kaggle competitions, as I’m extremely interested in machine learning. For example, I have used neural networks to determine the causes of Amazon deforestation from satellite pictures in the ‘Planet: Understanding the Amazon from Space’ competition. I believe that having worked on projects spanning several weeks or even months has allowed me to build a stamina that will be extremely useful when studying at university.

This penultimate paragraph introduces the student’s extracurricular interests, summing them up in a sentence. Those activities that can demonstrate skills that are transferable to the study of Chemistry are given a bit more explanation. The student’s descriptions in each paragraph are very detailed, with lots of specific information about awards, classes and teachers.

What I hope to gain from an undergraduate (and perhaps post-graduate) education in Chemistry is to deepen my knowledge of the subject and potentially have the ability to successfully launch a startup after university. I’m particularly interested in areas such as computational Chemistry and cheminformatics. However, I’m  open to studying other areas in Chemistry, as it is a subject that truly captivates me.

In the conclusion, the student touches on his future plans, using specific terminology that shows his knowledge of Chemistry. This also reveals that he aims to have a career in this field, which many admission readers find appealing as it demonstrates a level of commitment to the subject.

UCAS PERSONAL STATEMENT EXAMPLE FOR VETERINARY MEDICINE

This next statement has to accomplish a number of tasks, given the subject the student is applying for. As a vocational degree, applicants for veterinary medicine are committing to a career as well as a subject to study, so they need to give information demonstrating they understand the reality of a career in this area. It also needs to explain their motivation for this interest, which quite often is demonstrated through work experience (something which is often a condition for entry into these programs). Finally, as this is a highly academic subject to study at university, the author should include a good level of academic terminology and experiences in the statement.

There is nothing more fascinating to me than experiencing animals in the wild, in their natural habitat where their behaviour is about the survival of their species. I was lucky enough to experience this when in Tanzania. While observing animals hunting, I became intrigued by their musculature and inspired to work alongside these animals to help them when they are sick, as a veterinarian.

In an efficient way, the applicant explains her motivation to become a vet, then squeezes in a bit of information about her experience with animals.

As a horse rider and owner for nearly ten years, I have sought opportunities to learn as much as I can about caring for the animal. I helped around the yard with grooming and exercise, bringing horses in and out from the fields, putting on rugs, and mucking out. I have also been working at a small animal vet clinic every other Saturday for over 2.5 years. There, my responsibilities include restocking and sterilising equipment, watching procedures, and helping in consultations. Exposure to different cases has expanded my knowledge of various aspects, such as assisting with an emergency caesarean procedure. Due to a lack of staff on a Saturday, I was put in charge of anaesthesia while the puppies were being revived. I took on this task without hesitation and recorded heart and respiration rate, capillary refill time, and gum colour every five minutes. Other placements following an equine vet, working on a polo farm, and volunteering at a swan sanctuary have also broadened my experience with different species and how each possesses various requirements. During pre-vet summer courses, I was also introduced to farm animals such as pigs, cows, sheep and chicken. I spend some time milking dairy cows and removing clustered dust from chicken feet, as well as tipping sheep in order to inspect their teats.

In this paragraph, she synthesizes personal experience with an academic understanding of vet medicine. She demonstrates that she is committed to animals (helping in the yard, regular Saturday work, assistance with procedures), that she has gained a variety of experiences, and that she understands some of the conditions (caesareans, clustered dust) that vets have to deal with. Note that she also briefly discusses ‘pre-vet summer courses,’ adding credibility to her level of experience.

I have focused on HL Biology and HL Chemistry for my IB Diploma. I was particularly excited to study cell biology and body systems because these subjects allowed me to comprehend how the body works and are applicable to animal body functions. Topics like DNA replication as well as cell transcription and translation have helped me form a fundamental understanding of genetics and protein synthesis, both important topics when looking into hereditary diseases in animals. Learning about chemical reactions made me consider the importance of pharmaceutical aspects of veterinary medicine, such as the production of effective medicine. Vaccines are essential and by learning about the chemical reactions, I f developed a more nuanced understanding about how they are made and work.

Now, the statement turns to academic matters, linking her IB subjects to the university studies she aspires to. She draws out one particular example that makes a clear link between school and university-level study.

I have also written my Extended Essay discussing the consequences of breeding laws in the UK and South Australia in relation to the development of genetic abnormalities in pugs and German shepherds. This topic is important, as the growing brachycephalic aesthetic of pugs is causing them to suffer throughout their lifetime. Pedigree dogs, such as the German shepherd, have a very small gene pool and as a result, hereditary diseases can develop. This becomes an ethical discussion, because allowing German shepherds to suffer is not moral; however, as a breed, they aid the police and thus serve society.

The IB Extended Essay (like an A Level EPQ or a Capstone project) is a great topic to discuss in a personal statement, as these activities are designed to allow students to explore subjects in greater detail.

The first sentence here is a great example of what getting more specific looks like because it engages more directly with what the student is actually writing about in this particular paragraph then it extrapolates a more general point of advice from those specificities.

By choosing to write her Extended Essay on a topic of relevance to veterinary medicine, she has given herself the opportunity to show the varied aspects of veterinary science. This paragraph proves to the reader that this student is capable and motivated to study veterinary medicine.

I have learned that being a veterinarian requires diagnostic skills as well as excellent communication and leadership skills. I understand the importance and ethics of euthanasia decisions, and the sensitivity around discussing it withanimal owners. I have developed teamwork and leadership skills when playing varsity football and basketball for four years. My communication skills have expanded through being a Model U.N. and Global Issues Network member.

This small paragraph on her extracurricular activities links them clearly to her intended area of study, both in terms of related content and necessary skills. From this, the reader gains the impression that this student has a wide range of relevant interests.

When I attend university, I not only hope to become a veterinarian, but also a leader in the field. I would like to research different aspects of veterinary medicine, such as diseases. As a vet, I would like to help work towards the One Health goal; allowing the maintenance of public health security. This affects vets because we are the ones working closely with animals every day.

In the conclusion, she ties things together and looks ahead to her career. By introducing the concept of ‘One Health’, she also shows once again her knowledge of the field she is applying to.

UCAS PERSONAL STATEMENT EXAMPLE FOR AERONAUTICAL ENGINEERING

Standing inside a wind tunnel is not something every 17 year old aspires to, but for me the opportunity to do so last year confirmed my long-held desire to become a mechanical engineer.

This introduction is efficient and provides a clear direction for the personal statement. Though it might seem that it should be more detailed, for a student applying to study a course that requires limited extended writing, being this matter-of-fact works fine.

I enjoy the challenge of using the laws of Physics, complemented with Mathematical backing, in the context of everyday life, which helps me to visualise and understand where different topics can be applied. I explored the field of aeronautics, specifically in my work experience with Emirates Aviation University. I explored how engineers apply basic concepts of air resistance and drag when I had the opportunity to experiment with the wind tunnel, which allowed me to identify how different wing shapes behave at diverse air pressures. My interest with robotics has led me to take up a year-long internship with MakersBuilders, where I had the chance to explore physics and maths on a different plane. During my internship I educated young teenagers on a more fundamental stage of building and programming, in particular when we worked on building a small robot and programmed the infra-red sensor in order to create self-sufficient movement. This exposure allowed me to improve my communication and interpersonal skills.

In this paragraph, the student adds evidence to the initial assertion that he enjoys seeing how Physics relates to everyday life. The descriptions of the work experiences he has had not only show his commitment to the subject, but also enable him to bring in some academic content to demonstrate his understanding of engineering and aeronautics.

I’m interested in the mechanics side of Maths such as circular motion and projectiles; even Pure Maths has allowed me to easily see patterns when working and solving problems in Computer Science. During my A Level Maths and Further Maths, I have particularly enjoyed working with partial fractions as they show how reverse methodology can be used to solve addition of fractions, which ranges from simple addition to complex kinematics. ­­­Pure Maths has also enabled me to better understand how 3D modelling works with ­­­the use of volumes of revolution, especially when I learned how to apply the calculations to basic objects like calculating the amount of water in a bottle or the volume of a pencil.

This paragraph brings in the academic content at school, which is important when applying for a subject such as engineering. This is because the admissions reader needs to be reassured that the student has covered the necessary foundational content to be able to cope with Year 1 of this course.

In my Drone Club I have been able to apply several methods of wing formation, such as the number of blades used during a UAS flight. Drones can be used for purposes such as in Air-sea Rescue or transporting food to low income countries. I have taken on the responsibility of leading and sharing my skills with others, particularly in the Drone Club where I gained the certification to fly drones. In coding club, I participated in the global Google Code competition related to complex, real-life coding, such as a program that allows phones to send commands to another device using Bluetooth. My Cambridge summer course on math and engineering included the origins of a few of the most important equations and ideologies from many mathematicians such as, E=mc2 from Einstein, I also got a head start at understanding matrices and their importance in kinematics. Last summer, I completed a course at UT Dallas on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. The course was intuitive and allowed me to understand a different perspective of how robots and AI will replace humans to do complex and labour-intensive activities, customer service, driverless cars and technical support.

In this section, he demonstrates his commitment to the subject through a detailed list of extracurricular activities, all linked to engineering and aeronautics. The detail he gives about each one links to the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in these subjects at university.

I have represented Model UN as a delegate and enjoyed working with others to solve problems. For my Duke of Edinburgh Award, I partook in several activities such as trekking and playing the drums. I enjoy music and I have reached grade 3 for percussion. I have also participated in a range of charitable activities, which include assisting during Ramadan and undertaking fun-runs to raise money for cancer research.

As with the introduction, this is an efficient use of language, sharing a range of activities, each of which has taught him useful skills. The conclusion that follows is similarly efficient and to the point.

I believe that engineering is a discipline that will offer me a chance to make a tangible difference in the world, and I am certain I will enjoy the process of integrating technology with our everyday life.

UCAS PERSONAL STATEMENT EXAMPLE FOR ECONOMICS AND SOCIAL POLICY

Applying for a joint honours course presents a particular challenge of making the case that you are interested in the first subject, the second subject and (often overlooked) the combination of the two. In this example, the applicant uses her own academic studies and personal experiences to make her case.

I usually spend my summer breaks in Uttar Pradesh, India working at my grandparents’ NGO which produces bio-fertilizers for the poor. While working, I speak to many of the villagers in the nearby villages like Barokhar and Dharampur and have found out about the various initiatives the Government has taken to improve the production of wheat and rice. I understand the hardships they undergo and speaking to them has shown me the importance of Social Policy and the role the government plays in improving the lives of people and inspired me to pursue my university studies in this field.

In the introduction, this applicant explains where her interlinking experiences come from: she has personal experiences demonstrating how economics impacts the most vulnerable in society. In doing so, she shows the admissions reader that she has a deep interest in this combination and can move on to discussing each subject in turn.

My interest in these areas has been driven by the experiences I had at high school and beyond. I started attending Model United Nations in the 9th grade and have been to many conferences, discussing problems like the water crisis and a lack of sustainability in underdeveloped countries. These topics overlapped with my study of economics and exciting classroom discussions on what was going on how different events would impact economies, for instance how fluctuations in oil prices will affect standards of living. Studying Economics has expanded  my knowledge about how countries are run and how macroeconomic policies shape the everyday experiences of individuals.

Unusually, this applicant does not go straight into her classroom experiences but instead uses one of her extracurricular activities (Model United Nations) in her first paragraph. For students applying for subjects that are not often taught at school (Social Policy in this example), this can be a good idea, as it allows you to bring in material that you have self-studied to explain why you are capable of studying each subject at university. Here, she uses MUN discussions to show she understands some topics in social policy that are impacting the world.

By taking up history as a subject in Grade 11 and 12, I have seen the challenges that people went through in the past, and how different ideas gained momentum in different parts of the world such as the growth of communism in Russia and China and how it spread to different countries during the Cold War. I learned about the different roles that governments played in times of hardships such as that which President Roosevelt’s New Deal played during the Great Depression. From this, I gained analytical skills by scrutinizing how different social, political and economic forces have moulded societies in the past.

In this paragraph, she then takes the nearest possible class to her interest in Social Policy and draws elements from it to add to her case for Social Policy. Taking some elements from her history classes enables her to add some content to this statement, before linking to the topic of economics.

To explore my interest in Economics, I interned at Emirates National Bank of Dubai, one of the largest banks in the Middle East, and also at IBM. At Emirates NBD, I undertook a research project on Cash Management methods in competitor banks and had to present my findings at the end of the internship. I also interned at IBM where I had to analyze market trends and fluctuations in market opportunity in countries in the Middle East and Africa. I had to find relations between GDP and market opportunity and had to analyze how market opportunity could change over the next 5 years with changing geo-political situations. I have also attended Harvard University’s Youth Lead the Change leadership conference where I was taught how to apply leadership skills to solve global problems such as gender inequality and poverty.

Economics is explored again through extracurriculars, with some detail added to the general statement about the activities undertaken during this work experience. Though the level of academics here is a little thin because this student’s high school did not offer any classes in Economics, she does as well as she can to bring in academic content.

I have partaken in many extra-curricular activities which have helped me develop the skills necessary for this course. Being a part of the Press Club at school gave me an opportunity to hone my talent for the written word and gave me a platform to talk about global issues. Volunteering at a local library taught me how to be organized. I developed research and analytical skills by undertaking various research projects at school such as the sector-wide contribution of the Indian economy to the GDP in the previous year. As a member of the Business and Economic Awareness Council at school, I was instrumental in organizing many economics-based events such as the Business Fair and Innovation Mela. Being part of various Face to Faith conferences has provided me with an opportunity to interact with students in Sierra Leone, India and Korea and understand global perspectives on issues like malaria and human trafficking.

The extracurricular activities are revisited here, with the first half of this paragraph showing how the applicant has some transferable skills from her activities that will help her with this course. She then revisits her interest in the course studies, before following up with a closing section that touches on her career goals:

The prospect of pursuing these two subjects is one that I eagerly anticipate and I look forward to meeting the challenge of university. In the future, I wish to become an economist and work at a think tank where I will be able to apply what I have learnt in studying such an exciting course.

UCAS PERSONAL STATEMENT EXAMPLE FOR HISTORY OF ART & PHILOSOPHY

This applicant is also a joint-honours applicant, and again is applying for a subject that she has not been able to study at school. Thus, bringing in her own interest and knowledge of both subjects is crucial here.

At the age of four, I remember an argument with my mother: I wanted to wear a pink ballerina dress with heels, made for eight-year-olds, which despite my difficulty in staying upright I was determined to wear. My mother persistently engaged in debate with me about why it was not ok to wear this ensemble in winter. After two hours of patiently explaining to me and listening to my responses she convinced me that I should wear something different, the first time I remember listening to reason. It has always been a natural instinct for me to discuss everything, since in the course of my upbringing I was never given a simple yes or no answer. Thus, when I began studying philosophy, I understood fully my passion for argument and dialogue.

This is an unusual approach to start a UCAS Personal Statement, but it does serve to show how this student approaches the world and why this combination of subjects might work for her. Though it could perhaps be drawn out more explicitly, here she is combining an artistic issue (her clothes) with a philosophical concern (her debate with her mother) to lead the reader into the case she is making for admission into this program.

This was first sparked academically when I was introduced to religious ethics; having a fairly Christian background my view on religion was immature. I never thought too much of the subject as I believed it was just something my grandparents did. However, when opened up to the arguments about god and religion, I was inclined to argue every side. After research and discussion, I was able to form my own view on religion without having to pick a distinctive side to which theory I would support. This is what makes me want to study philosophy: it gives an individual personal revelation towards matters into which they may not have given too much thought to.

There is some good content here that discusses the applicant’s interest in philosophy and her own motivation for this subject, though there is a lack of academic content here.

Alongside this, taking IB Visual Arts HL has opened my artistic views through pushing me out of my comfort zone. Art being a very subjective course, I was forced to choose an opinion which only mattered to me, it had no analytical nor empirical rights or wrongs, it was just my taste in art. From studying the two subjects alongside each other, I found great value, acquiring a certain form of freedom in each individual with their dual focus on personalized opinion and taste in many areas, leading to self- improvement.

In this section, she uses her IB Visual Arts class to explore how her interest in philosophy bleeds into her appreciation of art. Again, we are still awaiting the academic content, but the reader will by now be convinced that the student has a deep level of motivation for this subject. When we consider how rare this combination is, with very few courses for this combination available, the approach to take slightly longer to establish can work.

For this reason, I find the work of Henry Moore fascinating. I am intrigued by his pieces, especially the essence of the ‘Reclining Nude’ model, as the empty holes inflicted on the abstract human body encouraged my enthusiasm for artistic interpretation. This has led me to contemplate the subtlety, complexity and merit of the role of an artist. Developing an art piece is just as complex and refined as writing a novel or developing a theory in Philosophy. For this reason, History of Art conjoins with Philosophy, as the philosophical approach towards an art piece is what adds context to the history as well as purpose behind it.

Finally, we’re given the academic content. Cleverly, the content links both the History of Art and Philosophy together through a discussion of the work of Henry Moore. Finding examples that conjoin the subjects that make up a joint-honours application is a great idea and works well here.

Studying Philosophy has allowed me to apply real life abstractions to my art, as well as to glean a deeper critical analysis of art in its various mediums. My IB Extended Essay examined the 1900s Fauve movement, which made a huge breakthrough in France and Hungary simultaneously. This was the first artistic movement which was truly daring and outgoing with its vivid colours and bold brush strokes. My interest expanded to learning about the Hungarian artists in this movement led by Henri Matisse. Bela Czobel was one of the few who travelled to France to study but returned to Hungary, more specifically Nagybanya, to bestow what he had learned.

Again in this paragraph, the author connects the subjects. Students who are able to undertake a research project in their high school studies (such as the IB Extended Essay here, or the A Level Extended Project or AP Capstone) can describe these in their UCAS personal statements, as this level of research in an area of academic study can enliven and add depth to the writing, as is the case here.

As an international student with a multicultural background, I believe I can adapt to challenging or unfamiliar surroundings with ease. I spent two summers working at a nursery in Hungary as a junior Assistant Teacher, where I demonstrated leadership and teamwork skills that I had previously developed through commitment to sports teams. I was a competitive swimmer for six years and have represented my school internationally as well as holding the school record for 100m backstroke. I was elected Deputy Head of my House, which further reflects my dedication, leadership, teamwork and diligence.

As in the previous examples, this statement gives a good overview of the applicant’s extracurricular activities, with a mention of skills that will be beneficial to her studies at university. She then concludes with a brief final sentence:

I hope to carry these skills with me into my university studies, allowing me to enrich my knowledge and combine my artistic and philosophical interests.

UCAS PERSONAL STATEMENT EXAMPLE FOR LIBERAL ARTS

A good range of UK universities now offer courses called ‘Liberal Arts’ (or similar titles such as ‘Flexible Combined Honours’), which allows students to study a broader topic of study–perhaps combining three or four subjects–than is typically available in the UK system.

This presents a challenge in the personal statement, as within the 47 line / 4000 character limit, the applicant will have to show academic interest and knowledge in a range of subjects while also making the case to be admitted for this combined programme of study.

As a child I disliked reading; however, when I was 8, there was one particular book that caught my attention: The Little Prince. From that moment onwards, my love for literature was ignited and I had entered into a whirlwind of fictional worlds. While studying and analysing the classics from The Great Gatsby to Candide, this has exposed me to a variety of novels. My French bilingualism allowed me to study, in great depth, different texts in their original language. This sparked a new passion of mine for poetry, and introduced me to the works of Arthur Rimbaud, who has greatly influenced me. Through both reading and analysing poetry I was able to decipher its meaning. Liberal Arts gives me the opportunity to continue to study a range of texts and authors from different periods in history, as well as related aspects of culture, economy and society.

Here we have a slightly longer than usual opening paragraph, but given the nature of the course being applied for this works well. A personal story segueing from literature to modern languages to history and cultural studies shows that this student has a broad range of interests within the humanities and thus is well-suited to this course of study.

Liberal Arts is a clear choice for me. Coming from the IB International Baccalaureate Diploma programme I have studied a wide range of subjects which has provided me with a breadth of knowledge. In Theatre, I have adapted classics such as Othello by Shakespeare, and playing the role of moreover acting as Desdemona forced me to compartmentalise her complex emotions behind the early-modern English text. Studying History has taught me a number of skills; understanding the reasons behind changes in society, evaluating sources, and considering conflicting interpretations. From my interdisciplinary education I am able to critically analyse the world around me. Through studying Theory of Knowledge, I have developed high quality analysis using key questions and a critical mindset by questioning how and why we think and why. By going beyond the common use of reason, I have been able to deepen greaten my understanding and apply my ways of knowing in all subjects; for example in science I was creative in constructing my experiment (imagination) and used qualitative data (sense perception).

Students who are taking the IB Diploma, with its strictures to retain a broad curriculum, are well-suited to the UK’s Liberal Arts courses, as they have had practice seeing the links between subjects. In this paragraph, the applicant shows how she has done this, linking content from one subject to skills developed in another, and touching on the experience of IB Theory of Knowledge (an interdisciplinary class compulsory for all IB Diploma students) to show how she is able to see how different academic subjects overlap and share some common themes.

Languages have always played an important role in my life. I was immersed into a French nursery even though my parents are not French speakers. I have always cherished the ability to speak another language; it is something I have never taken for granted, and it is how I individualise myself. Being bilingual has allowed me to engage with a different culture. As a result, I am more open minded and have a global outlook. This has fuelled my desire to travel, learn new languages and experience new cultures. This course would provide me with the opportunity to fulfil these desires. Having written my Extended Essay in French on the use of manipulative language used by a particular character from the French classic Dangerous Liaisons I have had to apply my skills of close contextual reading and analysing to sculpt this essay. These skills are perfectly applicable to the critical thinking that is demanded for the course.

Within the humanities, this student has a particular background that makes her stand out, having become fluent in French while having no French background nor living in a French-speaking country. This is worth her exploring to develop her motivation for a broad course of study at university, which she does well here.

Studying the Liberal Arts will allow me to further my knowledge in a variety of fields whilst living independently and meeting people from different backgrounds. The flexible skills I would achieve from obtaining a liberal arts degree I believe would make me more desirable for future employment. I would thrive in this environment due to my self discipline and determination. During my school holidays I have undertaken working in a hotel as a chambermaid and this has made me appreciate the service sector in society and has taught me to work cohesively with others in an unfamiliar environment. I also took part in a creative writing course held at Keats House, where I learnt about romanticism. My commitment to extracurricular activities such as varsity football and basketball has shown me the importance of sportsmanship and camaraderie, while GIN (Global Issue Networking) has informed me of the values of community and the importance for charitable organisations.

The extracurricular paragraph here draws out a range of skills the student will apply to this course. Knowing that taking a broader range of subjects at a UK university requires excellent organizational skills, the student takes time to explain how she can meet these, perhaps going into slightly more detail than would be necessary for a single-honours application to spell out that she is capable of managing her time well. She then broadens this at the end by touching on some activities that have relevance for her studies.

My academic and personal preferences have always led me to the Liberal Arts; I feel as though the International Baccalaureate, my passion and self-discipline have prepared me for higher education. From the academics, extracurriculars and social aspects, I intend to embrace the entire experience of university.

In the final section, the candidate restates how she matches this course.

Overall, you can see how the key factor in a UCAS statement is the academic evidence, with students linking their engagement with a subject to the course of study that they are applying to. Using the courtroom exercise analogy, the judge here should be completely convinced that the case has been made, and will, therefore issue an offer of admittance to that university.

Recent Posts

  • How High School Students from UK Schools Can Apply to Public Universities in Switzerland
  • Podcast Episode 78: Intellectual Curiosity
  • A Guide to the CAO for Irish applications
  • Podcast Episode 77: Rugby at universities in the USA
  • US College Sports: Eligibility

TUG_Logo_Designs_White (1)

[email protected]

+44 (0) 7392 846307, useful links, privacy policy, services for.

  • Universities
  • Success Stories

The University Guys

  • Impartiality Statement
  • For Students
  • For Parents
  • For Schools
  • For Universities

Home › University › How To Write A Personal Statement? 10 Tips + Student Questions Answered › How To Start A Personal Statement: Tips & Examples

How To Start A Personal Statement: Tips & Examples

  • Published January 20, 2023

Woman writing on her notebook

We’re regularly asked the question “ how to start a personal statement ”? It’s a challenging task for anybody but worry not as we’re here to help guide you through the process. 

The introduction is the first thing the admissions committee will read. That’s why the first sentence of a personal statement should be a catchy, attention-grabbing hook or story that grabs the reader’s attention and sets up the main point of your essay.

A lacklustre introduction may lose your readers’ interest, preventing them from reading the rest of your personal statement!

But don’t worry, this article will guide you on writing a personal statement introduction, a few examples of opening sentences and how to captivate the admissions tutors. Without further ado, let’s get started.

Top Tip: Leave Your Introduction For Last

You know what they say, the hardest thing to do is  start . So skip the introduction for now and focus on the main body of your personal statement. If you’re not sure what your main content should be, read out how to write a personal statement guide.

After nailing down the main points, you’ll have a concrete idea of how your introduction can captivate the reader and stay relevant to the bulk of the writing. Go ahead and work on the rest of your personal statement.

Come back when you’re finished! And if you’re worried about your conclusion then check out our advice on  personal statement conclusions .

2. Cut To The Chase

You only have  4,000 characters  to sell yourself as an ideal student candidate. Make each character and paragraph count! That means forget about flowery words and directionless statements. When you start your personal statement, explain your motivations for choosing your course in one or two sentences.

Although you will discuss this in-depth in the main body of content, capturing your reader’s attention with a quick overview of why you’re enthusiastic about your chosen course is crucial. That’s why capturing the reader’s attention by jumping straight to the point is key to starting a personal statement.

how to write a personal statement introductions

3. Be Specific

Never give vague details when expressing why you want to pursue your course. “I always wanted to be an engineer since I was a kid,” or “I want to become a doctor because I enjoy science” isn’t advised. 

On that note, if you’re applying to medicine refer to our guide on  how to write a medical personal statement . We suggest being more specific than that, and you can include your academic achievements too. Here are a few suggestions that may help you:

  • You witnessed an inspirational figure in your life solve a massive problem with a specific skill set (doctor, engineer, etc.)
  • While you were at a charity event, you encountered a problem that kept people in deprivation. By pursuing this course, you’re a part of the solution.
  • You’re good at, and you enjoy a specific skill set. The course you’re eyeing puts great emphasis on this particular skill.
  • There was a moment in your life when you succeeded in solving a problem. You felt significant by doing so, and you want to keep doing that for the rest of your life (teaching poor children how to read)
  • You watched a movie or read a book that ignited your passion for the course. After doing volunteer work or part-time employment related to your course, you’re determined to pursue it.

Craft a sentence or two that encapsulates the core of your “why.” Do this, and your reader will want to read more!

4. Demonstrate Knowledge In Your Chosen Course

An essential element of starting a personal statement is to express why you’re enthusiastic about taking your chosen course. You need to demonstrate that you’re aware of what you’re getting yourself into in the process. Answer any of these prompt questions for inspiration:

  • What do you find interesting about the course?
  • How do you believe the course will help you achieve your goals?
  • How will you use your chosen course to contribute to society?
  • What hurdles do you expect to encounter, and how will you handle them?

Decide which of these questions fits best into the main content of your  personal statement . Write your answer in a sentence or two, weave them into your application essay and think about the help you received from your tutors in the past.

5. Ditch The “Since I Was A Child” Line

We’re often asked  what not to put in a personal statement  and “Since I was a child” is a cliche statement that gets thrown around haphazardly. How many students have said this at least once in their personal statements?

Recalling your childhood passions is a weak “why” for pursuing your course. Why? Because the admissions committee is looking for a relevant and up-to-date reason.

When you were little, you had zero knowledge and little enthusiasm to become successful in your field. You had no idea what skillsets you needed or what other options were available to you.

But if you were to cite a recent event in your life that supports your determination to pursue your course, that screams “educated choice” right there. And  that  is what the admission committee is looking for after reading hundreds, if not thousands of introductions.

6. Brainstorm Several Versions Of Your Opening Lines

The desire to get it right the first time paralyses you from starting. So permit yourself to write freely. Write as many versions of your opening lines as possible.

Don’t worry about the grammar, spelling, or character count just yet. Type everything that goes off the top of your head. When you’re done, take a look at your list.

Cross out the ones you dislike, and encircle the ones you think have potential. Then start piecing the puzzle pieces together to check out if the intro lines fit with the rest of your personal statement. 

If you’ve found three potential opening statements, try reading them aloud together with the rest of your personal statement. Do they flow seamlessly into one another? Make the necessary adjustments. Play around with it until you feel you’ve hit the spot.

7. Make Your Opening Statement Error Free

Your opening statement is your hook line. Spelling or grammatical errors at the start discourage your reader from reading further. If you have errors at the beginning, you’ll most likely have them in your main content!

So make sure your English is simple, flawless, and straightforward. Run your personal statement through a tool like Grammarly to weed out most of the errors.

The Hemingway app is also a helpful tool for checking for passive voice and other writing problems. Take advantage of writing assistant tools, especially if you’re a non-native English writer.

8. Read Examples Of Personal Statements

Read as many personal statement examples as you can. Any that captivated you, keep them in your notes. Figure out  why  these statements stood out to you compared to the others. What elements can you place in  your  personal statement?

When reading personal statements that put you off, find out why. What characteristics do they have that elicit a negative reaction from you? List them down, and make sure you avoid them.

After this exercise, you should have a few more ideas about your personal statement introduction.

9. Ask For Feedback

Never underestimate what feedback can give you. Ask your family, friends, and acquaintances about your opening statement. Does your personality shine through? Is it straight to the point? Does it flow smoothly with the main content of your personal statement?

Listen to what they have to say. Jot down important points. You’ll need their feedback to get a second opinion on whether it works for you or not.

10. Give Yourself Time

Your chosen career depends on your college education. And a first crucial step is to convince the admission committee you’re worth accepting into your university. You have to give your personal statement your best shot. Give yourself enough time to brainstorm and think everything over.

You can’t finish a complete,  well-written personal statement  in a week. Much less overnight!

So make sure you set aside enough time to put your best foot forward. After finishing a complete draft of your personal statement, put it down. Forget about it for a few days. Then come back and reread it.

With a fresh set of eyes, you’ll notice details you may not have seen before! Revise as much as you need.

Do I Need To Write An Introduction For A Personal Statement?

Yes, we recommend writing an introduction for your personal statement as it provides context to the rest of your writing. The introduction is an opportunity to make a good first impression and capture the university admissions officer’s attention.

What is a good opening sentence for a personal statement?

Here are some examples of a good opening sentence for a captivating introduction. Note how it ties into the university degree almost straight away with first-hand experience:

  • “Growing up in a small town with limited resources sparked my curiosity and drive to pursue higher education and make a positive impact in my community.”
  • “From a young age, I have been fascinated by the intricacies of the human mind and the power of psychology to improve people’s lives.”
  • “As a first-generation college student, I am determined to break barriers and pave the way for future generations through a career in law.”
  • “My passion for sustainable design was ignited by a volunteer trip to a developing country, where I witnessed the devastating effects of environmental degradation firsthand.”
  • “A chance encounter with a blind person and their guide dog inspired me to pursue a career in veterinary medicine, with the goal of improving the lives of animals and their human companions.”

Please do NOT use these in your personal statements, use these to guide you on how you want to start your personal statement.

Can You Open Your Personal Statement With A Quote?

It is a risky move to open your personal statement with a quote and can come across as clichéd or insincere to the university admission officers. However, there are rare occasions when it can work, just make sure the quote relates to your degree and experience you’re writing about.

Get Ready To Write Your Personal Statement

How does one start a captivating personal statement? Take the time to think about what makes an effective introduction.

Read examples of personal statements from other students to glean ideas for how yours might stand out. Once you have read through some good ones, they should be more than just two or three!–look closely at what elements made them so successful. 

Then try applying those same principles on how to start a personal statement! Don’t forget to bookmark this post for future reference.

best way to start ucas personal statement

Real Alumni Stories

Learn more about our alumni through their success stories.

  • Real stories about our Alumni
  • Students share their programme experiences
  • Case studies from Alumni heading to Oxbridge
  • Alumni insights and stats

Empower Your Child's Future: Book Your Complimentary Consultation Now

  • Receive tailored advice to match your child's interests and goals.
  • Gain insights from our experienced programme consultants.
  • Get answers in real-time, making your decision-making process smoother and more informed.

Immerse Education advisor

Subscribe to the Immerse Education newsletter for £100 off your programme*

* Terms and Conditions may apply

Download Our Prospectus

best way to start ucas personal statement

  • I'm a Parent
  • I'm a Student
  • Full Name *
  • School SF ID
  • Which subjects interest you? (Optional) Architecture Artificial Intelligence Banking and Finance Biology Biotechnology Business Management Chemistry Coding Computer Science Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Creative Writing Creative Writing and Film Criminology Data Science and Analytics Earth Science Economics Encryption and Cybersecurity Engineering English Literature Entrepreneurship Fashion and Design Female Future Leaders Film Studies Fine Arts Global Society and Sustainability Health and Biotechnology History International Relations Law Marketing and Entertainment Mathematics Medicine Medicine and Health Sciences Nanotechnology Natural Sciences Philosophy Philosophy Politics and Economics Physics Psychology Software Development and AI Software Development and Gaming Veterinary Studies Online Research Programme

Secure priority enrolment for our new summer school location with a small refundable deposit.

" * " indicates required fields

Receive priority enrolment for new summer school locations by registering your interest below.

Our programme consultant will contact you to talk about your options.

  • Family Name *
  • Phone Number
  • Yes. See Privacy Policy.

Subject is unavailable at location

You have selected a subject that is not available at the location that you have previously chosen.

The location filter has been reset, and you are now able to search for all the courses where we offer the subject.

logo

How to write a good UCAS Personal Statement

Last revised June 2019.

The Personal Statement is the only part of the UCAS application form which gives you a chance to say something about yourself, and at the same time make a positive impression. It is vital to get it right and this guide explains how to put a good UCAS Personal Statement together. As our advice article Six Top Tips for an outstanding UCAS form explains, your Personal Statement may well be the deciding factor in getting you a university offer.

Tackle the UCAS Personal Statement in stages

Getting started can be tough, but if you approach the task in stages, you will find it easier. Get started early so that you can give the process the time it will need. You can't do this well in one big session! UCAS advise you to start a month before you submit the application. We agree, and even earlier is better.  Starting before the summer holidays is ideal: it gives you time to do all the necessary thinking and to beef up your statement if you need to. Don't leave the UCAS Personal Statement to the last minute!

You'll fill in your UCAS Form online, UCAS online provide a personal statement worksheet and personal statement tool, but they're just worksheets with headings. We think it is better to start off by working off-line so that you don't feel under pressure (the UCAS online form times out without saving after 35 minutes of inactivity!). You can paste the results into UCAS online later.

Here are the stages to follow to put a great UCAS Personal Statement together

  • Find out the admissions selection criteria for your course
  • List everything that might possibly go into the Statement.
  • Decide what to actually include in your Personal Statement
  • Sort out the order for your points
  • Decide on style and supporting detail
  • Write your first draft

Each stage is described in detail in the sections  below. Just click the   +    to expand a section.

Stage 1: Find out the admissions selection criteria for your course The very first thing to do is to check out what the university website says about the courses you are applying for, and look at the course entry profiles you’ll find there and on the UCAS website. What you say on the form about your reasons for choosing the course and about your interests, skills and experience, must match up to the criteria admissions tutors  use to assess your application.

Write down this vital information and keep checking it as your Personal Statement takes shape. Ask yourself ‘does what I’m saying fit in well with the admissions profile?’ and keep working until you can say ‘ yes ‘.

Stage 2: List everything that might go in the Statement Start off by making a list of everything you might include, under two headings:

  • My reasons for choosing the course
  • My interests, achievements and experience

Don’t worry about the detail, or quality of expression of what you jot down. You’ll sort those out later. Just write down as many ideas as you can under each heading, in whatever order the ideas come to you.

My reasons for choosing the course:

You need to explain why you have chosen the course you want. Even if it follows directly from one of your A levels you should explain why you want to spend three more years studying that subject. Read the university course descriptions carefully, and if it’s an subject you haven’t studied before you definitely need to show you know what’s involved.  In this part of the Statement you want to show that:

  • You’re enthusiastic about the course
  • You know what the course involves
  • You’ve got the necessary skills to do well in that course

Here are some ideas:

  • Reasons related to your A levels. Are there aspects of the A-level subjects you are taking (the content and the approach to learning) which you particularly like and which are relevant to the degree you want to study? If so, write about them in your Statement. It is not enough to say ‘I like History, therefore I’m applying for a History degree’. You need to say why you like History.
  • Career plans: Need mentioning, even if you are still undecided. If you have a career in mind you should describe why you are attracted to that career. This is really important for ‘professional’ careers (Law, Medicine, etc.). Just write down what you sincerely feel. Later on you can worry about making your reasons compelling to the reader
  • Experience: Include any relevant experience via family and friends, work experience or shadowing, etc. This is essential for medicine-related courses and valuable for any other career- oriented course. Have you any other experiences (such as part-time job) which help reinforce your commitment to your chosen degree?
  • Relevant skills: Check the Course Entry Profiles again. Do they mention any specific skills? It might be that there’s something you’ve done outside the classroom which can show you’ve got what admissions tutors want.

If you are applying for more than one subject area you have two choices. One is to emphasise the subject which is most competitive, while at the same time making the point that you have a real interest in the safety-net subject too. The second is to find reasons which are applicable to both courses (but beware of vague generalities). Advice on what to say may be necessary here!

Other interests, achievements and experience:

Work through the checklist below to write down a list of things you might include. Don’t worry about the order at this stage:

  • Responsibilities: In school, as a member of a club, in the community
  • Voluntary work: For example, with children, old people, the disabled
  • Sport: Sport you play in or out of college. Any special achievements such as college/club/ etc teams
  • Awards: For example, music, Duke of Edinburgh, sport, drama
  • Work: Spare-time jobs, work experience, etc
  • Hobbies, etc: The things you get up to in your spare time, activities in or out of school etc
  • Other interests: For example, reading, listening to / making music
  • Travel: Holidays, field-trips, exchanges, education abroad.

Show the list to friends, teachers, parents, etc. and ask for suggestions. They may well remind you of things you had forgotten or that you thought weren’t important. You are not expected to be an expert in everything you include here, so don’t shy away from mentioning minor interests. On the other hand, the UCAS Personal Statement is a major source of discussion at interview (though interviews are rare in most subjects) , and your referee will read your Personal Statement before finalising your reference, so don’t make stuff up.

Stage 3: Decide what to include in your UCAS Personal Statement Now that you have a list of possible things to say, you need to think about how to use the ideas. Don’t worry yet about the exact words or order of sentences, but think about how the things you have listed might fill the available space when you write about them.

Here’s where the course entry profile comes in.  At least half of the UCAS Personal Statement needs to show that you have chosen carefully and that you meet the course entry profile. Your reasons for choosing the subject are directly relevant here, and your ‘other interests’ list might well provide some relevant points too.

The more competitive the course is, the more you need to emphasise your academic and personal suitability.To quote an admissions tutor: “We typically say that about 75-80 per cent should be related to your academic study and interest in the course and for 20-25 per cent to be related to non-academic life.”

Other Achievements, experience and interests will occupy most of the rest of the Statement, leaving a final line or two for a conclusion. You can enter up to 4,000 characters (including spaces) or 47 lines of text (including blank lines between paragraphs), whichever comes first. This limit applies to the official UCAS form you fill in online. If you’re writing offline you may find that your software doesn’t count spaces or uses different line lengths.

With any luck you will find that your points just about fit the space – you don’t have to fill every line, but a half-filled page looks thin.

If you have too much material, drop the points which are old / trivial / repetitive. Thin out points which emphasise the same area of achievement (eg lists of sporting interests, books read etc ).

You can save a surprising amount of space by getting rid of ‘nothing-words’ ( as one student puts it ) like ‘particularly’ and ‘really’ and ‘very’ and ‘relatively’, and your Statement will have more impact too. In the next stage you will focus on finding the right words for the points you want to make. It’s essential to keep language simple and direct.

If you don’t have enough material , review your lists from Step 1. Did you leave out something because you felt it wasn’t important? You don’t have to be an expert to be able to include an interest – you just need to be able to say a little bit about it.

Another option is simply to say more about each of the points you have got. Supporting detail is an important part of the UCAS Personal Statement anyway (see below). But….it is better to be concise than to fill up space with generalisations – quality is more important than quantity.

If you are asking for ‘deferred entry’ (you have decided you want to have a GAP year) you must include a brief comment on your plans for the year off. This often fits naturally at the very end of the Personal Statement.

Stage 4: Sort out the order for your points You want the Statement to read well, rather than come across like a set of bullet points . Try to connect what you have to say so that there is a flow of ideas, but don’t waste space on long connecting sentences.

Start with your reasons for choosing the course, particularly if you have good supporting information (e.g. helping in a hospital supports an application to study medicine).

Putting the rest of the Personal Statement in order may be more awkward, but the following example shows how to tackle it. Suppose you have these points to fit in:

  • School volleyball team
  • House representative
  • I like reading
  • Scuba diving
  • Have travelled
  • Helped at play-school
  • Got first aid certificate
  • Duke of Edinburgh bronze award.

You could start with 2 leading to 6 (both school-based and responsible), on to 7 and 8 (same sort of things, and 6, 7 might have counted towards the award). Then move onto sport. 1 first (still linked to school), then 4 (personal leisure), which might lead to 5 (places where you dived?). This leaves 3, which doesn’t follow on quite so naturally, but is linked, just about, through it being a leisure activity.

Each person is different, has different points to make, different details to add, but the principle of finding links to make the ideas flow into each other is the same for all .

Finding a good way to start and finish your UCAS Personal Statement needs thought. The first sentence should ease the reader into what follows. Ideally it should say something which makes him or her think “that’s interesting, I’m looking forward to reading the rest”. That’s a tricky sentence to come up with, but don’t get too stressed trying to come up with something startling – it’s the impression the whole statement makes which is important, not just the first line of it.

The ending is probably a bit easier. Like the conclusion to an essay, you need to finish in a way that rounds the writing off . There’s no best approach to this, but a good option is go back to your reasons for choosing that degree, or for going to university generally, especially if you can refer to something relevant that you will do between now and when the course begins.

If you’re finding it hard to come up with a good order for the things you want to say, try putting each chunk of information into a separate paragraph, print out the result, cut it up into paragraphs and move them around on your desk to try different arrangements. You’re looking for a combination which works when you read it out loud to yourself and to others. That may feel like an awkward thing to do but it’s an excellent way to check whether your Personal Statement works.

Stage 5: Decide on style and supporting detail You now need to decide on the general style to aim at and the amount of detail to include for each point you make.

The best style to aim for is one of relaxed intelligence. Spelling, accuracy of grammar and effective vocabulary are very important in creating the right impression. There’s more about these qualities later.

Supporting detail makes the UCAS Personal Statement individual and convincing. It’s vital to strike a personal note: it makes you stand out from the crowd. Supporting detail makes your writing come alive . For example, don’t just write down ‘I like reading’ but include what you read. Ditto for music: what do you listen to? It doesn’t have to be high-brow.

When describing experiences, add something about what you got out of it – a highlight, an impression, a useful skill. ‘I have had a regular Saturday job’ is not as good as ‘I have a regular Saturday job working as a cashier at a local supermarket. Even better is to add ‘This has given me an insight into the importance of good customer relations and of the potential of information technology to transform jobs.’ This allows your commitment and enthusiasm to show through. ‘Show not tell’ sums this up. “Don’t just tell me what you did – show me how why it’s relevant to the application.”

Avoid clichés, especially if you feel tempted to talk about how travel ‘enables me to experience and understand other cultures’. Everyone says that. Find something fresh to say.

If you have fewer things to say you can go into more detail. However, the writing must remain concise, and it is better to leave empty space than to fill it all with vague sentences.

Helpful comments from admissions tutors include:

  • ‘The section should provide insight into the student’s thinking in relation to themselves and their future.’
  • ‘It should be more than just a description of experiences; achievement and effect upon the individual should be emphasised.’
  • ‘Originality – eg, starting with a quotation from Goethe – should not be discouraged but should only occur where the applicant feels comfortable with the expression of originality. A touch of humour in reflecting on achievement or lack of achievement is probably the simplest and most natural way of making the statement really personal. It is, however, an approach which applicants should use sparingly and with care.’

Step 6: Write your first draft

You know what you want to say and how to order your material. Now put it into effective prose by writing it out as a first draft. Here are some ‘Do’s and ‘Don’ts.

  • Do pay attention to the flow of ideas.
  • Do ensure that your grammar is correct and that your spelling is accurate. Don’t just rely on spell-check – Admissions staff might be amused by an applicant who promises “I can bare anything I’m asked to” but they won’t be impressed.
  • Do use appropriate vocabulary. Use words with precise meanings, but avoid pretentious language or giving the impression you just swallowed a dictionary. When you get others to read your Personal Statement, ask them to pick out anything  they think sounds forced or false.
  • Do include supportive detail.
  • Do be positive about yourself and show real enthusiasm for and knowledge of your chosen subject area.
  • Do use humour if you like, but use it sparingly. An admissions tutor might not share your sense of fun.
  • Don’t use repetitive language (I like, I like, etc).
  • Don’t use clichés.
  • Don’t write things out as long lists. Short but connected sentences are better.
  • Don’t ask rhetorical questions. ‘So why am I suited to become a law student?’ is a waste of words.
  • Don’t make unsupported claims for yourself. ‘I am the best student you will see all year’ doesn’t go down too well, even if you think you can prove it!
  • Don’t strike a negative or apologetic note. If you feel it’s essential to explain something problematic about your background, find a positive way to do so.
  • Don’t copy someone else’s UCAS Personal Statement or use something you find on the internet, or pay to get it done! UCAS use plagiarism software to check every Personal Statement for copying – and will penalise you if you do.
  • Don’t make mistakes in grammar and spelling.
  • Don’t use slang/abbreviations etc.
  • Don’t overdo the humour. You want to be taken seriously.
  • Don’t spend ages describing things you did when you were much younger. Recent is best.
  • Don’t repeat any information that can be found elsewhere on the form (like results) – it is a waste of space.
  • Don’t name specific universities in your Statement. The other universities won’t like it

Talk to your adviser about all the above, but don’t expect him or her to write the whole thing for you.

Getting this first draft down on paper is the hardest bit. You may need to polish it up and rewrite it later, but that’s not as tough as this first draft

Read your draft out loud to yourself. That’s the best way to see whether it makes sense and whether it sounds ‘natural’ rather than a lumpy list of statements. Then show your first draft to people whose opinion you respect and ask for feedback. If the feedback makes sense, rewrite the statement! But don’t rewrite every time someone makes a suggestion: it’s your statement after all.

The admissions tutor must ‘hear’ your authentic voice when reading your Statement. 

Very few people get the UCAS Personal Statement right first time. If you find yourself sweating blood over it you will be in good company, but don’t skimp on the effort. You will be lucky to get away with rewriting it only twice.

For more about the UCAS Form and Personal Statement in particular, visit the UCAS website.

best way to start ucas personal statement

Related article

Six top tips for an outstanding UCAS form

Further advice articles

  • FAQs about A-level retakes and options for resitting
  • Exam remarks - what to do, and when - updated for 2023
  • Appealing against your A-level or GCSE results in 2023
  • One year A-levels courses at CIFE colleges
  • Sixth-form advice articles about university entrance...
  • Sixth-form advice articles about study skills...
  • Advice articles about sixth-form choices...

Need any help?

Name (required): Please leave this field empty. Email (required): Phone number: Tell us how we can help: Confirm acceptance of Privacy Policy

The data entered on this form will be used only for the purpose of responding to your enquiry. It will not be used for sales/marketing, nor shared with any third party unless required to respond to your query (i.e. with one of our partner colleges).

CIFE logo

Courses at cife colleges

GCSE courses Two-year A level courses Final-year A level courses One-year A level courses A level retake courses University Foundation courses Easter A level & GCSE revision courses

Advice articles

FAQs about retakes Revision UCAS personal statement Tips for a top UCAS application For international students Choosing the right A levels Oxbridge and medicine interviews All advice articles

More about cife FAQ about colleges News Why colleges join cife Useful links Fees at cife colleges Contact us

How I wrote my UCAS personal statement

best way to start ucas personal statement

Need help writing a great UCAS personal statement? Pharmacy student Parsa is on hand to share her personal statement tips with you.

Hi, my names Parsa, I am a 4th year pharmacy student at University of Central Lancashire. Writing a personal statement can be very stressful and time consuming, I hope my tips help you to write the very best statement.

campus tours

What is a UCAS personal statement?

A personal statement is precisely what it sounds like: personal. Personal to your strengths, weaknesses, hobbies, and passions. Your personal statement is a great way to display your passion for your chosen subject and show the university you’re applying to why you’re the best match.

First things first

Do your research to find the right course for you, this is the most important factor to ensure you get the most out of your university life and set the foundations for your future career path.

Applying for university can be very daunting, it’s essential to research as much as possible what course you would like to apply to. Think of your strengths, weaknesses, what professions you find interesting. Have you ever imaged yourself as a pharmacist, doctor, nurse, engineer, occupational therapist, or vet? I would recommend spending some time looking through university a course catalogues and visiting Open Days. This will help narrow down your options and help you decide which route you’re interested in going down.

Look at different prospectuses and visit Open Days to find the course for you

Let’s start writing

When I began my personal statement, I started by mapping out my experiences, skills, and goals.

After mapping out the above, I started writing the introduction. Within this paragraph I reflected on my experiences, both academic and extracurricular. I thought about the skills I had developed and the achievements I was proud of. I spent some time planning out these ideas, working out how to connect these experiences to my chosen field of study which is Pharmacy. I found mind maps very useful as a great planning resource. I began with a captivating introduction to grab the reader's attention, making sure it showcased my passion for Pharmacy. You should discuss any research/academic interests you have and how they align with the courses offerings. This provides an insight on how passionate you are to pursue this course.

Map out your experiences before you start your statement

Demonstrate your commitment

Throughout the personal statement, I used specific examples and anecdotes that showcased my knowledge and personal growth. I made sure to connect these experiences to my future goals and how they would align with me being a pharmacist. You should aim to include any relevant work experience or volunteering activities that demonstrates your commitment to your chosen course. I included specific examples of projects I had been involved in and how they had impacted my understanding and passion for becoming a pharmacist. This helped to show my enthusiasm and motivation for pursuing further studies within the pharmacy industry.

Be authentic

Throughout my statement, I focused on being authentic, genuine and allowing my personality to shine through. I avoided clichés and instead focused on providing unique insights into my journey and motivations. I also paid attention to the structure and flow of my writing, ensuring that each paragraph transitioned smoothly into the next.

Once I had completed my first draft, I proofread it multiple times to ensure it was clear and error-free. I checked for grammar, spelling and any punctuation errors.

Ask for your friends, mentors and family to proofread your personal statement

Get feedback from your peers

I sought feedback from trusted mentors, friends, and family members to gain different perspectives and make improvements. I made sure to conclude my personal statement with a strong closing statement that summarized my main points and left a lasting impression on the reader. I ended my personal statement on a positive and memorable note.

Rome wasn’t built in a day

An excellent personal statement will not be ready within a couple of hours, it can take a few days, and this is okay. Sometimes taking a break can help refresh and energise your brain. Remember Rome was not built in a day. Good luck!

Top tips for an excellent personal statement:

  • You can apply for up to 5 courses on UCAS, however you can only submit 1 personal statement. Ensure all your points cover all your choices, limiting confusion for the reader.
  • Have teachers, friends and family proofread. Be open to take feedback on board and then initiate this once you have understood the feedback.
  • Show passion in your chosen subject, be open and honest as to why they should choose you. Why do you think you’re the best fit out of thousands applying?
  • Use tools like Grammarly, an amazing website, assisting writers with eliminating spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes.
  • Don’t wait until last minute to write your personal statement, as you don’t want it to seem rushed. Planning out is essential, I’d recommend mapping out your personal statement on a A3 sheet of paper, this helped me create a strong structure, limiting any repetitiveness.

Be confident in sharing your unique experiences and how they have shaped your aspirations. Good luck, we are to support you every step of the way!

best way to start ucas personal statement

How to write your personal statement

best way to start ucas personal statement

How to apply to university

best way to start ucas personal statement

Why choose us?

How to Write a UCAS Personal Statement 2024

Link Copied

Share on Facebook

Share on Twitter

Share on LinkedIn

How to Write a UCAS Personal Statement 2024

Master Your UCAS Personal Statement

Writing a UCAS personal statement is a crucial step in the university application process in the UK. It provides an opportunity to showcase your passion, skills, and suitability for your chosen course. In this guide, we'll explain what the UCAS personal statement is, how to write it and provide examples for different courses.

What is the UCAS Personal Statement?

The UCAS personal statement is a written document that applicants submit as part of their university application through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS ). It allows students to express their interest in the course they are applying for and to highlight their qualifications, experiences, and personal qualities. The goal is to convince admissions tutors that you are a good fit for their program. 

A Quick Step-By-Step Guide on How to Write a UCAS Personal Statement

Here are some simple steps to writing the UCAS personal statement structure. 

  • Understand the Requirements : Know the UCAS personal statement length and structure. It should be no more than 4,000 characters or 47 lines.
  • Research Your Course : Understand what the course requires and what skills and experiences are relevant.
  • Brainstorm Ideas : List your achievements, experiences, and skills that relate to the course.
  • Create a Structure : A typical structure includes an introduction, academic background, relevant experiences, personal qualities, and a conclusion.
  • Write a Draft : Begin writing your statement, making sure to cover all the key points.
  • Seek Feedback : Ask teachers, friends, or family to review your statement.
  • Revise and Edit : Refine your statement to ensure clarity, conciseness, and relevance.
  • Proofread : Check for any grammatical or spelling errors. For more UCAS tips and guidance . 

How is the UCAS Personal Statement Different from the US Personal Statement?

Think they’re the same? Think again. Here are some key differences between the UCAS and the US personal statement:

  • Focus : When you apply to UK schools, you’re applying to one particular degree program, which you’ll study for all, or almost all, your time at university. Your UCAS personal statement should focus less on cool/fun/quirky aspects of yourself and more on how you’ve prepared for your particular area of study.
  • Audience : The UCAS personal statement will be read by someone looking for proof that you are academically capable of studying that subject for your entire degree. In some cases, it might be an actual professor reading your essay.
  • Single Statement : You’ll only write one personal statement, which will be sent to all the universities you’re applying to, and it’s unlikely you’ll be sending any additional (supplemental) essays. Your essay needs to explain why you enjoy and are good at this subject without reference to any particular university or type of university.
  • Extracurricular Activities : Any extracurricular activities that are NOT connected to the subject you’re applying for are mostly irrelevant unless they illustrate relevant points about your study skills or attributes. For example, having a job outside of school shows time management and people skills, or leading a sports team shows leadership and responsibility.
  • Academic Focus : Your UCAS personal statement will mostly focus on what you’ve done at high school, in class, and often in preparation for external exams. 80-90% of the content will be academic. Worried about what would happen if you apply late for UCAS? Don’t worry, here’s a comprehensive guide on navigating late UCAS applications . 

UCAS Personal Statement Examples

There are different types of UCAS personal statements. Let's look at some examples: 

UCAS Personal Statement Example for Chemistry

Your UCAS Personal Statement for Chemistry could look something like this: 

“From a young age, I've been fascinated by the complexities of chemistry, especially how substances interact at a molecular level. This passion ignited during simple experiments in my school lab, where I discovered my love for uncovering scientific truths through hands-on experimentation. Throughout my education, I've excelled in chemistry, achieving top grades in both theoretical concepts and practical applications. Studying topics like chemical bonding and reaction kinetics has deepened my interest in pursuing a career in chemistry. Last summer, I interned at a local pharmaceutical research lab, conducting experiments to analyse drug formulations and learning about quality control processes. This experience not only enhanced my laboratory skills but also reinforced my desire to contribute to scientific advancements. Attention to detail, critical thinking, and perseverance are qualities that define my approach to scientific inquiry. I am eager to study chemistry at university to explore my interests in organic synthesis and materials science, aiming to contribute to solving real-world problems and advancing our understanding of chemical phenomena.”

UCAS Personal Statement Example for Veterinary Medicine

Your UCAS Personal Statement for Veterinary Medicine could look something like this: 

“Growing up on a farm surrounded by animals, I developed a deep admiration for the resilience and companionship they offer. This early exposure sparked my ambition to pursue a career in veterinary medicine, where I can combine my love for animals with my passion for healthcare. Excelling in biology and chemistry has provided me with a solid academic foundation essential for understanding animal physiology and pharmacology. Studying topics like anatomy and disease pathology has prepared me to tackle the complexities of veterinary science. Volunteering at a local veterinary clinic has been instrumental in shaping my practical skills and understanding of veterinary care. Assisting veterinarians during surgeries and consultations has allowed me to witness firsthand the impact of compassionate care on animal health. Compassion, empathy, and a strong work ethic are qualities that drive my commitment to veterinary medicine. I am dedicated to pursuing veterinary medicine at university to become a knowledgeable and compassionate veterinarian, eager to contribute to the well-being of animals and make a positive difference in their lives and the community.”

UCAS Personal Statement Example for Aeronautical Engineering

Your UCAS Personal Statement for Aeronautical Engineering could look something like this: 

“My fascination with aviation began with my first flight, where I marvelled at the engineering marvels that enable humans to defy gravity. This experience ignited my passion for aeronautical engineering, driving my ambition to contribute to the innovation and safety of air travel. Excelling in mathematics and physics has equipped me with the analytical and problem-solving skills crucial for aeronautical engineering. Studying topics like fluid mechanics and aerodynamics has deepened my understanding of flight principles and aircraft design. Participating in a STEM club at school allowed me to collaborate on projects like building model aeroplanes and conducting experiments on flight dynamics. These experiences have strengthened my practical skills and ignited my curiosity for exploring aerospace technologies. Innovative thinking, attention to detail, and teamwork are qualities that define my approach to engineering challenges. I am eager to pursue aeronautical engineering at the university to engage in cutting-edge research and development, aiming to contribute to advancements in aircraft design and propulsion systems, ultimately shaping the future of aviation technology.”

UCAS Personal Statement Example for Economics and Social Policy

Your UCAS Personal Statement for Economics and Social Policy could look something like this: 

“My interest in economics and social policy stems from my curiosity about the economic forces that shape societal well-being and equality. Exploring these disciplines has fueled my ambition to contribute to evidence-based policy-making and social change. Excelling in economics and social studies has provided me with a comprehensive understanding of economic theories and their impact on social welfare. Analysing topics like income inequality and public policy has prepared me to address contemporary socio-economic challenges. Active involvement in a youth parliament organisation has honed my leadership and advocacy skills. Through debates and policy discussions, I've learned to articulate complex issues and propose solutions that prioritise social justice and community empowerment. Critical thinking, empathy, and a commitment to social justice are qualities that drive my engagement in economics and social policy. I am eager to pursue economics and social policy at university to deepen my understanding of global economic trends and social dynamics. I aspire to contribute to policy initiatives that promote inclusive growth and enhance societal well-being.”

UCAS Personal Statement Example for History of Art & Philosophy

Your UCAS Personal Statement for History of Art & Philosophy could look something like this: 

“Art and philosophy have profoundly influenced my perspective on human expression and cultural identity. Exploring the historical context and philosophical underpinnings of artistic movements has ignited my passion for understanding the interconnectedness of art and society. Pursuing coursework in art history and philosophy has enriched my appreciation for aesthetic principles and philosophical inquiry. Analysing artworks and philosophical texts has deepened my understanding of how art shapes and reflects societal values. Regular visits to museums and galleries have provided me with firsthand encounters with diverse artistic traditions and critical perspectives. These experiences have inspired me to explore the intersections of art history and philosophical discourse in my academic pursuits. Reflective introspection, curiosity, and a dedication to interdisciplinary learning define my approach to studying the history of art and philosophy. I am eager to immerse myself in the study of the history of art and philosophy at the university, aiming to contribute to scholarly discourse and deepen my understanding of human creativity and intellectual inquiry.”

UCAS Personal Statement Example for Liberal Arts

Your UCAS Personal Statement for Liberal Arts could look something like this: 

“The interdisciplinary nature of liberal arts resonates deeply with my diverse academic interests and intellectual curiosity. Exploring literature, history, and social sciences through an integrated approach has shaped my holistic understanding of human culture and societal dynamics. Excelling in literature, history, and social sciences has provided me with a comprehensive foundation in liberal arts education. Engaging with diverse perspectives and methodologies has fostered my appreciation for interdisciplinary learning and critical thinking. Active participation in cultural clubs and community service initiatives has broadened my perspective and enhanced my leadership skills. These experiences underscore the importance of civic engagement and global awareness in my liberal arts education. Adaptability, enthusiasm for learning, and a commitment to fostering inclusive communities define my approach to liberal arts education. I am excited about pursuing a liberal arts program at the university to deepen my knowledge across disciplines and cultivate a well-rounded perspective. I look forward to embracing new intellectual challenges and contributing to a diverse and vibrant academic community.”

Crafting a compelling UCAS personal statement is crucial for your university application. By understanding its purpose, following a structured approach, and reviewing examples for various disciplines, you can effectively showcase your passion and skills. Be genuine, concise, and reflective in your writing. With careful preparation, your statement can capture the attention of admissions tutors and pave the way for your academic future. Check out some of the UCAS courses and universities for more information.  If you want to know more about the UCAS extra , we've got you covered! Good luck! 

Frequently Asked Questions

What do i write in my ucas personal statement, is the ucas personal statement 4000 characters with or without spaces, can you go over 47 lines for the ucas personal statement, what should you avoid in a ucas personal statement, how to write a ucas personal statement.

Your ideal student home & a flight ticket awaits

Follow us on :

cta

Related Posts

best way to start ucas personal statement

Top 10 Research Topics For Students In 2024

best way to start ucas personal statement

Learn How To Make Resume For Your First Job

best way to start ucas personal statement

10 Tips On How To Get A First Class Degree

best way to start ucas personal statement

amber © 2024. All rights reserved.

4.8/5 on Trustpilot

Rated as "Excellent" • 4800+ Reviews by students

Rated as "Excellent" • 4800+ Reviews by Students

play store

Wisteria around a window

How to write a personal statement

How to approach writing your personal statement for graduate applications.

If you’re applying for a grad course that requires a personal statement (sometimes also called a ‘statement of purpose’), it can be difficult to know where to start and what to include. Read on for tips from some of our masters’ students about their process and what they found helpful.

1. Before you start

The academic work is the most important reason why we’re here, but that also translates into work experiences, internships, volunteering. I think a big part of the personal statement is crafting that narrative of academic self that fits alongside your professional experiences, to give that greater picture of who you are as an academic. Lauren (MSc Modern Middle Eastern Studies)

Start by thinking about the skills, knowledge and interests you’ve acquired over time and how the course at Oxford will take them forward.

Your statement is the story you want to tell about yourself and your academic work to the department you are applying to.

Most of your application and its supporting documents communicate plain facts about your academic career so far. Your personal statement is your best opportunity to put these facts into context and show assessors how you’ve progressed and excelled.

Make sure you highlight evidence of your achievements (a high grade in a relevant area, an award or scholarship, a research internship).

Presenting yourself

When I was writing my personal statement, I went onto my course website. I looked at what they emphasised and what kind of students they were looking for, and I wrote about my experiences based on that. Kayla (MSc in Clinical Embryology)

Make it easy for an assessor to see how you meet the entry requirements for the course (you can find these on each course page ).

Don’t make any assumptions about what Oxford is looking for!

Get to know your department

You want to study this particular subject and you want to study at Oxford (you’re applying here, so we know that!) but why is Oxford the right place for you to study this subject? What interests or qualities of the academic department and its staff make it attractive to you?

Use your academic department’s website for an overview of their research, academic staff and course information (you'll find a link to the department's own website on each course page ).

I said, ‘why do I actually want to be here? What is it about being at Oxford that’s going to get me to what I want to do? Sarah (Bachelor of Civil Law)

Talk it out

Talking to others about your statement can be a great way to gather your ideas and decide how you’d like to approach it. Sarah even managed to get benefit out of this approach by herself:

“I spent a lot of time talking out loud. My written process was actually very vocal, so I did a lot of talking about myself in my room.”

2. The writing process

Know your format.

Make sure you’ve read all the guidance on the How to Apply section of your course page , so you know what’s needed in terms of the word count of the final statement, what it should cover and what it will be assessed for. This should help you to visualise roughly what you want to end up with at the end of the process.

Make a start

When it comes to writing your personal statement, just getting started can be the hardest part.

One good way to get around writer’s block is to just put it all down on the page, like Mayur.

First - write down anything and everything. In the first round, I was just dumping everything - whatever I’ve done, anything close to computer science, that was on my personal statement. Mayur (MSc Computer Science)

You’ll be editing later anyway so don’t let the blank page intimidate you - try writing a little under each of the following headings to get started:

  • areas of the course at Oxford that are the most interesting to you
  • which areas you’ve already studied or had some experience in
  • what you hope to use your Oxford course experience for afterwards.

3. Finishing up

Get some feedback.

Once you’ve got a draft of about the right length, ask for feedback on what you’ve written. It might take several drafts to get it right.

This could involve getting in touch with some of your undergraduate professors to ask them to read your draft and find any areas which needed strengthening.

You could also show it to people who know you well, like family or friends.

Because they’re the first people to say, ‘Who is that person?’ You want the people around you to recognise that it really sounds like you. It can be scary telling family and friends you’re applying for Oxford, because it makes it real, but be brave enough to share it and get feedback on it. Sarah (Bachelor of Law)

Be yourself

Finally - be genuine and be yourself. Make sure your personal statement represents you, not your idea about what Oxford might be looking for.

We have thousands of students arriving every year from a huge range of subjects, backgrounds, institutions and countries (you can hear from a few more of them in our My Oxford interviews).

Get moving on your application today

To find out more about supporting documents and everything else you need to apply, read your course page and visit our Application Guide .

Applicant advice hub

This content was previously available through our  Applicant advice hub . The hub contained links to articles hosted on our  Graduate Study at Oxford Medium channel . We've moved the articles that support the application process into this new section of our website.

  • Application Guide: Statement of purpose

Can't find what you're looking for?

If you have a query about graduate admissions at Oxford, we're here to help:

Ask a question

Privacy Policy

Postgraduate Applicant Privacy Policy

York St John University - Open Day

Secondary tabs.

  • Overview (active tab)

Tour our campus, chat to staff and students, explore your course options, and start your journey with us.

A York St John Open Day is the best way to get to know our University, explore our campus and meet staff and students. Follow the link below and book your place.

More events from this provider

Sponsored articles ucas media service, places available in clearing. contact us, staffordshire uni clearing: apply now, ntu priority: jump the clearing queue.

COMMENTS

  1. How to start a personal statement: The attention grabber

    Top tips on how to write your statement opener. We spoke to admissions tutors at unis and colleges - read on for their tips. 1. Don't begin with the overkill opening. Try not to overthink the opening sentence. You need to engage the reader with your relevant thoughts and ideas, but not go overboard. Tutors said: 'The opening is your chance ...

  2. Personal statement dos and don'ts

    Don'ts. Don't be modest or shy. You want your passions to come across. Don't exaggerate - if you do, you may get caught out in an interview when asked to elaborate on an interesting achievement. Don't use quotes from someone else, or cliches. Don't leave it to the last minute - your statement will seem rushed and important ...

  3. How to Write a UCAS Personal Statement [With Examples]

    The character limit which UCAS sets for the personal statement is very strict - up to 4,000 characters of text. This means that students have to express themselves in a clear and concise way; it's also important that they don't feel the need to fill the available space needlessly. Planning and redrafting of a personal statement is essential.

  4. How to write an excellent personal statement in 10 steps

    Use your closing couple of lines to summarise the most important points in your statement. 9. Check your writing thoroughly and get someone else to check it, too. 10. Give your brain a rest by forgetting about your personal statement for a while before going back to review it one last time with fresh eyes.

  5. Ultimate Guides

    Writing a personal statement takes practice. You're putting yourself out there in a way that you've probably not had to do before. It's both an art and a science, and the topic is YOU. With a bit of planning, it's not just doable but a really good experience in learning about yourself.

  6. The Ultimate UCAS Personal Statement Guide

    The best Personal Statements get to the point quickly, so avoid starting with phrases like "From a young age", "I am applying for this course because", and "Throughout my life I have always enjoyed…". Go straight into why you are interested in your course subject. 2. Use cringe-worthy language and cheap gags.

  7. How to write a UCAS personal statement

    UCAS personal statement word limit. Your personal statement length can be up to 4,000 characters long. This may sound a lot, but it's a word limit of around 550-1000 words with spaces and only about 1 side of typed A4 paper. You need to keep it concise and make sure it's clear and easy to read.

  8. How to start a personal statement

    There's more than one way to structure a personal statement, but you should at least have a: Clear introduction. Strong body of five-six paragraphs that link your experience and achievements to why you've chosen the subject. Conclusion to summarise it all. A structured statement also shows admissions tutors that you can communicate effectively.

  9. How to Write a UCAS Personal Statement

    The UCAS personal statement strikes fear into most sixth formers. Sculpting the perfect personal statement is an arduous an unavoidable process. With approximately 600,000 people applying to university each year, admissions officers need a way to filter stronger candidates from the rest of the pool.

  10. UCAS Personal Statement and Examples

    The UCAS Personal Statement will be read by someone looking for proof that you are academically capable of studying that subject for your entire degree. In some cases, it might be an actual professor reading your essay. You'll only write one personal statement, which will be sent to all the universities you're applying to, and it's ...

  11. How To Write Your Undergraduate Personal Statement

    Just start by showing your enthusiasm for the subject, showcasing your knowledge and understanding, and sharing your ambitions of what you want to achieve. Avoid cliches! Remember, this opening part is simply about introducing yourself, so let the admissions tutor reading your personal statement get to know you. Keep it relevant and simple.

  12. How To Start A Personal Statement: Tips & Examples

    4. Demonstrate Knowledge In Your Chosen Course. An essential element of starting a personal statement is to express why you're enthusiastic about taking your chosen course. You need to demonstrate that you're aware of what you're getting yourself into in the process.

  13. Writing your personal statement

    Dr Phil Porter - Associate Dean Education (Student Experience) The best way to approach writing a personal statement is to consider it like a rock concert... which may sound mad. If you consider a rock concert, it starts with a big lively song to get everyone in the mood and ends with a similar song. So that's one of the most important ...

  14. How to write a personal statement for university

    If you start waffling to fill out the 4,000 characters, unis will notice. Your personal statement should be filled with interesting points that present you as a well-rounded and capable applicant. The best way to do this is to write concisely. Again, back up every point and explain why it's relevant.

  15. Advice on how to write a good UCAS Personal Statement

    List everything that might possibly go into the Statement. Decide what to actually include in your Personal Statement. Sort out the order for your points. Decide on style and supporting detail. Write your first draft. Each stage is described in detail in the sections below. Just click the + to expand a section.

  16. UCAS Personal Statement

    Your UCAS personal statement is about you, so open up. Talk about the things that motivate you personally. You can discuss your personal life to a certain extent if you think it will be helpful. The personal touch can be helpful if you want to go into a caring profession like medicine. Above all, make sure your UCAS personal statement is unique ...

  17. UCAS personal statements: Six tips to make yours even better

    Let them know! This will make you sound focused and motivated. 6. Be positive: Use positive language that describes how attending your dream course could enhance your life. A quick reminder: Your ...

  18. How I wrote my UCAS personal statement

    Top tips for an excellent personal statement: You can apply for up to 5 courses on UCAS, however you can only submit 1 personal statement. Ensure all your points cover all your choices, limiting confusion for the reader. Have teachers, friends and family proofread. Be open to take feedback on board and then initiate this once you have ...

  19. Introducing the personal statement builder

    The personal statement builder breaks down the content you need for your statement into three key areas: Writing about the course. Skills and achievements. Work experience and future plans. Within each of those sections there are questions to help you think of what to write. For example, in the first section - writing about the course ...

  20. How to Write a UCAS Personal Statement 2024

    A Quick Step-By-Step Guide on How to Write a UCAS Personal Statement. Here are some simple steps to writing the UCAS personal statement structure. Understand the Requirements: Know the UCAS personal statement length and structure. It should be no more than 4,000 characters or 47 lines.

  21. THE PERSONAL STATEMENT

    The Free Guide to Writing the Personal Statement. Kick things off with the two greatest brainstorming exercises ever, learn about options for structuring a personal statement + example outlines, check out some amazing example personal statements, and get on your way to writing your own killer personal statement for university applications.

  22. How to write a personal statement

    Make a start. When it comes to writing your personal statement, just getting started can be the hardest part. One good way to get around writer's block is to just put it all down on the page, like Mayur. First - write down anything and everything. In the first round, I was just dumping everything - whatever I've done, anything close to ...

  23. Five things to do now to boost your personal statement

    Before you hit submit, check that you've included the essentials and avoided any pitfalls in your personal statement with our dos and don'ts. 1. Get involved at school. Speak to friends and teachers to see what you might be able to get involved in as part of your school or college community, or try your school's newsletter, intranet, and ...

  24. York St John University

    Tour our campus, chat to staff and students, explore your course options, and start your journey with us. A York St John Open Day is the best way to get to know our University, explore our campus and meet staff and students. Follow the link below and book your place.