Tips for writing a personal statement

A good personal statement can mean the difference between receiving an offer and being unsuccessful. Your personal statement is where you show us that you have what it takes to study on one of our undergraduate courses.

Learn how to:

Students in the library at the University of Sussex

Your personal statement

A personal statement is a piece of writing that you submit as part of your UCAS application to universities. It is used by universities during the admissions process to decide whether you are suitable for the course you are applying for.

You only write one personal statement for the five courses and universities you apply for.

You may want to apply for a variety of different courses - if this is the case, write about common themes relevant to all courses. 

Plan your personal statement

It is a good idea to plan out what you want to say before writing your personal statement.

We are looking for evidence of your interest in, enthusiasm for, and understanding of your chosen course. 

Think about:

  • why you are interested in the subject
  • your ambitions and how taking the course will help you achieve them
  • why you are interested in progressing on to higher education. 

You must tell us about: 

  • your reasons for choosing the course (this is the most important part of the statement)
  • your skills (and their relevance to your chosen subject)
  • wider reading you've undertaken 
  • work experience (especially where this is relevant to the subject)
  • any achievements or prizes you have won during your study or work 
  • your wider interests and hobbies
  • any careers plans you might have.

If you are a mature student you can use your personal statement to talk about your wider experience and the skills and knowledge you have gained; as well as why you are now thinking about returning to education. 

Structure your personal statement:

Use a clear structure in your personal statement and make sure each paragraph logically follows on from the one before. 

You should: 

  • include an eye-catching and interesting introduction, as well as an engaging middle section and conclusion
  • write around 4,000 characters (47 lines). The UCAS application will only accept this number of characters as a maximum
  • think carefully about how you end the statement - you want a positive, forward-looking final paragraph.

Write your personal statement:

You should:

  • be honest and write in your own words - the best statements are always the most genuine
  • use clear language and avoid extravagant claims
  • show what makes you stand out as a candidate
  • be analytical rather than just descriptive - don't just tell us what you've read or what you've done, we want to see what you gained from this, or how it changed your perception of your chosen subject
  • reflect on your work experience, especially if you are applying to courses linked to a profession (such as Social Work). We want to see evidence that you've had relevant work experience and how this has given you an insight into that profession
  • draw on your other experiences - for example, are you a member of a society, have you won any awards, scholarships or prizes?
  • provide evidence of your key skills, including research, critical thinking, communication, organisation, planning and time-management
  • highlight any career aspirations you might have and show how the course will help you achieve them
  • use accurate grammar, punctuation and spelling 
  • proofread your statement and ask a friend or relative to read it.

Less is often more in a statement, so focus in detail on a few topics, rather than writing a statement that becomes a long list of things you’ve done.

Remember - what we really want to know is why you've applied for the course, so this should be at the heart of your statement.

Make sure you allow enough time to plan and structure your personal statement carefully, ensuring you include everything you want to say.

If you are invited to interview, go back to your statement so that you can familiarise yourself with the information you have given us.

For more advice, see the UCAS tips for writing a personal statement

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