Tips for writing a personal statement

A personal statement is a short, reflective piece of writing that you submit as part of your UCAS application to universities. We use it during the admissions process to decide if you're suitable for the course you're applying for - and so we can understand why you want to study your chosen subject.

Students in the library at the University of Sussex

Your personal statement

A good personal statement can mean the difference between receiving an offer and being unsuccessful, so it's important you take the time to consider what you want to include in it.

Your personal statement is where you highlight you have what it takes to study on one of our undergraduate courses.

The personal statement is one of the most important parts of your UCAS application and gives you the chance to tell us how you stand out from other candidates.

For some of our courses you may be invited for interview, but for the majority the personal statement is the only opportunity that you will have to sell yourself.


Plan your personal statement

You can only submit one personal statement for the five courses and universities you apply for, so it is a good idea to plan out what you want to say before writing your personal statement.

There is no one-size fits all method when you are writing your personal statement, so try to be original and engaging.

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. 

It is also important to 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 (providing they are relevant)
  • any career plans you might have.

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

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 are limited to 4,000 characters (and 47 lines).

Start and end your personal statement by highlighting your positivity and passion for the course and your future career options (if you have any at this stage). 

When writing 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
  • 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. 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 transferable 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.

Make sure you allow enough time to plan and structure your personal statement, ensuring you include everything you want to say. You may need to redraft your statement a number of times. 

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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