Female student stood outside smiling

preparing for your personal statement

Our top tips on what skills and experiences look good on a personal statement to make you stand out from the crowd

Standing out on your personal statement

You may have plenty of relevant experience to write about on your personal statement. Or perhaps you're looking for more inspiration. Wherever you're at, we've got your back.

This page will help you identify the skills you can include in your writing. And if you feel like you need more content to discuss in your personal statement, you'll discover the activities you can do in your spare time to develop your experience.

Why have you chosen the course?

Universities will want to know what inspired you to choose their course. Start reflecting on why you're choosing the subject you like. Really get to the bottom of why it's the course for you.

Within the personal statement, you'll want to demonstrate that you’re an excellent candidate by explaining why your skills, specific interests, work experience and enjoyment of the subject makes this degree perfectly suited to you as an individual.

Students working together

Enjoyment of the subject

What gives you that spark for your subject? 

Your skills

How do your skills, including transferable skills, relate to your course and career?

Specific interests

How do they relate to your course and career? What motivates you to study this course? 

Work experience

Relevant part time job provides a platform of skills and responsibility, preparing you for university. It can also highlight wider skills like teamwork and time management. 

Good examples from students

Student 1

‘I am in the process of conducting an independent research project on the environmental implications of face coverings in my local river. This has helped me expand my knowledge further and I hope my findings will provide a great base for studying a degree in Environmental Science.’

Student 2

‘Being a dedicated member of my local amateur dramatics society has allowed me to perform in front of large audiences many times. This has helped with my confidence and creative skills, and has helped develop my love for musical theatre even further.'

Why are these good examples?

These students clearly describe why they're interested in their subjects. They've been specific about what they enjoy and the skills that they've gained. And they keep relating their interests back to the subject area. They've also been concise, which means they've saved characters.

Identifying your skills and experience

As shown in the student examples above, to really highlight why you're choosing a course, you'll need to draw on your skills and experience.

In this section, we'll help you reflect on the transferrable skills that you can use in your personal statement. Watch our webinar recording, where you'll hear from students like you, and use our examples to inspire your writing.

Webinar: Preparing for your Personal Statement
Find out how to expand your skills

Explore the online resources you can use right now to broaden your knowledge and experience – all of which you can talk about on your personal statement. 

What experiences do you already have?

Use our examples to make a list of skills you already have, and from this pull out the transferable skills you've gained.

Part time jobs

  • Beneficial for your personal statement and securing graduate employment
  • Provide you with transferable skills
  • Check company websites for vacancies
  • Could you transfer your job to your university location

Transferable skills 

  • Communication – Mentoring, being a student ambassador, presentations, group work
  • Teamwork – Sports, volunteering, part time work, development programmes
  • Leadership and supervision – Head boy or girl, being a prefect, captain of a sports team, leading on a project
  • Researching and analysing – Extended Project Qualification
  • Problem solving and decision making
  • Work experience (alternatives) – Volunteer, reach out to people working in a profession you’re interested in, virtual work experience, planned an event

Have you:

  • Competed Duke of Edinburgh?
  • Been head boy or head girl?
  • Been a prefect, mentor or student ambassador?
  • Attended a taster day or academic lecture?
  • Captained a sports team?
  • Learned to play an instrument?

What can you do to show your interest in the subject area?

There are plenty of resources to watch, listen to and read to build your subject knowledge. You can do these in your spare time. Universities are impressed with students who have researched around their future degree course. Here are some examples to get you started.

Watch

Vlogs, performances, films, world cinema, documentaries

Read

Subject specific magazines, academic journals, news, around the subject, blogs

Listen

Radio programmes, public lecturers, podcasts

Visit (virtual and in person where possible)

Museums, galleries, summer schools, taster days, sites of interest, your local library

Explore

Free online courses, work experience, iTunes U, lab placements, academic competitions, joining a club, society, online resources

Online talks and lectures

TED Talks, RSA Animate, YouTube

Free online courses

Future Learn, Coursera, iTunes U, Google Digital Garage

Magazines, journals, newspapers and online articles

Times Literary Supplement, British Psychological Society, Royal Geographical Society, British Medical Journal, New Scientist, The Economist

Podcasts and radio

Spotify, BBC Sounds, BBC Radio 4

Online learning resources

Poetry archive, the National Archive

Art, theatre and performance

The MET, Tate Student Resources, National Theatre at Home, Royal Opera House, YouTube, TED, Shakespeare’s Globe, Whatsonstage


Challenge alert!

Grab a pen and paper and give yourself 15 minutes. Write down your transferrable skills and experiences using the examples on this page. See how many you can identify, even if you're not sure they're entirely relevant. You can always get your teacher to check.

Bonus! If you've already outlined your skills, spend 15 minutes learning about your subject area. You could read a blog, find a news article or look for a video on YouTube. Write down anything interesting that you learn. 


Keep exploring

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