14/05/2021.University of Portsmouth - B Roll - Day Two..All Rights Reserved - Helen Yates- T: +44 (0)7790805960.Local copyright law applies to all print & online usage. Fees charged will comply with standard space rates and usage for that country, region or state.

Our tips and guidance to help you make your personal statement perfect.

3 min watch

Your personal statement is the story you tell that makes you stand out when you apply to uni.

It shows your chosen universities why you'll make a great student and why they should make you an offer. But there are things to include and common mistakes to avoid.

Here, you'll learn how to plan, write and review a great personal statement for your UCAS application. You can also send your draft statement for us to review and give you feedback.

How to write a personal statement

Stand out from the crowd

Get ready to kick-start your writing. Here's all the information you need to write the perfect UCAS personal statement.

Key takeaways

Planning your personal statement

Before writing comes planning. A key part of planning is looking over everything you've already achieved, and what experiences you've gained.

Jot those down as notes, then familiarise yourself with the basics of the personal statement to ensure that when you begin writing, you understand how and why the personal statement is used, and what universities expect from the personal statement overall.

The basics

4,000 characters or 47 lines

Your personal statement can be up to 4,000 characters or 47 lines long. Sounds like a lot, but that's only around 1 side of A4 paper. So keep your writing concise and clear.

Apply for multiple courses

You can apply for up to 5 courses, but remember that you’re only submitting 1 personal statement. So you're writing needs to cover all your course choices.

Show your interest

You'll need to be clear about your interests, and say how they relate to the course and career. Talk about what appeals to you and why you're suitable for the course.

Structuring your personal statement

There’s no set template, but you’ll need to keep your writing concise as you only have 4,000 characters or 47 lines, which can be challenging.  So here's a simple structure that you can follow to make sure your writing flows.

  • 5% – for your introduction
  • 70% – focusing on your academic experiences, or relevant experience for the course and reasons for choosing the course
  • 20% – on extra curricular activities, interests and the skills you have developed that are relevant to the course
  • 5% –  conclusion to tie everything together including why you'll make a great student

Writing your personal statement

When it's time to start writing your personal statement, it's best to draft it on a computer so you can check for spelling and grammar errors and save it regularly.

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

Your opening paragraph

The first line of your personal statement is the very first impression the university gets of you. So it's key to ensure your opener is original and reflects yourself as an individual. Things to keep in mind:

Start with a short sentence
Write what comes naturally
Reflect your personality and motivation for the subject
Don’t just state that you’re interested in the subject, give evidence to show you are
Talk about what has inspired you to study this subject
Consider where your passion came from – was it a particular topic, time period or experience you had?

The ABC method

Need some help finding the link between your experiences, skills and the course you like? Use the ABC method.

  • Activity – What have you done?
  • Benefit – What skills/experience has it given you?
  • Course/Career – How does this relate to the course (or your future career)?

Further dos and don'ts


  • Jump into our Personal Statement Hub for a little more inspiration and guidance on writing your 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.
  • 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.
  • Proofread your personal statement by reading it out loud and ask friends, family or a teacher to check it for you.
  • Give equal time to each area and try to find common aspects that show their similarities, especially if you’re applying for a joint degree or different subjects.
  • Research around your subject area of interest, by visiting news sites, academic publications or by watching relevant articles.


  • 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.
  • Use clichéd lines such as ‘I've always wanted to be a teacher’, as it says nothing about your motivations or experiences.
  • Lie or plagiarise another statement – you'll be caught and it could result in your application being automatically rejected.
  • Use complicated language or make things up to sound impressive.

Send us your personal statement

Hopefully you've got some great ideas flowing. If you're ready to send us your draft, we'd love to read it and give you feedback.

We'll aim to get it back to you within 5 working days. If you have any trouble sending it or require help with anything, you can contact us at personalstatement@port.ac.uk.

Send your draft 



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