HOW TO STAND OUT ON YOUR PERSONAL STATEMENT

Learn about the skills and experiences that you can talk about on your UCAS personal statement.

4 min watch

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

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

Preparing for your personal statement

How to stand out

Get ready to show your chosen universities why you'll make a great student and why they should make you an offer.

Key takeaways

Writing your personal statement is one of the hardest parts of your application to university. A good place to start is by making a list of all the experiences you've had throughout your time in school to guide your writing.

If you feel like you don’t have enough to talk about, that’s ok too. Let’s run through what you can do to identify and develop your knowledge, so you can feed that into a kick-ass personal statement.

Make a list of everything you’ve done

Want to identify your skills and interests? Use our examples below to make your own list of skills. So have you:

  • Completed the Duke of Edinburgh Award?
  • Been head boy or head girl?
  • Been a prefect, mentor or student ambassador?
  • Attended a taster day or academic lecture?
  • Done any extracurricular reading around your subject area of interest?
  • Learned to play an instrument?
  • Been involved in or captained a sports teams?
  • Had a part-time job or any kind of work experience?
  • Planned an event?

The transferrable skills and experiences from any of the activities above are unique to you. Universities love to hear about them, as they show skills like problem-solving, decision-making, leadership, teamwork and passion for your course.

Applying your skills and interests to your subject

Universities will want to know what inspired you to choose their course. Start reflecting on why you're choosing the subject you like by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What gives you that spark for your subject?
  • How do your skills, including transferable skills, relate to your course and career?
  • What specific interests motivate you to study this course?
  • What relevant skills have you gained from things like part-time jobs? For example, teamwork? Or time management?

How to build your skills and experience

Think you need a few more things to write about on your personal statement? Fear not – there’s lots you can do.

Watch

Read

Listen

Vlogs, performances, films, world cinema, documentaries.

Subject specific magazines, academic journals, news, blogs.

Radio programmes, public lecturers, podcasts.

Free online courses

Visit

Podcasts and radio

Future Learn, Coursera, iTunes U, Google Digital Garage.

Museums, galleries, summer schools, taster days, sites of interest, local libraries.

Spotify, BBC Sounds, BBC Radio 4, Apple Podcasts, Luminary, TED Talks

Magazines, journals and articles

Art, theatre and performance

Part-time jobs

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

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

Get a part-time job by checking company websites for vacancies – great for your personal statement and securing graduate employment.

Q&A session on preparing for your personal statement

You asked the questions. We answered them. Hear from students like you in this recording from one of our live sessions.

 

Timeline of questions:

  • 00:06 – Can you include the university in your personal statement?
  • 01:54 – Should you do a part-time job? And what if it's not related to your university choice?
  • 03:30 – Is work experience compulsory?
  • 04:00 – What work experience can I do to make myself look good?
  • 05:05 – If you take up a new hobby, should it be one that gives me a qualification?
  • 06:22 – I'm thinking of studying Psychology, would reading around the subject area count as additional knowledge that I can talk about in my personal statement?
  • 07:23 – Would you include things like TED talks or podcasts into a personal statement, or are they only for personal gain?
  • 09:26 – When should I start writing my personal statement?
  • 11:18 – How can I find out what extra reading I should be doing?