On results day

Universities might refer to your personal statement again on results day if you don't get the grades you need. So a good personal statement could get you a place even if your grades aren't what you'd hoped for.

To offer you a place

Some universities read every personal statement and score them, looking at your grades to then offer you a place or interview. Other universities put less emphasis on the personal statement and use it with students who have borderline entry requirements.

To get to know you

Often, many more students apply than there are places available. Admissions teams use your personal statement to get to know you and decide why you're more suitable than other applicants. So taking the time to prepare can give you the edge.

Why the course? Why you?

Talk about why the course appeals to you, and highlight why you're suitable. This is your chance to stand out.

Stand out from the crowd

If your chosen course is competitive, your personal statement can be used to decide whether you should get the spot over someone else. 

Interviews

Some universities will ask you questions about what you've said in your personal statement on an interview day. Make sure you re-read it before any interviews. 

Your interests

You'll need to be clear about your interests, and say how they relate to the course and career.

Apply for multiple courses

You can apply for 5 courses, but you can only submit 1 personal statement. So it needs to cover all your course choices. 

4,000 characters

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

When should you start?

Ideally, you want to leave yourself plenty of time – a few weeks or even months – to plan and write your personal statement.

Try not to leave it to the last minute, as tempting as this may seem when you've got so many other things to think about.


Planning exercise

Spend 15 minutes asking yourself the following questions to guide your writing. Then identify your skills and experiences and jot them down in our writing tool.

You'll be able to download and refer to these notes when you write the real thing. 

Need more help? Check out our page on how to stand out on your personal statement.

Questions to guide you

  • Why do you want to study at university?
  • Why do you want to study this subject?
  • How did you become interested in this subject?
  • What career do you have in mind after university?
  • What work experience (including part-time, charity and volunteer work) do you have and what have you learnt from it?
  • What positions of responsibility have you held? (For example, prefect, captain of a team or member of a committee)
  • What relevant hobbies or interests do you have and what skills have they helped you develop?
  • What transferable skills do you have, such as self motivation, team working, public speaking, problem solving and analytical thinking?
  • How do you keep up with current affairs or news in your chosen subject?
  • What journals or publications relevant to your chosen subject do you read?
  • Which people have influenced you, such as artists, authors, philosophers or scientists?
  • How have your current studies affected your choice?
  • What do you enjoy about your current studies?
  • What skills have you gained from your current studies?
  • How can you demonstrate you have the skills and qualities needed for the course?
  • What qualities and attributes would you bring to the course and university?