3:13 PM | books and perfume account for an embarrassing amount of my money
~listening to~ forest whitaker by bad books
Hello! I’m about to start uni in a few weeks so I thought now would be a good time to share my top tips for writing a good personal statement. There is no ‘special formula’ for writing a good one but these are some tips I picked up from family, friends, online articles, teachers and universities themselves:
WHAT SHOULD I WRITE ABOUT?
- you need to say why you want to study that course - how your interest developed, how you’ve pursued it (e.g. extracurricular activities), how you’ve drawn inspiration - basically demonstrate a lot of enthusiasm but be specific
- give evidence that you’re right for the course - demonstrate with examples that you have researched it, understand what it entails and have the correct skills
- say what you’ve done outside of the classroom - further reading and opinions (but try to be original - don’t talk about books that are really well-known in your subject)
- explain why your experiences are relevant to the course and to a future career - reflect on experiences, don’t describe them!
- give examples of transferable skills - teamwork, time management, problem solving, etc. and then expand on the most relevant skills - success in projects, how you grew from particular experiences, biggest challenges you’ve faced, etc.
- also show you’re a critical thinker and mention long term plans
as an example, here’s what I wrote about in my personal statement:
- a public lecture I’d been to at a local university and how this inspired me (you could watch a TED talk online and discuss it)
- how I was interested by the lab equipment and research I’d seen at a university when I went on a taster day
- hobbies I have and how I was interested in my subject outside of school (books, magazines, podcasts I like and why)
- a line about my EPQ and how this follows on from a podcast I listened to
- how I’m finding my A level subjects (e.g. I enjoy science practicals)
- how my AS levels helped me (e.g. AS history really helped me with essay writing)
- what I learned from tutoring some GCSE students and volunteering at a charity shop
- how I found shadowing a PhD student at a local university - how this inspired me and motivated me in my chosen subject
TRY TO INCLUDE:
- paragraphs and GOOD GRAMMAR!!!!!
- balance of academic and extra-curricular
- evidence you’ve done research
- show genuine engagement
- lateral thinking - link to a more obscure theme that you find interesting
- honesty and a desire to study
- what you want from course
- make it interesting, thoughtful and personal - say what inspires you
- academic achievements - unis know what qualifications you have and which grades you’re predicted so don’t waste your characters!
- quotes - this is YOUR personal statement, not Winston Churchill’s!!
- lists - you need detail and explanations
- clichés - you have not wanted to be a doctor for as long as you can remember!
- sweeping statements
- ‘passion’ and other commonly-used words
- stilted vocabulary - use language that you actually use (but not slang)
- humour - it’s a dangerous move to use humour
- irrelevant facts - it’s not a school essay!
- show not tell - “I’ve been able to develop my communication skills by tutoring three GCSE science students” is better than saying “I’m a good communicator”
- DRAFT!!!! you will not be able to write a good personal statement in one go - it took me months of regular drafting and re-writing to get mine even close to being finished!
- get help! ask friends, family, teachers, etc. to read it and give feedback
- don’t be too precious about it - you will have to cut bits out, shorten sentences, lengthen sentences, delete words, re-arrange the structure, etc. so try to stay open minded!
- one uni I visited on an open day suggested using the ABC formula: A is for Activity (say what you did), B is for Benefit (say the skills you gained from the activity) and then C is for Course (relate it to the course and say how it prepares you) - I didn’t use this myself but I have friends who found it useful!
- be specific! don’t say “I love French” - say “I love how learning new languages helps me to understand the world around me….”
I hope this is helpful and good luck! Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have! :)