Perfecting your personal statement

17 November 2020

Your personal statement is an essential part of your UCAS application, providing you the opportunity to highlight your skills, experience and future ambitions. However, getting your personal statement right isn’t always easy so our Undergraduate Recruitment Manager, Danni, shares her advice on how to make yours stand out.

Preparation is key

Start by creating a plan and remember that you can only write one personal statement as part of your UCAS application, so avoid mentioning any universities by name. Look at the descriptions of the courses that you are interested in and identify the key skills, qualities and experiences that are mentioned within the course description as this will help you to make a list of what to include. Make sure that you explain the reason why you are interested in that particular subject area and think about how studying that subject will fit with your future career aspirations. You could have excellent skills, qualities and experiences to share but if they’re arranged in a poorly written statement the impact will be vastly reduced. A well written, clearly structured personal statement will not only make the information stand out but will also evidence your ability to structure written work, a crucial skill for university.

Evidence your passion

We want to know what drives you, so make sure you show your enthusiasm. Begin by explaining why you are applying for the course and what interests you about the subject. Include examples; as Danni says, “don’t just say that you like a subject, demonstrate how you have an interest for that subject”. Are you enthusiastic about the subject because you have completed extra studies, obtained work experience, or written blogs? These key examples are crucial. Danni mentions that “much of your university work will need to be based upon evidence, so it’s useful to demonstrate this in your personal statement. We do understand you have a word limit so keep your examples clear and concise.” For example, if you mention work experience, talk about a particular day or challenge that taught you something rather than stating 'I did work experience, it was good’.

Identify skills you’ve developed

You can also mention activities outside of school that will help to support your application. “It’s good to include what extra-curricular activities you have done as this can demonstrate that you are a well-rounded individual,” says Danni. So when you talk about the sport you take part in, the instrument you play, or the Saturday job you have, explain the skills they're helping you develop. Team sports teach resilience and communication. Music requires patience and application. Any job demands ambition to be good at it, and your experience can teach you how to work well within a team. We’ve also all been impacted by Covid-19 this year so don't be afraid to refer to the pandemic and include any hobbies that you have picked up during that time or the skills that you may have developed. All these points help to provide a well-rounded picture of you.

Create a flow through a clear structure

If you only take away one thing from this blog, it should be to make sure that your personal statement has a clear beginning, middle and end. Try to aim for a punchy opening line but don’t spend days worrying about those first few words. “Don’t overly stress about having the perfect opening line,” says Danni, “it doesn’t necessarily need to be a bold or outlandish statement. It should flow nicely into the main body of your personal statement.” Think about your closing paragraph in the same way. Your conclusion should nicely summarise what has been mentioned previously - if it does that, it has done its job.

Proofread your statement

Finally, it’s also important to remember the basics. Spell check what you’ve written and read over it a couple of times before you submit it – typos can easily happen! We would also suggest getting someone else to read through it – they may spot something you’ve missed or have other examples you could include that you may not have considered. It’s always worth discussing your personal statement with others; what you think may not be worth including could be considered really interesting by someone else.

Discover more about our range of undergraduate courses, and how you could start your journey at Warwick Business School.

Discover more about our range of undergraduate courses.