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How do i write a personal statement for multiple courses, i wanted to apply for two different courses. how do i write a personal statement that covers two different subjects.

In the first place, we’d generally advise that where possible you choose courses in related subject areas. Many Admissions Tutors do use the personal statement as a key way of selecting applicants, so if part of your personal statement is about a completely unrelated subject area then you’re likely to be at a disadvantage compared to other applicants.

However, we recognise that many strong applicants may wish to apply for courses which are related but not exactly the same – and across different universities no two courses are completely identical anyway. In this case, we’d advise a topic-based approach, whereby you write about a topic/topics – maybe something in the news – which you can analyse from the perspective of the different disciplines of the courses you’re applying for. For example, there are many issues which can be viewed from both an economic and a political perspective, so you could write about e.g. Brexit, the Coronavirus pandemic, the US election, and many other topics from both these points of view.

In general we’d recommend avoiding dividing the personal statement into one half on subject A, the other half on subject B. Even for joint courses, we want to see how you can combine perspectives and apply your knowledge, so try to do this throughout the personal statement.

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Appendix 1) How to write a personal statement that works for multiple courses (not the best option)

  • Appendix 2) Examples of Personal Statements
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How to write a personal statement that works for multiple courses (not the best option)

According to Stowe's Careers Department - Don't try to apply for different types of degrees. You should know what you want to study before applying. Do the research.

Source: www.ucas.com

Communicating your passion for a subject in your personal statement is an art in itself; but what if you're applying to two (or more) very different courses with the same statement?

Ok, it is easier if all five Ucas choices are the same

The message is clear: admissions tutors are very keen to hear why you've chosen that course; the reasons you're so enthusiastic about it; and what aspects you especially want to learn more about at university. This assumes that you have one, specific course in mind because you can only write one personal statement in your Ucas application.

But what if your five choices aren't all the same?

With thousands of different courses it's hardly surprising that you may find it difficult narrowing down your choices to one specific subject or course. It's possible that you may want to apply to two, quite different courses, or to a mixture of single subject and joint or combined courses (with differing subjects). It isn't even unheard of for a student to apply successfully to five diverse courses with one application. If you're in this scenario, take care how you approach your application. But equally, don't be put off from applying to a variety of courses if you're genuinely interested in them and feel like you have a good shot at being made an offer.

So how do I write a personal statement for more than one course?

Here are some personal statement pointers depending on how different the courses you're applying to are:

1. If there are only slight differences, or you've chosen joint or combined degrees with slightly different subject combinations...

This shouldn't be a problem. Just try to make everything in your statement as relevant as possible to all five choices. If you've included some joint or combined degree courses, make sure that each discipline or subject is addressed in some way.

2. If there are big differences between your course choices...

It might be possible to blend your statement in such a way that everything you write provides appropriate evidence of your skills, academic interests and the way you think that's relevant to all of the courses you've chosen. Alternatively you could take the honest and transparent approach and openly explain why you've chosen to apply to different courses, providing reasons or evidence for each. Whichever approach you take, if some (or all) of your course choices are very competitive and receive many more applications than there are places available, then an application that comes across as not being 100% committed and relevant to that course is more likely to go on the rejection pile. You can get a rough idea of how competitive places on a particular course are by checking the percentage of applicants receiving offers on Which University.  Search for a course .

3. If just one of your choices is completely different from the others...

  • If you're applying for medicine, dentistry or veterinary medicine courses, where you're restricted to a maximum of four choices but your statement really needs to be 100% focused on them. In this situation some courses at some universities will be happy to be your fifth choice, despite your statement not being directly relevant to them. But equally, some won't be happy at all. Again, ask.
  • If you're applying for a unique or unusual course that's only offered by a small number of universities, then it's quite likely that admissions staff will be used to advising on this issue and may even provide guidance on their website. So check with them directly.

Finally, if in doubt...

Writing a personal statement for an undergraduate course

A strong personal statement makes all the difference when you're applying for an undergraduate course. it's essential that you plan and write yours carefully..

hand on a computer keyboard. The image is very blue.

  • Your personal statement

Your personal statement needs to create a strong impression for your university application. It's your opportunity to say why you want to study your chosen course, and what skills, experiences and qualifications you have that will make you a successful student.

A member of the Admissions team will read your personal statement and use it as part of the process to decide who they can offer a place to.

  • What to include

We are looking for you to explain why you have chosen your course of study and demonstrate a real understanding of what studying the course will involve.

You should include:

  • why you are applying for the course – show your enthusiasm
  • how your current skills, experience and qualifications will help your application
  • relevant engagement with your chosen degree subject, such as work experience (if you have it) or extracurricular activities
  • details of anything relevant you plan to do before starting your degree

If you're applying to Bath, your personal statement should focus on your enthusiasm, experience and suitability for the course.

When thinking about your relevant studies, skills and experiences, don’t forget to mention any relevant work experience, extracurricular activities or further reading. Remember that universities will see details of your qualifications so there’s no need to list them in your personal statement.

Your personal statement is supposed to be about you as an individual student, so try to avoid using common clichés or generic quotes. Make sure you only include relevant information –  if it isn’t about why you want to study the course or the skills you have gained to help you succeed, then don’t include it.

If you are applying for Pharmacy or Social Work

Your personal statement must show that you have the appropriate attitude to complete your studies and practise your profession responsibly. You also need to show that you have the relevant experience for your course.

  • Do your research

Talk to your teachers and tutors about what strengths you should highlight.

Go to university Open Days and UCAS fairs. Talk to admissions staff about what they look for in a personal statement, and to academics about the courses you are interested in.

Look at university prospectuses and websites to find out about the courses you’re applying for and pick out the key elements you need to give evidence for.

Think about:

  • your motivations for applying
  • what the courses you’re applying for include
  • your relevant passions or experience
  • how the course will help you get the career you want

Don’t worry if you don’t have relevant work experience – for most degrees work experience is not essential. In many courses, it is extremely rare for an applicant to have relevant work experience, especially for engineering, science or social science degrees.

Remember you only get to write one personal statement, even though you might apply for five different courses at more than one university.

Make sure your statement is relevant to all of the courses you’re applying for. Which? University offers some advice for specific subjects based on guidance from course admission tutors.

Personal statements in 2023

If you are applying through UCAS in 2023, you might be concerned about how Covid-19 has affected your opportunities and the impact on your personal statement.

The first thing to remember is everyone is in the same position as you, and universities will understand that some opportunities may have been more limited for you.

If you are concerned that you are missing relevant experiences you might want to consider alternatives you can do from the comfort of your own home – short online MOOCs, or engaging with online lectures, academically-orientated podcasts or relevant reading are all options to give you insights about your course that you can share.

You might have individual circumstances arising from the pandemic that you want universities to know about, such as greater disruption in your home or school life. Our advice is to not include too much about these in your personal statement – you should mention enough that universities will know to ask you for more if it is relevant to them, but save as much space as possible for your positive experiences relevant to your course.

We encourage you to let us know about relevant mitigating circumstances through our confidential mitigating circumstances form , rather than through your personal statement.

  • Write your first draft

It’s called a personal statement for a reason, so make it personal and show your character. We want to find out about you.

UCAS has a tool to help you write your first draft. It will keep you focused on the important questions you need to answer. It will help you structure your statement and keep to the character limit.

You can write a first draft longer than the word limit.

Tone and style

It's important to write in an active voice, using language that's easy to understand. You may find it helpful to talk out loud to someone about your interests and motivations and write in a similar style.

Do this by:

  • writing in short sentences
  • using paragraphs
  • writing in plain English
  • writing positively about yourself without boasting
  • checking your spelling and grammar

When writing about work experience, the most important points to cover are:

  • what were your duties, tasks and responsibilities during the placement
  • what did you gain or learn from the experience
  • what are your transferable skills, for example, problem-solving, teamwork, communication skills and self-motivation

What to avoid

  • irrelevant information – anything that happened too long ago
  • exaggeration or negativity – talk about your positive attributes and experiences
  • unsupported statements – give evidence for everything
  • your life story – keep your information relevant and current
  • common clichés and quotes
  • information from someone else’s statement
  • listing things that are included elsewhere in your UCAS application, such as the qualifications you have studied

Get your draft checked by someone else

Show your first draft to your teacher, parents or guardian, or to a friend who is also going through the process.

  • to question your evidence
  • evaluate whether your statement represents you, your skills and experiences
  • if it reads well and is clear and easy to understand
  • whether you’ve missed anything out
  • to check spelling and grammar
  • Levelling up your statement

The best personal statements don’t just show your enthusiasm for your course and your relevant skills and experiences – they give an insight into how you think.

Try and pick out two or three key items from your personal statement and consider how they evidence your thinking and engagement with your subject. Remember to show not just what you have done, but also how it has changed you:

  • how did your experience inspire you?
  • did the experience spur you on to further investigation?
  • what do you think about the ideas expressed during your experience
  • if you have read a book - what was thought-provoking? what did you disagree with? what do you want to know more?

These questions are examples of how you can show what kind of student you plan to become. Reflecting on experiences can enhance a personal statement, but don’t worry about doing it for every point – you only have so much space!

  • Writing a second and final draft

When writing your second and third drafts, edit your personal statement carefully to make it focused and concise. Write efficiently and compellingly and then edit it. Remove unnecessary words and make sure your statement is under 4,000 characters or 47 lines, whichever is shortest.

Get it checked again

Ask a teacher, parent or guardian to check your next draft. Ask them to check for punctuation, grammar and spelling, and if it represents you as well as it can.

Make any edits or adjustments that are suggested, then get it checked again.

Give yourself lots of time to work on your personal statement. Don’t leave it to the last few days to submit.

  • Some extra inspiration

If you are still looking for some advice, then you might like to:

  • watch some of our Admissions Selectors share their advice
  • read about how some of our current students approached their personal statement on our Student Blog
  • read our 'Focus on ...Writing your personal statement guide' including some do's and don'ts and important tips

On this page

Alan Bullock Careers

Independent careers adviser and writer, ucas personal statements: applying for a mixture of courses (2023 update).

how to write a personal statement if you are applying for different courses

I’ve written this article to try and help UCAS applicants who are not fixed on one specific course or subject.

If you’ve read my ’20 things’ and/or ‘How to write a killer opening’ articles, you will have got the message that admissions tutors are very keen to hear about why you’ve chosen the course, the reasons you’re so enthusiastic about it and maybe what aspects of it you especially want to learn more about at uni.

This assumes that you know exactly what you want to study, because you can only write one personal statement in your UCAS application.

But what if your five choices are not all the same?

With around 35,000 courses listed in UCAS, it’s hardly surprising that some applicants will have difficulty in narrowing their choice down to one specific subject.

Some students genuinely want to apply for two or more different courses, or for a blend of single subject and joint or combined courses. Others will want to go for a mixture of joint or combined courses in which one or both subjects are not the same. It isn’t even unheard of for a student to apply successfully for five quite diverse courses in one application.

If you’re one of these students, take care and seek advice. But equally, don’t panic and don’t be put off applying.

How can you get around this? Well, my advice would be to consider one of the following approaches:

If there are only slight differences, or if you’ve chosen joint or combined degrees with slightly different subject combinations:

This shouldn’t be a problem. Just try to make everything in your personal statement as relevant as possible to all five choices. If you’ve included some joint or combined degree courses, make sure that each discipline or subject is addressed in some way.  

If there are big differences between your course choices:

It might be possible to blend your statement in a way that everything you write still provides appropriate evidence of your wider skills, interests or the way you think, even though some of it will not be directly relevant to some of the courses you’ve chosen. This might be risky, but see below.

Or you could take the honest and transparent approach and openly explain why you’ve chosen different courses, providing reasons or evidence for each. This might be risky too, but see below!

Whichever of those approaches you take, one of the key considerations will be the extent to which the courses and universities you’ve chosen are oversubscribed or undersubscribed with applicants (or neither). In other words, if some or all of your choices are popular courses at unis to whom lots of applicants aspire, the risk will be much higher. Conversely, if your choices are mainly courses that nobody else you know is applying to, or at unis that nobody else you know is considering or even heard of, then it’s more likely that they won’t be put off if some of your statement isn’t directly relevant to them. The risk will therefore be lower.

In that context, I’m reminded of the words of an admissions tutor from the science faculty at a popular university who told me that it’s very rare for them to reject applicants because of their personal statement. And let’s be completely honest, there are some courses at some unis where the personal statement is not taken into account at all, as long as your predicted grades are reasonably close to what they want.  

That said, if some or all of your choices are competitive courses that receive many more applicants than there are places available, then that will probably be a different matter. In this case, an application that comes across as not being 100% committed and relevant is more likely to go on the rejection pile.

If just one of your choices is completely different from the others:

In this scenario, some unis might even consider a separate personal statement sent directly to them. It quite often happens that admissions staff will agree to this if you contact the university directly and simply ask. On the other hand, they might not accept it in any circumstances. So don’t assume anything. Make enquiries, or seek advice from teachers or advisers, before adopting this approach.

Another possible solution to this kind of situation is that an admissions tutor for the ‘different choice’ course might advise you just to include a subtle hint somewhere in your statement.

There are also three specific circumstances where choosing one course that’s different from the other four might be unavoidable.

Firstly, if you’re applying for Medicine, Dentistry or Veterinary Medicine courses, you’re restricted to a maximum of four choices and your statement really needs to be 100% focused on them. In this situation some courses at some universities will be happy to be your fifth choice, despite your statement not being directly relevant to them. But equally, some won’t be happy at all. I have met numerous admissions tutors in the past who are more than happy for their course to be a ‘fifth choice’ in this scenario, but I have also met some who are not. One of these was a Chemistry admissions tutor at a popular Russell Group uni with whom I spoke at an open day. I asked how they would respond to a Medicine applicant who put them as a ‘fifth choice’ and the unequivocal reply was: “We would reject them”.

Secondly, if you’re applying for a unique or unusual course that’s only offered by one or two universities, then it’s quite likely that admissions staff will be used to advising on this issue, so check them out.

Thirdly, there might be a specific personal reason why one of your choices is different from the other four. I personally remember a good example of this. It was a student who wanted to study Speech & Language Therapy but for family reasons didn’t want to move away from home. There was only one uni within daily travelling distance that offered Speech Therapy, so she therefore wanted to apply to them whilst also applying for English degrees at four other unis that were reasonably ‘local’. She contacted the Speech Therapy uni and they agreed to accept a separate personal statement from her, while the statement on her UCAS application was focused 100% on English. She is now a speech therapist.

Get advice from the horse’s mouth!

If you’re worried or in doubt about any of this, the best way to seek advice is to get it from the horse’s mouth – the unis themselves. A lot of courses and/or unis will be quite happy to answer an email, phone-call or direct message on social media, or will have a chatline where you could run it past a student ambassador. Or if you get the opportunity, get to an open day (whether on-site or virtual) and actually ask them.

Some courses will not be fazed in the least if they can tell that you’ve mixed your choices, but some will reject you outright if your statement lacks focus. So don’t make assumptions, get advice. And if in doubt,  ask them!

©  Alan Bullock, 3/3/2023

My featured image is a photo I took at Cardiff University.

http://www.alanbullockcareers.com

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Pain Free Personal Statements

Sample Personal Statements:  Applying for related courses

Next up in our series of sample personal statements, is a very common example scenario where clients get in touch with us for advice.

Sample Statement:  Applying for two courses

This draft was submitted by a student applying for different courses. This approach is quite common in school leavers but it often presents difficulties when it comes to writing their personal statement. Having reviewed the statement, our advisors made the following points

It is absolutely fine to be unsure about your preferred course, very many 18 year olds are !

Our advice would highlight the following:

  • Opening paragraph needs to be more tightly focused on reasons why candidate has chosen these courses. In this case, it would be better to reflect how studying Maths and Chemistry have gripped your attention and made you see the world in a different way, inspiring you to further study in that area.
  • Second paragraph demonstrates an interest in Biology but develops interest in Maths and Chemistry to a very limited extent and fails to take the opportunity to link these subjects to chosen courses.
  • Third paragraph references additional reading without providing any examples . Additional activities mentioned but again fails to show how they would make the applicant suitable for their chosen course.
  • Conclusion needs development and link back to opening paragraph

As you can see, there is no significant issue with a personal statement that touches on different courses.  It just requires a slightly different approach!

Pain Free Personal Statements can help with this or lots of any question on personal statements.  Check out our services and please check out our reviews on our site or on Facebook .  We can also help with sample personal statements to help you craft your own.

Remember, we offer 100% money back guarantee, so if you do not want to proceed after you speak to our staff, then we will refund your money – no questions asked.

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How to Write a Strong Personal Statement

  • Ruth Gotian
  • Ushma S. Neill

how to write a personal statement if you are applying for different courses

A few adjustments can get your application noticed.

Whether applying for a summer internship, a professional development opportunity, such as a Fulbright, an executive MBA program, or a senior leadership development course, a personal statement threads the ideas of your CV, and is longer and has a different tone and purpose than a traditional cover letter. A few adjustments to your personal statement can get your application noticed by the reviewer.

  • Make sure you’re writing what they want to hear. Most organizations that offer a fellowship or internship are using the experience as a pipeline: It’s smart to spend 10 weeks and $15,000 on someone before committing five years and $300,000. Rarely are the organizations being charitable or altruistic, so align your stated goals with theirs
  • Know when to bury the lead, and when to get to the point. It’s hard to paint a picture and explain your motivations in 200 words, but if you have two pages, give the reader a story arc or ease into your point by setting the scene.
  • Recognize that the reviewer will be reading your statement subjectively, meaning you’re being assessed on unknowable criteria. Most people on evaluation committees are reading for whether or not you’re interesting. Stated differently, do they want to go out to dinner with you to hear more? Write it so that the person reading it wants to hear more.
  • Address the elephant in the room (if there is one). Maybe your grades weren’t great in core courses, or perhaps you’ve never worked in the field you’re applying to. Make sure to address the deficiency rather than hoping the reader ignores it because they won’t. A few sentences suffice. Deficiencies do not need to be the cornerstone of the application.

At multiple points in your life, you will need to take action to transition from where you are to where you want to be. This process is layered and time-consuming, and getting yourself to stand out among the masses is an arduous but not impossible task. Having a polished resume that explains what you’ve done is the common first step. But, when an application asks for it, a personal statement can add color and depth to your list of accomplishments. It moves you from a one-dimensional indistinguishable candidate to someone with drive, interest, and nuance.

how to write a personal statement if you are applying for different courses

  • Ruth Gotian is the chief learning officer and assistant professor of education in anesthesiology at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City and the author of  The Success Factor . She was named the world’s #1 emerging management thinker by Thinkers50. You can access her free list of conversation starters . RuthGotian
  • Ushma S. Neill is the Vice President, Scientific Education & Training at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. She runs several summer internships and is involved with the NYC Marshall Scholar Selection Committee. ushmaneill

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How to Write a UCAS Personal Statement [With Examples]

how to write a personal statement if you are applying for different courses

James is senior content marketing manager at BridgeU. He writes and directs content for BridgeU's university partners and our community of international schools

What are the big challenges students should be aware of before writing their UCAS Personal Statement?

  • The essential ingredients for writing a great Personal Statement
  • How to write the UCAS Personal Statement [with examples]

Final hints & tips to help your students

Join 10,000 other counsellors & educators & get exclusive resources delivered straight to your inbox.

The UCAS Personal Statement can sometimes be a student’s only chance to impress a UK university. Read our in-depth guide to helping your students plan & write a winning application.

There are hundreds of articles out there on how to write a UCAS Personal Statement that will grab the attention of a UK university admissions officer.  

But if you’re working with students to help them perfect their Personal Statement in time for the  relevant UCAS deadlines , we can sum up the secret to success in three words.

Planning, structure and story. 

The UCAS Personal Statement is a student’s chance to talk about why they want to study for a particular degree, course or subject discipline at a UK university. 

As they set about writing a personal statement, students need to demonstrate the drive, ambition, relevant skills and notable achievements that make them a  suitable candidate for the universities they have chosen to apply to . 

But the UCAS Personal Statement requires students to write a lot about themselves in a relatively short space of time. That’s why lots of planning, a tight structure and a compelling story are essential if a student’s Personal Statement is to truly excel. 

As important deadlines for UK university applications grow closer, we at BridgeU have put together a guide, outlining some of the strategies and techniques to help your students to write a personal statement which is both engaging and truly individual.

Handpicked Related Content

Discover the simple steps that will boost the confidence of your native English speaking & ESL students alike in  University Application Essays: The 5 Secrets of Successful Writing .

As they begin to plan their Personal Statement, students may feel intimidated. It’s not easy to summarise your academic interests and personal ambitions, especially when you’re competing for a place on a course which is popular or has demanding entry requirements. In particular, students will likely come up against the following challenges.

Time pressure

Unfortunately, the Personal Statement (and other aspects of university preparation) comes during the busiest year of the student’s academic life so far.

Students, and indeed teachers and counsellors, must undertake the planning and writing of the personal statement whilst juggling other commitments, classes and deadlines, not to mention revision and open day visits!

Because there is already a lot of academic pressure on students in their final year of secondary school, finding the time and headspace for the personal statement can be hard, and can mean it gets pushed to the last minute. The risks of leaving it to the last minute are fairly obvious – the application will seem rushed and the necessary thought and planning won’t go into  making the personal statement the best it can be . 

Sticking closely to the Personal Statement format

The character limit which UCAS sets for the personal statement is very strict – up to 4,000 characters of text. This means that students have to express themselves in a clear and concise way; it’s also important that they don’t feel the need to fill the available space needlessly.  Planning and redrafting of a personal statement is essential .

Making it stand out

This is arguably the greatest challenge facing students – making sure that their statement sets them apart from everyone else who is competing for a place on any given course; in 2022 alone, UCAS received applications from 683,650 applicants (+1.6k on 2021) students. In addition, UCAS uses its own dedicated team and purpose built software to check every application for plagiarism, so it’s crucial that students craft a truly  original personal statement which is entirely their own work .

The essential ingredients for writing a great UCAS Personal Statement 

We’ve already mentioned our three watch words for writing a high quality Personal Statement.

Planning. Structure. Story. 

Let’s dig deeper into these three essential components in more detail.

Watch: How to Write a UCAS Personal Statement with University of Essex

Planning a ucas personal statement.

It might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s vital that students plan their Personal Statement before they start writing it. Specifically, the planning phase could include: 

  • Students thoroughly researching the UK university courses they plan on applying to. 
  • Deciding on what relevant material to include in their Personal Statement (we’ll cover this in more detail later on). 
  • Writing an unedited first draft where they just get their thoughts and ideas down on paper. 

Structuring a UCAS Personal Statement

As we’ve discussed, the UCAS Personal Statement requires students to be extremely disciplined – they will be required to condense a lot of information into a relatively short written statement. This means that, after they’ve written a rough first draft, they need to think carefully about how they structure the final statement. 

A stand out Personal Statement will need a tight structure, with an introduction and a conclusion that make an impact and really help to tell a story about who your student is, and why they are drawn to studying this particular degree. 

This brings us nicely to our third and final ingredient…

Telling a story with a Personal Statement

The UCAS Personal Statement is a student’s opportunity to show a university who they are and how their life experiences have shaped their academic interests and goals. 

So a good Personal Statement needs to offer a compelling narrative, and that means making sure that a student’s writing is well-structured, and that every sentence and paragraph is serving the statement’s ultimate purpose –  to convince a university that your student deserves a place on their subject of choice. 

How to help your students start their UCAS Personal Statement

In order to ensure that a personal statement is delivered on time and to an appropriate standard, it’s essential to plan thoroughly before writing it. Here are some questions you can ask your students before they start writing:

How can you demonstrate a formative interest in your subject?

It may sound obvious but, in order for any UCAS personal statement to have the necessary structure and clarity, students need to think hard about why they want to study their chosen subject. Ask them to think about their responses to the following questions:

What inspired you to study your chosen subject?

Example answer:  My desire to understand the nature of reality has inspired me to apply for Physics and Philosophy

Was there a formative moment when your perspective on this subject changed, or when you decided you wanted to study this subject in more detail?

Example answer:  My interest in philosophy was awakened when I questioned my childhood religious beliefs; reading Blackburn’s “Think”, convinced me to scrutinise my assumptions about the world, and to ensure I could justify my beliefs.

Can you point to any role models, leading thinkers, or notable literature which has in turn affected your thinking and/or inspired you?

Example answer :  The search for a theory of everything currently being conducted by physicists is of particular interest to me and in “The Grand Design” Hawking proposes a collection of string theories, dubbed M-theory, as the explanation of why the universe is the way it is.

Asking your students to think about the “why” behind their chosen subject discipline is a useful first step in helping them to organise their overall statement. Next, they need to be able to demonstrate evidence of their suitability for a course or degree. 

How have you demonstrated the skills and aptitudes necessary for your chosen course?

Encourage students to think about times where they have demonstrated the necessary skills to really stand out. It’s helpful to think about times when they have utilised these skills both inside and outside the classroom. Ask students to consider their responses to the following questions. 

Can you demonstrate critical and independent thinking around your chosen subject discipline?

Example answer :  Currently I am studying Maths and Economics in addition to Geography. Economics has been a valuable tool, providing the nuts and bolts to economic processes, and my geography has provided a spatial and temporal element.

Are you able to demonstrate skills and competencies which will be necessary for university study?

These include qualities such as teamwork, time management and the ability to organise workload responsibly.

Example answer:  This year I was selected to be captain of the 1st XV rugby team and Captain of Swimming which will allow me to further develop my leadership, teamwork and organisational skills.

How have your extracurricular activities helped prepare you for university?

Students may believe that their interests outside the classroom aren’t relevant to their university application. So encourage them to think about how their other interests can demonstrate the subject-related skills that universities are looking for in an application. Ask students to think about any of the following activities, and how they might be related back to the subject they are applying for.

  • Clubs/societies, or volunteering work which they can use to illustrate attributes such as teamwork, an interest in community service and the ability to manage their time proactively.
  • Have they been elected/nominated as a team captain, or the head of a particular club or society, which highlights leadership skills and an ability to project manage?
  • Can they point to any awards or prizes they may have won, whether it’s taking up a musical instrument, playing a sport, or participating in theatre/performing arts?
  • Have they achieved grades or qualifications as part of their extracurricular activities? These can only help to demonstrate aptitude and hard work. 

How to write the UCAS Personal Statement [with examples] 

If sufficient planning has gone into the personal statement, then your students should be ready to go!

In this next section, we’ll break down the individual components of the UCAS Personal Statement and share some useful examples.

These examples come from a Personal Statement in support of an application to study Environmental Science at a UK university. 

Watch: King’s College London explain what they’re looking for in a UCAS Personal Statement

Introduction.

This is the chance for an applying student to really grab an admission tutor’s attention. Students need to demonstrate both a personal passion for their subject, and explain why they have an aptitude for it .  This section is where students should begin to discuss any major influences or inspirations that have led them to this subject choice. 

Example :  My passion for the environment has perhaps come from the fact that I have lived in five different countries: France, England, Spain, Sweden and Costa Rica. Moving at the age of 15 from Sweden, a calm and organized country, to Costa Rica, a more diverse and slightly chaotic country, was a shock for me at first and took me out of my comfort zone […] Also, living in Costa Rica, one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, definitely helped me realize how vulnerable the world is and how we need to take care of it in a sustainable manner. 

This opening paragraph immediately grabs the reader’s attention by giving the reader an insight into this student’s background and links their academic interests with something specific from the student’s personal backstory. 

Discussing Academic Achievements 

The next paragraph in this Personal Statement discusses the student’s academic achievements. Because this student has had an international education, they frame their academic achievements in the context of their personal background. They also cite useful examples of other curricula they have studied and the grades they have achieved. 

Example : 

Throughout my academic life I have shown myself to be a responsible student as well as a hard working one, despite the fact that I have had to move around a lot. I have achieved several other accomplishments such as a high A (286/300) in AS Spanish at age 15, and also completed a Spanish course of secondary studies for ‘MEP’(Ministerio de Educacion Publica), which is a system from Costa Rica.   

You’ll notice that this student doesn’t just list their achievements – their strong academic performance is always linked back to a wider discussion of their personal experiences. 

Showcasing Extracurricular Activities

As well as discussing academic achievements, a good Personal Statement should also discuss the student’s extracurricular activities, and how they relate back to the student’s overall university aspirations. 

By the third/fourth paragraph of the Personal Statement, students should think about incorporating their extracurricular experiences, 

Another valuable experience was when my class spent a week at a beach called ‘Pacuare’ in order to help prevent the eggs of the endangered leatherback turtle from being stolen by poachers who go on to sell them like chicken eggs. We all gained teamwork experience, which was needed in order to hide the eggs silently without scaring the mother turtles, as well as making it more difficult for the poachers to find them. 

When the poachers set fire to one of the sustainable huts where we were staying, not only did I gain self-awareness about the critical situation of the world and its ecosystems, I also matured and became even more motivated to study environmental sciences at university.

This is a particularly striking example of using extracurricular activities to showcase a student’s wider passion for the degree subject they want to study. 

Not only does this Personal Statement have a story about volunteering to save an endangered species, it also illustrates this applicants’ wider worldview, and helps to explain their motivation for wanting to study Environmental Science. 

Concluding the UCAS Personal Statement

The conclusion to a UCAS Personal Statement will have to be concise, and will need to tie all of a student’s academic and extracurricular achievements. After all, a compelling story will need a great ending. 

Remember that students need to be mindful of the character limit of a Personal Statement, so a conclusion need only be the length of a small paragraph, or even a couple of sentences. 

“ After having many varied experiences, I truly think I can contribute to university in a positive way, and would love to study in England where I believe I would gain more skills and education doing a first degree than in any other country.  “

A good Personal Statement conclusion will end with an affirmation of how the student thinks they can contribute to university life, and why they believe the institution in question should accept them. Because the student in this example has a such a rich and varied international background, they also discuss the appeal of studying at university in England. 

It’s worth taking a quick look at a few other examples of how other students have chosen to conclude their Personal Statement. 

Medicine (Imperial College, London) 

Interest in Medicine aside, other enthusiasms of mine include languages, philosophy, and mythology. It is curiously fitting that in ancient Greek lore, healing was but one of the many arts Apollo presided over, alongside archery and music.   I firmly believe that a doctor should explore the world outside the field of  Medicine, and it is with such experiences that I hope to better empathise and connect with the patients I will care for in my medical career. 

You’ll notice that this example very specifically ties the students’ academic and extracurricular activities together, and ties the Personal Statement back to their values and beliefs. 

Economic History with Economics (London School of Economics)

The highlight of my extra-curricular activities has been my visit to Shanghai with the Lord Mayor’s trade delegation in September 2012. I was selected to give a speech at this world trade conference due to my interest in economic and social history. […] I particularly enjoyed the seminar format, and look forward to experiencing more of this at university. My keen interest and desire to further my knowledge of history and economics, I believe, would make the course ideal for me.

By contrast, this conclusion ties a memorable experience back to the specifics of how the student will be taught at the London School of Economics – specifically, the appeal of learning in seminar format! 

There’s no magic formula for concluding a Personal Statement. But you’ll see that what all of these examples have in common is that they tie a student’s personal and academic experiences together – and tell a university something about their aspirations for the future.

Watch: Bournemouth University explain how to structure a UCAS Personal Statement

how to write a personal statement if you are applying for different courses

Know the audience

It can be easy for students to forget that the person reading a personal statement is invariably an expert in their field. This is why an ability to convey passion and think critically about their chosen subject is essential for a personal statement to stand out. Admissions tutors will also look for students who can structure their writing (more on this below). 

Students should be themselves

Remember that many students are competing for places on a university degree against fierce competition. And don’t forget that UCAS has the means to spot plagiarism. So students need to create a truly honest and individual account of who they are, what they have achieved and, perhaps most importantly, why they are driven to study this particular subject.

Proof-read (then proof-read again!)

Time pressures mean that students can easily make mistakes with their Personal Statements. As the deadline grows closer, it’s vital that they are constantly checking and rechecking their writing and to ensure that shows them in the best possible light. 

Meanwhile, when it comes to giving feedback to students writing their Personal Statements, make sure you’re as honest and positive as possible in the days and weeks leading up to submission day. 

And make sure they remember the three key ingredients of writing a successful Personal Statement. 

Planning, structure and story! 

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How to write an outstanding personal statement for university.

One of the first stops on the undergrad application process is drafting your personal statement. This is your chance to share your experience, skills and personality with prospective universities.

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What is a personal statement?

When applying to university in the UK, for undergraduate and postgraduate study, you must write a personal statement. This is then shared with universities. Alongside predicted grades, it's a chance to showcase your academic achievements, your motivations for applying to a course and your suitability for the uni and course. There's a lot you may feel you want to include in the 4,000-character limit, or you're struggling to know what to include. This guide should help learn how to write your personal statement for university.

Planning your personal statement

Preparation is key to ensure you're using the 4,000 character count effectively. When considering what to include in your personal statement , think about why you're interested in the course, your experience of the topics and what excites you about it. Jot down any key achievements, both academic and personal, as well as life experiences that have shaped who you are.

You now have all the ingredients to write your undergraduate personal statement. If you're in need of some inspiration, our personal statement examples from former successful students will give you a better idea.

UCAS how to write a personal statement

How to start your own personal statement

There are hundreds of thousands of students submitting their personal statements each year. Admissions offices will have seen every kind of statement you can imagine! With your introduction, it's important to grab the attention of the admissions tutor reading your application but try not to overthink this and do anything too out of the ordinary.

Your opening should showcase your enthusiasm for applying and that you understand the subject you're applying to. It can be tempting to open with a quote from your favourite author or singer, but avoid clichés - the admissions tutors want to hear from you!

UCAS how to write a personal statement

Your motivations for applying

You'll have touched on this in the intro. Build on your point by telling the admissions tutor why you're interested in this course and how your current studies relate to this. Draw on some of the specific areas you currently enjoy studying and how you'll build on this knowledge at university. This could also be how your hobbies relate to your course. Your aim is to share how passionate you are about the subject and why you'll be a successful student.

Personal skills and achievements

Universities are looking for students who have the skills needed for success in the course and beyond, as well as achievements that reflect your suitability. Here, you should talk about these and remember to include evidence to support why they matter. Relate your skills back to the course and how you'll apply them to your studies. This is also a good place to add any positions you may hold in and out of school, for example, captain of the football team or head girl.

Work experience and future plans

Universities also want to understand your plans after university. They're looking for students who show ambition and drive to use the learnings of their course beyond their studies. If you already have a clear idea of what you'd like to do after graduation, explain how you plan to use the knowledge and experience gained in your studies to launch your career.

If you have a part-time job, have undertaken any work experience or voluntary work, this is an opportunity to share this with admissions tutors, especially if it's relevant to the course you're applying to.

How to end your personal statement with an impact

Your conclusion should reinforce the points you've already made in your personal statement and leave a lasting impression. Link your ending back to your opening statement to creative a cohesive narrative and summarise the main reasons that make you a strong candidate.

Don't forget to proofread!

Once you've written the first draft of your personal statement, go through it again and ensure that you've hit the main points. And, of course, make sure you haven't exceeded the character limit! If you have, check your points are concise and cut out any waffle. Remember that every sentence should offer something unique - if you think you're repeating an earlier point, don't be afraid to remove it.

Don't forget, your personal statement is your chance to shine and demonstrate why you're the perfect fit for your chosen course. Be authentic, showcase your unique qualities, and let your passion shine through. Good luck!

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How to write your undergraduate personal statement

Writing a personal statement is probably one of the most difficult parts of the UCAS application form .

Many students will not have done much creative writing since GCSE, and even if you have, it's still very hard to write about yourself.

We've produced this short guide to help you with the process, and make sure you don't end up with a poor UCAS personal statement that won't sell you to university admissions tutors.

What is a personal statement?

Some students are unsure what a personal statement is exactly (and rightly so!).

Unfortunately, some students forge ahead with their personal statement without stopping to check what it's supposed to encompass.

So, what is a personal statement, and what should it include?

The UCAS personal statement is a 47 line (or 4,000 character ) piece of writing that allows you to tell the universities and colleges you are applying to why they should offer you a place on their course.

In order to do this successfully, you need to convey your passion and enthusiasm for the subject to the admissions tutors, as well as demonstrate your suitability to the course.

Please be aware that application personal statements and essays vary between countries, and that the guidance below is only applicable to those applying to a UK higher education institution through UCAS .

Our guide will help you put together a personal statement, although you may find that using your own ideas gives a better reflection of yourself than using advice from anywhere else.

Our personal statement template may also help you structure a decent first draft.

Here is an outline of what you can expect to find in our personal statement writing guide:

  • UCAS advice - read what UCAS have to say first to get a general overview 
  • Aims of the personal statement - so what actually is the point of a personal statement? what should it do for my application?
  • Notes about yourself - Make notes about what you might put in your personal statement before you start
  • You and your subject - Why do you want to take this subject?
  • Applying for a joint degree - how to handle talking about two subjects
  • Applying for different subjects - be careful about trying to apply for completely unrelated subjects
  • Read example personal statements - Read statements written by previous applicants to give you some ideas
  • Goals of your personal statement - What do you think should be included to make your statement sound good?
  • Language of your personal statement - How to make your statement read well
  • Structure of your personal statement - How are you going to layout and write your statement?
  • Writing your personal statement - A few last minute tips before you begin
  • I've written my first draft - now what? - What to do after completing your first draft
  • Formatting your personal statement - How to format your statement once you have your final draft.

Choose your university course first

We suggest you have a pretty good idea of what course you want to study before continuing much further with your UCAS personal statement .

Generally, personal statements are quite specific so if you decide to change the course you are applying for you would need to rewrite your personal statement.

If you’re still uncertain as to which course you want to apply for, take a look at our advice on choosing a degree .

This tells you about all the things to consider when selecting your degree course , in order to ensure you make the right choice for you, as well as links to other resources to help you make a decision.

Once you're certain you've settled on a course, you can think about starting to write your personal statement.

1. Read the UCAS advice

In the 'Your personal statement' section at the UCAS website , you are given a brief introduction to personal statements, and then a set of advice on how you should go about writing it.

It's important to read and pay attention to this, as UCAS will be processing your application, which means their own tips on writing your personal statement will be extremely valuable. Once you have taken on board their advice, feel free to go on to the next section below for more help.

2. Write down the aims of your personal statement

Many universities don't interview applicants, so the only information they have about you is on your UCAS form . A majority of the application form contains your details - the bits the universities are interested in are your grades, your references and your personal statement. The personal statement is the only part you really have full control over, so this is your chance to present a good image to the admissions tutor, even if your grades don't really seem to reflect this. If you are applying to an oversubscribed university course, e.g. Physiotherapy , Medicine , etc. and everyone applying is likely to have good grades, the personal statement is the only thing that will set you apart from other applicants, so you want to try and make yours as good as possible. When the admissions and subject tutors look at your personal statement, they are likely to be asking two main questions:

1. Do we want this student on this course?

2. Do we want this student at this university?

These questions can then be broken up further to make it easier to answer them thoroughly:

  • Is the student suited to the course that they are applying for?
  • Does the student have the necessary qualifications and qualities for the course?
  • Is the student conscientious, hardworking and unlikely to drop out?
  • Will the student do their best and cope with the demands of the course?
  • Can the student work under pressure?
  • Will the student be able to adjust to their new environment at university?
  • What are their communication skills like?
  • Are they dedicated to this course and have they researched it well?
  • Do they have a genuine interest in the subject and a desire to learn more about it?

These are the sorts of questions you need to answer in your personal statement.

Unfortunately you cannot answer them directly with a simple 'yes' or 'no' -  you need to provide evidence and make it sound believable. Ultimately, admissions tutors are human too, and may well have hundreds of personal statements to sift through, so even if you think you've answered all these questions really well you may still be unlucky. There are other techniques you can use to make your statement stand out and appeal to admissions tutors, but remember people are all different and therefore may have different ideas about what they look for in a prospective student.

3. Make notes about yourself

Now you have some idea of why you're writing a personal statement, you need to think about what you're going to put in it. You don't need to start thinking about the wording or structure yet - the first thing to do is get down some ideas on what you could include. The best way to do this is to use a set of headings and write bullet points about how you relate to these headings. Here are some example headings you may wish to think about:

What you want to study at university and why

  • Specific aspects of the courses that interest you
  • Examples of coursework you have completed
  • Practical work you have enjoyed
  • Books, articles, etc. you have read related to the subject area
  • Work experience or voluntary work in this area
  • Conferences you have attended
  • Personal experiences that lead to the decision to take this subject
  • Where you hope a degree in this subject will take you in the future
  • Experiences that show you are a reliable and responsible person, e.g. part-time job, business enterprise, community and charity work, sixth form committee, helping out at school events and open days,  Young Enterprise , World Challenge, Duke of Edinburgh award , Asdan Award, debating societies, and what you have gained from these experiences.

Your interests and skills

  • What you like to do in your free time
  • Sport and leisure activities
  • Subjects you study that are not examined
  • Musical instrument(s) you play
  • Languages you speak
  • Prizes you have won or positions achieved in your interests

Gap year (if applicable)

  • Why you want to take a gap year
  • What you plan to do
  • How this may relate to your course

International Student (if applicable)

  • Why you want to come and study for a course in the UK  
  • How your experiences in your home country have influenced you.

Please note, you don't have to mention your gap year plans in your personal statement, but if you choose to leave it out, you may be asked why you're taking one at an interview . You should now have lots of bullet points about yourself, all of which will be useful in preparing your personal statement. Don't worry too much if you don't seem to have done many of the things outlined above - just think about things you've done that show all your qualities, or could be written in a way that displays The important thing is that you have a good reason for why you want to study the course. It doesn't matter if the reason sounds silly at the moment - you can work on the language later. All admissions tutors will be looking for people who are enthusiastic and passionate about the subject(s) they want to study, so make sure you really are. If you're choosing this course just because you can't think of anything better to do, that's not a good enough reason, and maybe you should consider looking for a course you would enjoy more.

4. Talk about why you enjoy this subject

Saying why you want to take your course is possibly the most important part of your personal statement. You can have perfect grades, great extra curricular activities and be a really wonderful person, but if admissions tutors feel you aren't committed to your course, you won't get a place. Hopefully the notes you have written for the section above have already given you a good idea of what to write about why you want to take your course. If not then you should at least be sure you want to take that subject - writing a personal statement is a lot of work, and you don't really want to get to the end of it and decide you want to study a different subject. So before you go much further, it's important to be abolutely sure you have chosen the right subject for you. As mentioned earlier, if you’re still not certain about your choice of course, check out our section on choosing a degree to help you make a final decision.

Remember you don't actually have to choose the course you want to take yet, just have a rough idea of the subject area (or areas) you might be interested in. Now you need to think about exactly why you want to take this subject. Even if you are 100% sure that this is the course for you, you still need to get this across to the admissions tutors. If they accept you, you are going to be studying this course for at least the next three years, and you need to convince them that you are committed to it.

Have a think about exactly why the subject appeals to you, and write down as much as you can about it.

It doesn't matter if you only scribble a few notes - you can modify them before you write the statement. You just need to be sure of the key reasons why you want to take the subject.

Write down as many as you can, and if you end up with quite a few, you can always just pick the best.

Remember - if you can't think of any good reasons - should you really be taking that subject?

5. Applying for a joint degree

There are two options you can use to tailor your personal statement to joint degrees (a degree where you take two subjects e.g. Economics and Politics ). You can talk about the subject you feel is most important, and not mention the other. This has the advantage that you can apply for two different joint degrees and only talk about the common element e.g. for Economics and Politics and Law and Politics, you would only talk about politics. If you decide to do this, make sure you talk about the qualities you have which show you are suitable for the other half of your joint degree. Alternatively you can just talk about why you want to do both subjects, although the approach you choose will probably depend on how closely related your subjects are.

6. Applying for different subjects

There is no easy way to write a personal statement for two unrelated subjects. If the subjects are similar, such as Maths and Statistics, or Accounting and Business Studies , you may find you can write a general personal statement that applies equally to both courses.

If this is the case you many not want to mention either of the subjects by name, and instead talk about the related work that you've already done and why you have enjoyed it. If your subjects are totally unrelated there is no way you wan write a personal statement that will cover all of them. Instead you need to come up with a statement that gives you the best chance of being accepted. For example, if you are applying for one subject at four of your university choices and another subject at the other two, you may just want to write a statement related to the subject you chose to study at four universities and either forget about, or change the course, at your other two choices. You also want to consider your predicted grades in relation to the universities you are applying to. Universities that normally make lower offers are less likely to be concerned about a badly targeted personal statement, whereas for universities that make high offers, the personal statement will be much more important. Try and alter your personal statement so it is more specific to the universities asking for higher grades, as this will give you the best chance of being offered places at all your choices. There will probably be some cases where there is nothing you can do, for example, if you are applying for three totally unrelated subjects, each at two different universities. There is no advice that will help in a situation like this, except just to consider whether this is really what you want to do, and that you may be seriously reducing your chances of being offered a place on your chosen courses.

Even if you do apply for three different courses, you will only be able to study one of them, so it helps if you try to limit your choices to similar subjects.

7. Read example UCAS personal statements

Some people may know exactly how they are going to lay out and write their personal statement, but for the rest of us it's a bit more difficult. Even though you now know what you're going to put in your statement, do you know how to make it read well? The best way to get an idea of how to go about producing your personal statement is to look at example personal statements . This gives you a chance to see the sort of structure and language other people use, how they explained why they wanted to study their chosen course, as well as their own interests and abilities. When you read through sample personal statements, have your own notes from the section above ready. If you find anything you've done but haven't already thought about, make a note of it. Reading through lots of personal statements will allow you to judge which ones you think are good or bad, and find parts of statements you really like or dislike. This exercise will come in useful in the next section. Hopefully your school or college will give you some example personal statements, but if they don't, we have a collection of over 2000 personal statements , making us home to the largest catalogue of personal statements on the web.

These can be browsed by the following categories:

  • International student
  • Mature student .

8. Work out your personal statement goals

Now you’ve looked at some example personal statements , you may have some idea of how you might put your own together. However, even if you’re still stuck, you should have seen lots of statements you like, as well as a few that you don't. Use this knowledge to decide how you are going to write your personal statement. From the personal statements you have just read through, you may have gathered the following guidelines:

  • Don’t sound arrogant and pretentious
  • Try to have an interesting phrase or paragraph to start and finish on
  • Try not to quote books, magazines or publications in a way that makes it sound like you’ve only read them to put them on your statement.
  • Do not lie outright and stay as close to the truth as possible
  • Don't try to be funny or make jokes in your statement
  • Don't start every sentence with I
  • Don't include your hobbies and interests unless they are relevant
  • Don't use vocabulary you don't normally use and just looked up in a dictionary
  • Don't use famous quotes in your statement unless you back them up with information on how and why this person’s quote influenced you. Dropping them in just for the sake of it makes you look silly and that you haven’t given serious thought to your personal statement.
  • Don't repeat things already on your UCAS form, e.g. predicted exam grades.
  • With the exception of a gap year, don't make claims you are going to do something before you come to university
  • Don't include clichés
  • Don't take any political or religious viewpoints.

Guidelines like these should give you an idea of what to focus on and think about when writing your own personal statement.

They also stop your statement from looking too much like one of the examples that you might have copied bits from. Remember - you don't have to use any of these goals as your own. If you think you are really witty and some light humour will go down well in your statement, then take the plunge and put it down. These goals are really just ideas you might want to use to help you come up with your first draft - remember a personal statement is supposed to be personal , and you should stick with writing whatever you think will work best for you.

9. Use positive language

From looking at example personal statements you have probably found some language that you like or think works well. The first thing to remember is: do not directly copy any of it! Not even a single sentence! The reason is, copying statements is plagiarism , and if an admissions tutor sees a statement they recognise they will probably reject you instantly. You should also not copy single sentences for the same reason - sentences that stick out in your mind may stick out in the examiners also. It is ok to find a sentence or paragraph that says what you want to say, but make sure you adapt it yourself and don't just copy it.

Remember that UCAS also uses its Copycatch software to check for statements that are too similar to each other, and if they find you have copied a previous statement too closely, your application will be penalised. In terms of language, you need to use words and phrases that makes you sound enthusiastic about your courses and portrays you as an interesting person. If you're still wondering what sort of language to use look at existing personal statements , prospectuses and on the web to find sentences you feel fit your views. University prospectuses are another good place to look - find your course, see how it is described and see if you can work anything similar into your personal statement.

Write down a list of words or sentences you would like to use like this:

  • to gain greater understanding of the world around you
  • sends a signal to prospective employers and graduate schools
  • students of economics become problem-solvers
  • the fact is economics affects our daily lives
  • a challenging and diverse discipline
  • develops analytical skills, quantitative skills, research skills
  • it is interesting and relevant

Don't copy the sentences you find outright - change them or write your own sentence in a similar style. If you can't find any sentences you like, try and write your own - it is a personal statement after all.

10. Add structure to your statement

Now it's time to think about the structure of your personal statement - you should have read lots of example statements by now and may have a fair idea about how yours is going to look, but this section should clarify things a bit if you don't.

Most statements are written in an essay format, but you don't have to do yours like this. We don't recommend you write it as one large block of text. Even though you can fit more words in, this just makes it hard to read. This means you need to break it up into paragraphs, or use headings.

Not many personal statements are written using the latter format, but if you think yours would work better like this, then go ahead. A starting guideline is to simply spend half the statement talking about the course and why you want to take it, and spend the other half writing about yourself and your own abilities, though once you get into it this can be easily changed.   Another approach is to split up your notes into a few categories and write a paragraph on each one. For example:

  • Paragraph 1: Introduction to the subject, the aspects you’re interested in and why
  • Paragraph 2: What you have done related to the subject that isn’t already on your UCAS form
  • Paragraphs 3 and 4: Work experience placements and relevant activities at school
  • Paragraph 5: Your interests outside of school, particularly those that show you are a responsible and reliable person
  • Paragraph 6: Your goal of attending university and a memorable closing comment

Again, this is only a guideline - depending on yourself and your course you may want to change things. The last option is to use our personal statement template , which will guide you through the process. Our tool allows you to save your statement and come back to it later. We recommend you spend most of your time on the start and finish of the personal statement .   A good opening will grab the readers’ attention and cause them to read the statement properly, rather than just scanning it. A good conclusion will mean the reader remembers what you wrote, and hopefully will recommend you. In our opinion it's best to start with why you want to take your subject, and finish with why you want to go to university or what you want to do afterwards.

Our Personal Statement FAQs has more information on each area of your personal statement and how to write them.

11. Write the first draft of your personal statement

Hopefully you now have all your notes ready - you've thought about the language you want to use, as well as the structure and the goals of your statement. You are almost ready to start writing your personal statement, but here are a few things to bear in mind first. Remember the aims of a personal statement . You need to show the admissions tutor why you should be accepted on your chosen course at your chosen university. In addition to what you say in your pesonal statement, the language you use and the way it is laid out will be judged as well. Also remember you only have a limited amount of space (47 lines, or 4,000 characters) , but don't let this put you off too much. A long personal statement can be easily trimmed down. It's harder to increase the length of a short personal statement, but if yours it too short to begin with, don't worry. There is no requirement that you fill the entire space, but it's better to have a short and well written personal statement than a long and irrelevant one. You can see how long your personal statement is with our handy length checker . Be positive and interesting - if there is something you are unhappy about, try to portray it in an attractive light, or failing that, remove reference to it altogether.

Before you begin, take a look at the websites and prospectuses of the universities you are applying to, and see if they say anything about writing personal statements. This information would probably be written by the admissions tutors, and would give you a much better idea of the sort of things you should put down!

12. Back everything up with examples

Remember - you need to write in a way that is informative, interesting and useful. Along with writing about what you've done, try and explain why you did it, or what you think you learned from it. For example: I currently have a part time job and this has taught me about teamwork, responsibility and time management in the workplace. From this point, you're more or less on your own, so move on to the next section when you've got a complete first draft of your personal statement .

To help you with this first draft, we have a handy UCAS personal statement template tool you can use for free.

13. Ask for multiple rounds of feedback

Congratulations on putting together the first draft of your personal statement! Don't worry if it sounds disjointed, you have missed bits out or it's too long or too short - you can correct these things later on. First of all, read through what you've written slowly and try to read it from someone else's point of view. Make sure it's easy to read and not confusing. Have you said everything you want to say without under or over-selling yourself? If you are confused by reading your own personal statement, it is likely anyone else reading it will be too (including the admissions tutors!). Next - get other people to read it. Ask your family, friends, teachers and anyone else who you think will be able to give you a good opinion. As well as checking for spelling and grammar mistakes, they will be able to tell you if they think there are some things you may have missed out. Also show it to your head of year at school or career adviser, as people like this will have seen a lot of personal statements and therefore know what a good personal statement looks like. You could also get people on the Internet to look at your statement, and see what they think. There are many web based communities where you can post your personal statement or email it to people, and they will happily give you advice for free.

There is one downside though: if you post your statement on a message board or forum, anyone can look at it, so you may get people who steal parts of your statement (or the whole thing!). Hopefully by looking at your personal statement again and showing it to other people you should have a whole bunch of changes to make to your original draft. Before making these changes, save a copy of your original statement so you can go back to it if you need too. Keep making changes, showing people your statement, and making more changes - it's not unusual for people to have done 10-20 drafts (though many do much less) before they are completely happy with their statement. Once you've got a personal statement that reads well, and you are happy with it, it's time to look at the size of it.

14. Format your personal statement

Personal statements can no longer be submitted on paper, so not much formatting is required. The software used to upload your personal statement to UCAS can be quite temperamental, so carefully check through your statement line by line once you've submitted it. We've also put together a personal statement length checker so you can see whether your statement is going to fit into the space provided in your online UCAS application form.

15. Check the length

You have 47 lines in which to write your personal statement.

However, you should take care using them, as they will only clear you through the automatic preview – you can’t tell how it will appear to the admissions tutors.

16. Word, character and line limits

Firstly remember, there is no word limit – instead you're concentrating on a character limit (4,000 characters including spaces) and a line limit (47).

Both of these must be satisfied to allow you to save your personal statement. Checking you’re within the character limit is easy - just use our Personal Statement Length Checker . The line limit is more difficult, as the length of the lines is predetermined - any lines longer than 93 characters (including spaces) are wrapped onto the next line.

You can check you don’t go over the line limit using a word processor that shows the cursor position (the upright bar showing where you’re typing) and creating a new line after you’ve typed 93 characters – if you’re doing this make sure your word processor doesn’t wrap lines automatically before this.

17. Other things to remember

No formatting of any type is allowed in your personal statement , except using capital letters - so any bold , italic , or underlined words will disappear in the preview. Tabs and multiple spaces will be condensed to a single space, so it is no longer possible to indent lines. Single spaces at the beginning of lines will also be removed. You have a very limited set of 'special characters' to use along with all the upper and lowercase letter and numbers. You can use the following symbols: !"£$%^&*()_+' |/ ,.;:'@#~[]?*-= Common symbols not allowed are €, long dashes (–) and the special quote characters “ ‘ ’ ” which will simply be removed from your statement.

So remember to replace long dashes with - and quotes with " and '.

Some of these problems stem from Microsoft Word's autoformat feature, so you might want to turn if off before starting your personal statement. Backslashes (\) are also not allowed but will be replaced with forward slashes (/) and curly brackets will be replaced with normal ones.

Further information

For more tips and advice on writing your personal statement, please see the following articles at Studential:

  • UCAS Personal Statement Examples
  • Top Rated UCAS Personal Statements
  • Personal Statement Editing Services
  • Personal Statement Tips From A Teacher
  • Analysis Of A UCAS Personal Statement
  • The 15th January UCAS Deadline: 4 Ways To Avoid Missing It
  • UCAS Personal Statement FAQs
  • UCAS UCAS Personal Statement Template
  • UCAS Personal Statement Timeline
  • 10 Top Personal Statement Writing Tips
  • What To Do If You Miss The 15th January UCAS Deadline
  • 6 Personal Statement Writing Tips
  • How to write a personal statement - UCAS.com
  • Tips for writing a personal statement - Complete University Guide
  • How to write an excellent personal statement in 10 steps
  • 10 Personal Statement Writing Tips

Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Writing the Personal Statement

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This handout provides information about writing personal statements for academic and other positions.

The personal statement, your opportunity to sell yourself in the application process, generally falls into one of two categories:

1. The general, comprehensive personal statement:

This allows you maximum freedom in terms of what you write and is the type of statement often prepared for standard medical or law school application forms.

2. The response to very specific questions:

Often, business and graduate school applications ask specific questions, and your statement should respond specifically to the question being asked. Some business school applications favor multiple essays, typically asking for responses to three or more questions.

Questions to ask yourself before you write:

  • What's special, unique, distinctive, and/or impressive about you or your life story?
  • What details of your life (personal or family problems, history, people or events that have shaped you or influenced your goals) might help the committee better understand you or help set you apart from other applicants?
  • When did you become interested in this field and what have you learned about it (and about yourself) that has further stimulated your interest and reinforced your conviction that you are well suited to this field? What insights have you gained?
  • How have you learned about this field—through classes, readings, seminars, work or other experiences, or conversations with people already in the field?
  • If you have worked a lot during your college years, what have you learned (leadership or managerial skills, for example), and how has that work contributed to your growth?
  • What are your career goals?
  • Are there any gaps or discrepancies in your academic record that you should explain (great grades but mediocre LSAT or GRE scores, for example, or a distinct upward pattern to your GPA if it was only average in the beginning)?
  • Have you had to overcome any unusual obstacles or hardships (for example, economic, familial, or physical) in your life?
  • What personal characteristics (for example, integrity, compassion, and/or persistence) do you possess that would improve your prospects for success in the field or profession? Is there a way to demonstrate or document that you have these characteristics?
  • What skills (for example, leadership, communicative, analytical) do you possess?
  • Why might you be a stronger candidate for graduate school—and more successful and effective in the profession or field than other applicants?
  • What are the most compelling reasons you can give for the admissions committee to be interested in you?

General advice

Answer the questions that are asked

  • If you are applying to several schools, you may find questions in each application that are somewhat similar.
  • Don't be tempted to use the same statement for all applications. It is important to answer each question being asked, and if slightly different answers are needed, you should write separate statements. In every case, be sure your answer fits the question being asked.

Tell a story

  • Think in terms of showing or demonstrating through concrete experience. One of the worst things you can do is to bore the admissions committee. If your statement is fresh, lively, and different, you'll be putting yourself ahead of the pack. If you distinguish yourself through your story, you will make yourself memorable.

Be specific

  • Don't, for example, state that you would make an excellent doctor unless you can back it up with specific reasons. Your desire to become a lawyer, engineer, or whatever should be logical, the result of specific experience that is described in your statement. Your application should emerge as the logical conclusion to your story.

Find an angle

  • If you're like most people, your life story lacks drama, so figuring out a way to make it interesting becomes the big challenge. Finding an angle or a "hook" is vital.

Concentrate on your opening paragraph

  • The lead or opening paragraph is generally the most important. It is here that you grab the reader's attention or lose it. This paragraph becomes the framework for the rest of the statement.

Tell what you know

  • The middle section of your essay might detail your interest and experience in your particular field, as well as some of your knowledge of the field. Too many people graduate with little or no knowledge of the nuts and bolts of the profession or field they hope to enter. Be as specific as you can in relating what you know about the field and use the language professionals use in conveying this information. Refer to experiences (work, research, etc.), classes, conversations with people in the field, books you've read, seminars you've attended, or any other source of specific information about the career you want and why you're suited to it. Since you will have to select what you include in your statement, the choices you make are often an indication of your judgment.

Don't include some subjects

  • There are certain things best left out of personal statements. For example, references to experiences or accomplishments in high school or earlier are generally not a good idea. Don't mention potentially controversial subjects (for example, controversial religious or political issues).

Do some research, if needed

  • If a school wants to know why you're applying to it rather than another school, do some research to find out what sets your choice apart from other universities or programs. If the school setting would provide an important geographical or cultural change for you, this might be a factor to mention.

Write well and correctly

  • Be meticulous. Type and proofread your essay very carefully. Many admissions officers say that good written skills and command of correct use of language are important to them as they read these statements. Express yourself clearly and concisely. Adhere to stated word limits.

Avoid clichés

  • A medical school applicant who writes that he is good at science and wants to help other people is not exactly expressing an original thought. Stay away from often-repeated or tired statements.

For more information on writing a personal statement, see the personal statement vidcast .

IMAGES

  1. Writing a Strong Personal Statement for College: Tips and Ideas

    how to write a personal statement if you are applying for different courses

  2. Most Essential Information to Include in 300 Word Personal Statement

    how to write a personal statement if you are applying for different courses

  3. How To Write My Personal Statement For College

    how to write a personal statement if you are applying for different courses

  4. Best Personal Statement Examples in 2023 + Why Do They Work?

    how to write a personal statement if you are applying for different courses

  5. 10 Best Personal Statement Examples (How to Write)

    how to write a personal statement if you are applying for different courses

  6. FREE 8+ Personal Statement Samples in PDF

    how to write a personal statement if you are applying for different courses

VIDEO

  1. How to Write a Personal Statement for Graduate School Scribbr 🎓

  2. How To Write Personalize Personal Statement or Statement of Purpose using ChatGPT & Gemini

  3. How To Write A Perfect Personal Statement FAST With This Template

  4. How to write the best personal statement *Simple Three Step Guide*

  5. How to write personal statement for UK universities

  6. How to write personal Statement for University Application! This book was a gamechanger #notanad

COMMENTS

  1. How to write a personal statement that works for multiple courses

    Here are some personal statement pointers depending on how different the courses you're applying to are: 1. If there are only slight differences, or you've chosen joint or combined degrees with slightly different subject combinations... This shouldn't be a problem. Just try to make everything in your statement as relevant as possible to all ...

  2. How to write a personal statement if you're changing fields

    Tip 3: Practice Humility. At the end of your statement, it's ok to reference that your path was not linear. In fact, academic flexibility can translate into an asset: completing research over an extended period of time often means adapting to multiple twists and turns. As a young scholar, it's your job to embrace this iterative process with ...

  3. How do I write a personal statement for multiple courses?

    In general we'd recommend avoiding dividing the personal statement into one half on subject A, the other half on subject B. Even for joint courses, we want to see how you can combine perspectives and apply your knowledge, so try to do this throughout the personal statement. Answered by the Admissions Team. Answer published: December 2020.

  4. How to Write a Personal Statement

    Insert a quote from a well-known person. Challenge the reader with a common misconception. Use an anecdote, which is a short story that can be true or imaginary. Credibility is crucial when writing a personal statement as part of your college application process. If you choose a statistic, quote, or misconception for your hook, make sure it ...

  5. Appendix 1) How to write a personal statement that works for multiple

    It's possible that you may want to apply to two, quite different courses, or to a mixture of single subject and joint or combined courses (with differing subjects). It isn't even unheard of for a student to apply successfully to five diverse courses with one application. If you're in this scenario, take care how you approach your application.

  6. Writing a personal statement for an undergraduate course

    Writing a second and final draft. When writing your second and third drafts, edit your personal statement carefully to make it focused and concise. Write efficiently and compellingly and then edit it. Remove unnecessary words and make sure your statement is under 4,000 characters or 47 lines, whichever is shortest.

  7. UCAS personal statements: applying for a mixture of courses (2023

    This assumes that you know exactly what you want to study, because you can only write one personal statement in your UCAS application. ... Some students genuinely want to apply for two or more different courses, or for a blend of single subject and joint or combined courses. Others will want to go for a mixture of joint or combined courses in ...

  8. What to include in a personal statement

    Kate McBurnie, First Year student in French, Italian and Theatre. "I think it's really important to not only include why you'd like to study the course you're applying for, but also the things that set you apart from other applicants, i.e., your hobbies, interests, skills, volunteering etc.".

  9. How to write a personal statement for university

    Credit: Mallmo - Shutterstock. To write the best possible personal statement for university, avoid these mistakes: Bunched up paragraphs - You should aim to add a line space between each paragraph so that it's easier to read and looks neater. Each line space will use up a character, but it'll be worth it.

  10. Guide to UCAS & Personal Statements

    Applying to different courses at different Universities is difficult because unfortunately, you are usually only allowed to submit one personal statement. If just one of your choices is completely different from the others, a University may accept a separate personal statement for that course, but it has to be sent directly to them - not ...

  11. How to start a personal statement: The attention grabber

    Top tips on how to write your statement opener. We spoke to admissions tutors at unis and colleges - read on for their tips. 1. Don't begin with the overkill opening. Try not to overthink the opening sentence. You need to engage the reader with your relevant thoughts and ideas, but not go overboard. Tutors said: 'The opening is your chance ...

  12. How to Write Your Personal Statement

    Strategy 1: Open with a concrete scene. An effective way to catch the reader's attention is to set up a scene that illustrates something about your character and interests. If you're stuck, try thinking about: A personal experience that changed your perspective. A story from your family's history.

  13. UCAS Personal Statements: Applying for two courses

    Sample Statement: Applying for two courses. This draft was submitted by a student applying for different courses. This approach is quite common in school leavers but it often presents difficulties when it comes to writing their personal statement. Having reviewed the statement, our advisors made the following points.

  14. How to Write a Strong Personal Statement

    Address the elephant in the room (if there is one). Maybe your grades weren't great in core courses, or perhaps you've never worked in the field you're applying to. Make sure to address the ...

  15. How to Write a UCAS Personal Statement [With Examples]

    The character limit which UCAS sets for the personal statement is very strict - up to 4,000 characters of text. This means that students have to express themselves in a clear and concise way; it's also important that they don't feel the need to fill the available space needlessly. Planning and redrafting of a personal statement is essential.

  16. Personal Statement Tips

    This really is what the personal statement is about. Yes, you need to talk about yourself, but one of the best tips on how to write a personal statement we can give you, is talking about your deeply-held passion and love for the degree course. The vital thing is that you have a good reason for why you want to study that subject.

  17. How to Write a Personal Statement

    Once you've written the first draft of your personal statement, go through it again and ensure that you've hit the main points. And, of course, make sure you haven't exceeded the character limit! If you have, check your points are concise and cut out any waffle. Remember that every sentence should offer something unique - if you think you're ...

  18. 4 Common UCAS Personal Statement Issues and How to Resolve Them

    We've previously given you some tips on how to write an effective personal statement, but in this article, we tackle some of the common issues head-on and show you how to make sure your personal statement still shines. 1. Writing a personal statement for a joint honours course. Economics and Italian sounds like a great course, but the ...

  19. Using your personal statement beyond a university application

    Tip 1. Think about how your abilities and experience are relevant in a workplace. Tip 2. If you're thinking about an apprenticeship, talk about both academic and transferrable skills. Tip 3. Adapt the introduction from your personal statement for a strong and distinctive section on your CV and covering letter.

  20. How to write your undergraduate personal statement

    Once you're certain you've settled on a course, you can think about starting to write your personal statement. 1. Read the UCAS advice. In the 'Your personal statement' section at the UCAS website, you are given a brief introduction to personal statements, and then a set of advice on how you should go about writing it.

  21. 16 Winning Personal Statement Examples (And Why They Work)

    Here are 16 personal statement examples—both school and career—to help you create your own: 1. Personal statement example for graduate school. A personal statement for graduate school differs greatly from one to further your professional career. It is usually an essay, rather than a brief paragraph. Here is an example of a personal ...

  22. Writing the Personal Statement

    1. The general, comprehensive personal statement: This allows you maximum freedom in terms of what you write and is the type of statement often prepared for standard medical or law school application forms. 2. The response to very specific questions: Often, business and graduate school applications ask specific questions, and your statement ...

  23. How To Write Your Undergraduate Personal Statement

    Just start by showing your enthusiasm for the subject, showcasing your knowledge and understanding, and sharing your ambitions of what you want to achieve. Avoid cliches! Remember, this opening part is simply about introducing yourself, so let the admissions tutor reading your personal statement get to know you. Keep it relevant and simple.