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How to Write a Personal Statement

15 Feb, 2024
How to Write a Personal Statement

Table of Contents

What Is a Personal Statement?

Before You Start Writing

Write a Personal Statement in 5 Steps


In this article, we’ll cover how to write a stand-out personal statement for your UCAS application, with top tips and guidance on what to cover.

What Is a Personal Statement?

A personal statement is a piece of writing submitted as part of your university application in which you explain why you’ve applied for this particular course and why you should be offered a place.

It allows you to showcase your unique story, aspirations, and readiness for the academic journey ahead.

You have up to 4,000 characters or 47 lines to make a lasting impression on university admissions committees and convince them that you’d be a great asset to the faculty, wider university and its community.

Before You Start Writing

Writing a personal statement can be a daunting task, but one of the most critical factors that can determine whether or not your statement is impactful is the preparation beforehand.

It is crucial to invest time in brainstorming ideas and gathering relevant experiences that align with your goals and the degree programme you are applying for.

Start by making some notes, either as a simple bulleted list or a mindmap, covering the following aspects:

  • why you want to go to university
  • why you want to study the degree you’re applying for

Research your chosen institutions and courses

Before you sit down to write the first draft of your UCAS personal statement, the first thing to do is to research the courses you want to apply for. University websites and the UCAS website are the best sources for this information, and of course any open days you have attended will also help inform you. You should aim to cover the following in your statement:

  • how your studies relate to your chosen degree (or, if not, why you’re applying for something you haven’t studied before)
  • how you exhibit the qualities and skills your chosen universities are looking for

Be mindful though, that you only write one personal statement which is then read by each university you apply to. So, if you are applying for more than one subject (or it's a combined course) it's crucial that you include common themes or reference the overall skills needed for all subjects.

Reflect on your experiences and identify your goals

It’s important before you start crafting your statement to spend some time thinking about what you have done which demonstrates your enthusiasm for the subject you’re applying for, and where you hope your university studies will take you. You might want to consider:

  • how your application is supported through work experience, placements or volunteering
  • your hobbies and achievements, and how they showcase your strengths and suitability for your chosen degree
  • your future plans - your career aspirations for after university and how your degree could help you achieve them

Write a Personal Statement in 5 Steps

These five steps are crucial when it comes to writing and submitting a great personal statement.

Step 1: Draft an outline

The first thing you need to do is make a draft outline and structure. Breaking down your statement into smaller, more manageable chunks can make writing it easier and ensure you cover all key points.


Your opening sentence should be something short, sharp and insightful. By the end of the introduction the reader should clearly know:

  • What subject you are applying for
  • Your reasons for applying for this subject (your academic interests)

Main body

In the rest of your text, your aim should be to demonstrate your suitability for the course.

Part 1: This should cover your personal skills and achievements. Universities like to know the abilities you have that’ll help you on the course, or generally with life at university - teamwork skills, for example. You should include any achievements that you’re proud of, positions of responsibility you have held inside and outside school, and the things that make you interesting or unique.

Part 2: Here, you should talk about any relevant work experience and future career plans. You should share details of jobs, placements, work experience, or voluntary work, particularly if it's relevant to your course. Try to link any experience to skills or qualities that’ll make you successful, such as problem-solving, for example. If you know what you’d like to do after as a career, explain how you plan to use the knowledge and experience that you’ll gain to launch your career.


The conclusion of your personal statement should be more about leaving a good final impression rather than conferring any further information. Emphasising the the great points you’ve already made will hopefully make the admissions tutor remember you.

Tips for international students

If you're looking to write a personal statement as an international student, you should also include details of why you want to study in the UK; why a UK university is the right choice for you and fits your career dreams.

Step 2: Write multiple drafts

Your personal statement is a vitally important part of the application process, therefore allowing ample time to do several drafts is essential.

Personal statement writing is an iterative process, especially if you want to create an outstanding impression! It’s essential to write multiple drafts to ensure you refine your narrative with each redraft, enhancing clarity and impact and ultimately submitting best possible version.

Step 3: Edit and proofread

When it comes to finalising your personal statement, it’s essential to pay close attention to grammar, spelling and punctuation. Poor spelling and grammar makes for a bad first impression, so ensure you triple-check it’s written to the highest standard before submitting it.

These techniques can all be useful:

  • read what you’ve written out loud, slowly
  • print out a copy – sometimes it’s easier to edit on a paper copy than via a screen
  • ask a family member or friend to spell check your personal statement and look for mistakes or typos

Step 4: Seek feedback

It’s always a good idea to seek feedback from teachers, peers, or mentors before submitting your personal statement to UCAS. External perspectives can be very valuable in both refining and strengthening your final version, and in ensuring you haven’t omitted anything important.

Step 5: Make sure you followed instructions

It’s really important to ensure that you have followed all stipulated requirements when it comes to the word count; personal statements have a 4000 character limit (including spaces). Be aware that software such as Microsoft Word may not give a character or line count that completely matches what the UCAS form says.

The only way to be 100% sure what the character and line counts are is to copy your draft statement into your online UCAS form (but be careful not to submit it unless you're sure it's the final version). You can edit and save your personal statement without submitting it as many times as you like, and you'll only be able to mark the section as complete when you're on the preview screen.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. What should I avoid including in my personal statement?

  • Mistakes! Whether grammatical or informational, make sure your statement is completely free of errors.
  • Overly exuberant language and cliches. Remember – the key to an excellent personal statement is showing, not telling.
  • Quotes - especially those that are very commonly used. UK university admissions tutors have probably seen the same quotes again and again. Students writing a personal statement are encouraged to use their own thoughts and insights, not someone else’s.
  • Childhood anecdotes are great, and can certainly add character to an application. But they’re not always necessary to showcase a student’s devotion to their chosen subject. Generally, admissions tutors at UK universities are more interested in an applicant’s more recent contributions or achievements in their chosen field of study.
  • Exaggerations! Even small, believable exaggerations can come back to haunt you - especially if it is something which is referenced by the admissions tutor at interview stage. It could be as small as pretending to have read a particular book.
  • Qualifications. There’s already a section on the UCAS form for this, so don’t waste the space on your personal statement.
  • Other people’s content; any sort of plagiarism could result in your application being automatically rejected. Also bear in mind that is not a good idea to use AI technology such as Chat GPT. For more guidelines on this, visit the UCAS website.

Q2. How do you structure a personal statement?

A strong personal statement should have a logical structure, presented as a piece of formal written English.

The best personal statements have a clearly defined structure, making them more understandable and compelling, and also easier to write.

Here is sample template:

  • Introduction - around six lines
  • Academic abilities - 22 - 27 lines
  • Extracurricular information - 10 - 12 lines
  • Conclusion - four lines maximum

Q3. Why do university admissions teams rely on personal statements so much?

While your grades show your academic achievements and admissions tests assess your knowledge and capabilities, a personal statement is all about you. Tutors want to see the person behind the application and understand why you’re a suitable candidate for your chosen course.

Although each university will have its own unique way of shortlisting applicants, your statement is your opportunity to demonstrate your strengths and let your personal characteristics shine through.

Need Help With Preparing an Outstanding Personal Statement?

At Kings, we offer a range of pre-university programmes, from A-levels to specialist foundations for international students, such as the Advanced Level Foundation.

We have four colleges in the UK — Kings Brighton, Kings Bournemouth, Kings London, and Kings Oxford.

By selecting to study at our UK schools, you will maximise your potential, and be sure of a place at the best possible UK university. With specialist support, you will be guided through the UCAS application process, including extensive support in crafting the best possible personal statement.

Find out more

Next steps

We hope that this article has helped you understand more about how to write a stand-out personal statement.

If you would like receive more detailed information about the Kings and our programmes, please get in touch with us at