Post-16 Support: Writing Personal Statements

A useful guide and compendium of information to support you in writing a strong personal statement.

What to include in your Personal Statement? A Checklist

UCAS Personal Statement Guide

Use this worksheet to help frame your writing

You can enter up to 4,000 characters (this includes spaces) or 47 lines of text (this includes blank lines), whichever comes first. You do not have to use all the space provided. Use your WordOnline document to keep a live and up-to-date version of your Personal Statement. This way, not only will it not get lost, but you will also be able to receive direct feedback from both your tutor and the Post-16 team without multiple email chains or parallel versions of your document developing. You will have received this link directly to your school email from myself. I recommend that you prepare your personal statement offline using a word-processing package and copy and paste it into the ‘Apply’ system when it has been proofed and you are happy that it is your final version.

An applicant is judged on these following areas:

Remember that you only write one personal statement so it will be used for all your choices. Try not to mention a university or college by name, even if you’re applying to only one university – your personal statement cannot be changed if you apply to a different place later. Instead focus on the courses that you are applying for rather than individual universities or cities you hope to move to. If you’re applying for slightly different subjects or courses, you need to identify the common themes and skills that are relevant to your choices. If your chosen courses can’t be linked by a common theme, think about your reasons for applying to such varied courses – it might be useful to speak to me or a member of our Post-16 team to get some guidance. It is important to read back over your personal statement before any interview that you may have; this is often a starting point for university questions.

·      Academic performance to date and predicted grades

·      Interview or admissions test (possibly)

·      Reference and the Personal Statement

Consider how you can express who you are beyond what is available elsewhere in your application. For example, universities will have access to your grades therefore they will be more interesting in seeing your personality and skills in a different way. This is where your personal statement will give you the opportunity to reflect that.

When writing your Personal Statement, I recommend you follow the ABC rule:

·      Activity: What have you done to further your knowledge in this field?

       ·      Benefit: Why did you undertake this? What have you gained from this experience? What skills have you gained as a result? 

       ·      Course: How does this put you in an excellent position for your future course choice in particular? 


Warning: UCAS uses anti-plagiarism software called Copycatch. This software checks your submission against all previous personal statements and any in your year of entry as well. If any significant similarity is detected, then all universities you apply to will be notified. You can read these examples for inspiration and to understand what makes a strong or a weak statement but everything you write in your personal statement needs to be your own and original work.

Here is an example Personal Statement for Medicine:

Here is an example Personal Statement for Veterinary Science:

Here is an example Personal Statement for Law:

Here is an example for Engineering:

Here is an example for Geography:

Here is an example for Business:


When reviewing your feedback on your Personal Statement here are a few shorthand notes that it is useful to be aware of:

C – Capitals. At some point in your writing you have not used capital letters in the way you should. Perhaps they are missing from proper nouns like people’s names, subjects or course titles.

A – Americanisms. Check your computer language setting and be careful of any cheeky Zs slipping into your writing. Remember, if you are applying through UCAS you are applying to the British curriculum and should be using the British language settings. This means words like emphasise do not have a Z in them.

P – Punctuation. This could be a variety of things so it is worth reading back through the sentence for clarity. You could have missed a possessive apostrophe or perhaps have not applied a colon before a list. Typically you will want to avoid contractions in formal writing such as this. Similarly, it is worth proofreading your work for the overuse of punctuation. This is most commonly done with commas which result in comma splicing or too many subordinate clauses within a sentence. Here is further guidance on how to avoid this in all types of academic writing. If you do this, or have overly long sentences, your meaning will become muddied and may be lost; you want to present yourself with fluency and sophistication so getting the little things like punctuation correct is important.

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