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.
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 studies, skills and experiences you have that will make you a successful student.
A member of the Admissions team will read your personal statement. They will decide who is eligible to be accepted on the course, and if there are too many eligible applicants, they will decide who has priority.
What to include
We are looking for you to demonstrate a real understanding of what studying the course will involve and to write in a focused, detailed and analytical manner.
You should include:
- why you are applying for the course – show your enthusiasm
- how studying the subject will help you to pursue your future career goals
- how your current skills, experience and qualifications will help your application
- details about yourself as you are now, not how you were
- relevant work experience or extracurricular activities
- details of anything you plan to do before starting your degree
If you're applying to Bath, 70-80% of your personal statement should be about 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 quotes. Make sure you only include relevant information – if it isn’t about why you want to study the course or what makes you a strong student, then don’t include it.
Our Student Blog has some good advice from our current undergraduates on writing a personal statement.
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.
- 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
Remember you only get to write one personal statement, even though you might apply for five different courses.
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 submission tutors.
Find out what your first choice university looks for in a personal statement. You could contact the admissions office if you can't find the information anywhere.
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.
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 a long time 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
Get your draft checked by someone else
Show your first draft to your teacher, parents or guardian.
- 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
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 sells you as best 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.