How to Write a Brilliant Personal Statement

Picture this: You’re applying to University, it’s a tough and harsh wilderness on the vast battleground that is the application process. You’ve chosen your destination, eyes fixed on your goal. One thing remains standing between you and  application glory:

The Personal Statement

Your personal statement is the part of the application process where you really get to sell yourself to the University. Studying science? Damnit you are the new Albert Einstein! I joke, but your personal statement really should be you attempting to show the best side of yourself. It’s your opportunity to talk about yourself as positively as possible and to prove that you are truly passionate about what you want to study. If you have excellent grades but so does the next applicant, the personal statement is that last bit of information that can make or break your entry into University.

This guide aims to give a short breakdown on how to write a brilliant personal statement that might just secure your place at University.

The Opening Paragraph:

The opening paragraph is incredibly important, it’s that first contact whoever is reading your statement will have with you and so you’ve got to open well. Now, that doesn’t mean to start your statement with a ridiculous opening or an in-depth sad story, but it does mean you’re trying to impress the reader enough that they’ll want to read through until the end of your statement.

Ensure that you use your opening paragraph to introduce yourself in a professional manor, with that said, it’s entirely okay to use an anecdote to introduce why you want to study your chosen subject. The key thing is to ensure that you don’t come off as un-professional. Avoid over exaggerating your personal stories and keep tying what you’re saying back into why it’s relevant to this personal statement and course.

With the opening paragraph aside, here are our tips on writing a successful personal statement:

  • Show evidence that you’re passionate about the subject from the start.
  • Keep that evidence throughout the whole opening paragraph, everything you write should be informed by you wanting to study this subject.
  • Don’t use clichés! Everyone wanted to be everything right from when they were a kid, they don’t work, don’t use them.
  • Include your academic achievements. If you’re proud of your grades and you feel that the subjects you have studied informed or influenced your decision to study at University, explain why.
  • Also be sure to include your non-academic achievements, they can range from any work you’ve done outside of education to extra-curricular things like music or art. These can help show a strong work ethic and that you’re a well-rounded person that will contribute to the overall University community.
  • Be clear in what you are saying. Don’t spend time writing meaningless sentences, keep each point concise and focused. A good guide for this is the P.E.E framework:

Point: What is your point? E.g. “I worked in an animal shelter”

Evidence: What is your evidence for this point? E.g. “It was part of the RSPCA”

Explain: Explain why your point is relevant E.g. “As I want to study Veterinary Medicine, this started my interest in caring for animals”

  • Structure your statement properly, with proper paragraphs and appropriate punctuation. If you’d like some guidance on paragraph structure see here and for punctuation see here.
  • Check and double check what you’ve written, there’s no harm in proof reading your work (as painful as it is after the 4th time).
  • Quotes can work. Having said that if they’re incredibly cheesy or overused, they do not work. Be careful if you decide to use a quote, it can make you seem pretentious (thinking that you’re better than someone) and obviously that won’t go down well with professionals. They key to good quotes is to use them very infrequently and to be absolutely sure that they tie in neatly with what you’re writing.
  • Finally, finish strong! Make sure that your conclusion is punchy, and by punchy I mean well thought out. Go out with a bang, save that extra awesome experience where you wrestled a bear to astound the bear-wrestling professor.