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What is a personal statement?

A personal statement is a brief piece of writing about you which you submit to the universities you are applying to. In this statement you must explain why you want to study your chosen course, what experiences you have had that are relevant to it, and why your interests and experiences give you an edge. The personal statement is an essential aspect of your application because it allows admissions tutors to get a sense of who you are and if you would be right for the course and university. A great personal statement can really put you at an advantage and lead to offers for interview or even an offer of a place at your chosen university.

 

For both undergraduate and postgraduate applications, personal statements have either a character or word limit. Thus, you must be very concise. It is important to depict yourself authentically and in a good light; ultimately, you are trying to convince the admissions tutors why you are a perfect fit for the course. Some universities such as Oxford and Cambridge, as well as certain courses, have early deadlines for personal statements. Therefore, it is recommended that your start drafting your personal statement early on and give yourself plenty of time to craft this piece of writing.

 

 

What needs to be included in a personal statement?

There are no set “rules” for what needs to be included in a personal statement. However, certain elements are important and should be discussed. The following is a suggestion for how you might like to arrange your statement:

 

  • An introduction explaining why you would like to study the course
  • A section outlining relevant academic experiences and the skills they have given you that make you ideal for this course
  • A section on any extra or super-curricular activities you have undertaken which demonstrate your interest in the subject or have given you skills relevant to the subject
  • A clear conclusion summarising why you are the ideal applicant

 

For postgraduate applicants, you may also need to include a research proposal.

 

Admissions tutors are looking for people with a clear passion for the subject, but also people with potential. The statement is not just about what you already know, but what kind of person you are as a whole and who you want to be. It is good to show admissions tutors that you are a keen learner with a variety of interests; that you have held positions of responsibility, explored your interests in your free time, and that you will be a good member of the academic community.

 

 

Top tips for writing a personal statement:

 

  • Avoid certain over-used phrases like “I have a passion for/I am passionate about”. These are quite generic and can make you sound less unique.
  • Include only the information that will demonstrate your suitability for the course; you have limited space, so make every word count. Mention how each achievement or experience you have had adds to your skill set or interest in the subject.
  • Don’t use overcomplicated language; this makes the statement stuffy and unclear. You want your statement to be readable, and using complicated vocabulary could come across as pretentious.
  • Ask others to read your statement for you and provide you with feedback. They may notice errors or think of other useful qualities or experiences to include.
  • Be sure to use perfect grammar, spelling and punctuation.
  • Have a think about what makes you unique. What can you personally bring to this course and university, and how can they enrich your life in return?
  • Remember that you are applying for a course you would really love to study. Let yourself get excited about applying and enjoy writing this statement!

 

Some important things to remember for personal statement preparation are:

 

  • Your application is considered holistically, but your personal statement is your initial opportunity to really be seen. Make it good!
  • Should you be invited to interview, admissions tutors will likely formulate questions based on your personal statement. As such you need to make sure that every claim is honest and something you would be willing to discuss in further detail.
  • Your personal statement will be sent to all the universities you have applied to, and the courses across these universities may vary slightly. If this is the case, be sure to not tailor your statement too much to one particular course; the statement needs to remain applicable to each university. You may have the opportunity to write an extra personal statement for some universities (for example, Cambridge), and this will be your chance to write something specifically targeting them and their course.

How Mayfair Consultants can assist you:

Personal statement preparation tutors

Mayfair Consultants offers at-home, one-on-one private tuition in a wide variety of subjects with Personal statement preparation tutors to clients living across the London area and online, preparing students for university. We will help with understanding your CV and conduct detailed careers planning suggesting work experience, advise on gap years and wider applications help and university interviews. Our fully-qualified Personal statement preparation tutors are experienced and skilled specialists, with many holding postgraduate degrees (Master’s and PhD) in specific subjects and experience with university applications and courses you want to focus on. They offer clear, concise explanations and stimulating approaches, helping to support the needs of every student.

If you would like to arrange Personal statement preparation tutoring, university entrance consultancy or enquire about our summer school placement service in England as well as university entrance tests please call us on Tel: +44 (0) 207 665 6606 or you can send us an email via our contact form.

 

Resources

Tips for writing your personal statement:

https://www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/student-advice/applying-to-uni/tips-for-writing-your-personal-statement

https://www.theuniguide.co.uk/advice/personal-statements/personal-statement-secrets-universities-reveal-all

https://www.careers.ox.ac.uk/personal-statements-for-further-study

https://www.medsci.ox.ac.uk/study/medicine/pre-clinical/applying/ps

https://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/writing-a-great-personal-statement

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/writing-your-personal-statement

https://www.kcl.ac.uk/study-at-kings/hyperlinks/personal-statement-examples.pdf

Making your personal statement stand out: https://www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/student-advice/applying-to-uni/how-to-make-your-personal-statement-stand-out

 

Writing an undergraduate personal statement: https://www.ucas.com/undergraduate/applying-university/writing-personal-statement/how-write-personal-statement

 

Writing a postgraduate personal statement:

https://www.sussex.ac.uk/study/masters/apply/tips-for-masters/personal-statement

https://www.prospects.ac.uk/postgraduate-study/masters-degrees/personal-statements-for-postgraduate-applications

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7F3kzFKSAY

How to write a personal statement that works for multiple courses: https://www.ucas.com/undergraduate/applying-university/writing-personal-statement/writing-a-personal-statement-for-multiple-courses

 

YouTube videos on how to write a good personal statement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLokG6bhPCw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwXS51Od084

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wy4bEL85mDU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=955Z7n2L_C0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWNefPddcq8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChuAMeDR6e8

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