Published: 31 January 2023

Top tips for writing a personal statement

Find out how to bring your personal statement to life and showcase your passion for your chosen subject.

Your personal statement is one of the most important parts of your UCAS application. It’s your opportunity to tell universities why you want to study a particular course and demonstrate your passion and enthusiasm for the subject. 

How to write a UCAS personal statement

  • Your UCAS personal statement can only be 4,000 characters long (including spaces and blank lines), so it needs to be clear and concise while showcasing your relevant achievements and talents
  • Try to begin with an opening sentence that captures the readers’ attention
  • Start with your academic studies first, then cover work experience followed by your interests and hobbies
  • Make sure you have a good structure and use paragraphs
  • Spell check, proofread and show your statement to teachers and parents to ensure there are no mistakes
  • Don’t try to be funny or controversial 
  • While personal statement examples are available online, don’t plagiarise - UCAS has advanced software to detect this! 

Personal statement tips

Universities use your personal statement to get to know you, understand your insight and motivation, and to complement your academic potential and achievements. Not all programmes require an interview, so your statement is your opportunity to present your passion, skills and experience.

Remember to include:

  • Why you're passionate about your particular subject or course 
  • How your current studies have helped you prepare for university 
  • How you’ve gone above and beyond the curriculum to demonstrate your interest in the subject (for example, books you’ve read, taster sessions you’ve attended)
  • Your skills and experiences (including work and placements) and how you feel they’ll help you to succeed on your chosen course
  • The achievements that you’re particularly proud of. Be honest – you may be asked about them at interview!
  • What you hope to gain from university, and your career aspirations
  • Your interests/hobbies. It’s recommended that 75 per cent of your statement is academic/course-related, while the other 25 per cent can focus on extra-curricular activities. 

Opening lines to avoid

UCAS did a study into the most common opening lines in personal statements. The statements below were the most common:

  1. From a young age I have (always) been [interested in/fascinated by]… 
  2. For as long as I can remember I have… 
  3. I am applying for this course because… 
  4. I have always been interested in… 
  5. Throughout my life I have always enjoyed… 

To make your personal statement stand out, try to worth avoiding the sentences above and come up with your own way of expressing yourself.

Find out more information on how to apply for an undergraduate course at Surrey. 

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