How To Transform A Good Personal Statement Into An Outstanding One


    For those who will be submitting their UCAS application between now and the 15th January 2015 deadline, here are some tips to transform a good statement into a glowing one that will make the admissions committee, who have to read literally thousands of these statements, sit up in their chair.

    Wider Reading 

    It is simply not enough to apply to a competitive university without reading beyond the narrow bounds of the AS and A2 syllabi. Through your own wider reading, you can explore in more detail areas of your subject that you find particularly interesting; for example if you are applying for Politics at King’s College London, but have a real passion for political thought, then reading Sopin’s “Libertarianism and Federalism” or Mill’s “On Liberty” will allow you to demonstrate your commitment to the subject and more importantly will give you an opportunity to share your own unique perspectives on your chosen subject in your personal statement. Being different is the name of the game. You do this by providing details around YOUR interests, passions and ambitions.

    Demonstrate your genuine passion for your subject

    After all, you’re going to be studying it for the next 3-4 years. Show the admissions committee in your statement what extra-curricular activities related to your course you have been involved in. This is one of the easiest ways to demonstrate your interest in the subject; not by saying it but by actually doing it. If you are in Year 12, think about what work experience, charity work, or activities you can do during the 2015 summer holidays that will boost your candidacy. For example, if you want to study medicine organise work experience in a hospital; if you are applying for economics try and find work experience at a think tank or a city firm. These experiences will give you the ammunition to inject detail when you come to write your personal statement. For students in Year 13, think back to what activities you have done which demonstrate your interest in your chosen subject.

    Be Selective in what you say

    Avoid information overload. The most common mistake that applicants make is to try and say in the personal statement every single important thing that is important to them. You cannot and should not adopt this approach, even if it means leaving out positive things. By saying everything about yourself, you risk just overwhelming and confusing the reader and at worst demonstrating a lack of judgement about what is central and peripheral to you. The personal statement is not there for an applicant to say everything about themselves; it is there to allow an applicant to communicate their core message and to show the admissions officer why he/she is interested in the course, why he/she wants to study it and why he/she will be an asset to the university course. Simplicity and focus are the most potent weapons here. You want to isolate what are the most important things about you that the admissions committee simply must know and then build a compelling, detailed and persuasive admissions argument around this. Cramming too many points into the essay does not allow you to develop a clear portrait of yourself or a memorable and clear message. The real skill here is to prioritise on your points and then to have the stomach to let go of some of the also good material.

    Keep it simple

    Avoid convoluted, academic and complex language. Avoid long and awkward sentences. Keep the language crisp and succinct. The tone should be serious but easy to read.

    Draft and redraft

    Ernest Hemmingway famously said that “the first draft of anything is sh**.” Be prepared to draft your statement many times and set aside time to do this. Be prepared also to take a step back from your statement and come back to it a couple of days later if you feel you are not making any progress.

    For bespoke advice and expert guidance on your university admissions strategy including university and course selection, personal statement support, planning your Year 12 extra-curricular activities, university interview practice and our AS / A2 Revision Booster courses, please contact


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