Newcastle University is a great place to study. But what do you have to do to gain entry to a brilliant university such as this? A personal statement is what you use to stand out from the other university applicants. It’s the first chance you have to promote yourself and show the skills which will help you succeed in getting into the course you want.
We’ve created a guide on how to write a personal statement for university.
- The first thing you need to do: decide what to cover
- How to write: the introduction
- How to write: the main text
- How to write: the conclusion
- The editing stage
- Tips to remember when writing
The first thing you need to do: decide what to cover
A personal statement should cover the reasons why you’re a suitable choice for studying at a university.
These reasons need to be backed up by evidence. Include your school or college qualifications, your passions, what you can bring to a university and why the university should choose you.
When planning, start by writing down:
- a list of all the subjects you’ve studied
- the qualifications you have
- any significant events in your life
- what you’re interested in
- any other facts about you that a university might find interesting
You don’t need to mention all of these but you can refer to this list when writing your personal statement.
If you can, add in something unique that makes you stand out even more, such as weekends spent volunteering at a wildlife sanctuary or the time you won an essay writing competition. But remember, don’t lie.
If you’re struggling to decide what to include, we’ve got a great resource on the top five things to put in your personal statement.
How to write: the introduction
An introduction is a crucial part of any personal statement. You should talk about why the subject interests you and also grab the reader’s interest so they want to keep reading.
For example, don’t start your personal statement with ‘I want to study Business Accounting and Finance.’ Yes, it gets to the point but it doesn’t show your passion or your skill.
Instead, you want to write something like this:
‘I grew up watching my parents develop their own business from the ground up, going from success to success. I’m impressed by those with the motivation of an entrepreneur and want to develop and build upon my own.’
This type of writing shows who you are as a person - that you’re someone who’s passionate and curious about this subject. It also shows you’ve already dedicated part of your education to a degree-related field.
Tip: Write your first draft on a word processor, such as Microsoft Word or Google Documents, so you can edit it more easily. When it’s finished, you can copy and paste the draft into UCAS.
How to write: the main text
The main body of text should be where you talk about the reasons why you’re a suitable candidate and provide evidence to back up your claims.
Talk about the skills you have learnt, the knowledge you have and why they all apply to the course you want to study. The British Council has a brilliant rule you can follow - the ABC Rule:
- action: What actions have you taken which have boosted your knowledge and passion for your chosen course? A good thing to include here is any relevant work experience
- benefit: How did this benefit you? Explain what you learnt. It’s also good to put forward opinions at this point to show your passion and interest
- course: How does this action relate to your course? For example, if you want to study economics and did a placement in a bank, how did that work experience prepare you for this course?
Use this rule to talk about things you’ve done while at school or college, as well as in extracurricular activities such as work experience, trips and other learning opportunities.
To give the employer more information, you should briefly talk about your career goals. You could include where you see yourself in 10 years time or what you hope to bring to the industry you want to join.
This is also the section where you can include a unique fact about yourself, something that helps the reader remember who you are. The information should also be around 70% based on your academic achievements and 30% based on extra-curricular achievements.
Finally, to show your knowledge and passion for a subject or role, you can talk about specific books, talks, films or theories that have influenced you in this field. But these aren’t the only things you should include...
Why do you want to study in the UK?
For international students, it’s appropriate to talk about why you want to study in the UK. Remember to briefly discuss what interests you about this country and what you want to learn from your time here.
Do you want to:
- experience a different culture?
- make friends from all over the world?
- enhance your English language skills?
Including why you want to study at a UK institution such as Newcastle University is a great way to show your interest and determination. This section only needs to be a few lines as you only have 4,000 characters to use.
How to write: the conclusion
The conclusion is the final important piece of your personal statement so it should be memorable. It’s where you can neatly summarise the reasons why you’re a suitable candidate for your chosen course.
This section should create a lasting impact by underlining your motivation and determination while showing how you plan to use this degree in the future.
For example, if you want to study Urban Planning, you could write:
‘Man-made structures amaze me. Their designs give me joy because they show the capabilities of a large group of people working together to make something. I’d like to use my passion to contribute to urban environments and how people can use them for their own benefit.
Similarly, you might be applying to study Biomedical Sciences, so you could conclude your personal statement with something like this:
‘I respect the power and complexity of the human body. Things like anatomy and genetics fascinate me and I want to be able to help people later in life by designing effective pharmaceuticals. I’d like to build upon the knowledge I’ve already gained in this field.’
If you’re looking for a little more information on writing a personal statement, watch our admissions experts answer questions on what makes the perfect personal statement.
The editing stage
This is one of the most important stages when writing a personal statement.
Once you have finished your first draft, read back over it a few times. Look for spelling and grammatical mistakes. If you find any errors, be kind to yourself - this is only your first try and it’s OK to find mistakes.
Try to remove any parts that provide no information or value, such as overly-emotional phrases or quotes from famous people. You only have 4,000 characters so use them wisely.
After you've corrected any mistakes, let a friend and relative read it. They will be able to see anything you might have missed and offer a second opinion.
Finally, read your personal statement out loud. Reading text out loud helps you to hear any issues with how it sounds or the sentence structure that you might not find when reading it in your head.
Tips to remember when writing
Here are our top tips to remember when writing your personal statement:
- write in a clear and concise style
- write with a formal tone
- be enthusiastic
- be genuine
- add in a unique fact about yourself
- try to structure your interests, experience and qualifications in a way which relates to the course you’re applying to. Use the course description for guidance
- check your character limit - you only have 4,000 characters and 47 lines to use
- show your strengths
- don’t leave writing your personal statement to the last minute
- don’t lie or exaggerate any facts about yourself
- don’t use cliches
By using these tips, you’ll be able to create a brilliant personal statement. Plus, you can also build on these skills so when it comes to other personal statements, CVs, applications or even interviews, you’ll know what to do.