Personal Statements

Introduction

Your Personal Statement is very important: for those universities that may call you for interview, it offers a focal point around which to base formal or informal discussions; for those that make offers purely based on your electronic application (the majority), it may be the only chance you have to impart something of your personality, interest and commitment to the subject for which you are applying.

Practical matters

You are permitted to enter 4,000 characters on 47 lines. You are not able to change the appearance of the text by using bold, italics or underlining tools. Accents and foreign characters will not appear on your statement, though this will not prejudice your application in any way.

What to write in a Personal Statement

The more you take ownership of your personal statement, the more effective it will be. Your UCAS advisors will provide advice and suggestions; it is also a good idea to ask a friend or your parents to read it once. Too much advice can detract from the personal statement being personal.

Key Tips:

DO…

  • Convey your passion and enthusiasm for the subject

  • Devote at least 80% of your statement to academic material

  • Tailor your statement to the course that you are applying for

  • Explain how your experiences are relevant to your chosen course

  • Use extra-curricular achievements as examples of qualities that you have

  • Never make a claim without evidencing particular events/activities you’ve been involved in or contributed to

There is no single ‘correct’ way to write a Personal Statement, though there are things you should avoid.

DO NOT…

  • Write lists of achievement - full sentences are required

  • Cram as much information as you can into your statement at the expense of detail, coherence and good, clear English

  • Write anything that is misleading, trivial or fictitious

  • Try to be something you aren’t - pompous, over-the-top Personal Statements do not tend to go down too well with Admissions Tutors

The Three Sheet Method

If you’re struggling to begin writing a Personal Statement, the Three Sheet Method can certainly help collate ideas and experiences into a 1st draft

Sheet 1: List of achievements
Create a mind map or list everything that you have ever done. There does not need to be any reflection here, but there should be a detailed list of your achievements. For instance, if you have run a society, what did this specifically involve? Did you have to run meetings? How many members were there? What role did you have?
Complete a breakdown of every achievement, no matter how insignificant you feel it is. You can then start to link some of these achievements together and draw themes.

Sheet 2: The skill set of the perfect student for your course
Thoroughly research the courses and the institutions that you are interested in applying for. What skills are they asking for? Write down all of the skills that are required for your course, and then consider the weighting for all of these skills. Is it more important that you are an inquisitive problem solver or that you are a strong communicator or both?

Sheet 3: Combining sheet 1 & 2
You now have a solid foundation to write the first draft of your Personal Statement. You should know exactly what skills are required for your course, and have these ordered in terms of importance. You can then select about 3 or 4 skills that you would like to resonate throughout your Personal Statement. It is important to use your experiences/achievements to illuminate each skill. It is important that you write creatively, consider the language you are using and how this conveys your idea. Most importantly, reflect critically on your experiences, achievements and knowledge and then relate this to your course.


Personal Statement Resources

Some current Jesubites have volunteered their Personal Statements for your perusal. The hope is that they will do the following:

  1. help spark inspiration for students who want to explore their subject further

  2. help students remember the things they’ve done in the past

  3. help students understand what sort of things should go in a personal statement

The most important thing about a personal statement is that it reflects you and your passion for your subject. Make it honest, sincere and (surprise, surprise) personal!

Please note that UCAS run every Personal Statement through plagiarism software - if they suspect that you have copied all or part of your statement from someone else’s work they will inform all the universities to which you have applied. The universities will then decide whether to disqualify your application - given the competitive nature of the institutions/courses for which you are applying, this will be the likely outcome.

The plagiarism checkers are certainly far more advanced than “right click -> synonyms” on MS Word. We know writing these things can be hard, and some people will have no idea what to write - just start early, sleep on it and think about it when you’re having a walk… it’ll simply just come to you. However, for your own sake, please don’t plagiarise the personal statements of current students, neither Jesus College nor UCAS look upon that behaviour favourably.