personal statement

Personal Statement dos and don’ts

This week we’ve compiled a list of crucial Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to writing your Personal Statement.


Do research your course thoroughly so you can explain WHY you have chosen to study it

Spend some time in the months leading up to your application researching different courses and universities online and hopefully visit the university (most unis are offering virtual open days under Covid-19 conditions). Know why you took the decision to study this topic at a deeper level.

Do clearly explain why you are interested in this subject and link it to your potential career path

Try and use an actual example of what made you consider studying this degree subject which can help to convey your enthusiasm for the course. You could also link this to thoughts about your preferred career role, post degree.

Do write in your own words

It’s tempting to search Google for exemplar personal statements and copy or use similar sentences in your own, particularly when inspiration is lacking, but it’s crucial to write your statement in your own words. 

Firstly if you do copy someone else’s work you are committing plagiarism. Also the admission tutors, who read hundreds of these every year, want to know that they’re your words; this will help them to build a picture of you as an individual.

Do avoid clichés

This is really important. You need to avoid using easy and overused statements such as ‘learning curve’ and ‘fulfil my potential’.

Do use work experience or projects as examples of your passion or curiosity for the subject

By including the placements or independent projects you have undertaken, you can link these back to your suitability for studying the particular course. Discussing what you learned and how this was useful in developing further knowledge of your chosen topic can be extremely beneficial too. 

Do mention activities you’ve done related to the subject but outside your classroom curriculum

This would include undertaking wider reading, watching documentaries, and taking trips related to your subject within your own time and outside of school or college. What did you enjoy and what would you do differently next time?


Don’t use flowery language to try and impress

Including ‘big’ words that may end up out of context in order to impress the admission tutors could catch you out. Keep it simple, concise and real. They want to see you!

Don’t list endless extra-curricular activities without explaining the why 

You don’t need to list ten clubs you’ve been involved with during your school years. One or two activities is a good balance alongside information about why you chose them, how they have helped you develop and how they have equipped you with other soft skills.

Don’t lie

This is a big no-no – don’t claim to have read certain books which you’ve never actually picked up in order to make a good impression. Your statement will be used as a topic of conversation if you’re invited for an interview so ensure everything you’ve included is true.

Don’t make grammar or spelling mistakes

Our top tip here is to print your statement out. Reading it from a piece of paper rather than your laptop screen can help you pick up grammar or spelling errors that you may have missed otherwise. It’s also a great opportunity for some other people to read it through at this point too for the same reason.

Don’t use lots of quotes

One pet hate of admission tutors is the inclusion of quotes on a personal statement, particularly as an opener. It’s so much better to convey your passion for the subject by giving an example as to how and when you developed a keener interest in studying it further.

Don’t feel you have to elaborate on a childhood fascination with your subject

The most overused opener in a Personal Statement is ‘Ever since I was a child I’ve been fascinated with…’. Admissions tutors are far more interested in what you are doing and thinking now rather than 15 years ago. Plus, they’ve read this opener so many times it has no original impact whatsoever.