Writing a personal statement is one of the most daunting aspects of applying to university. It can seem like there are too many points you need to cover, and it’s difficult to know where to begin or how long your writing should be.
1 – Be brief!
I’ve seen some people write pages before they’ve even had an interview, let alone received their A-level results! When applying for medicine, veterinary science or dentistry you will more than likely have to apply early and therefore need your personal statement ready as soon as possible after getting your exam results. Don’t spend all summer fretting over whether you’re going to get into uni and then rush out a few days later with 500 words that say nothing much at all. It’s a fallacy that you have to write a lot about your work experience – one page is enough for this. Unless you’ve been a researcher or held down a high-level job, no university will expect you to have anything more than the bare minimum of relevant experiences under your belt.
2 – Be yourself!
Now that you only have one page, it’s important that every word counts and is something that actually makes you stand out from other applicants. Don’t focus too much on telling universities what they want to hear, as they can see through it. Instead, try being yourself and explaining what drives you towards studying at their institution, or why their course interests you so much. Universities don’t mind if an applicant has made relatively poor A-level choices if their personal statement demonstrates that they know how to pick themselves up and carry on, or adapt. If you’ve had a bad year at school and your grades have dropped off the edge of the earth, don’t panic. I’m not saying universities won’t ask about it in interviews, but they will understand if you explain in your personal statement how you got yourself out of that rut and that there is no obstacle you can’t overcome when it comes to studying at university.
3 – Be specific!
When describing an experience such as work experience or a hobby, be sure to add some detail rather than just listing activities under each point. Equally, do not just list projects/interests under each subject. If you’re applying to do a degree like veterinary science, be specific about why you want to study the course and what your career goals are. If you want to study history, give some actual examples of your favourite periods or events studied at A-level. Universities will value interesting hobbies over having lots of work experience because they know applicants with fewer activities but more passion tend to perform better academically than those who have simply ‘busied themselves’ during their time outside of school/college.
Writing a personal statement can feel impossible if you’ve not done much writing before but just keep in mind who it’s for and how long it needs to be – one page is not that scary! It doesn’t need to show off your academic prowess to the max, just have some personality and be honest.