How to Write a Personal Statement in 5 Steps

This guide offers a ‘five step formula’ which students can use to write a perfect personal statement. The UCAS personal statement can be tricky, but with the right structure it can be made a much simpler task. In this guide, we suggest a ‘5 paragraph structure’ for your personal statement, with each of the paragraphs being explained below. This guide is taken from the bestselling book: ‘How to Write a Personal Statement‘. If you are interested in learning more about writing the personal statement, then consider purchasing the book here.


1. Introduction

  • 80 Words
  • Start with a compelling 1st sentence that relates your subject to a wider issue or to your personal experience.
  • Outline some of your particular interests within your subject.
  • Explain why your subject is important to study at university.


Example: The world is confronted by huge problems caused by rapid and complex changes within societies and in the environment, particularly those resulting from globalisation and climate change. Addressing these issues not only requires more profound research into the underlying causes and what can be done about them, but a proper knowledge and understanding of those causes amongst the public. For this reason I believe strongly that further education, particularly in the field of geography, is vital to all those responsible for making decisions about our future.


2. Interests

  • 200 Words
  • Give more detail on your specific interests.
  • Give personal thoughts and opinions on your interests / issues in your subject.
  • Give examples of how you have shown your interest e.g wider readings, lectures, events etc.
  • Tell a story: E.g You learnt about… at A Level, this inspired you to read…, you really enjoyed this author so watched a lecture on…, now you are fascinated to learn more about… at university.


Example: My initial interest in geography was sparked by the ‘spectacular’ physical aspects of the subject.  On a World Challenge expedition to Iceland in Year 9, I was awestruck by the bubbling hot pools, the geysers and the vast lava fields: the most tangible evidence of the dramatic forces operating within the earth I have ever seen. I wondered how a modern society could grow and develop in such an extreme tectonic environment. Over the course of the past two years, however, my interest in Human Geography has grown enormously. I particularly enjoyed looking in detail at the effect of Globalisation in the High Street as part of the Open University module which I took alongside my A Levels. This module also exposed me to the issues surrounding population growth, and intrigued me to further research the overpopulation debate. Reading the conflicting arguments put forward by Stephen Emmott and Danny Dorling in their rival books about the potential population crisis of the next few decades has led me to believe that Geography is a subject which is all about perspectives, and the ‘right answer’ to global problems is never as simple as it may first seem.


3. Work Experience / Activities

  • 200 Words
  • Talk about at least one of: Work experience, volunteering, or subject-related activities such as competitions or events you attended.
  • Mention a particular moment during your work experience / event which really inspired you to learn more. This moment should be at least one of: Memorable, heart-warming, difficult, or eye-opening.
  • Tell a story again: E.g You experienced… during your work experience, you then became particularly interested in… and volunteered at… as a result.


Example: My work-experience as an assistant Geography teacher on my gap year allowed me to view the subject in a completely new light. When discussing poverty, many of the students recalled personal experiences where someone they know has struggled to afford basic necessities such as food or rent. In fact, they were surprised that the textbooks only discussed poverty as an issue which exists in Africa or South America, and makes little mention of issues closer to home. This encouraged me to take more of an interest in UK inequalities, and reading ‘The Violence of Austerity’ by Cooper and Whyte opened my eyes to the current problems of food-banks and austerity which exist in the country today. After this, I attended The Times Festival of Education, and implored Michael Gove to modernize the study of Geography to illustrate contemporary UK issues.


4. Extra-Curricular

  • 100 Words
  • Show your skills, talents, and abilities through your various extra-curricular activities. Explain / imply what skill you developed through each activity
  • Develop a ‘human-face’ to your personal statement by giving some insight into your personality and some things that make you unique
  • Try to show some of the skills your subject requires (see university websites for what skills they are looking for). Examples of skills: Adaptability, Communication, Organisation, Responsibility, Time-management etc.


Example: I have a great interest in rugby, having played at school, club, and country level for many years, and I regularly volunteer to coach younger boys at my local club at weekends. This has taught me the importance of both positivity and leadership, and how these traits can complement each other in many different walks of life. I also volunteer as a Cub Scout leader. Working with children has been a hugely rewarding experience, improving my communication and organizational skills, and I am now considering the possibility of a career in teaching in the future.


5. Conclusion

  • 70 Words
  • Reiterate why you are interested in studying the subject at university.
  • Briefly discuss your future aspirations and how this subject will help you achieve your future goals / job.
  • Say something interesting and memorable which reflects your personality / view of the world and makes your personal statement more unique.


Example: I would relish the chance for deeper research into Geography at a university level. Rapid action is needed in order to try and negate the impacts of issues such as climate change, overpopulation, and inequalities. A stronger understanding of geographical principles would give me the skills and knowledge I need to make a positive impact to society, and could help drive me towards a future career in teaching or public policy.