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How to write a killer personal statement

As a parent, you want to do everything possible to help your child succeed – even when they’re nearly adults. Applying for university is now even more competitive than before following the recent spike in As and Bs, and achieving the top grades is not always enough to secure a place at your child’s chosen university. Paving the way to university can be stressful, so to make the application process easier, Tutor House have put together some guidelines and top tips on how to stand out from the crowd.

1. Content is key!

Here are the most important points to include:

  • Your academic background: this includes subjects you’re studying, target grades and how they contribute to the course you’re applying for.
  • Work experience, internships or volunteer work: this is another great demonstration of your commitment to your chosen subject.
  • Extra-curricular activities and hobbies: be sure to add some information about yourself outside school which demonstrates your interests. This will show how ready you are to integrate into university life.
  • Prizes and awards: mention achievements that demonstrate your ability either personally or academically – you’re allowed to show off!
  • Future aspirations: consider your aims, career trajectory and how this course will help you achieve that.

Top tip: Always find a link between your examples and how it benefits the course or your ability to study. The aim here is to demonstrate how passionate you are about the course. 

2. Nail the structure

Your personal statement should be approximately 500 words in total, made up of 4 paragraphs that are roughly 100-150 words each. The focus should be on why you should be chosen and it should follow a logical structure. We’ve outlined the ideal structure below:

  • First section: The introduction really needs to grab the administrators officers’ attention. This is where you outline your interest for the course, goals and aspirations. It’s also a good time to mention when you knew that this course was your true calling. Was it triggered by a particular event, book, film or person? Share your story.

Top tip: The purpose is to link how this course will help you on the road to adulthood or your career path.

  • Second section: As mentioned before, you need to include the subjects you’re studying at A-Level and how they will benefit you on the course. What have you learned that gives you an advantage? It’s worth mentioning particular books or persons of interest that have contributed to your outlook.
  • Third section: This final part is an opportunity to add in any other interesting facts about you, including extracurricular activities and talents. The purpose here is to show that you are independent, studious and hard-working in your personal life, too. Admissions officers want to see how you will integrate within a university setting; this includes joining societies, making friends and even turning up to lectures.

Top tip: Essentially, you’re saying to the admissions officer “I am worth the investment – and here’s why”. So prove it!

3. Pay attention to the guidelines

For some admin procedures, this is arguably the most important tutor tip and should not be skipped. A personal statement needs to be 4000 characters max (approximately 500 words). Think about using a word count tool, and do not exceed this cap. Rumour has it that UCAS will stop reading anything over the word limit – which you will be penalised for!

Top tip: It’s recommended that you use 1.5 spacing, size 12 font and a sensible font style, such as Arial, Times New Roman or Calibri. Again, don’t deviate from these suggestions. Always follow the do’s and don’ts of writing a personal statement to keep on track.

4. Hire a personal statement tutor

To make sure you’re really hitting every single target, it’s worth hiring a personal statement tutor. Application standards vary for different types of universities, whether that’s a Russell Group, Oxbridge or college. Having insight from an expert will substantially increase your child’s chances of getting into their top choice university.

To sum it all up

Writing a killer personal statement is as much about the content as it is about the structure. If you follow our step-by-step instructions, the process of writing will be much more simple. Not only that, but admissions tutors will be highly impressed with your competency. The key takeaway is: prove why you deserve a place on this course. Good luck!

Written by Naida Allen

Naida is a witty wordsmith and lover of crime books. She is a Content Writer and Social Media Executive at Tutor House — the top UK provider of online and in-person tuition. She specialises in topics relating to mental & physical wellbeing and career advice.


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