How to structure your personal statement


Student working at a laptop

If you’re staring at a blank word document, thinking ‘I don’t even know where to start’ – don’t panic. Here’s how to get the best bang for your buck from those 4,000 characters …

The opening paragraph – 5%

Getting started can be a struggle. Your opening paragraph should include interesting content but- myth-buster – it doesn’t have to start with a snappy opening line, just a short and engaging one.

Talk about what has inspired you to study your subject, explain where your interest stems from and make sure your writing reflects your personality and motivation for the course.

Why do you love your subject? – 70%

The following paragraphs should focus on your course choice. This is where you need to be specific about the subject areas that interest you the most. For example, if you want to study Biology, then what area? Is it gene expression? Or human physiology? If you want to study History, are you more interested in military history or American history? Go into the nitty-gritty detail about what gives you a buzz. Your enthusiasm needs to jump off the page!

Next, mention, but don’t list, the subjects you’re currently studying and the skills you’ve gained from them. For example, if you’re studying English, then it’s likely you’re building great analytical and writing skills. Or, if you’re studying psychology, then you’ll already have fantastic critical thinking and research abilities.

Finally, in this section, share any work experience you’ve completed. Try not to list everything you’ve done but expand instead on the qualities and skills you’ve gained, such as teamwork and communication. And if you can, go one step further and explain how those skills are suited to the course you’re applying for.

This method helps you to support and make the most of all your statements and is easily remembered as the ABC model:

· Activity – What have you done? ‘I played an integral part in the school debating team for two years, debating in inter-school competitions….’

· Benefit – What skills/experience has it given you? ‘This has helped me to develop into a confident speaker…’

· Course/Career – How does this relate to the course (or your future career)? ‘…which will ensure that I positively contribute in mooting sessions.’

Aim to achieve A & B when writing each of your main points and keep referring to your subject of interest wherever possible.

What do you get involved with outside of school/college? – 20%

The final section of your statement should include your extracurricular activities.

You may have gained: leadership skills from sports; problem-solving and communication techniques from part-time work; teamwork experience from Duke of Edinburgh or time management skills from juggling your study and extracurricular commitments.

If you’re not involved in any extracurricular activities, use this section to mention any wider reading you’ve done. Reference any books, articles and journals that are specific to your subject of interest and explain why you’ve found them engaging.

Wrap it up – 5%

Tie up your personal statement with a final statement. Some students use their conclusion to share what they want to pursue in the future, others use it to emphasise their motives for going to uni. It doesn’t need to be lengthy, just a sentence or two.

For more guidance and a helpful checklist, take a look at our other blog, Personal statements: the do’s and don’ts.

Good luck!


This is a guest post written by the Content Officer at the University of Kent.