A Parent’s Guide To Personal Statements

A student’s Personal Statement is a crucial part of their UK university application, and could be the difference between an acceptance and a rejection from their first-choice course

It goes without saying that getting the Personal Statement right is incredibly important. However, for many teens, this will be the first extended piece of writing about their own achievements they have ever had to complete. 

As a parent, you will naturally want to offer a helping hand to your child when they are working on their submission. That’s why our Higher Education experts here at Save My Exams have put together a complete guide to Personal Statements for UK universities. 

Check out the information below to find the answers to your frequently asked questions, the key information you should know, and our tricks and tips for success!

Why do students need to write Personal Statements?

Put simply, the purpose of a Personal Statement is to allow candidates to set themselves apart from the competition. 

In this short piece of writing, they are given the opportunity to articulate why they’d like to study a particular course or subject, and what skills and experience they possess that show their passion for their chosen field.

They can also prove their writing talent, their ability to concisely convey information, and explain why they would be an asset to their future university.  

What are the rules?

  • Only one Statement can be submitted, meaning that ALL universities that the student applies for will receive the same version (so no course or university should be mentioned by name in the Statement)
  • The character count cannot exceed 4000 (including spaces and punctuation) 
  • The deadline for submission is the 15th of January 2021
  • The work should be completely original, written by the student themselves (although it’s okay for teachers and parents to offer advice)

What should be included?

It’s a good idea to start off the Statement with the most important information: what motivated the student to apply for the particular course or subject. 

This could include details of relevant extra curricular experiences which helped the student to develop their interest in the subject – for example holiday courses, optional projects or work placements.  

Details of independent reading and research around a particular subject will help to prove that the student has a genuine interest and initiative. 

If your child is struggling to decide what to write about, encourage them to reflect on the past few years and to make a list of all the clubs, activities, trips, projects, part-time jobs, hobbies and sports they have been involved with. Did any of these experiences play a role in their university course choice or to their academic development? If so, they can be included in the Statement. 

Note – don’t include details of every single extra-curricular activity – the admissions officers are unlikely to be impressed by a Grade 1 piano exam or a brief stint as a babysitter four years ago. 

Bonus extra tips

  1. If the student has ambitions for the future which are tied to their university choice, they can mention them in the Personal Statement.
  2. If any university taster days or summer courses were attended by the student, these should also be mentioned.
  3. Look at the online course descriptions to find out which skills are necessary – then write about those!
  4. According to official guidance: “If there are any personal circumstances which have affected the student’s educational performance, they can be outlined in the personal statement. For example, this might be something that caused them to miss school  – such as a physical or mental health condition, or caring for a family member”.
  5. If the student has received a bursary or scholarship to cover the costs of their education, they can let the university know about that in their Personal Statement. 

International students

If a student is applying as a non-UK student, they should also use their Personal Statement to explain why they want to study in the UK (rather than in their home country) and to detail their English language skills and qualifications.

Remember, in order to apply for university in the UK, students must register with UCAS and complete the full application through their online portal

A Personal Statement is one part of the whole application, and must be submitted alongside exam grades, predicted exam grades, teacher references and course choices. To learn more about applying to a UK university, try this blog post or head to the UCAS website!

If you’d like to ask a question about any of the issues covered in this blog post,  get in touch by messaging us on social media: @SaveMyExams on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.