Successful Personal Statement Examples: Step-By-Step Guide

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on crafting successful personal statements. In this article, we’ll walk you through a step-by-step process to help you master the art of personal statement writing. Whether you’re applying for university, a job, or a scholarship, a well-crafted personal statement can make all the difference. To aid your journey, we’ve curated personal statement examples from industry experts and successful applicants, providing invaluable insights and inspiration along the way. Now, let’s dive in and unlock the secrets to crafting a personal statement that truly stands out.

Personal Statement Examples

Table of Contents

What are Personal Statements

In the context of university applications, a personal statement is a concise essay that allows applicants to showcase their personality. It also shows academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and aspirations. In addition, it serves as an opportunity for candidates to express their passion for their chosen subject. They can also demonstrate their suitability for the course, and differentiate themselves from other applicants.

Why are Personal Statements Important

Every admissions cycle, our team is inundated with a plethora of lacklustre statements that kick off with the cliché: ‘In my youth, my father introduced me to the classic board game, Monopoly. Since then, I’ve been fixated on pursuing a career in business.’ If this sounds familiar, kindly refrain. Simply put: don’t.

Personal statements are crucial components of university applications for several reasons:

Demonstrating Motivation and Enthusiasm

First, a well-written personal statement enables applicants to articulate their genuine interest and passion for the subject they wish to study. Admissions tutors often seek candidates who are enthusiastic about their chosen field, and a compelling personal statement can convey this enthusiasm effectively.

Highlighting Academic Achievements and Skills 

Secondly, personal statements provide a platform for applicants to showcase their academic achievements, relevant skills, and intellectual curiosity. By highlighting academic accomplishments and demonstrating the ability to think critically and analytically, candidates can present themselves as strong contenders for admission.

Showcasing Extracurricular Activities and Experience 

In addition, personal statements allow applicants to discuss extracurricular activities, work experience, volunteering, and other relevant experiences. These experiences provide evidence of a candidate’s broader interests, leadership abilities, teamwork skills, and commitment to personal and professional development.

Differentiating Applicants

Next, personal statements offer an opportunity for applicants to differentiate themselves from their peers. A well-crafted personal statement can certainly leave a lasting impression on admissions tutors and make a candidate stand out in a competitive pool of applicants.

Assessing Fit with the University and Course

Lastly, personal statements enable admissions tutors to assess whether applicants are a good fit for both the university and the specific course they are applying for. By articulating their reasons for choosing the institution and demonstrating an understanding of the course content and structure, candidates can then convey their alignment with the university’s values, ethos, and academic requirements.

Personal Statement Examples

We have curated a comprehensive list of examples that you can refer to when writing your own personal statements. In this section, we cover various sections of your personal statement, all of which are equally important. 

Opening Statement to Justify your Course Selection

  • Short and simple : “I have always wanted to/ had the desire to… “
  • In order to be a…., it is very important to have a solid background in Y.
  • What fascinates me about X is … ” plus a specific explanation.
  • The role of (such and such profession) in (doing something vital in life/society) has been brought home to me by …. (add some experience/reading/etc.).
  • Since reading (some book) I have thought a great deal about (degree/something in the degree)” and then elaborate what was of particular interest in the book.
  • My interest in X stems from…
  • I’ve always loved (something related to the subject), and my favourite subject at school has always been… (and then say what you like about it).
  • My choice of degree/career was confirmed for me last year when I saw/read/ experienced…(plus detailed description conveying your enthusiasm)”.
  • X has always been my strongest academic subject and the field of study I have found most engaging(plus what and why).
  • Y is a subject that is relevant to (something important in the world)”.
  • When I was younger I wanted to / liked X… Person / Thing / Event X developed / changed/nurtured this interest to the extent that I now I am sure I wish to pursue X as a degree course.”
  • X (something in particular about the degree) has always fascinated me and for this reason I wish to pursue a degree in…

Personal Statement Examples Regarding your A-Level Subjects

  • Look back over your files, textbooks and homework, to remind yourself of what you have covered this year (should be fresh in your mind given the exams last week…).
  • What themes, topics, problems, relationships, connections, and debates have you found most interesting? Describe them.
    • Have you tried to follow any of these up by further research or reading? Mention it.
    • Did you come to any (perhaps only provisional) conclusions?
    • Would you look forward to exploring something you’ve come across at A level further at university, perhaps something that lies outside of your syllabus ?
    • If you’ve done some coursework this year, how has it deepened your appreciation of your subjects?

When discussing your A-level subjects, you can refer to the following sentence structures.

  • The X side of the A level course is an area which I find especially interesting (plus exactly what about it that does so).
  • I am also studying…
  • Studying (such and such degree) requires many skills (plus list of them ). My work on X in such and such a subject involved…(can also be used as intro to personal qualities section).
  • For me, the pleasure / fascination/joy/ attraction of studying X lies in (argument, close analysis, experimentation, problem – solving, exploration, whatever). Plus give examples of this from your studies.
  • During my study of XYZ at A level I have become especially interested in…
  • I take pleasure in many aspects of my A level course (plus examples and reflection on what is on the list of).

Personal Statement Examples for Work Experience

  • Being involved in a/professional / successful (type of company) allowed me the opportunity to (describe main tasks briefly). These duties developed skills in.
  • Working part-time in a (state the kind of business) has enabled me to develop my skills in (XYZ) by (describe the tasks that you did ).
  • I enjoyed working as a (state job) because it gave me valuable insight into (degree area). In particular I learned that…
  • Working voluntarily as a (……) provided a rewarding and valuable experience in (state experience and skills).
  • Shadowing a busy G.P at my local surgery taught me a great deal about the pressures on doctors’ time and the need for them to have excellent support staff and accurate, up-to-date records. Then give an example of where you saw this in practice.
  • Clerical work in a successful lawyer’s office last year taught me the importance of meticulous accuracy in reading documents which might have a bearing on the verdict in a criminal trial, and of the necessity to follow set procedures thoroughly in case of jeopardising a prosecution case.
  • The value of listening skills in my chosen career was brought home to me when I worked on a social services helpline at my local council office in the summer.I have learned to manage others in my work as the Saturday manager of my local branch of Burger King / of my father’s pharmacy. This has involved organising schedules, making sure health and safety standards are maintained and cultivating a cheerful and enthusiastic work atmosphere.
  • My familiarity with different kinds of computer software has allowed me to hold down a weekend job at a local internet cafe, where I have become used to dealing with different clients and their needs as well as indulging my love of problem-solving.

Personal Statement Examples for Community Service

  • Studying (degree subject) or such and such a career requires (dedication, teamwork, patience, sensitivity to others, a sense of responsibility, diplomacy, working to deadlines etc.) and these are qualities I possess / have developed in (helping at my local whatever, playing hockey, looking after X, my role as prefect, captain of tiddlywinks, work experience in etc.).
  • My interest in (degree topic) has led to an interest in / been supported by / (something extracurricular).
  • I believe that the individual can make a great contribution to society, so I am an active volunteer at…
  • My local community has always been very important to me, and in this regard I have…
  • I have always been taught that you only get out of life what you put in. I involve myself as much as possible in the life of my college / local community / etc.
  • I enjoy spending time outside the college contributing to the life of the community through involvement in clubs and societies.

Personal Statement Examples Regarding your Experience in School

  • A regular period of voluntary work with () gave me the chance to develop my communication skills with people of very different backgrounds and ages to my own.
  • I found raising money for Oxfam was a very rewarding opportunity to help others. I held a 24-hour sponsored fast and sold cakes I had baked myself on a stall outside school to raise £300. I would like to take on more responsibility to organise charity events while at university.
  • At college, I have been a member of the Student Council, taking turns to chair meetings from which proposals have been made to the Principal of the college. In this way, I have helped to persuade the college, for example, to improve its computer facilities and to add korfball to its sport curriculum.
  • Helping out at the college’s Open Days has given me a much better sense of the workings of a large organisation, and talking to parents of new students about the college has developed my confidence and communication skills.
  • As a prefect, I have learned how to exercise authority in a calm and judicious manner and to communicate effectively with people in higher positions, particularly in the role of monitor of the dinner queue, where my colleagues and I had to ensure orderly behaviour among 200 hungry teenagers.
  • As a library assistant, my duties included organising the book loan system. This experience has shown that I am responsible and capable of dealing with a range of people.

Personal Statement Examples for Other Interests

  • Being a member of the cast for A Streetcar named Desire was extremely rewarding. Acting has improved my self-confidence and public speaking skills. I hope to be involved in more dramatic productions at university.
  • Watching foreign films such as Amores Perras and City of God is a passion of mine and it has led to a broad interest in world literature/other cultures.
  • Last year I was introduced to African music, and since then I have developed a real interest in it, particularly the work of Mann Dibango and Fela Kuti, and I have also enjoyed finding out about the political context of the arts in Africa, as at the recent Africa exhibition at the Hayward Gallery.
  • In my spare time, I like to experiment with new recipes in the kitchen. I am really pleased to be getting to grips with the basics of Thai cuisine – as are my family!
  • Playing left-wing for the Hendon Wanderers 1 team over the last two years has been a really enjoyable and worthwhile experience, teaching me a lot about my own and other people’s character in terms of commitment and working in a group under pressure.
  • I have always enjoyed singing in my local church choir and hope to learn something about gospel/perform in light opera/form a blues band at university.
  • Outside college, I get great pleasure and good exercise from Latin American dancing, where I have reached level 6 over the last three years. Learning new routines has also taught me a lot about what kind of learner I am, and this self-knowledge has fed into my college work too.
  • My interest in problem-solving in Maths is also reflected in my desire to work out from local public records, exploring my family tree going back to the eighteenth century.

Frequently Asked Questions

Most universities recommend a maximum length of 4,000 characters or 47 lines, including spaces and blank lines.

It’s advisable to mention relevant courses or modules if they support your interest in the subject you’re applying for. However, avoid listing them without explaining their relevance to your academic or career goals.

While it’s tempting to reuse personal statements, it’s crucial to tailor each one to the specific requirements and ethos of each university. Admissions tutors can often spot generic statements, so it’s best to personalise each one.

Yes, mentioning relevant achievements or awards can bolster your application and showcase your abilities. However, focus on those that directly relate to your chosen course or demonstrate skills valued by universities.

The opening paragraph is crucial as it sets the tone for your entire statement. Aim to grab the reader’s attention with a compelling introduction that highlights your passion, motivation, and suitability for the course.

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