Writing your personal statement

Your personal statement should show your passion for the subject and demonstrate your skills and abilities. 

It should set you apart from applicants who have similar qualifications. If you're interviewed, the personal statement can help set the agenda for the interview discussion. 

To help you write a persuasive personal statement we've prepared some guidance to help you understand what we are looking for.

Be specific and give examples

If you have a record of achievement or an up-to-date CV, it can remind you which activities to include, but the key is being selective about what you write. Don't just put a list of your skills or attributes; make sure what you write is relevant to the courses and universities you’re applying to.

As a rough guide you should only refer to current or recent activities.

Be clear about why you're applying to the course

This is especially important if you are applying for something you haven't studied before.

  • Why have you applied for these courses?
  • Why do you want to study the subject?
  • How has your interest for the subject developed or how you have pursued it?

Give evidence of commitment beyond the curriculum

For competitive courses this is vital.

  • How do you stand out from the crowd?
  • Have you shown that you're prepared for the breadth and depth of a university degree

Work experience

Describe any work experience, especially if relevant to the course. For some courses – such as medicine, and nursing – work experience is essential.

Extracurricular activities

Your statement should give information about extracurricular involvements and activities such as sporting achievements or volunteer work. If you're not in school or college, you should talk about life experience and previous employment.

These can help to show that you are enthusiastic and have the ability to set priorities and manage your time. They may also be relevant to the course applied for.

You should point out the relevance of your experience even if the bare facts are mentioned elsewhere on the form:

  • mention any career plans or gap year plans
  • give information about yourself, in greater detail than what you have already supplied on the UCAS application.

Presentation

Leave some white space by skipping a line between paragraphs – this will make it easier for admissions tutors to read. You will still find you can produce a text of about 450–500 words in the space available.

Feedback

Allow time for proofreading and editing and ask other people to read it; they may spot problems or opportunities.

Remember to ensure that this is all your own work. UCAS uses the Similarity Detection Service which means they will scan through your personal statement to spot anything which has been submitted before.

Download the guide

If you wish you can also download our printable guide which includes a space for your to write some notes about your statement.

Advice on writing your personal statement (PDF  , 64kb)

Contact us

If you have any questions about the application process our Admissions team will be happy to help.

Undergraduate Admissions
ug-admissions@york.ac.uk
+44 (0)1904 324000

Contact us

If you have any questions about the application process our Admissions team will be happy to help.

Undergraduate Admissions
ug-admissions@york.ac.uk
+44 (0)1904 324000