How To Write a Great UK Personal Statement - Atlas Academy

How To Write a Great UK Personal Statement

University Applications


By Justas Pakašius

Published 2022 06 14

Much like any other motivational letter, the UK personal statement is your key to getting into the British university of your dreams. However, these statements can be tricky. You need to strike a fine balance between highlighting your skills and talents and bragging. Similarly, if you are applying to five institutions your statement has to be both relatively broad to appeal to all or most of the institutions on one hand and specific enough to demonstrate your skills and merit for attending a specific program on the other. Also, because you usually apply to several universities at once you usually apply to a program, perhaps several related ones and not so much a specific university. 

Key Things To Do And Not To Do Step By Step

A good beginning is to clearly state what skills you have, which are relevant to the program to which you are applying. Name activities that prove that. For instance, quick thinking is demonstrated by participating in the national debating championships. This will be the core of your personal statement. Two or three critical skills that are relevant to your selected degree. For instance, good argumentative skills acquired through essay writing competitions are relevant to students applying to law studies, but perhaps not as important to people applying to veterinary science.

Once you have your skeleton structure it is a good time to start fleshing it out. Do not worry about writing an introduction or a conclusion yet. Those are the last things to add because they depend so much on what you will write in your body paragraphs. A good tip is that a single paragraph should only tackle one idea, such as debating or olympiads, exploring that idea relatively thoroughly, including sentences on what is it exactly that you have done, achievements while doing it, skills used and learned and how it is relevant.

The absolute emphasis has to be on academics, UK universities are a lot more strict than their US peers in determining what is acceptable to include in a personal statement. They are looking for academically successful and achieved prospective students, thus, your application should reflect that. Although you may have done amazing things outside the classroom they can form only a small part of your application unless they are truly extraordinary. It is much more relevant to include a book that you have read and how it influenced your thinking and academic career. 

Avoid cliches or things anyone could say. “I loved science since I was a child” is not an argument. A rule of thumb: if you can interchange the object of your sentence with another word and it still makes sense, you should rewrite the sentence. In the previous example science could be interchanged with “history” and the sentence would still be fine. Which means it is not unique or substantiated. Instead, you can write “Participation in science olympiads taught to me to appreciate physics in a way I could not imagine”. Exchange “science” with “history” and the sentence no longer makes sense. This is an indication that it is relatively well reasoned. 

The same applies to quotes or citations. Although you may think starting the essay with a quote from Oscar Wilde may be fun and quirky, the examiners read several of them every year. Also, they are not considering the application of Wilde, but yours. Use your voice and tell your story, narrate your skills and explain your motivation. Don’t rely on Pinterest to write the essay for you.

The conclusion and introduction should reflect your body paragraphs and should form an integral part of your argument for why you should be admitted to these schools. Your introduction and conclusions should be read as standalone texts, indeed many examiners only skim most of the essay and focus on the introduction and conclusion. The introduction should lay out your love for the subject and reason for attending. The conclusion should sum up the arguments and aim to persuade that the best way for you to develop your skills, and talents and pursue academic success would be through this program. 

What Atlas Can Do

Do you have a dream university in mind? Atlas Academy can help you prepare for it. We will help you craft the best possible application portfolio possible and review the material you already have. 


Published by

Justas Pakašius

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