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Writing your personal statement

Student writing in a notebook

When you're applying to university, a personal statement is your opportunity to stand out from the crowd. It’s really important to take time to think about, plan and write the best possible statement.

Try our simple exercise – the three-sheet method – as you go about preparing your statement.

Your chance to sell yourself

Personal statements are a maximum of 4,000 characters or 47 lines (about one side of typed A4) when applying through UCAS. If you apply through ARU online, the maximum word count is 2,000 words. You should remember that this may be your only opportunity to make an impression and sell yourself to a university's admissions officer or tutor. Many courses do not require an interview so the decision to offer a place is based on the content of the application form, and the personal statement is a very important part of this process.

A good way to approach writing your statement is to think about the future. Concentrate on what you want to achieve through your studies rather than describing the route you’ve taken to get to uni.

The things you’ve done in the past are important too, but they should be used to support your explanation of where you’re headed. It seems odd, but the best statements tend to explain what you’re going to be doing once you leave university.

Make sure your statement is relevant to the courses you’re applying for. Even if you’ve applied for five different courses, try to refer to each subject area. Tutors can be put off by no mention of interest in their course.

If you're finding it difficult to talk about a number of subject areas, you may be able to send a separate personal statement to the university. Contact them to ask if this is allowed. Here at Anglia Ruskin, we often receive applications for Optometry from people who have mainly applied for medicine. In this instance you can send a specific, supplementary optometry statement first.

ARU three-sheet method

We’ve developed a simple and straightforward process to help you write a really good personal statement.

We call it the ‘three-sheet method’ (you can do it on three sheets of paper) and we’ve successfully used it to help hundreds of students just like you.

We’ve also had lots of feedback showing that using this method helps to make the whole process much easier.

Get started with your statement

Additional resources

Read an example personal statement (PDF)

Take a look at our interactive personal statement guide (PDF)