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Writing your personal statement

Your personal statement

All applicants applying to an undergraduate course via UCAS at the University of Warwick will need to write a personal statement to submit with their application.

What is a personal statement?

The personal statement is your chance to explain why you are applying to study your course, and what makes you suitable for that particular course. It can be up to 4000 characters or 47 lines long.

How important is it?

Our courses are very competitive, with often many more applicants predicted to meet the entry requirements than we are able to offer places to. Where this occurs, the personal statement is used in selection, alongside predicted and achieved academic qualifications; although more weight is given to the qualifications, the personal statement may be a deciding factor where large numbers of applicants share the same academic profile. It may also be reviewed again when deciding on applicants who have narrowly missed the conditions of their offer.

We do not have a set list of things that we are looking for, but there are some things that we think help to contribute to a strong personal statement:

  • This is primarily an academic statement about why you want to study a particular subject. Therefore, the majority of the statement should focus on discussion of that subject and why it interests you.
  • Following on from this, we want to see that you are genuinely committed to your chosen area of study. Generally, this is better demonstrated through discussion of the subject and the experiences you have had, rather than through writing a sentence saying that you are interested in your subject of choice.
  • We are looking for students who can critically reflect on what they have read, experienced and learnt and come to their own reasoned conclusions.
  • We also like to see that you can structure an essay and an argument well, including proof- reading it thoroughly.

Why you want to study your chosen course

Between 70-80% of your Personal Statement should focus on why you want to study your chosen subject.

The person reading your application form will want to know in what ways you ‘connect’ with your chosen subject. They will look for motivated students who can articulate their aims and have the potential to succeed on the course.

Why have you chosen this course?

  • What aspects of the course do you think you will enjoy? What is it that really interests you about this subject?
  • Are there particular areas of the subject that really grab your attention and make you want to study it in more depth?
  • What reading have you done around your chosen subject to show you have made an informed decision on what to study? Don't just list your wider reading; say what you thought about it, how it relates to other aspects of the subject, and how it has helped to develop your thinking.
  • If you have applied for a joint or interdisciplinary degree, can you show that your are really committed to studying all the subjects that the degree entails, and have you made connections between the various areas of study?

What do you hope to get out of the course?

  • Do you have a particular career or area of work in mind which you hope the course will help you to enter?
  • Do you have any long-term goals?

Your interests and skills

The remaining 20-30% of your Personal Statement can be about your interests or experience more generally, and how they relate to your course.

Remember, although we are interested in your work experience and extra-curricular activities, they should not dominate your personal statement. You are applying for an academic course of study, and the limited space available to you for your personal statement should predominantly focus on this.

  • How does your work experience or extra-curricular activities add to your skills? Do they illustrate your interest in your chosen subject? Or do they show evidence of skills which would be particularly useful to that field of study?
  • What are your strengths and skills? How would you use and build on them in following this course?

Remember to plan ahead and think about the structure of your statement.

A well-structured, thoughtfully written statement can convey your suitability for and commitment to the course.

Take care with spelling and grammar, and make sure that your ideas are expressed clearly and intelligently.

  • Be clear and concise, with a good structure of beginning, middle and end.
  • Get someone to proof read your statement for spelling and grammar before submitting your application.
  • Have a clear conclusion where you summarise your academic interest in your chosen course.

Try to avoid listing endless things in your personal statement. Instead, focus on a few topics, and go into greater depth about how they have contributed to you wanting to study your course.

Given that you do not know who will be reading your personal statement, try to avoid using humour or making any controversial statements.

As most Warwick degrees are academic subjects, we would suggest that you do not need to focus so much on transferrable skills e.g. communication, time management etc., unless your course specifically requires these skills. If you do mention transferrable skills, then make sure you take time to explain why these are important for your course of study and how you have acquired them.

If you do mention any research you have done - for example reading a book or participating in a MOOC - do make sure you have actually read it/participated in it. This is to ensure that your personal statement appears sincere. Also, remember that if you are applying for a course that you will be interviewed for, you may be asked about anything you have mentioned in your personal statement.

Warwick understands that your academic progress and attainment may sometimes be affected by circumstances beyond your control. As space in your personal statement is limited, we suggest you either ask your teacher to include this information in their reference, or alternatively you can complete an Extenuating Circumstances form.

Keep it personal

Finally, make sure your statement reflects YOU and that you sound interested and interesting!

Be yourself and reflect your own interests in your chosen course, evidencing this with analysis of any wider reading or research you have done.