Female student stood outside smiling

preparing for your personal statement

Our top tips on what skills and experiences look good on a personal statement to make you stand out from the crowd

Standing out on your personal statement

You may have plenty of relevant experience to write about on your personal statement. Or perhaps you're looking for more inspiration. Wherever you're at, we've got your back.

This page will help you identify the skills you can include in your writing and extra activities you can do in your spare time to develop your experience.

Why are you applying to uni?

Universities will want to know what inspired you to choose their course. Start reflecting on why you're choosing the subject you like. Really get to the bottom of why it's the course for you.

That means demonstrating why you’re an excellent candidate. It means talking about your skills, specific interests, work experience and enjoyment of the subject:

Enjoyment of the subject

What gives you that spark for your chosen subject? Use our questions to guide you if you're not sure.

Your skills

How do your skills, including transferable skills, relate to your course and career?

Specific interests

How do they relate to your course and career? Get to the crux of what motivates you.

Work experience

Can highlight wider skills like teamwork and time management, which are relevant to write about.

Good examples from students

Student 1

‘I am in the process of conducting an independent research project on the environmental implications of face coverings in my local river. This has helped me expand my knowledge further and I hope my findings will provide a great base for studying a degree in Environmental Science.’

Student 2

‘Being a dedicated member of my local amateur dramatics society has allowed me to perform in front of large audiences many times. This has helped with my confidence and creative skills, and has helped develop my love for musical theatre even further.'

Why are these good examples?

These students clearly describe why they're interested in their subjects. They're specific about what they enjoy and the skills that they've learnt. And they relate their interests back to the subject area. They've also been concise, which means they've saved characters.


Identifying your skills and experience

As shown in the student examples above, to really highlight why you're applying to uni and choosing a course, you'll need to draw on your skills and experience.

So in this section, we'll help you reflect on your transferrable skills to inspire your writing.

Preparing for your personal statement
How to stand out

Get ready to show your chosen universities why you'll make a great student and why they should make you an offer.

How to identify your skills and experiences

Figuring out everything you've been involved in isn't easy. But those activities are unique to you. And universities love to hear about them.

Use our questions below to make a list of the things you've done, then see what transferrable skills you can draw from them.

Experiences

  • Have you completed the Duke of Edinburgh Award?
  • Were you a head boy or head girl?
  • Have you been a prefect, mentor or student ambassador?
  • Did you attend a taster day or academic lecture?
  • What extracurricular reading have you done around your subject area of interest?
  • Can you play an instrument?
  • Were you or are you involved in or captained a sports teams?
  • Have you had a part-time job or any kind of work experience?
  • Have you ever planned an event?

Skills

  • Communication – Mentoring, being a student ambassador, presentations, group work
  • Teamwork – Sports and clubs, volunteering, part-time work, development programmes
  • Leadership and supervision – Head boy or girl, being a prefect, captain of a sports team, leading on a college project
  • Researching and analysing – Extended Project Qualification, reading around your subject area
  • Problem-solving and decision-making – from part-time jobs and academic studies
  • Work experience (alternatives) – Volunteering, charity work, virtual work experience, planned an event

Showing interest in your chosen subject

Think you need a few more things to write about on your personal statement?

Fear not – there’s lots of resources to watch, listen to and read to build your subject knowledge in your spare time. Here are a few examples to get you started.

Types of activities

Watch

Vlogs, performances, films, world cinema, documentaries.

Read

Subject specific magazines, academic journals, news, blogs.

Listen

Radio programmes, public lecturers, podcasts.

Visit

Museums, galleries, summer schools, taster days, Open Days, libraries.

Resource bank

Podcasts and radio

Spotify, BBC Sounds, BBC Radio 4, Apple Podcasts, Luminary, TED Talks


Time for a challenge

Universities will be impressed with students who link their relevant skills and experiences to their chosen degree. And if you can show your enthusiasm in the subject area, then they'll be doubly impressed.

Set yourself a 15 minute challenge to start noting down all of the above. Use our writer to jot down anything that comes to mind. Even if you're not sure it's relevant, you can always ask your teacher to check.

Or, if you prefer, spend 15 minutes learning about your subject area. Read a blog, find a news article or look for a video on YouTube. Write down anything interesting that you learn. Even if you don't use that knowledge in your statement, you might talk about it in an interview or future assignment.


Keep exploring

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