Step by step guidelines on how to write a personal statement (statement of purpose, SOP) for successful university admission applications.
Personal Statement is sometimes called Statement of Purpose (SOP) as a personal statement gives clear statement of your purpose of choosing to study a certain course at certain institution.
Normally, you will require submitting this statement with the admission application along with your academic credentials. It is an opportunity for you to tell the selectors why you think you would be a suitable student for the course you are applying and why the University should select your application over those of the other candidates. It is therefore vitally important that you make this statement as effective as possible.
Remember, Personal Statement, as the name suggests, is a statement that is very ‘personal’ to you – related to your past and current attainments and your future pursuance. Therefore, it has to be an ‘original’ statement – if it is copied from somewhere else or written by someone else, it won’t be personal anymore and on the other hand, it may constitute to plagiarism and your admission application can be cancelled or unsuccessful.
As a guideline, we recommend you to cover the following areas in your personal statement -
6 steps to success (6s2s)
Tell straightway which course you want to study at which university. Briefly state why you want to study this course – what academic and career benefits you will achieve by studying this course (3-4 lines).
State the features of the course that have motivated you most, what are your learning targets and how the accomplishments will develop you personally, professionally and boost your career prospects (10 to 12 lines).
Mention your past and current academic strengths, career achievements that are relevant to this course, extra-curricular activities – how those attainments will complement your prospective study and which areas of knowledge and skills you are going to develop (8 to 10 lines).
State how you will design your future with the new achievements – with higher level of degree what career target you are aiming to grab in short, medium and long term (5 to 7 lines).
State why you have chosen this university to study this course – what different and unique features this university have, which distinctive things the university offers that will provide you extra value (8 to 10 lines).
Start with interesting opening sentence that persuade the reader.
Establish your academic insight and prove your understanding about the intended study.
Write in short paragraphs and make them connected, use simple English.
Organise it in logical order, check spelling, grammar and punctuations.
As a general guideline, the length of personal statement should be between 500 to 1000 words depending on the level of course you are applying for.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q What are personal statement clichés?
A A cliché is an expression, idea, or action that has been overused to the point of seeming worn out, stale, ineffective, or meaningless (dictipnary.com). A common example of personal statement cliché is: ‘Since my early childhood, I have been dreaming of studying ……………………..’
Clichés make personal statements boring and weak. By using clichés you will sound pointless and create bad impression to admission officer. Therefore avoid clichés in your personal statement.
Q Is it ok to use quotes in personal statement?
A The whole idea is to write a statement which is personal i.e. your own. In the personal statement admission officers want to see what you have to say, not what other people said. Hence, we advise you not to use any quote by famous people in your personal statement, use the opportunity to tell your tale.
Q What are some general expressions I must avoid in personal statement?
A There are some general expressions most of the students get tempted to put on their personal statement for example:
Example 1: I have chosen this University because it is world-famous …………………
Whether the university is world famous or not, provide specific features of the university that inspired you to choose the university.
Example 1: My career plan is to join a multi-national company after I graduate with this degree …………………
Avoid your plan to join a multi-national company when writing your personal statement, mention specific career position at specific company/organisation or in specific industry/sector you have planned to develop your career in short, medium and long term.
Q When my personal statement will be rejected despite it is well-written?
A If you do not write your chosen course name and university name correctly, your personal statement will be rejected though you have done other things right.
Make sure you write the course title and full course name correctly alongside the university name in full and in correct spelling.
Q Can I submit the same personal statement written by me to more than one university after changing university name?
A We do not suggest you do so because the later university may reject it i) as plagiarised personal statement after checking via plagiarism checker software, ii) the statement may not make sense as course contents/modules are likely to be different at different universities, iii) choice of university justification cannot be same - unique features of different universities are different. Therefore, write new personal statement for each new application.
Q Do universities refuse offer due to poor personal statement despite having strong academic grades?
A Yes, strong academic background may not come to any use for offer of a place if you provide a poor personal statement. You have worked very hard for years to achieve your academic grades. Why not work hard for a few days to write a strong personal statement that makes you stand-out to the admission team.
Q When do I need to give the personal statement? Can I provide my personal statement after I submit my application for admission to university?
A If you have not written your personal statement at the time of your admission application, you can submit the application without it. However, you should prepare and submit it within a week. You are unlikely to get an unconditional offer without it, some universities even do not issue conditional offer without a personal statement.