Personal statement tips

The personal statement is an important part of your UCAS application.

It helps admissions staff at the University decide whether to make you an offer. Some courses have many more applicants than places and there may be many students with good grades applying for the same course as you. 

What is it?

Your personal statement is a short written piece about you. It gives evidence of your skills, knowledge and experience. It’s your chance to tell us why you want to study a particular course and why you would make a great student. Read about:

Top tips for writing the perfect personal statement (The Complete University Guide)

Maximum length

47 lines or 4,000 characters maximum – whichever comes first.

What to include

Your personal statement is your chance to stand out from the crowd. It is unique and individual to you, but some things to include are:

  • Enthusiasm and motivation – your passion for the course should be clear and relate to you and your experiences (eg projects, field trips or experiences at school that sparked your interest in your subject). 
  • Understanding of the subject – you need to show you have some knowledge and understanding, even if you have not studied the subject at high school or college. If you have done some reading about the subject, outside of school, mention this.
  • Academic prizes or scholarships – this will help you stand out and show evidence of your potential.
  • Career aspirations – even if you do not have clear career plans yet, you can show you have thought about your future career and how your chosen degree could help you achieve this.
  • Relevant work experience/voluntary activities – explain what skills you have gained from the experience, including skills that would be useful in your university studies. 
  • Non-academic interests – your hobbies (such as sports, baking or reading) show your personality and can be a chance to demonstrate different skills.
  • What you will contribute to the university community – we want to know what you can bring to Leeds, as well as what you want to get out of university life.

International and EU students

If you are a non-UK student, you should also mention:

  • Why you want to study in the UK.
  • Why you want to be an international student, rather than study in your own country.

What to avoid

  • Plagiarism (copying) – all statements will be checked for plagiarism. Your statement must be your own work so do not use templates. If you have applied before, check your personal statement is completely up to date and relevant to your current application.
  • Skills without examples – show how you have developed the skills you think you will need, don't just list them.
  • Listing subject knowledge – explain how your knowledge has helped you build career aspirations, choose your degree, or prepare for coming to university.
  • Repeating qualifications – don't repeat information covered elsewhere on the application. This uses up valuable space in your personal statement.
  • Short personal statement – make the most of the space you have. A short statement suggests you lack of passion or commitment to the course you are applying for.

Our top tips

  • Write your personal statement in MS Word (or similar) first, so you can check your spelling and grammar before you add it into your application.
  • Get someone else, like your tutor, family or friends, to read your statement to check for any errors and make suggestions before you submit it. You may need a few drafts before you are happy with the final version.
  • If English is not your first language, you could mention any opportunities you have had to use English (eg an English-speaking school or work with a company that uses English).
  • Use plain, clear English. Be careful with humour, quotes or anything unusual. The admissions tutor might not have the same sense of humour as you!
  • Don’t exaggerate. If you get an interview, you might be asked for more detail about what you have written.
  • Check the faculty or school website of your chosen course for guidance on your personal statement - especially important if you are applying for a course in medicine or dentistry. For example, see Leeds University Business School's 8 ways to perfect your UK university application.
  • Check UCAS application deadlines to make sure you apply before the closing date. For courses in medicine and dentistry, this is earlier than many other courses.