Preparing a personal statement is enough to make you cringe, just a little bit. No one really wants to sit down and write all about how awesome they are (no matter how true it is). It’s a bit embarrassing, and can feel like you’re showing off.

The thing is, showing off doesn’t always have to be bad. You should be proud of your skills, your experience and your interests – they’re all part of what makes you a good candidate. When a university’s looking through its applicants, it uses your personal statement to find out whether you’re truly passionate about your chosen course.

So, don’t be afraid to show off a little bit. Just make sure your final personal statement really does you justice.

Keep it to the point

“Why do I want to study this subject at university?” 

“Why do I want to study this subject at university?” If your personal statement doesn’t answer this simple question above all else, then start again. Try to be truthful – sincerity shows, and recent experiences really lend credibility to a personal statement. Have you really had a passion to study accounting from an early age, or were you always good at maths and recently had work experience that made you realise accounting suits your strengths?

Make sure you’re concise – you have a maximum limit of 4,000 characters. It may sound like a lot, but you’ll run out pretty quickly. Include your skills, attributes and experience, and how they’re relevant to the course. Don’t bother repeating your grades, or a list of subjects you’re studying, because they’re already elsewhere in your application. And there’s no point taking up space with quotes from scientists or philosophers. Every word needs to be your word.

Remember: through UCAS, you can apply for up to five courses, but you’re using one personal statement for all five. If you want, you can apply for a range of different courses, but it’ll be very difficult to tailor your personal statement to complete different subject areas. It’s wise to apply for five courses that are all within the same field. Then you can use your personal statement to explain your interest in a focused way.

Take it seriously

Your personal statement is the first, and sometimes only, chance you have to express why you want to study the course you’ve chosen. It needs to convince the admissions staff that you’re capable.

Start early, and don’t leave it to the last minute. Remember that your first draft is only a starting point, and a good personal statement will take time. Expect to draft and redraft before being totally happy with it.

Give yourself ample time to check your grammar, spelling and punctuation – and then check it again. There’s no spellcheck on UCAS, so a well-written statement makes a good impression and shows you really care about your university opportunities.

Ask for feedback

Who knows you best, and who do you trust? These are the people you want to read your personal statement for feedback. They may be teachers, family, friends – as long as they can offer a fresh perspective, you’ll be able to understand how your personal statement looks to a brand new pair of eyes.

Go for it!

Use your personal statement to really make yourself shine. Don’t be embarrassed about discussing your achievements – your successes are something to be proud of, and universities will be impressed when they see how your experiences have informed your choices.

So don’t hold back! Best of luck with your application.