HEPA Blog: 5 Personal Statement Resources to Use With Your Students

Monday 5th November 2018

HEPA The Application Process

Part of our series of blogs from our Higher Education Progression Advisers.

As most Year 13s considering university will be writing their personal statement this term, the Higher Education Progression Advisers (HEPAs) wanted to share some of the resources we use to support you in helping students with their personal statements, or to pass onto colleagues who are new to personal statement support.

5 resources we use frequently are:

  1. The University of Manchester’s 4 page information sheet on personal statements. It gives an overview of the personal statement, structure advice (with space to start writing) and a checklist of things to include.
  2. The 5 minute UCAS personal statement video gives a succinct overview of how and what to include in a personal statement, from an admissions tutor at Imperial College London.
  3. UCAS have also produced a range of resources to help students write their personal statements, including mind maps, worksheets, timelines, and an online personal statement tool. All can be found on their personal statement resources pages.
  4. If students are struggling to get started, Which? have a free personal statement builder they can use. Students can enter their email address to be sent the draft once they have filled in each of the boxes online. Which? also have advice on how to write ‘a killer opening to your statement’.
  5. If your students are struggling to describe what they’ve done, are they using the ABC technique? For example:
    1. Activity – For one of my History essays I decided to focus on the history of British political thought.
    2. Benefit – I really enjoyed this topic and look forward to studying it in more detail at a higher level.
    3. Course – The experience I gained from researching this subject and completing my essay I’m sure will help me in a British Politics degree.

Example credit:  Sacu Student

If your students like to be shown examples, the following could be used to encourage discussion:

How could the following statement be improved when describing work experience?

“I recently set up and completed a week long work experience placement at a graphic design company. The experience gave me a real insight into the graphic design industry and reinforced my desire to study the subject at university.”

What could be improved? Why is the example below better?

“During a work experience placement at a graphic design company, I was particularly interested in the challenges of creating clear infographics. To emphasise the most important information, I experimented with combining different hooks with a range of typographic fonts. I found that the most effective solution depended on creating a clear ‘narrative’ within the image itself.”

Example credit:  University of Nottingham

Feedback from admissions tutors

At the University of Manchester’s Teachers and Advisers conference earlier this year, they listed 3 common reasons why students did not receive an offer because of their personal statement:

  • “Unsuccessful as you have not expressed a strong enough interest in the subject area in your personal statement”
  • “You failed to demonstrate sufficient knowledge and interest in the subject in your personal statement”
  • “Your personal statement did not show sufficient understanding, relevance or knowledge about the course you are applying for”

HeppSY+ HE Progression Advisers are here to help!

What do your students struggle most with? If you would like any support with personal statements at your sixth form or college, your Higher Education Progression Adviser (HEPA) can offer free support for your HeppSY+ students. Ways in which we can help include:

  • One to one or small group support for HeppSY+ learners
  • Personal statement advice presentations for students and new staff
  • Group sessions for level 3, year 1 learners to encourage work experience and how it can benefit their personal statement

Please get in touch to discuss what we can offer your school or college.

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