My Top 10 Most Common Personal Statement Errors - (3) Not enough academic focus

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Whilst a list of wonderful hobbies and extra-curricular activities and achievements will no doubt help to create a picture of you as a proactive go-getter (and help to make your personal statement become a little more memorable), it will never be more important than your academic suitability. To put it quite simply, you should aim to have at least 70% of your personal statement focused towards your academic abilities and interests, including information on any directly relevant work experience. It is a mistake I see time and time again - so keen are students to appear involved and interesting in their ‘free time’ that the information on why they are applying to the course and what makes them a suitable student is over before its even started.

So what kinds of things am I suggesting you mention in order to fully cover the 70% rule? Here are some ideas:

Many students look at me like I’m mad when I suggest that 5 or 6 sentences at the beginning of a personal statement isn’t enough focus to give to your educational motivations. It is as if they are thinking “what more can I possibly write about it?” But, honestly, if you commit sufficient time to planning and thinking it through, and if you take some tips from the points I’ve mentioned above, there is no reason whatsoever why you shouldn’t be able to fill 70% of your statement with information directly relevant to course choice. University staff want to teach interesting, and interested students. If you can’t convince the reader that you are genuinely enthusiastic about your chosen subject, then you are fighting a losing battle.

Of course it is OK to mention the ‘other stuff’ too - hobbies, extra-curricular interests and achievements are often what can make a statement truly unique. But just don’t let it dominate. First and foremost this is a piece of writing about why you are suited to an academic course of study and this is ultimatately what your application will be judged on.


Don’t forget that Momentum Careers Advice offer a personal statement review service for just £45. Email info@momentumcareersadvice.com if interested or read my blog post What is involved in a UCAS personal statement review?

If you want to browse through the other blog posts that I’ve written on the subject of UCAS applications then please click on this link.