How to begin your UCAS personal statement: the opening sentence …

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How to start a personal statement

How to start a personal statement

Want to know how to start a personal statement for university? Most students find that starting a personal statement is the hardest part, but our advice is not to start at the start.  

Leave your opening line until last and just try and simply get some ideas down on paper. Don’t try to think of a catchy opening, instead plan what you want to say, concentrate on the main content of your statement, use our worksheet to make a draft, and write the introduction last.

So how do you go about writing the rest? If you want to write to impress, here’s five top tips to help you nail your UCAS application. We’ve even thrown in some real personal statement examples from our students.

1. Write like you

Don’t get caught up in trying to become a human thesaurus. Personal statements should look more like a record of your academic and personal achievements and less like a churning out of quotes from age-old philosophers! Your personal statement needs to show off who you are, which is easy to lose whilst rattling off your achievements or quotes from others. A straightforward sentence that demonstrates your enthusiasm is much better than trying to get their attention with an outdated statement or a quote from a historian from hundreds of years ago. We promise!

Example from one of our students

“Digital media has always been a large part of my life. From now cringe-worthy creations of my early youth to near-professional publications I now create, I have always enjoyed creating creative media using technology.”

2. Break it down

The whole personal statement may look like a mammoth task right now, so start off by breaking it into more manageable chunks. Break it up into sections and approach them one at a time – you don’t necessarily have to fully write up any of your paragraphs, in fact we advise that you brainstorm ideas before putting pen to paper! It’s also crucial to remember that organisation is key. Write lists of what you want to include in your statement and why you love the subject.

Voluntary work: This can include peer mentoring and being a prefect. Remember to say what you did/ do, then what you learned from it and why you found it useful and rewarding.

Example from one of our students

“I followed my dreams and created a clothing line named ‘MOXY’ this creation of mine grew and amassed a client base of over 1000 people on MOXY’s Facebook page and shipped over 80 of my products worldwide, one of my best achievements was organising and casting a photo-shoot involving products and models.”

Get a free personal statement guide

3. Use examples – back yourself up!

Don’t lose sight of the task at hand. Always remember to answer the question: ‘Why should we give you a place on the course?’ Instead of writing about yourself aimlessly, check that every bit of the personal statement should be answering this question. When you are talking about your strengths and qualities, make sure you use examples to highlight your claims whenever appropriate. 

4. Now write your opening line

So now you have done all the above steps, let’s get down to it: the most effective opening sentences are simple, to the point and personal to you. Remember showing your interest and enthusiasm in the course is the biggest thing. Start with why you chose it, then try and summarise this in one or two sentences. Be original and refer to personal experiences as a way to draw attention. Avoid overused opening sentences, quotes and clichés like ‘when I was young…’ They want to know about you now, not your childhood or Shakespeare! 

5.Check, check, and check again!

Once you’ve started your first draft, get other people to critique your statement, especially if you know other students who are currently doing the same course you’re applying for. You can also ask teachers or professionals in the field. Use appropriate vocabulary, spelling and grammar. Use words with precise meanings, avoid pretentious language or giving the impression you just swallowed a dictionary. Read it back to yourself out loud – and get parents, friends or siblings to take a look through too.

Personal statement checklist

Download for free: The Ultimate Guide to Personal Statements

Not sure how to write your personal statement? Download your free guide which includes real examples from our students.

Download your guide

Personal statement checklist

Download for free: The Ultimate Guide to Personal Statements

Not sure how to write your personal statement? Download your free guide which includes real examples from our students.

Download your guide

Most Recent

Student tips for personal statements

Our students’ top tips for personal statements

Expert tips for personal statements

Expert tips on writing personal statements

Do's and Don'ts of writing a personal statement

Do’s and don’ts of personal statements

What to include in your personal statement

What to include on your personal statement

Five stages of writing personal statement

The five emotions of writing a personal statement

Do you have any questions?

0121 331 5595  

/birminghamcityuniversity

@MyBCU

 

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  • Birmingham City University Home Page

  • Student Info
  • How to Apply
  • Advice for your application
  • How to start a personal statement

How to start a personal statement

How to start a personal statement

Want to know how to start a personal statement for university? Most students find that starting a personal statement is the hardest part, but our advice is not to start at the start.  

Leave your opening line until last and just try and simply get some ideas down on paper. Don’t try to think of a catchy opening, instead plan what you want to say, concentrate on the main content of your statement, use our worksheet to make a draft, and write the introduction last.

So how do you go about writing the rest? If you want to write to impress, here’s five top tips to help you nail your UCAS application. We’ve even thrown in some real personal statement examples from our students.

1. Write like you

Don’t get caught up in trying to become a human thesaurus. Personal statements should look more like a record of your academic and personal achievements and less like a churning out of quotes from age-old philosophers! Your personal statement needs to show off who you are, which is easy to lose whilst rattling off your achievements or quotes from others. A straightforward sentence that demonstrates your enthusiasm is much better than trying to get their attention with an outdated statement or a quote from a historian from hundreds of years ago. We promise!

Example from one of our students

“Digital media has always been a large part of my life. From now cringe-worthy creations of my early youth to near-professional publications I now create, I have always enjoyed creating creative media using technology.”

2. Break it down

The whole personal statement may look like a mammoth task right now, so start off by breaking it into more manageable chunks. Break it up into sections and approach them one at a time – you don’t necessarily have to fully write up any of your paragraphs, in fact we advise that you brainstorm ideas before putting pen to paper! It’s also crucial to remember that organisation is key. Write lists of what you want to include in your statement and why you love the subject.

Voluntary work: This can include peer mentoring and being a prefect. Remember to say what you did/ do, then what you learned from it and why you found it useful and rewarding.

Example from one of our students

“I followed my dreams and created a clothing line named ‘MOXY’ this creation of mine grew and amassed a client base of over 1000 people on MOXY’s Facebook page and shipped over 80 of my products worldwide, one of my best achievements was organising and casting a photo-shoot involving products and models.”

Get a free personal statement guide

3. Use examples – back yourself up!

Don’t lose sight of the task at hand. Always remember to answer the question: ‘Why should we give you a place on the course?’ Instead of writing about yourself aimlessly, check that every bit of the personal statement should be answering this question. When you are talking about your strengths and qualities, make sure you use examples to highlight your claims whenever appropriate. 

4. Now write your opening line

So now you have done all the above steps, let’s get down to it: the most effective opening sentences are simple, to the point and personal to you. Remember showing your interest and enthusiasm in the course is the biggest thing. Start with why you chose it, then try and summarise this in one or two sentences. Be original and refer to personal experiences as a way to draw attention. Avoid overused opening sentences, quotes and clichés like ‘when I was young…’ They want to know about you now, not your childhood or Shakespeare! 

5.Check, check, and check again!

Once you’ve started your first draft, get other people to critique your statement, especially if you know other students who are currently doing the same course you’re applying for. You can also ask teachers or professionals in the field. Use appropriate vocabulary, spelling and grammar. Use words with precise meanings, avoid pretentious language or giving the impression you just swallowed a dictionary. Read it back to yourself out loud – and get parents, friends or siblings to take a look through too.

Personal statement checklist

Download for free: The Ultimate Guide to Personal Statements

Not sure how to write your personal statement? Download your free guide which includes real examples from our students.

Download your guide

Personal statement checklist

Download for free: The Ultimate Guide to Personal Statements

Not sure how to write your personal statement? Download your free guide which includes real examples from our students.

Download your guide

Most Recent

Student tips for personal statements

Our students’ top tips for personal statements

Expert tips for personal statements

Expert tips on writing personal statements

Do's and Don'ts of writing a personal statement

Do’s and don’ts of personal statements

What to include in your personal statement

What to include on your personal statement

Five stages of writing personal statement

The five emotions of writing a personal statement

Do you have any questions?

0121 331 5595  

/birminghamcityuniversity

@MyBCU

 




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  1. SarahhhD



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    • 26-06-2008
      22:14

    I’m struggling to write a good opener for my PS, Has anyone got any tips as to how to write a good one?

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    • Audrey Hepburn



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      • 26-06-2008
        22:16

      “I’m hot and naked…”

      then follow it up with:

      “now I have your attention, I want to study Physics because…”

      86

      • vixky!



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        • 26-06-2008
          22:17

        “I wish to study [subject] because…”

        Can’t beat it. Don’t bother with fancy quotes and stuff, just get straight in there.

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        • Pepe Le Poosh



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          • 26-06-2008
            22:18

          ‘How many 0’s do you want me to put on this blank cheque?’

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          • dealbreaker



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            • 26-06-2008
              22:18

            Take n0thing away from the pleasures of counting. I love maths and lots more besides – that’s why I want to go to uni. And let me explain why counting and women have a lot more in common than you think…

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            • Introspectre



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              • 26-06-2008
                22:18

              Audrey Hepburn’s way is the best way
              I started mine with a question.

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              • SarahhhD



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                • 26-06-2008
                  22:19

                (Original post by Audrey Hepburn)

                “I’m hot and naked…”

                then follow it up with:

                “now I have your attention, I want to study Physics because…”

                :eek:
                That would be a really good way to start my ps if I was doing something like david becham studies…

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                • francescarella



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                  • 26-06-2008
                    22:19

                  what subject is it for?

                  i started mine with
                  “drama. small word: big concept.”

                  obviously, you could jus replace drama with whatver your studying. but being an english student i know all the tricks of the persuasive linguistic trade

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                  • Jeput90



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                    • 26-06-2008
                      22:21

                    I began mine with creative writing, so it started like a story. I got into all my universities, so there must have been something good

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                    • screenager2004



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                      • 26-06-2008
                        22:22

                      What subject are you appying for?

                      I wrote a short paragraph about why I love the subject and it’s relevance to wider society.

                      Mine started as:

                      “Despite an ever-widening scope of choice for the modern undergraduate, studying the nature of [SUBJECT] means far more than an academic subject studied for a set number of hours a week. It is undoubtedly an influential part of the society we operate in as people. [EXPLAIN WHY AND HOW I AM SUITED TO STUDY/INTERESTED IN THAT]”

                      that lead nicely into my strengths as a candidate and relevant work experience, I got into 5/5 of my applications.

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                      • RosiePosiePuddingAndPie



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                        • 26-06-2008
                          22:22

                        My opening sentence was the last thing I wrote for my personal statement – I found it much easier to jump straight in and write all the rest, then fine tune the opening and concluding sentences right at the end

                        I just logged into Track, and it turns out I opened mine with “My first encounter with the speech and language therapy profession was when I was 15, and…”. So there ya go!

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                        • SarahhhD



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                          • 26-06-2008
                            22:22

                          (Original post by francescarella)

                          what subject is it for?

                          i started mine with
                          “drama. small word: big concept.”

                          obviously, you could jus replace drama with whatver your studying. but being an english student i know all the tricks of the persuasive linguistic trade

                          Psyxhology

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                          • Audrey Hepburn



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                            • 26-06-2008
                              22:22

                            (Original post by SarahhhD)

                            :eek:
                            That would be a really good way to start my ps if I was doing something like david becham studies…

                            :rofl:

                            I actually know a guy who started his: ‘Quite simply, I want to study History because I want to rule the world.’

                            Also, for the love of God do not start your ps with a quote!! Sooooo many people do it and it’s just such a cliche!!

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                            • RightSaidJames



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                              • 26-06-2008
                                22:22

                              This was my opener, and for the record I got all my offers!

                              To me, Music is a subject unlike any other; it is not just an interest, it is my passion and a major part of my life. I first decided that I wanted to study Music in Higher Education after seeing a performance by the Welsh National Orchestra in St David’s Hall, Cardiff. Among the three pieces, my favourite was bla bla bla

                              Depending on what the subject is (in fact, you haven’t told us what you’re applying for!), you might want to skip the first sentence-type out, but I think the second sentence works well.

                              Edit – I see you’re doing Psychology. In that case, you basically want to bum Psychology as much as possible, giving your opinion as to why it’s such an interesting and important subject.

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                              • HCD



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                                • 26-06-2008
                                  22:23

                                I began mine with “Your wife doesn’t love you.”

                                I ended mine with “Sorry.”

                                There was nothing in between. I got 4 out of 5 offers, and as many divorces. Good times.

                                Spoiler:

                                Show

                                Before anyone says “What if the admissions tutor was a woman?”, I’ll just say now that I applied for Physics. There was no risks of females in the department.

                                30

                                • georgia



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                                  • 26-06-2008
                                    22:27

                                  A fascination in the behaviour of individuals and more importantly how these individuals operate collectively within the framework of society stimulated my interest to study both society and culture.

                                  ^ Was my first sentence for applying to Sociology courses, Social Policy courses and Anthropology courses. I got five out of five offers so it must have been okay!

                                  However reading it through, mainly the bit about ‘what I plan to do on my gap year etc etc’, makes me feel terribly unaccomplished as in the end I didn’t go to America to work at camp, didn’t complete my PPL and may well not join the University Air Squadron (although I don’t think they have one…so this may be irrelevant anyway!). Oops?

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                                  • Ekpyrotic



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                                      • 26-06-2008
                                        22:27

                                      My start:

                                      “Incredulous as it may seem zebras are a bloody good illustration of Newton’s second law.”

                                      12

                                      • SarahhhD



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                                        • 26-06-2008
                                          22:31

                                        “I have allways had a facination with the inner workings of the mind, this has lead me to believe that Psychology is the best Degree option for me.”

                                        ^^What I have at the minute^^
                                        But I think that will sound Very Cliche amongst 1,000 odd other applications.

                                        0

                                        • georgia



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                                          • 26-06-2008
                                            22:34

                                          (Original post by SarahhhD)

                                          But I think that will sound Very Cliche amongst 1,000 odd other applications.

                                          Nothing wrong with cliche. If it works…….

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                                            • 26-06-2008
                                              22:34

                                            Of course that’ll sound very clichéd.

                                            If you want responses from people who’ve seen a hundred personal statements before, post in the PS helpers’ forum.

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