your Personal Statement Work

Work Skills PERSONAL
Experience STATEMENT
what to include
Interests How to write it
Study Applications
What’s in this guide?
Introduction............................... pg1
Preparation................................ pg1
What to Include ........................... pg2
Brainstorm Worksheet....................... pg3
How to Write a
Personal Statement......................... pg5
Personal Statements
for Specific Disciplines................... pg5
Many postgraduate courses require a personal
statement as part of the application. The
personal statement is an important part of the
application process and allows course directors
to compare applicants to determine their
suitability for the course they are applying
for. It is important that your personal statement
is well thought out and is as impressive as
possible. This booklet gives some ideas on
how to prepare for and approach writing a
personal statement for course applications.
When preparing your personal statement ensure that you know the correct deadline
as colleges have different application timelines. Check relevant websites and contact
course directors directly to see what skills and prior qualifications they are looking for
as this will help you write a targeted personal statement.
Make a list of everything you would like to include using the personal statement
brainstorming worksheet on page 3.
Make sure you are aware of any length restrictions as institutions and application
processes have different instructions, for example, most NUI Galway postgraduate
programmes require a personal statement of roughly 500 words which is the equivalent
of one typed page. If you are applying for a course through the UCAS system you are
allowed 47 lines or roughly 600 words for your personal statement. While parts of your
personal statement may be the same for different applications you need to follow the
specific guidelines and instructions for each application process.
Ensure you give yourself enough time to get some feedback on your statement. Career
Development Advisers are available in the Career Development Centre for one to one
appointments to give advice on your career options which includes giving advice
and feedback on your application form, CV and personal statements. Appointments
may be booked online during term by visiting and logging
on to Careers Connect. Review appointments with Careers Connect book out well in
advance. It is a good idea therefore to draft your personal statement and book your
review appointment well in advance of the deadline.
What to Include
The course director, reviewing your personal statement for further study, will want
to know why you are applying for this course. It is important therefore to outline
the following:
what interests you about the course and the subject?
your clear understanding of the course and what motivates you to complete it.
your background knowledge of the subject and how your previous study is related to the course being applied for.
What skills have you developed that you can transfer to this new area of study? This is particularly important if your current or previous study is not related to the course being applied for.
any specific areas of the course that you are particularly interested in and how you developed this interest?
the relevance of any previous work experience (voluntary or paid) to the course being applied for.
your skills, interests and abilities and how these make you a suitable candidate.
what you intend to do upon successful completion of the course.
Possible Section Outline
Write the personal statement in essay format and group into sections that ensures a
coherent flow with no repetition. The information below outlines a sample outline that
could be followed when writing your statement.
Section 1 – Intro -Why you have chosen this course/profession/university.
Section 2 – Your academic qualifications, relevant subjects/modules/projects studied.
Section 3 – Personal qualities and achievements that make you suitable
(including evidence of how you have developed them).
Section 4 – Any work experience you have completed, outlining what you learnt from the experience and the relevance to the course.
Section 5 – Summary – sum up your overall suitability for the course and show clearly that you know what you want to get out of the course and
where you hope the qualification will lead you.
Personal Statement
Brainstorming Worksheet
You can use this worksheet to brainstorm what you need to include in your personal
statement. Once you have completed this worksheet you can group this information
into sections and use it to create a first draft of your personal statement in essay form.
Why do you want to apply to this course?
What have you studied for your undergraduate degree? What aspects of this
did you enjoy? Is there anything distinctive about your academic results or any
awards or scholarships that you achieved that should be highlighted?
How have you developed an interest in the course you are applying for? (Can
include relevant areas or modules from your degree programme, if applicable )
What skills, interests and aptitudes do you have that make you a suitable
candidate for the course or related profession? (Back these up with evidence
of where you have developed them).
Have you completed any work experience or placement (paid or voluntary) that
is relevant to the course you are applying for? Outline what you have learned
and how this has strengthened your knowledge of the area, facilitated the
development of relevant skills and confirmed your interest in pursuing this
course of study.
Have you taken part in any other activities that demonstrate your interest in the
area? e.g. Homework Club when applying for teaching courses or FLAC society
if you have an interest in applying for public law.
List your involvement in extra curricular activities e.g. sporting clubs and
societies; is there anything about the work you were doing that is relevant
to the course you are applying for? (E.g. if you were on the committee for a
society you may have developed some relevant skills through the work that was
What are your future career plans after completing the course? Outline what
these are and how the course you are applying for will enable you to achieve
How to write your
Personal Statement
• Beware of using standard opening lines such as………. it has always been my dream to be a…….or my name is……………instead be creative with your opening lines to make yourself stand out from other candidates.
• Pay close attention to paragraphs and sentences. You will not be able to include everything you have ever done so you will need to be selective in choosing what is relevant to your application.
• Your writing is a reflection of your work. You need to make sure that it is as impressive as possible as many courses are highly competitive and it could be
the personal statement that separates successful candidates.
• It is acceptable to use personal pronouns such as ‘I’ or ‘my’ in a personal statement however be careful not to overuse them.
•Use linking words such as “additionally”, “furthermore” and “however” to link sentences with common themes.
• The personal statement is your opportunity to present yourself confidently to the course director with a positive, upbeat and strong message. However if you do have some personal issue that you feel is necessary to disclose you can
discuss this with a member of staff in the Career Development Centre at a review appointment to ensure that you are dealing with the issue in the appropriate way.
• Save up some ideas for a strong conclusion to reiterate your suitability and motivation to complete the course successfully.
• Be prepared to write a few drafts before you are happy with the finished product; it takes time to get a personal statement ready for an application so bear this in mind when reviewing course closing dates.
• Spell check and grammar check. Many applications are completed online and the system may not have a spell check facility. It is always a good idea to spell check in Word and copy it into the application form to ensure you have not missed anything. Always read over your statement after completing a spell check as some words may be correctly spelled but could be used out of context for what you are trying to get across.
Personal Statements
for Specific Disciplines
While the above pointers apply to all personal statements there are some personal
statements that have specific requirements, the examples below cover some popular
Teaching Personal
Outline why you think you are suited to a career in teaching.
Provide evidence that you have the necessary skills and attributes to become a successful teacher, examples include organisation skills, communication skills, patience, passion for your subject, energy and motivation.
Show how your degree relates to the primary or secondary curriculum that you are interested in teaching.
If you have any experience in teaching or shadowing work in a classroom environment, don’t just state it, outline what you have learned and observed and connect yourself in with these points.
If you take part in any extra-curricular activities that are relevant or appropriate to teaching be sure to include details of this. Examples include art, drama, dance, sport and music.
Medicine and Health Science
Personal Statements
• Outline why you think you are suited to a career in medicine or an applied health profession.
• Demonstrate an understanding of the profession, if you would like to be a doctor, an occupational therapist or a speech and language therapist the course director will need to see that you have a clear understanding of the area and the role.
• Highlight the subjects that you have studied as part of your degree that are relevant to the course you are applying for e.g. your final year project, majoring in anatomy or physiology.
• While academic achievement is important you also need to demonstrate that you have the personality for working in healthcare so evidence of attributes such as empathy, patience and interpersonal skills will be very important.
• The process will be very competitive and most applications look for applicants to have completed some work experience in the area to show their motivation and confirm their interest in a career in healthcare. When talking about your work experience outline what you learned rather than simply listing what you witnessed.
Research Personal
• Many research courses ask for a personal statement as part of the application process
and some also ask for a research proposal, be careful not to confuse these two
documents. The personal statement will require information on why you are interested
in researching the area and what skills and attributes you possess that make you
suitable for researching in the particular area while a research proposal will look for all
the technical subject specific details that you will cover as part of your thesis.
• The Career Development Centre can review your personal statement for you and
provide advice and guidance on your personal statement but will always recommend
that you get your research proposal reviewed by an academic expert in the particular
Your personal statement needs to strongly support your application for postgraduate
study. It is often what separates successful from unsuccessful candidates so it is
worth giving it time and consideration before submitting your application. To have your
statement reviewed before you submit your postgraduate study application contact
the Career Development Centre for an appointment well in advance of college deadline
Open weekdays
Mon - Thurs: 9.00am - 5.00pm
Friday: 11.00am - 5.00pm
Book Your Appointment Now
through Careers Connect!
Career Development Centre,
Arts Science Building,
National University of Ireland, Galway
Tel: 091 493589 Email: [email protected]
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