How To Start A Personal Satement

Wondering how to start your personal statement for university?

Don't worry, you're not alone!

Every year, many students ponder how to write the best opening for their personal statement that will grab the reader's attention and make them want to read on.

While you may think this is the hardest part, remember that you don't always have to start at the beginning. Just try to get down a few ideas of how you might open your statement, and then move on to writing the rest.

You can then come back once you have drafted up more of the rest of your statement.

How might I begin my personal statement?

If you're struggling to think of ways to start your statement, follow these simple tips to help you get moving:

  • Think about why you have chosen this course - this is a common way for applicants to begin their statement, and you can see some examples to inspire you, and/or take a look at our personal statement writing guide where we discuss in-depth about why you have chosen your course.
  • Don't try to be too clever by thinking of something catchy.
  • Get to the point sooner rather than later (remember, you only have 4,000 characters to use)
  • Dive straight in with why you are passionate about your subject and are excited to be applying for a degree in it
  • Avoid generic words or phrases such as "I find it interesting" or "it's really great". Be more creative with your wording and make sure you talk about WHY your subject is interesting and why you want to study it.
  • Don't spend too long on it - you have the other three quarters or so of your statement to write too!

Common personal statement openings to avoid

Admission tutors have to read through hundreds, if not thousands of personal statements during each UCAS application cycle. Therefore, it's best not to open your statement with something that most other applicants probably have.

Every year, UCAS publish the top most commonly used openings for personal statements.

Some typical examples of openings to avoid include:

  • "From a young age..."
  • "For as long as I can remember…"
  • "I am applying for this course because…"
  • "I have always been interested in…"
  • "Throughout my life I have always enjoyed…"
  • "Reflecting on my educational experiences..."
  • "Academically, I have always been..."
  • "I have always wanted to pursue a career in..."
  • "Nursing is a very challenging and demanding career".

If you can be more creative and come up with something better than these obvious openings, then you're halfway there already!

Don't open with a quote

Many admission tutors are also not particularly keen on quotes being used as an opening to a personal statement, especially if it's just shoe-horned in with no explanation.

So avoid getting on the wrong side of them straight away, and put in something that YOU think, or have an opinion on (rather than what someone else has said).

Link your beginning and end

Some applicants choose to bring their statement full circle by linking their ending with something they wrote in their opening.

This is always something worth considering, but if you don't think you can make it work, then no worries. Just let your statement flow naturally, and round off your statement with a paragraph that you think fits well with the rest of it.

Where else can I read more about writing my personal statement?

If you're still struggling with writing your opening or other parts of your personal statement, take a look at our Writing A Personal Statement Guide, Personal Statement FAQs, Writing Tips and our 10 Personal Statement Don'ts.