In this video, Jane Marshall, currently a Widening Participation Manager at Imperial College London, talks about the do's and don’ts of an excellent personal statement.


Ms Marshall is certainly an inspiring and enjoyable speaker and an experienced professional with background from the London Schools of Economics and the Institute of Education at UCL.


Treat the personal statement as you would an important piece of academic work. Don’t jump in with both feet first — take time to brainstorm ideas (try Googling "mind-mapping" and "spider diagram" techniques) and think carefully about the content and structure.


Remember that, first and foremost, this is an application for a course of study. So aim to focus at least two-thirds of your 47-line (4,000-character) statement on your academic motivations and interests. Show that you have an understanding of the subject and a genuine interest in it.

You will be expected to show that you have gained sufficient work experience or career knowledge through, for example, work shadowing, observations, taster days or networking with professionals.

Your personal statement should focus not just on what you did but on a reflection of what you learned about the career and the skills that it requires.

First impression

The first impression counts the most. Creating an original and engaging start to your statement will help to hold the reader’s interest throughout. Be positive. Even if selling yourself is a skill that you are not comfortable with, now is the time to embrace it.


Keep your language clear, concise and honest. Your personal statement should sound as though it’s coming from you, not a thesaurus.


Make it personal. Your statement should not sound generic. It should pull together all the motivations, interests and experiences that make you unique as a person.


Be prepared to write several drafts before you have a final version that you are happy with.

And remember to always proofread for errors (and get others to proofread it too) – an excellent personal statement, but one full of mistakes reveals a sloppy attitude and a lack of attention to detail.

Enjoy watching the video and don’t forget to comment!