Teachers may tell you there’s no set structure for the perfect personal statement…but that’s not quite true.
Oxford University and many other top institutions explicitly recommend you focus 80% of your statement on academic interests, abilities and achievements…and just the 20% leftover on extracurriculars, that aren’t directly related to the subject you’re applying for.
So if we split your personal statement into 5 paragraphs, 80% of those paragraphs should be “academic” – which means 4 paragraphs talking about your subject interest and achievements relevant to your subject…
Leaving just your last paragraph for extra-curriculars & conclusion.
Why? Because a history lecturer doesn’t care whether you’re a prefect, or a juggler, or good at football – the history lecturer cares if you’re good at history.
According to Jane Marshall, from admissions at Imperial, your first paragraph should be an introductory paragraph (obvious enough!) – explaining your personal motivation to study your chosen subject at university.
That leaves us with 3 empty academic paragraphs in the middle.
These will become your topic paragraphs – each of these paragraphs will cover a different topic area within your chosen subject.
For example, if you’re applying for economics – you might discuss behavioural economics, then monetary policy and econometrics. Three topics you personally find interesting – one for each paragraph.
If instead, you’re applying for medicine, you might start with your work experience shadowing doctors at your local ward, then a recent breakthrough in cancer treatment you found particularly interesting, and then that rotation you did in a Tanzanian surgery.
So, overall, we’ve got your introduction paragraph…three middle paragraphs on three different topics you find super interesting…and finally your last paragraph – on extracurriculars! We’ll also squeeze in a short conclusion sentence here…right at the end of your extracurriculars paragraph.
Make sure to leave a line between each paragraph! Otherwise your statement will look like one huge unreadable block of text.
And that’s it – that’s the perfect personal statement structure. Done. Sorted.
For more hands-on personal statement support, check out our courses!