How To Write a Compelling Psychology Personal Statement
Updated 16 March 2023
If you're looking to study psychology at college or university, you can submit a psychology personal statement that highlights your relevant skills, qualifications, experience and ambitions. Colleges and universities may want to find out more about you to help them decide whether you're suitable for the psychology course that you're applying for. To help you secure a place on your preferred course, you can write a compelling psychology personal statement. In this article, we discuss how to outline your psychology UCAS personal statement as well as what to include about yourself.
What is a psychology personal statement?
When applying for a place on any higher education course or programme, you can include a personal statement to UCAS. A psychology personal statement can demonstrate your knowledge of the subject, relevant experience, personal interests and why you're looking to study psychology. It's your opportunity to show how the decisions you have made and the activities and learning you have pursued have set you up for your intended further education course and potential career.
How to discuss your experience and knowledge in your psychology personal statement
Here are a few ways to talk about your experiences so that they apply to your psychology pathway:
1. Take inspiration from the course guides
Looking at the university or college prospectus' course modules for psychology can give you a good idea of what possible pathways are open to you. Ask yourself which areas of study appeal to you the most and be sure to drop mentions to these into your statement. Common ideas to explore include your knowledge surrounding social psychology, cognitive psychology or neuroscience.
2. Talk about what you know
One reason a personal statement is useful for higher or further education institutions is that it gives them a good idea of your course expectations. Try to demonstrate the area you're passionate about or discuss what you know about certain topics in psychology, linking back to any relevant personal experiences or learning wherever possible. Some questions to ask yourself might be :
Why are you interested in behavioural psychology?
What do you know about neuroscience?
Have you experienced real-world examples of social psychology?
3. Explore real-world examples from your life
Think about the branches of psychology that the course may cover and try to illustrate your interest in these areas with real-world examples. For example, if you have an interest in social psychology, mentioning events such as witnessing or experiencing racial or gender prejudice could be relevant if it was integral to your decision to pursue this course of study.
4. Research articles related to psychology modules
Research relevant articles of the specific topics and modules the psychology course covers. There's plenty of information readily available online for you to use as reference material, which shows the reader that you keep up-to-date with the field of psychology. Some key websites to consider are The Psychologist from the British Psychological Society and The National Counselling Society.
5. Think about your future in psychology
It's useful to think about where you would like to be in five or ten years if you follow a career path in psychology. This helps illustrate what your motivations are and why you're best suited to study psychology. Are you hoping to work in clinical psychology? If so, why? Remember that a huge component of a psychology personal statement is that it can be personal, so relate it to your own life and how you arrived at this decision. Understanding the different types of psychology jobs and careers out there can help you focus.
How to structure a psychology personal statement
A well thought out psychology personal statements help you stand out from other candidates and improve your chances of securing a place on your desired course. It can benefit the quality of your psychology personal statement if you learn what to include and how to structure it. Below, we have included some steps that you can use as a general framework for your psychology personal statement.
1. Read any supplied information before starting your personal statement
Make sure that you acquaint yourself with any specific guidelines or information to include in your psychology personal statement. This might include formatting advice, what they are looking for in candidates or examples of the kinds of experiences that might be relevant to mention. You can use this information to inform and guide your writing.
2. Outline general ideas you want to include
Once you have a good idea about what you want to discuss in your psychology personal statement, create a brief outline. This might include a brief introduction about yourself, your experiences, any past knowledge and why you want to study this specific course. You can use the outline to plan the structure of your personal statement and guide the content.
3. Start with an introduction that encapsulates you
Your introduction is the first opportunity that you have to show why you're best suited for the psychology course. Take the time to show off what is unique about your skill sets, experience and passions and try to stand out while staying on topic.
4. Make your writing engaging from the start
The first few sentences make the most impact on the reader, so try to make them as engaging as possible. Punchy, short and relevant sentences are a good way to start, as they stand out and create flow for the person reading them.
5. Discuss your experiences, skills and interests in psychology
Your personal statement is more than just a reflection of you. It highlights why the psychology course is right for you. Show the reader why you're interested in psychology and what skills you bring to your study to succeed in your course. Be sure to back up your points with real-world examples from your life wherever possible, whether it's a personal experience, something you experienced second hand or even read about that motivated your decision to pursue this career.
6. Conclude with a clear summary
Just like the introduction, a good conclusion to your psychology personal statement can leave a lasting impression on the reader. Try to cover all the important points that you have mentioned in a clear, concise way. Avoid too many fluffy, long sentences and stick to the point. Ensure that you're leaving the reader on a positive, enthusiastic note so that they finish reading your statement with an optimistic outlook.
7. Double-check for spelling and grammar errors
Always read over the final draft of your personal statement to check for grammar or spelling mistakes. A good way to do this is by reading out loud or having someone else read it for you. Remember that a well-written personal statement is clear, informative and personal. Try to avoid long-winded sentences and keep the tone upbeat and professional.
Tips for writing your psychology personal statement
There are a few things that you can avoid when writing your psychology personal statement. To give you the best chance of getting onto your desired course, make sure that your final draft avoids any of these issues.
Write original content
Make sure that your personal statement is original and specific to your experiences. The best way to make a good impression is to write an authentic and descriptive statement that provides a representation of your interest. You can use inspiration from other sources, but a successful statement promotes your own ideas.
Keep a professional tone
You can inject personality into your psychology personal statement but use an appropriate tone. Use a professional and formal writing style. Avoid informal phrasing, jokes, fluffy content or anything too risque.
Provide an accurate representation of your experiences
Often, your personal statement functions as a guide to interviewing you, so use it to provide an accurate representation of your experience that you can speak to in an interview. Take the time to understand what your interviewer is looking for in a psychology student. Reflect on your reasons for applying and be concise and professional in your writing throughout. Show the best version of yourself to the reader by writing positively and with confidence and enthusiasm.
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