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When asked to provide a summary of academic background, interests, and motivation for choosing a degree course, many students panic and don’t know where to start. This is because it’s the first time most people have ever had to write anything like this and, what’s more, a great deal of importance is attached to it.

It’s therefore understandable if you feel like this too, but you shouldn’t worry - there are tried and tested ways to approach the writing of a personal statement. Everyone is different, of course, and there’s no right way to go about it, but universities have expressed many times over what they find valuable in a personal statement.

This guide is going to help you to check the tickboxes that universities want checked! It will take you through what to consider, what to include and exclude, and how to draft an effective statement by focusing on:

Why are Personal Statements Important? 

You’re probably aware of this already, but impressions count. Whether it’s a job interview, meeting someone for the first time, or giving a talk, how you present yourself affects how people receive what you say, and what you say is fundamental to how they make their judgments.

The personal statement is no different. Its purpose is to present in a lucid and constructive way your skills, interests, ambitions, and motivations so admissions tutors can judge whether you are a suitable candidate to admit to a degree course.

Aside from grades and what your teachers might say about you, the personal statement is going to lay a foundation for tutors’ assessments, so it’s vital you do yourself justice and communicate all of the above in as effective a way as possible.


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What Should I Include in an Education Personal Statement? 

Universities will be looking for evidence of your appreciation of the economic, social, and political aspects of education’s role at the centre of different societies, as well as its reach throughout different communities globally.

The course is, by nature, multidisciplinary, so you should demonstrate your awareness of this by talking about the various implications other disciplines have on our understanding of what education is and the roles it performs.

The Wider Picture

A degree course in education is wide-ranging and can include modules (or ‘papers’) in subjects as diverse as postcolonialism, international development, soft play, and neuroscience.

With this in mind, your statement should reflect your understanding of this and emphasise the skills you will be able to bring to the course. Due to the degree’s eclectic nature, it’s also a good idea to consider the modules you like the look of (provided every university you apply to offers something similar) and to talk about those in more detail, since you don't have space to discuss them all to any valuable degree. This will show you’ve investigated what you’re signing up to and won’t be surprised when you start.

Your Specific Interests

When honing in on the areas you are most interested in, it's important to be specific and to demonstrate your interest by outlining precisely what books, films, educational policies or news events (or other avenues!) have sparked or fueled your interest in these areas.

This not only proves to universities that you mean it when you say you're fascinated by a specific area, but also that you have taken the time to explore education (which most will not have studied before at school) outside of your mandatory academic courses.

Remember that every time you mention a resource (such as a book, an academic, a particular facet of education, a period of work experience, etc.), you must relate it back to your interest in studying education at university. This means making it clear why you took interest in that specific resource, how it motivated you, or which skills relevant to studying education at university it has given you. Otherwise you just end up with a list of books, which will not impress any admissions tutors!

How and Why?

While it may be obvious to you how you came to be interested in the study of education and why you find it fascinating, admissions tutors won’t know unless you tell them. This means it’s absolutely essential to talk about how your interest in education has developed and why you’ve decided to study it at university.

This might have come from the way you’ve been taught, or how you’ve witnessed other modes of education. It could be the case that you’ve travelled abroad and seen cross-cultural differences in how education is delivered, or equally witnessed the absence of education in some countries.

Wherever your interest has come from, make this clear and talk specifics rather than generalities.

What's Next?

Many students wish to embark on a degree in education because they want to go into the practice of it in some way. The career opportunities are endless, of course, but this doesn’t mean you’ve necessarily considered them, nor does it mean you need to either at this stage.

It’s a good idea, though, to talk to some extent about what you’re looking forward to gaining from the degree, which might be vocational in nature, or it could just be the skills you’ll acquire and the exposure to new fields of study and inquiry you’ve not encountered before. It’s helpful for tutors to know you’re going to benefit from the degree, in whatever form that comes.

Apple standing on books

What Should I Avoid in an Education Personal Statement? 

As the personal statement is there to inform, you want to avoid any potential misunderstandings or misinterpretations on the part of the reader; this is important as you’re not going to be present to clarify anything while it’s being read. For that reason, clarity and simplicity of language are key, as is the avoidance of anything that could be seen as hackneyed or trite, including quotations, clichés, and pleas to be admitted onto the course.

In short, put yourself in the shoes of the reader and think about what you’d want to see from a potential student; it’s likely you’d want them to be direct, interesting, and interested. This is what you should aim for.

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Advice on How to Start an Education Personal Statement  

A great deal of candidates start by talking about an inspirational teacher they had at school, or lessons they particularly enjoyed. The problem with this is that admissions tutors have seen these openings thousands of times, and they lack originality.

Try to be different and consider education holistically; there are so many ways it impacts our lives globally that you shouldn’t struggle to find a unique personal take on it, which could come from a less ordinary experience you had or an original observation you made.

The opening should be arresting in a good way, and make the reader think your statement is going to be different from all the others for what it brings to the table. Just make sure it is!

Advice on How to Finish an Education Personal Statement  

Writing the personal statement is a privileged opportunity to speak directly to universities and to tell them why you deserve an offer. This applies as much to the conclusion as it does to any other part of the statement.

In this final section you should bring together your key points about experience, skills, interests, and ambitions to stress how much you deserve a place on this course. Do make sure you’ve included everything you intended to in the rest of the statement, as this isn’t the place to start bringing in new material. Consider instead about what you’re most looking forward to in terms of learning and challenges is a good place to end.


As with any interdisciplinary course, you should not only be aware of the impact and influence of different fields of study on education, but also be ready and willing to engage with them. A degree in education will expose you to psychology, sociology, biology, history, literature and so much more in between. Universities will want to see that you know this and that you’re open to intellectual challenge, as well as to exploring branches of knowledge you’ve not encountered before. You can also reference skills you’ve developed in your subjects at school and how these might equip you for tackling certain aspects of the course; subjects like history and biology will help with understanding change over time and human development, for example.

All good personal statements are self-reflective to some extent, and one way to do this in an educational context is to consider how you’ve been educated so far and what the wider implications of that are. This is a useful way to broaden your discussion of the discipline and to demonstrate your understanding of its varied and contrasting nature.

Every UCAS personal statement must abide by the limitations of either 4000 characters (including spaces) or 47 lines of the form. Given how many statements admissions tutors have to read, this makes sense, but it also teaches you to express yourself articulately within certain confines. This is excellent training for university as essays and assignments will most likely have word counts applied to them. Think of it as practice ahead of time, and prioritise what you plan to include.

It’s common, but by no means required, for applicants to education degrees to have some teaching experience, whether that’s as a teaching assistant, private tutor, or simply helping your siblings with their homework. Volunteering is a good way to come by this sort of experience, but it’s not important if you haven’t had any hands-on involvement with delivering education. It’s much more valuable for you to have read widely around the subject’s theory and practice and to have come to some informed views about it. Any mention of extracurricular activities should be kept to a minimum, however, and they should always be relevant to studying for an education degree.

Whilst you cannot mention course specifics (since your personal statement is sent to all universities to which you are applying), there are certain things you can do to make your statement particularly Oxbridge-worthy!

Oxford and Cambridge like applicants to have varied academic interests if they propose studying a humanities course since these courses always have a wide disciplinary scope. It’s therefore helpful if you take a range of arts and humanities subjects at school, but this doesn’t preclude you from taking science or maths, of course.

In addition, Oxbridge degrees are led by independent reading and self-study, so try to emphasise your own research and academic discoveries within the world of education, and that way you can show you already have the requisite motivation and drive to make a success of it.

Book your Education Personal Statement Package

You can contact our Oxbridge-graduate Consultants on +44 (0) 20 7499 2394 or email [email protected] to discuss our personal statement packages. 

If you’d like to know more about Education, we have admissions test guidance and interview preparation readily available. 

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