The 10 Most Common Opening Lines in Personal Statements

The 10 Most Common Opening Lines in Personal Statements

Posted in Applying on Sep 25, 2019 by

University Finder

A personal statement is a 4000 character essay used to prove to universities why you deserve a place. The statements are meant to be PERSONAL and free from influence and plagiarism, but this is often not the case.4,559 personal statements were flagged by UCAS for plagerism last year. In 2016, the number was higher at 5,604 statements and in 2017 4,570 statements were flagged.

UCAS use a Similarity Detection Service to scan personal statements for plagiarised sentences and paragraphs. Each personal statement is checked against a library of previously submitted personal statements, paper publications, and sample statements from a variety of websites. Common words/phrases that are expected to be found in multiple statements are not flagged, e.g. ‘I studied A-Level Music’ or ‘I have completed my Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award’. If any statements are found to have a similarity of over 10% they are reviewed by UCAS who decide if institutions need to be informed.

The Chief Executive of UCAS, Clare Marchant stated that: "Our advice to students is clear – don’t be tempted to buy or copy a personal statement. All personal statements are checked by UCAS, and if it’s flagged as being similar to others or doesn’t appear genuine, it could affect your chances of being offered a place”.

The TAB revealed the 10 most common personal statement opening lines:

  1. From a young age, I have (always) been [interested in/fascinated by]…
  2. For as long as I can remember, I have…
  3. I am applying for this course because…
  4. I have always been interested in…
  5. Throughout my life, I have always enjoyed…
  6. Reflecting on my educational experiences…
  7. Nursing is a very challenging and demanding [career/course]
  8. Academically, I have always been…
  9. I have always wanted to pursue a career in…
  10. I have always been passionate about…

Other notable plagiarised sentences include "Ever since I accidentally burnt holes in my pyjamas after experimenting with a chemistry set on my 8th birthday, I have had a passion for science" which appeared in 234 personal statements.

Quotes are often the pet hate of admissions tutors, universities want to hear what you think not what someone else thinks.

Mary Curnock Cook, from UCAS said: “The personal statement is supposed to be personal. Learning to write about yourself in a compelling way is a vital skill when applying for jobs; using hackneyed phrases is not the best way to stand out.”

When writing your statement try to avoid using clichés and quotes aren’t just a good idea because they’re overused and wont impress employers, if there are large sections of your statement made up of clichés and quotes it will flag the UCAS system.

One of the main ways to prevent your statement being plagerism is making sure you don't post any part of your personal statement online on websites such as the Student Room, or sending the statement to people you don't know very well and trust for them to 'review' it. If someone decides to copy your statement you it will be flagged for plagiarism, and BOTH of you will be in trouble, it’s extremely difficult to prove that you were the one who wrote the statement.


By Clarissa Ducie