top of page

PERsonal statements


write something worth reading or do something worth writing

Benjamin Franklin

Personal statements are required for the following applications:

  • Aptitude-based admissions

  • University Scholarships

  • UK universities

  • US universities

  • SUTD

  • NTU Medicine

  • NUS Medicine

1/   Aptitude-based admissions
NUS Aptitude-based Admissions Scheme (ABAS)

  • Under ABAS, NUS will consider factors besides academic grades and admit applicants on other bases, including demonstrated ability and interest, work experience, leadership, community service and exceptional talent, subject to a minimum level of academic competence.

  • The following are some samples of exceptional achievements that may be taken into consideration:

    • Medal winner at the International Olympiads (Biology, Chemistry, Informatics, Mathematics and Physics)

    • Represented Singapore in Arts and/or Sports

    • Active participation in community service and volunteer programmes

    • Work experience relevant to the course applied for (supporting document/s is/are required)

    • Key leadership positions in community organisations, sports and athletic clubs, etc (outside school)

  • Applicants who wish to be considered under ABAS must provide details under the 'Outstanding Achievements' section of the online application form. In the form, candidates will need to provide details of 2-3 activities and a 2000 character personal statement.

    • Activity 1: For achievement attained in the International Olympiads (Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics and Informatics)

    • Activity 2 to 3: For other activities such as sports, cultural or academic competitions at the national and international level, community service, leadership positions and experience in research or entrepreneurial projects, etc.

    • Personal statement (2000 characters): Elaborate your achievements, including relevant work experience, which demonstrate your aptitude and passion for the course you have chosen. In addition, you may wish to discuss a special talent, a personal experience or an activity that you have been involved in that is of relevance to the course you are applying for at the university.

NTU Aptitude-based Admissions Scheme (ABA)

  • Under ABA, NTU takes into account students' passions, interests and strengths. Applicants with exceptional talents and/or outstanding achievements beyond schools’ co-curricular activities can be considered, subject to a minimum level of academic competence, for admissions under ABA. Academic grades of relevant subjects may be an indication of aptitude as well.

  • If you have one or more of the following achievements, you are encouraged to provide details under ABA section of the application form:

    • Winner at the International Olympiads or in the National Science & Talent Search

    • Significant awards/achievements in area relevant to the programme applied

    • Carded athlete or represented Singapore in Arts and/or Sports such as Olympics, SEA/ASEAN/ ASIAN games, etc.

    • Active involvement/participation in community services and/or volunteering work

    • Demonstrated excellence in areas such as leadership, entrepreneurship, arts & culture, sports, etc.

    • Demonstration of aptitude/passion through portfolio relevant to the 1st choice programme applied for. This can include competition, project and activity/programme undertaken in the related field of study. The key emphasis is relevance to the field of programme study applied in addition to the relevant subject/s taken.

    • Made significant contributions or attained outstanding achievements in area of work or internship relevant to the programme applied

  • In addition to providing information above, applicants must submit an essay of not more than 300 words under ABA section of the application form and at least 1 (maximum 2) appraisal online to support their applications.

  • Shortlisted candidates may be required to attend an interview and present relevant supporting documents for verification upon request.

Aptitude-based admissions
2/   University scholarships

Many scholarships require you to write a personal statement.


NUS Scholarships 

State in less than 2000 characters, why you should be offered NUS Scholarships. You may elaborate on how you have been enterprising and innovative, how you have shown integrity and commitment, and/or cite your most outstanding achievements.

NTU Scholarships

Personal essay of not more than 300 words is required. The 3 topics you may write on are shown in the scholarship application form.

SMU Scholarships

A personal essay is required. There is no word limit or specific topic.

SUTD Scholarships 

You will automatically be considered for scholarships as part of the admissions process. There will be 2 essay questions to answer.

The topics are centred around 

  • overcoming challenges

  • creativity

  • what makes you stand out from others

The recommended word limit is 150-200 words

University Scholarships
3/   UK Universities

You will need to write a personal statement when applying through UCAS. 

Bear the following in mind when writing the statement

  • You are only allow one personal statement per application, so you should choose similar universities and courses so that your personal statement is more focused

  • 80% of content should be related to your course of choice

  • 20% of content, if unrelated, should preferably be related to why you wish to study in UK (and not in your own country)

  • The length allowed is 4000 characters and 47 lines

Below are useful links to help you write the essay:

UK Universities
4/   US Universities and Yale-NUS

You will need to write a personal essay when applying for US universities and Yale-NUS. 

Bear the following in mind when writing the statement

  • You will write a 650 word essay which is read by all universities. So the essay should not refer to any particular course or university. You should focus on your personality and feelings when writing the essay.

  • US Personal essays are highly different from UK Personal statements. The objective of the Personal essay is to tell the admissions officer something about you that they don't already know from your academic results, CCA achievements or teacher's recommendations. 

  • Usually students write about a significant event, person or circumstances that influenced their outlook in life. The essay should reflect your character and your personality e.g. traits like perseverance, integrity, introversion, extroversion etc. 

  • Avoid cliched events e.g. Project Work, National Service, unless you are very sure that your experience is highly unique

  • Besides the Personal essay, some universities may required you to write short supplementary essays. The purpose of these essays is to assess your fit for the university. So your focus for these essays is to demonstrate why you are suitable for this college.

Below are useful links to help you write the essay:

US Universities and Yale-NUS
5/   Medicine

You will need to write a personal statement for both NUS and NTU Medicine

  • For NUS, your personal statement should be 500 words (link)

  • For NTU, your personal statement should be 300 words (link)

  • The personal statement should include the reasons for wishing to study medicine and of any experience that may have driven the desire to become a doctor. Leadership experience and teamwork ability should be highlighted. During the Medicine interview, you can expect the interviewer to ask you questions about your personal statement.


General Guide to writing your Personal Statement

Personal statements are the first impressions that an admissions officer get of you. It can determine whether you get shortlisted for the interview. These are general steps you can take to write an outstanding personal statement. 

General Guide to writing your Personal Statement
  • Start early

    • Start thinking and writing about your past experiences and how they reflect your personality and values

    • Start filling in the SGC & University Pre-application Reflection Form

    • Start as early as in your JC2 year. This will give you time to identify gaps if any e.g. actually do something so that you can write about it e.g. take up a relevant internship or go for a workshop after graduation to pick up relevant skills​

    • You will also have time to let your peers, teachers and family read your essay and give you comments. 

  • Research the university that you are applying for

    • You can read the university webpage or interview your seniors to find out more

    • What is the culture like? Does your personality and values fit the culture of the organisation?​

    • What unique programmes attract you and why?

  • Check the criteria for application

    • What kind of applicants are they looking for e.g. NUS Global Merit Scholarship looks for "global leaders"

    • What evidences do you have to show that you fit the criteria?​ 

  • Understand the requirements of the personal statement

    • What is the length? What do you wish to focus on, given the limited word count?

What to include
  • Why you are interested in this university and course​

    • What/who sparked your interest in the university and course?

    • What do you like about the culture of the university and why?​ Be specific but please do not write about accommodation or tuition fees

    • Which part of the course interests you and why? Name specific programmes, modules and specialisations that you are interested in. 

    • What do you hope to achieve from this course or scholarship?

  • What have you done previously that is related to the university course

    • Relate relevant experiences e.g. H3, Olympiad, work experience and how they show that you are suitable for the course

  • What qualities make you suitable for this course/scholarship?​

    • Relate hobbies and experiences e.g. leadership, community service that show that you have suitable skillsets and qualities

    • Write about ways that you contribute to the university by relating to your skillset and experience

    • You can write about circumstances ​​that led to you not doing so well for a particular subject e.g. family disruptions

How to write it
  • Start with an interesting statement that will engage the reader

    • Get your peers to give you honest feedback​

  • Write what is most relevant first

    • Put yourself in the shoes of the organisation. They will only read as long as they are interested.

    • Write  about your best and most relevant achievement first

  • Show that you have done your homework

    • Show that you really understand the course and the programmes that the university can offer

    • Show your sincerity in applying

  • Craft your conclusion​

    • Reinforce the enthusiasm that you have and the skills you can offer​

  • Proof read, proof read and proof read!​

    • Any typo or grammatical error will leave a poor impression on the admissions officer

    • You must and should get at least 3 people to read your drafts.​​

SGC & University Pre-application Form

This form is meant to guide you through the research and reflection process so that you can write your personal statement and prepare for the interview. After completing the form, please share this form with your referees so that they can get to know you better and write a more personalised referral for you.

SGC & University Pre-application Form
More personal statement resources​
More resources
bottom of page