Sample Performing Arts Personal Statement
Virtually everyone has a vivid memory of the first acting performance they saw that left them in awe and made them aware of the transformative power of performance. My own experience of this phenomenon came at an uncommonly early moment in my life when, as a four-year-old, I watched the Disney film ‘Pete’s Dragon’. It was Jim Dale’s performance as the comically villainous quack Dr Terminus that particularly captured my imagination. I remember being enraptured by the way he was able to simultaneously convey a sense of malice and yet also make me laugh. I determined there and then that I would one day also be an actor and mesmerise people in the same way that Dr Terminus had mesmerised me.
Of course, I am happy to say that both the range of dramatic performances that I appreciate and the breadth of roles I have played myself have gone far beyond over-the-top Disney villains. Since childhood my free time–and as much of my school time as possible–have revolved around either attending amateur and professional theatre performances or immersing myself in my own acting roles. From those early beginnings of Disney escapism my tastes have steadily evolved as I have been exposed to different genres and learnt the fundamentals of dramatic performances, to the point where it is the naturalistic Strindbergian drama and Stanislavskian performance that I am most strongly drawn to. To me there is nothing more compelling than an actor who can utterly persuade you of the reality of their situation and draw you into it.
I have embraced every opportunity to be on stage and participate in dramatic education and training in a bid to continually improve as an actor. Attending Saturday theatre classes at the Central School of Speech and Drama over the past two years has in particular helped to cultivate my acting skills and my motivation to improve further.The process of preparing for the LAMDA Bronze examination served to take my acting skills into undiscovered territories and nurtured my ability to fully immerse myself in a role. I have always believed that observing and truly understanding the dramatic text are essential methods for actors to improve, and preparing for the Marc Antony speech I performed in my examination by becoming thoroughly acquainted with Julius Caesar and attending an RSC performance of the play in Stratford were key factors in me being awarded a Distinction in the exam. That result has given me a sense of vigour as I prepare for the Silver and Gold examinations. I also plan to take the teaching qualification in the future.
The experience of creating my own productions and directing others has likewise aided me in understanding what makes a great acting performance. While studying GCSE Drama I was part of a group that devised a theatre piece that was based on the 2010 student protests; the process of seeking to understand the rage that underlay the demonstrations and harness it into a group acting performance was highly instructive. In AS Level Theatre Studies I wrote and directed a short film, for which I cast fellow students from one of my acting classes. I particularly enjoyed discussing the motivations of the various characters with the actors and motivating them to immerse themselves in their roles. I feel that I improved as an actor through the experience as much as the cast did.
Acting requires an appreciation of real life, and I have sought this out through my part-time job and through completing charity work. I used to volunteer at an RSPCA charity shop, which I enjoyed both because it was a pleasure to be involved with the charity’s cause and because it gave me the opportunity to get to know people from a wide range of backgrounds and appreciate a wide range of mannerisms, body language and speech intonations. Through working at a caf and catering company I have had additional opportunities to meet all sorts of different people, as well as learning how to work with other people and handle pressure.
We hope this sample Performing Arts personal statement is useful for showing you relevant content and structuring for your own personal statement.
Points to Remember
1. Start working on it early
Nobody can rattle off a great personal statement at the first attempt. It will take a few drafts before you arrive at the final version. So make sure you start working on it early and get help from your teachers and advisers.
You can redraft your statement as many times as you like before you send it but once your application is submitted it can’t be changed. So take time to get it right.
2. There's a word limit
Or, to be precise, a character limit. Your statement must be no more than 4000 characters long (or 47 lines of text) including spaces. That’s roughly 600 words.
That’s not very much so the trick is to use the space well – include the most important points and make them as succinctly as you can.
4. Give examples
Don’t just mention the skills you have. Give examples of how you have developed and used them.
For example, you might have demonstrated your communication skills by taking part in a debating competition, or your interpersonal skills by acting as a mentor for younger pupils…
5. Be honest
You want to sell yourself, demonstrating all your skills and achievements. But that doesn’t mean making stuff up. Don’t pretend you’ve worked as a lion tamer if you haven’t. You might be asked about it down the line – especially if your course requires an interview – so be honest!
Write about the great skills and experience you do have.
6. Don't copy!
Don’t be tempted to copy someone else’s statement or one posted online. It must be your own work. UCAS will scan them all to check for any similarities…so don’t risk it!
7. Avoid mentioning universities by name
Remember, it’s the same personal statement for every course you’re applying to. So don’t write about why you want to go to one particular uni. Keep it general. Talk about why you want to study the subject. If you’re applying to different subjects, write about skills and themes that are common to them both e.g. problem solving or creativity.
Before you start writing your statement:
1. Read about the courses you’re applying to
What do they involve? What kind of skills do they require? What kind of person are they looking for?
You must show that you have researched the course, that you understand what it involves, and that your skills and experience are well suited to it.
2. Make a note of:
- your extra-curricular activities, inside and outside school
- your achievements and awards
- your work experience
- your skills and attributes
Which of your skills and experiences are most relevant to your application? Prioritise these.
3. Make a plan
Think about how you’re going to structure your statement and the main points you want to include.
What to Include
1. Why are you applying?
- What interests you about the subject?
- What do you hope to do when you finish the course? Does it relate to your career plan?
- Why do you want to study at university level?
Make your reasons and your enthusiasm clear!
- Maybe an experience at school or in work sparked your interest in the subject?
- Maybe you’ve been influenced by someone you know and admire?
- If the course relates to the career you want to do, explain why you want to pursue that job.
- What else do you want to gain from going to university?
2. What makes you suitable?
- Do you have relevant experience?
- What skills do you have that will suit the demands of the course?
- How have you demonstrated these through your activities and achievements?
You must show that you understand what the course involves and that you have the personality, the skills, the knowledge, and the experience to perform well in it.
Think about your activities.
- play in a sports team or club
- play a musical instrument or attend dance lessons
- are a member of another club or society, in or outside school
- have gained relevant work experience
- have done some volunteering or helped in the community
- have won an award or completed a project e.g. Duke of Edinburgh or Young Enterprise
- have held a position of responsibility in or outside school e.g. as a mentor, a team captain, or a group leader
- have taken part in a university taster course, like the Top-Up Programme, or attended an event related to your subject
What skills have these activities helped you to develop and how do they relate to the demands of the courses you're applying to?
Think about what makes you unique and what achievements you’re proud of.
Why should universities offer YOU a place on their course?
Style and Structure
What you have to say is important. But so is the way you say it.
Your personal statement must be clearly written, well-structured, and as engaging as possible. Remember, university staff have to read hundreds of these every year so you want yours to stand out…for the right reasons.
1. Set the right tone
You want your writing to be engaging. You want to show your enthusiasm and convey your personality. You want to hold the reader's attention. BUT you don't want to sound too chatty or informal.
That means striking a balance. Use an enthusiastic tone of voice and use language that comes naturally to you - it doesn't need to be too complex. But remember that your priority is to get your message across in a clear way. So avoid colloquial language and be careful with using humour, quotes or anything unusual. As UCAS advise, 'you do want to be individual' but the person reading your statement might not share your sense of humour!
2. Structure it clearly
Remember, you only have 47 lines to tell the reader how great you are. You won't be able to mention everything you've ever done or achieved. So prioritise. Write about the skills, achievements and experiences that are most relevant to your application.
- Begin by stating clearly why you're applying to the course. Try and give the most compelling reason you can. Consider the 'What to include' tips above. Explain your interest, demonstrate your knowledge of the subject, and show your enthusiasm from the start.
- In the main body of your statement, include the strongest examples of your skills and experience first - the ones that are most relevant to the demands of the course.
- Structure your statement logically with separate paragraphs for separate themes e.g. a paragraph on your relevant experience, a paragraph on your activities in school, a paragraph on your activities outside school etc.
- Conclude with a final statement that sums up your enthusiasm, your suitability, and your commitment.
3. Check your spelling and grammar
A poorly written statement will not make a good impression. So:
- Redraft your statement until you're happy with it.
- Read it aloud to yourself to check what it sounds like - it must read clearly and flow well.
- Ask a teacher, adviser, or family member to proofread it to ensure that there are no errors in spelling or grammar.
Tip: Write your statement in a Word document first so you can easily edit it and keep track of the number of 'Characters (with spaces)' within the Word Count tab. When you're happy with your final draft, copy it into your UCAS form. Make sure to check that it's within the character limit before you save and send it.