Personal statement guide

Your personal statement

Your personal statement should tell us about you, so make it as specific and personal as you can. This is your opportunity to demonstrate your potential as a student and dental practitioner.

Whenever possible only make claims which can be verified, as we’re likely to follow up on what you tell us at the interview stage. Don’t take up space telling us things we already know, e.g. your academic results, the subjects you are taking or what the role of a dentist is.

Make sure you find out what each of your University choices expect from the statement, as you’ll only be able to submit one. Be careful to follow the official guidance rather than advice you find on social media or third party websites.

Values-based recruitment

The School of Dentistry aligns its selection and recruitment process to the NHS Constitution’s Values Based Recruitment.
We agree that the NHS Culture of Compassionate Care, or the 6 x Cs, are important values for you to be selected on:

  • Care
  • Compassion
  • Competence
  • Communication
  • Courage 
  • Commitment

We will be assessing these qualities through your personal statement and at interview.

Spelling and grammar

Accurate spelling and grammar are of paramount importance. You have plenty of time to prepare and perfect your statement before submission, so any errors which slip through make it look as if you haven’t taken much care over it. This doesn’t look attractive to an Admissions team.

Don’t forget to use paragraphs! Good grammar makes written work easier to read and will help you get your point across.


There are two reasons why it is important to avoid plagiarism when writing your personal statement. Firstly, a personal statement must be about you and written by you, while a plagiarised statement only tells us about someone else. Secondly, plagiarism is a form of dishonesty, something that is taken very seriously in healthcare professions.

UCAS puts all applications through similarity detection tests which identify statements that have been copied from another source. Don't be tempted to copy another person's application materials, or download your personal statement from a website. We may reject any such application immediately.

UCAS guidance

The UCAS site contains a lot of useful information but bear in mind that it is generic information, intended for applicants to all courses. See the UCAS information page for general guidance:

University open days

The University of Leeds offers a ‘Top Tips’ personal statement talk at our open days. This is a generic talk aimed at all courses across the University, so be sure to also read the guidance in this booklet or visit the School of Dentistry open day for specific advice relating to your personal statement.

Alternative entry routes

The University of Leeds is committed to improving access to all our courses, including undergraduate dentistry courses. For advice about applying via a foundation year, please contact the Lifelong Learning Centre on or call +44(0)113 343 3212.

Access to Leeds is a widening access scheme which enables eligible candidates to apply with slightly lower grades than what we’d usually require. For more information email or phone +44(0)113 3438952

So what do we want to see in your personal statement?

Your motivation to be a dental professional, and insight into the field

We want your passion for a career in dentistry to shine through the relevant experiences and achievements that you have pursued. 

We understand that gaining dental work experience can be tricky. We do like to see that applicants have obtained work experience, but don’t worry if you haven’t. There are many other ways to show your motivation, insight, passion and commitment.

Perhaps you had work experience at a care home with mobile dentistry, or have been to open days or taster classes at a dental school. Alternatively, you might have completed a free MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) in dentistry, or read dental publications online and in journals Remember, it is not enough to just state ‘I have a passion for dentistry because I had a nice dentist’; you have to reflect how your experiences have given you the skills to be a good dental professional.

Avoid simply writing lists of things you have done, but pick out specific examples and expand on them. For example, if you have observed team-working skills between the dentist, the nurse and the technician, tell us how you have demonstrated that you can work as part of a team - maybe you’re in a sports club or work in a shop each week?

Evidence of your social and cultural awareness

We are looking for individuals who can communicate and work with a wide range of people, including those who are vulnerable, or in need of support.

An understanding of the diversity of the world we live in is one of the key skills a dental professional requires. Think about activities that give you the opportunity to learn about other cultures and groups, especially those with protected characteristics. What experiences have encouraged you to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, or given you a new perspective on life?

If you drop in every week to brighten the day of a lonely elderly person, or you care for someone in your family, then you are also exhibiting caring qualities. Working in a shop that serves a wide range of people or organising a charity event could give you some good grounding in being socially and culturally aware. Through these experiences, you can demonstrate empathy, respect for diversity, listening skills, compassion and care.

Evidence of your life experience

Regardless of whether you are coming from school, or returning to education after 20 years, you will have some form of life experience. We are not looking for applicants to have done everything by the time they leave school, but we are looking to see if you can identify your life experience to date and reflect on the skills it has nurtured, regardless of your age or situation.

You will have something to talk about in this section that reflects who you are, and how your life experiences will make you a better dental practitioner. Again, think about what makes a good healthcare professional and draw examples from your life that show us you have those skills too. For example, being in a position of authority (e.g. sports captain or workplace supervisor) will show us that you can be committed and responsible.

Please don’t underestimate the fact that you may have held down a job for many months or years, even if it’s nothing to do with healthcare, because it tells us something about you if an employer is willing to employ you. You must be trustworthy, reliable, punctual and a good worker. Then, take it one step further and explain how those particular skills will be useful when managing your work life balance and how they will make you a good dental student and professional.

We’re looking for prospective students who have the life skills to succeed on the course. Be it resilience, self-awareness, compassion, or a number of other qualities, show us how you stand out.

Your interests, activities and achievements

What do you like to do in your spare time? Don’t fixate on manual dexterity, as we can test for that at our Multiple Mini Interviews. We are interested in you, and what you like to do. A wide range of activities tells us that you have good time management skills (particularly if you’re also juggling work or keeping your grades high). Difficult activities with a number of challenges will show you resilience and tenacity.

Whether it’s martial arts or needlework that fills your spare time, everything you do could evidence a skill that a dental professional will need - even the fun stuff! What lessons have you learned through pursuing your personal interests, and how will they support you in dental field?

Reflect on your experiences

Both good and bad - we are keen to know if you have faced challenges in your life and have found a way to overcome them. Even if at the time, you didn’t manage them well, the fact that you thought about it, reflected on it and have come up with other ways to deal with the issue is what reflectiveness is all about. That in itself shows you are able to be courageous.

When you write your statement, and you are letting us know about your activities and your experience, weave your reflections into the words that you write. What we don’t want is blocks covering the headings above. We are interested in you, what you have done to further your passion and excitement for the subject and then reflect on the skills learnt along the way.

“One of the most challenging situations I faced was when I cared for one of the disabled clients over a weekend for respite care". Expanding the comment by adding on “I was nervous about this task, but prepared for it by seeking guidance from the carer beforehand and reading up about this particular disability” will dramatically enhance your application and make you stand out from your peers.

Re-sits and Academic Grades

Please make sure you have listed any re-sits that you might be taking – if you don’t meet the predicted grades at first view, your application will automatically be made unsuccessful. We can only consider the information that you provide at the time, and not retrospectively, so please take care of how you complete the form.

Academic Referee

If you can, encourage them to enhance your activities by talking about them in more depth. Prime your referee with information unique to you that you have not had space to include in your personal statement.

If your referee concentrates only on information about your academic results and not your underlying skills and personal characteristics, we are not learning much new about you as we have access to your results already. If you have had experiences that have interrupted your education then ask your referee to tell us more about it. We can’t guarantee to take it into account but if it is not there, we won’t have the opportunity to do so.

Final Thoughts

Tell us everything! Try to draw from all sorts of different experiences from different elements of your life, and be sure to reflect on your examples. Whatever you write, make sure to tell us why we should choose you.

Good Luck!