The UCAS Personal Statement
Very often, the most difficult thing about writing a personal statement can be getting started, so make time to do this. So, research well and chose the universities and courses that are right for you. Start writing your personal statement well in advance, allowing yourself plenty of time to re-read and improve your document prior to the UCAS submission date in January. Parents and teachers can proofread and offer advice on spelling, punctuation and grammar. A useful tip is for the applicant to read it aloud, to ensure that what they have written is what they mean to say.
This is your opportunity to stand out from the crowd, to show your uniqueness and your suitability for the course. However, you need to be concise, because you are limited to 4,000 characters / 47 lines (electronic devices can count these in a different way, so you must ensure that it fits the UCAS electronic template on their candidate application website). It is therefore likely that you will produce several drafts. It is best to prepare it and make amendments as a Word document – that way you have a record of what you have written, and it can be “cut and pasted” into the UCAS form (the form times out after 35 minutes of inactivity but can be saved regularly).
Make sure that your personal statement is your own work and unique. UCAS software detects similarities and could void your application.
Whilst there is no formal format for a UCAS personal statement, the following points are designed to allow you to write an excellent statement that will make you of interest to the universities to which you are applying.
- Make sure your introductory paragraph has impact and will encourage the tutor to read further.
- Structure the body of the statement to meet the relevant requirements of the universities you have selected.
- Allude to Super-Curricular activities and engagement.
- Your concluding paragraph must demonstrate your skill set and commitment to university life.
- Due to restricted character count, try to avoid humour or quotes (these are not your words).
Preparation for writing your personal statement
- Be aware that you will only write one personal statement which must be suitable for all the universities that you are applying for, therefore do not mention a specific university. The courses you apply for should broadly be in the same field.
- Research university websites to confirm that your predicted / actual grades make you suitable and to confirm the qualities that they expect of their candidates.
- List the things that you want to say in your personal statements.
- Start writing well in advanced of the deadline to allow for re-drafting.
Writing your personal statement
Writing about the course: Why have you chosen to apply for this course? (Remember, whilst you may apply to 5 universities, the general sources that you have selected will be similar). Why does the subject interest you? You must show that you have what it takes and understand what is required to study the course. Why do you think you’re suitable for the course? What experience and skills do you have that will allow you to succeed on the course? How do your recent studies relate to your chosen course?
Writing about your achievement, skills and interests: Universities want to know a little bit about your broader skill set and how this will enable you to contribute to the course and university life. This is a great opportunity to display your non-academic achievements, accreditation and skills. Positions of responsibility can also be explained in this section, showing how these have developed you as an individual.
Writing about your hobbies and interests: Compile a list of your hobbies, interests and activities. How do these further show your personality and the skills set required for the course?
Writing about work experience: What paid or voluntary experiences have you had? How do these relate to the course?
International students: This is a fantastic opportunity to say why you want to study in the UK. If English is not your first language, you can also say why you think you can complete a course which is taught in English. Previous experience of being taught / instructed in English should be referred to. You should also say why you want to be an international student in the UK, rather than study in your own country.
Writing about your future plans: How will the skills gained on the course relate to what you want to achieve in the future?
And finally, here are some Dos and Don’ts when writing your personal statement:
- Do show off your written work at is best. This is the first opportunity for the university to learn about you, so make sure your spelling, punctuation and grammar are perfect.
- Do be ready to show off your strengths and explain your ideas. Your words should use appropriate vocabulary which will be understood by the tutors who read it.
- Do enthuse about the course and your reasons for wanting to follow it.
- Do be ready to make improvements to your personal statement. Re-drafting it will allow for improvement.
- Do ask parents, teachers, and others that you trust for feedback.
- Do read your personal statement out loud to make sure that what you have written is what you want to say.
- Don’t lie. An interviewer may catch you out if they ask you to elaborate.
- Don’t rely on spell checkers to pick up all errors. Proofreading is critical.
- Don’t purchase personal statements from internet providers.
- Don’t leave it to the last minute. This is an important document, and you must ensure that it is written to the very best of your ability, including all relevant information within the UCAS character limit.
Your personal statement can make or break your UCAS university application. It is therefore vitally important that each individual student has ownership of this. At Education Adviser Ltd we don’t write the Personal Statement on behalf of the student, but we do give expert and experienced advice and guidance.
Please contact Steven, our Senior Educational Consultant, at email@example.com / +44(0)1622 813870 to discuss how Education Advisers Ltd can support your pathway to university.