A personal statement is one of the most feared parts of a university application. - Starting College
Your personal statement is the most important part of the UCAS application form and is the most commonly feared part too.
However, it needn’t be scary, and there are a few key things which can help you to create a cracking personal statement. It should reflect your individuality, show your enthusiasm and commitment to the course, show admissions tutors that you are worth offering a place to and explain why the institution should want you as a student.
What is a personal statement?
A personal statement is a marketing tool for your interests, talents and accomplishments. When interviews are not held, admissions tutors (the people who decide on the applicants that the university accepts to study with them) rely on the information you provide in your statement when making their decision.
Is it important?
Every single personal statement is read!
You are competing against many other applicants and this is your opportunity to ‘take the stage’ and to sell yourself. It is important to take care in considering what you want to say and how to say it.
Before you start writing...
Writing your UCAS personal statement can only be done properly when you are sure about what you want to do and why, so don’t start before you do. Look at the subject and the course details to get a clearer picture of what studying those courses will entail and remember that you can always ring Admissions Tutors if you have any questions.
What do the Admissions Team want to see?
Tutors like well-rounded, responsible individuals, with a range of interests and well-organised enough to cope with university-level study. They are looking for motivation and potential and expect the statement to relate to your choice of course.
Admissions Tutors can become stressed and exasperated because for every good personal statement, there are plenty of terrible ones. Tutors will read hundreds of personal statements, many of which are dull, so make sure yours is interesting!
When you're writing your personal statement for a university you should explain why you want to study that subject and give specific reasons for your interest in the course. Show evidence of research and background reading and make it clear that you are prepared for studying the course - especially if it is a vocational course or a subject that you haven't studied before. What are your career plans for when you finish the course?
Include information about any relevant job, work placement or voluntary experience – especially if it has helped develop skills and given experience that you wouldn't get through school or college. Mention if you’ve attended any summer schools or related lectures – it will bolster the impression of a motivated student
If you are applying for different subjects on the same form, you will need to explain your decisions clearly or institutions will feel that you haven’t made up your mind.
Academic qualifications alone are not enough for most admissions tutors, they love students who put themselves out to achieve something and enjoy a life outside their studies - i.e. they want to see what makes you tick!
Include any hobbies/interests you may have and, if possible, relate them to how they will make you a better student, and mention any involvement with any other extracurricular groups e.g., the Duke of Edinburgh Award.
If possible, include anything which shows that you have an intelligent interest in the world. Mention any positions of responsibility, evidence of self-motivation and any hurdles overcome and use these to demonstrate your character and your strengths. If you are planning to take a gap year, explain why.
Structuring your personal statement
The maximum size of your personal statement is 47 lines – approximately 500-550 words, size 12 font. The maximum number of characters is 4000, and this includes spaces.
How should you start?
Your reason for wanting to study your chosen course is the first thing tutors will look for and will usually be the opening part of a statement
BUT - Don’t start with “I’ve always wanted to study…”
It is important to hook the reader and grab the attention of the Admissions Tutor from the start. If you have a unique selling point, this is where it should be mentioned.
Remember these things as you write your personal statement....
Be personal, positive and not bland
Don’t start every sentence with “I”
Write what comes naturally
Tone should not be over-familiar nor over-formal
Be honest and nothing less
Finish on a high note
Show it to a friend, tutor or a careers advisor
Make a few copies and get some feedback from friends and family.
Take your time, be patient and get it right
Does your personal statement include everything? If not, the time to act is now to fill in any gaps that you may have.
A few extra tips…
Re-read prospectus information about the subject/course before you start
Don’t mention any university by name
Check that each sentence adds something new
Use the most recent examples of hobbies and experience