UCAS Personal Statement – Some simple steps for success

Compiling a ‘winning’ UCAS personal statement is one of the most time consuming aspects of completing your UCAS application. Your personal statement must meet UCAS guidelines in terms of length (no more than 47 lines or 4,000 characters including spaces), and must clearly explain to the universities to which you are applying: why you want to study your subject, and why you would be a good student.

Before even starting to plan or write your UCAS personal statement, you should access the relevant help and advice contained on the UCAS website.

It is then essential that you plan your personal statement carefully, leaving yourself plenty of time to proofread it, and arrange for people that you trust to check it before submission.

Create your personal statement in Word (or any other similar software package), before pasting it into UCAS Apply. This will enable you to do a proper spelling and grammar check before submitting your work.

Let’s get started!

Here is a suggested format:

Paragraph 1:

Demonstrate why you’re interested in your chosen subject and why you want to study it at university. Mention specific aspects of the course that interest you, and provide evidence of any relevant further reading or research you have done.

·         Refer to relevant coursework you have completed.

·         Highlight any paid or unpaid work experience you have done.

·         Mention the personal experiences, which have led to you making the decision to study this subject.

·         Perhaps even discuss your future career aspirations.

Identify your unique selling points, i.e. what makes you special? Why are you the ideal candidate? Do you have any personal achievements or experience that will make you stand out from the crowd?

Paragraph 2:

What have you done that is related to your subject, which isn’t already on your UCAS form?

Paragraph 3:

Discuss your relevant work experience and school activities (e.g. being a school prefect, organising a study circle, or public speaking activities), which have allowed you to develop the competencies you need to meet the challenges of your course.

Paragraph 4:

Discuss your other paid, or unpaid, work experiences, which, whilst not directly related to your subject, have enabled you to develop the skills that can help you to excel.

Paragraph 5:

Discuss your interests, hobbies and the other pursuits that you have been involved in outside of school (e.g. Are you the captain of your local rugby team? Do you contribute towards your community in some way?).

You should really try to demonstrate the experiences which show that you are a reliable, responsible and interesting person.

For example, you could mention: any paid or unpaid work, taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh and Young Enterprise schemes, sporting activities, captaining sports teams, musical achievements, language skills, gap year experiences (if you are applying post A-level) or volunteer work.

Paragraph 6:

What are your ultimate career aims and ambitions? What do you want to achieve by going to university and studying this subject? Finally, provide a closing comment that finishes everything off in a succinct manner.

N.B. If you plan to take a gap year, it is necessary for you to refer to this in your personal statement.  Explain your motivations for doing so, and give an insight into the skills, knowledge and achievements you plan to gain from it.

Above all else…

Do not plagiarise another student’s UCAS personal statement. UCAS run all applications through a very sophisticated piece of plagiarism software called ‘Copycatch’.

Personal statements found to contain 10% (or more) similar content are reviewed by the UCAS Similarity Detection Service and your university choice will be notified if there are ‘reasonable grounds for suspicion’.

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