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Personal statements: Tips and links

Your personal statement is an important part of your UCAS application. It gives you the opportunity to talk about your ambitions, skills and experience and to show university and college admissions staff why you should be given a place on your chosen course.

Your personal statement is all about you. You therefore need to talk about why you want to study the course you’re applying for, what experience you might have, your skills and personal qualities. You might include things like your ambitions, as well as what interests you about the subject. Outlining relevant experience, skills or achievements also helps to demonstrate why you would be successful on your chosen course. This could include things like Duke of Edinburgh or National Citizen Service, or any courses, placements or other experience you’ve undertaken.

We’d advise giving yourself plenty of time to write your personal statement. Your first draft might take a little while to complete, and this will then need checking and revising a few times to make sure it’s just right! It can be useful to set yourself a schedule, which might include personal deadlines for completing your first draft, getting in checked by a teacher, friend or family member and a personal deadline to have it finished by.

You have a maximum of 4,000 characters, or 47 lines, for your personal statement. Although it can be shorter than this, we’d recommend making full use of the space you have! You’ll probably find that your first draft will be much longer, and you can then edit and cut it down to fit the available space. To make this easier, we’d recommend writing your personal statement in a word document first (e.g. Microsoft Office, Google Docs or OpenOffice) so that you can save copies to your computer and avoid losing your hard work! You can then copy and paste it into your UCAS application once you’re ready to go.

It’s generally advised to put the most important information at the start of your personal statement. The crucial part of your personal statement is where you talk about the subject you are applying for and why you want to study it, as well as your aspirations. You can then move on to talk about relevant experience and skills, followed by your personal interests and hobbies. The University of Huddersfield have a useful Personal Statement guide that is helpful for structuring your personal statement: https://www.hud.ac.uk/media/assets/document/scls/onlineresources/HUDD1353-MyPersonalStatementBrochureA5_PRESS.pdf

No formatting of any type is allowed in your personal statement (apart from capital letters) as the field that you will be pasting your statement into on the UCAS application is a plain text box. This means that any bold, italic or underlining will disappear, as will tabs and multiple spaces. Backslashes are also not allowed, and neither are accented characters.

The introduction is often the most intimidating part of a personal statement, and it can be easier to leave it until last so that you don’t get overwhelmed! It’s a good idea to jot down a few general notes first, such as what you want to study and why, and a list of any qualities, experience and interests you have. This will hopefully get you started, making that introduction a bit less daunting.

You only write one personal statement, and this must cover all of the courses and universities that you are applying to. It can be difficult to write a personal statement that covers multiple different courses, especially if they are unrelated. UCAS have the following advice:

“It might be possible to blend your statement in such a way that everything you write provides appropriate evidence of your skills, academic interests, and the way you think that's relevant to all of the courses you've chosen. Alternatively, you could take the honest and transparent approach, and openly explain why you've chosen to apply to different courses by providing reasons or evidence for each.

Whichever approach you take, if some (or all) of your course choices are very competitive, then it's advisable to put across your commitment to your chosen subjects as earnestly as you can.” (https://www.ucas.com/undergraduate/applying-university/writing-personal-statement/writing-a-personal-statement-for-multiple-courses)

There’s already a section of the UCAS application that asks for your qualifications, so you don’t need to waste valuable space covering it in your personal statement. However, if you have something important that doesn’t go into the qualifications section, you might want to talk about this in your personal statement.

Under the current circumstances, it’s very difficult to access work experience opportunities. Universities and colleges are aware of these difficulties, and most will take this into account when assessing applications. To boost your personal statement without talking about work experience, you might want to do some wider reading around your subject or engage in online events or courses to show that you are enthusiastic and proactive.

Generally, extra-curricular activities can be kept as a brief mention towards the end of your statement. However, if these activities are directly relevant to the course you are applying for, you might dedicate a bit more time and space to them and use them as evidence for your dedication and passion.

We would strongly advise against writing anything in your personal statement that you can’t back up in an interview if necessary. Interviewers can and do bring up nearly anything in your personal statement as a basis for questions. Also, whilst you can find some really useful examples of personal statements online, do not be tempted to directly lift content from these into your personal statement. It’s really not worth the risk!

Check, check and check again. Get your teachers, friends or family to read your personal statement and read it out loud to yourself. This can be a really useful way of spotting any errors and making sure it makes sense. Once you are happy with it you can paste it into your UCAS application.

Do not mention specific universities. Your one personal statement is sent to all the universities you are applying for and this can be an issue if you have mentioned another institution! 

  • Stay positive! You have a lot to offer and it is important the admissions tutors see that. Do not be afraid to talk about yourself in positive way and sell the skills and experience you have 
  • Do not be afraid to show a bit of personality in your personal statement; however, avoid including quotes or trying to write it in an unusual style (e.g. a poem or song - yes, this has happened!) 

 

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Personal statements

This Article Also Answers the Following Questions :

  • What is a personal statement?
  • What do I write about?
  • When should I start?
  • How long should it be?
  • How should I structure my personal statement?
  • What formatting should I use?
  • How do I write the introduction?
  • How do I tailor it for different courses?
  • Should I talk about my qualifications?
  • What do I do if I don’t have any work experience?
  • Should I talk about my extra-curricular activities?
  • What happens if I lie on my personal statement?
  • What should I do once I’ve finished it?
  • Do you have any other advice for writing my personal statement?
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