What is a personal statement?

According to UCAS:

"The personal statement is an important part of your UCAS application. It’s your chance to describe your ambitions, skills, and experience to university and college admissions staff."

This is the finale to your UCAS application and the thing that can really set you apart from other applicants.

What do I include?

This is a very subjective question, which highly depends on the course that you want to study. Take a look at the subject and then work backwards by identifying the skills and qualities required for that degree. Then, you can match your own skills and qualities to the course and that gives you a talking point.

Tell the reader why you're applying for that course:

  • What interests do you have?
  • Why do you want to study that subject?
  • What is it about the subject that sparks your interest?
  • What are your ambitions; and how is this degree programme going to help you to achieve them?

Think about your extracurricular activities and how these demonstrate certain skills. For example:

  • Sports - commitment and training.
  • Team sports - communication, cooperation and teamwork.
  • Drama club - confidence, public speaking, interacting with others.

Another thing to consider is part-time job roles or volunteering that you might have done. Even if it has nothing to do with the course, you can still demonstrate transferable skills that would be really valuable. For example, if you have been a waitress, this shows that you are approachable, can work under pressure, have a customer-centric attitude and are trustworthy (money-handling).

Extra things that you have done are also greatly valued, such as Duke of Edinburgh or National Citizen Service.

Keeping to the word count

Remember, there is a character limit on the personal statement and it is very easy to go over that limit. When writing it, write it into a Microsoft Word document or Google document and check the character counting tool before eventually copying and pasting it into the UCAS Application Form.

A huge piece of advice would be to include everything that you can and worry about being concise and sticking to the word count. If you give yourself a period of a few days to complete the form, you can write the first draft over the first day or two, and then come back to the piece with fresh eyes on the third day. This will allow you to rearrange sentences and cut out words.

Printing out the piece and using a red pen to remove words can also be another way to cut down the characters. This allows you to see the piece in a different way so that it seems fresher and easier to be objective.

In terms of objectivity, get a parent, carer or teacher to take a look at it and remove characters and words as they will have a fresh perspective and might be able to see things that you cannot!

Good luck with your application!

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