Before writing a personal statement, take time to brainstorm ideas, think carefully about the content you want to include and how you want to structure it. Some techniques for brainstorming could be:
- Word association
- This worksheet, provided by UCAS themselves
2. Create a draft
For your first draft, ignore the character counter and focus on getting all your content written down. Later on, you can re-word sentences to make them more concise.
3. Focus on your strengths
In the 4,000 characters that UCAS provide, you are trying to promote yourself to the university, so aim to focus at least two-thirds on academic motivations and interests. Show that you have an understanding of the subject and a genuine interest in it:
- Demonstrate why the subject area is important to you.
- Show that you know what the course involves.
- Elaborate on any specific interests you have within the area, to show your enthusiasm.
- Mention any work from the industry that you have read, studied or participated in before and highlight why it inspired you/ why you liked it.
- Emphasise any transferable or study skills you have gained from current subjects that could benefit you at university.
4. Begin with something engaging
Starting with something interesting, unusual or surprising will give a good first impression. Some ideas could include:
- A bold statement
- An anecdote
- A quote
The perfect opening sentence must be relevant to you, but also to the course you are applying for. Remember, universities read hundreds of personal statements during application times, so make them want to read yours!
5. Demonstrate any career ambitions
It is important to mention what you are working towards in the future and how you think that this course is going to equip you with the skills and experience required to get there. If possible think back to relevant past encounters you may have had, such as:
- Work experience
- Work shadowing
- Taster days
- Networking events
Do not worry if your career plans are still undecided at this stage, this is a university application, not a job interview!
6. Be honest
Being truthful is key in any application, but especially a UCAS one. Why? Because you could be caught out at a later date. Some universities have an interview stage, so it is important that you can answer questions relating to what you've written.
7. Include any extracurricular activities that you take part in
Your academic motivations should form the majority of your statement, but admissions tutors are keen to attract applicants who are well-rounded and demonstrate involvement in extracurricular activities. They see these aspects of your life as elements that shape you as a person, even if they do not relate to your career plans. Things to include could be:
- Part-time work
- Clubs and societies
- Awards and achievements
When mentioning any of the above ideas and interests, it is important to ensure you explain what relevance it has to the course and the industry.
8. Make sure that it is your own work
Copying someone else's work is plagiarism, which is never a good idea. Anti-plagiarism software can pick up on statements containing as little as 10% of previously used sentences and phrases; this is not only going to discredit your work, but also it's bad practice for when you start your degree. So, be original!
9. Ask someone else to proofread
When you have been working on a piece of work repeatedly, it becomes more and more difficult to spot mistakes and find ways to rephrase or improve your work. Therefore, it is really helpful to get someone to proofread, such as a parent or teacher and they can find improvements for you.
10. Don't leave it until the last minute!
This is an important statement, so unless you really need extra time to make decisions, start as soon as possible. This is especially important if you are studying A-Levels as the further you get through the year, the more exams you will have and the more intense study will get.
Good luck! We hope our top tips can help you out.