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Writing your Personal Statement

The Personal Statement in the UCAS application is all about you but it’s also an opportunity to tell universities why you want to study there and why you want to study a particular subject.

Why is it important?

There are some courses where you may have to have an interview, or provide a portfolio, but for many courses, universities make their decisions solely on your UCAS application - and the personal statement is your chance to sell yourself.

What should you highlight in the Personal Statement?

This will depend on the courses you want to study. Generally, universities want to know what how your current studies have shaped your decision and what experiences you've gained. They want to know what interests you about the subject area, and whether you have a long-term career goal. Ultimately, they want to learn about you - your extra-curricular activities, what you do in your spare time, any relevant work/volunteer experience, and any other achievements.

Through all of this, you also have to pinpoint the skills and attributes you have gained from inside and outside of school/college. For instance, if you're a good maths student, you're likely to have good analytical skills and problem-solving abilities. If you're not sure where to start, scribble down a list of what you've done, and pick out the most relevant parts.

 What should I avoid doing?

Don't waffle. It's tempting to list everything you've done and let the selector 'pick out' the relevant bits – but that doesn't happen. Think of it as a job application - keep it concise, keep it clear, and keep it logically organised. UCAS have a few good templates on how personal statements can be organised - think about something like PEE (Point, Evidence, Explanation) if you're struggling.

For everything you write, make sure it's relevant. For instance, don't say you just 'find something interesting' - that doesn't tell a selector much. They want to know why you find it interesting, and why that makes you a good candidate. Always remember that phrases such as 'for as long as I can remember' may sound good but they can sound cliched and at times simply aren't true. Keep it honest - keep it meaningful.

Lastly, remember you only get one personal statement. Keep it neutral if you're applying to different universities and always have someone else read over your work.

Good luck!


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