The UCAS personal statement is a part of the Universities & Colleges Admissions Service application form. It is a short section that allows for no more than 4000 characters or 47 lines of text. The statement must be written by applicants and is an opportunity for them to show off their communication skills, enthusiasm and ability as well as tell the university or college why they believe they should be accepted on to the course they are applying for.
From a student’s perspective the aim of a personal statement is to demonstrate to admission staff that they are dedicated, committed and suitable to enrol on their course. It is a chance for applicants to show them that they will be able to cope with the demands of the course and stresses of university life.
Occasionally you will be given a very clear indication of what you should write about, for instance you may be asked to;
‘Briefly describe your reasons for wanting to become a architect and also any practical experience you have of the profession’. however in the absence of this, here are particular guidelines that you must follow.
On highly sought after and over subscribed courses a good well written personal statement may be the only thing that sets one student apart from everyone else.
This guide explains to you how to put together a winning personal statement that will grab an admission tutor’s attention, impress them with your application and thereby maximise your chances of being accepted on to your chosen course. The guidance and examples will hopefully inspire you and give you ideas on how to put together your own simply and direct personal statement.
Step by step guide to writing a UCAS personal statement
You need to find out as much as possible about the course you are interested in.
Start by reading the university prospectus and website, you want to know what they are looking for in a candidate. Make a list of what qualities you believe the university require from applicants.
Now write down all of your experiences, skills, qualifications and abilities that you feel will match the requirements of the university.
Once you have all of this information start to write a first draft of your personal statement.
Take a break for a few hours.
Go over your personal statement redraft and refine it. Then take another break and come back and go over it again. Keep doing this until you are happy with what you have written. Using this procedure every time you look at your statement you will see something in it that needs to be changed.
Once the final draft it ready give it to a friend of third party for proof reading. Also use software to check for spelling and grammar mistakes.
Personal statement examples
Maths personal statement example
The main question admission staff and tutors at a university will be asking themselves is; ‘Would we want someone like you on our course or at our university?’. This means that when assessing your application they will be trying to ascertain if you are;
- In possession of the necessary qualifications.
- Likely to drop out or leave midway through the course.
- Sociable and have good communication skills.
- Dedicated and genuinely interested.
Another key point to note is that the person who reads your personal statement will probably be a expert in their field. So it’s important to remember that if you do mention the course subject matter then make sure you know what you are talking about.
The importance of standing out
Admission staff may have hundreds of applications to read through, yours has to stand out to be noticed, a difficult but not impossible task.
Targeted personal statements
If you are applying to a number of different universities or colleges then try to write a different personal statement for each one. This may be time consuming but a targeted approach has a much better chance of success that a scatter gun approach.
No formatting of text i.e. underlining, bold or italics is allowed on a UCAS personal statement. If any are included they will automatically be removed once the personal statement has been submitted.
If you are ever interviewed by the university then you may be asked questions about the personal statement you have submitted. It’s therefore a good idea for reference purposes to keep a copy of what you have sent in.
Use the personal statement to show your ability to
- Work to deadlines.
- Solve problems.
- Communicate effectively.
- Use your initiative.
- Appear arrogant.
- Make your statement disjointed or confusing.
- Lie or exaggerate.
- Be over formal.
- Mention your hobbies unless it relates strongly to the subject you are applying for.
- Mention any religious or political affiliations.
- Try to be funny or tell any jokes.
- Copy other peoples personal statements outright or word for word.
- Overload it with information.
- Criticise other universities or academic institutions.
- Repeat information already included in the rest of the application form.
- Use five words when two would do instead.
- Use slang or abbreviations.
More tips on writing your UCAS personal statement
- One of the most important parts of your statement is explaining why you want to enrol on the course.
- Keep it positive, informative and interesting.
- Show any knowledge you have of the subject matter.
- Make it sound believable.
- View it as a opportunity to sell yourself.
- Try to convey passion and enthusiasm.
- Demonstrate that you are organised and literate.
- It is imperative that it contains no spelling errors.
Relevant academic links