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Law student Dave and Law lecturer and Admissions Tutor Chaynee offer advice on how to write a winning Personal Statement.
The UCAS Personal Statement is a marketing tool for your interests, talents and accomplishments. If you’re not invited for an interview, admissions tutors (the people who decide on who gets a place on their courses) rely on your statement when making their decision.
Every single personal statement is read!
You are competing against many other applicants and have to sell yourself. It’s important to take care in considering what you want to say and how to say it.
Writing your UCAS Personal Statement can only be done properly when you are sure about what you want to do and why, so don’t start before you do. Look at the subject and the course details to get a clearer picture of what studying those courses will involve and remember that you can always ring Admissions Tutors if you have any questions.
Tutors like well-rounded, responsible individuals, with a range of interests and well-organised enough to cope with university-level study. They're looking for motivation and potential and expect the statement to relate to your choice of course.
Tutors will read hundreds of personal statements, many of which are dull, so make yours interesting!
When you're writing your UCAS personal statement you should explain why you want to study that subject and give specific reasons for your interest in the course. Show evidence of research and background reading and make it clear that you’re prepared for studying the course - especially if it is a vocational course or a subject that you haven't studied before. What are your career plans for when you finish the course?
Include information about any relevant job, work placement or voluntary experience – especially if it’s helped you develop skills and give experience that you wouldn't get through school or college. Have you attended any summer schools or related lectures?
If you’re applying for different subjects on the same form, you’ll need to explain why that is, otherwise the universities might feel that you haven’t made up your mind.
Most admissions tutors want to know more about you than just your academic qualifications, they love students who put themselves out to achieve something and enjoy a life outside their studies - i.e. they want to see what makes you tick!
Include any hobbies/interests you may have and, if possible, relate them to how they will make you a better student, and mention any involvement with any other extracurricular groups e.g., the Duke of Edinburgh Award.
If possible, include anything which shows that you have an intelligent interest in the world. Mention any positions of responsibility, evidence of self-motivation and any hurdles you’ve had to overcome and use these to show your character and your strengths. If you’re planning to take a gap year, explain why.
The maximum size of your UCAS personal statement is 47 lines – that’s around 500-550 words, size 12 font. The maximum number of characters is 4000, and this includes spaces.
Your reason for wanting to study your chosen course is the first thing tutors will look for and will usually be the opening part of a statement.
BUT - Don’t start with “I’ve always wanted to study…”
It is important to hook the reader and grab the attention of the Admissions Tutor from the start. If you have a unique selling point, this is where it should be mentioned.
Be personal and positive - and don't be bland.
- Don’t start every sentence with “I”
- Write what comes naturally
- Tone should not be over-familiar nor over-formal
- Be honest – don’t lie!
- Finish on a high note
- Make a few copies
- Take your time, be patient and get it right
- Re-read prospectuses and information about the subject/course before you start
- Don’t mention a university by name
- Check that each sentence adds something new
- Use the most relevant and recent examples of hobbies and extra-curricular activities
- Ask a friend or careers advisor to read through your statement and check for typos