UCAS Personal Statement

Your personal statement should provide the reader with a clear pen picture of you. Be aware that each university you have applied to will read the same personal statement, so do not mention any particular university or course title.

Where competition for a certain course is fierce you can really use your personal statement to stand out from the crowd.

First thoughts

  • Why do you want to study this subject?

  • What makes you someone particularly suitable to study the subject?

  • How will you contribute to the course and the university community and what makes you an interesting and unique individual?

ABC rule

       A – Activity: What did you do

       B – Benefit: How did you benefit from the activity

       C – Course: How does this relate to the course you are applying for

 How do I write a personal statement?

Use positive language and wherever you talk about having experience or a particular skill, always back it up with an example and explain how it is relevant.

You should write in a text document first, such as ‘Microsoft Word’ before transferring it to your UCAS application online. This is for two reasons: firstly, it will give you the opportunity to let others read it before you add it to your online form and you can check for spelling and grammar mistakes; and secondly, the online form will automatically time out after thirty five minutes of inactivity, so you don’t want to get half way through and then lose your work.

You are only allowed 47 lines of text or 4000 characters so it is essential to make every sentence count.

Ideally your personal statement should include the following:

  • An enthusiastic explanation of why you want to study the course

  • Your career aspirations and how the course will help you to fulfil these

  • A description of your current studies and how they will help you to progress

  • Examples of any work experience relative to the course you have applied for

  • Any relevant skills that are appropriate to your studies

  • Why you should be offered a place on this course

  • What interests you about your chosen subject

  • Clear confirmation that you have the commitment and ability to achieve your programme

  • What skills and qualities you can use to support your studies

  • Any extracurricular activities you have taken part in

Putting your Personal Statement together:

  • Do your research, make a list of what the universities and colleges are looking for in a personal statement

  • Write a first draft – refer back to the research you did about what to include

  • Show the first draft to your parents, tutor or careers adviser and ask them to check it for you

  • Make changes to your statement and check your grammar and spelling. Check the length is no more than 4,000 characters or 47 lines of text (including blank lines)

  • Proof read aloud, this is usually very helpful in identifying common errors

  • Show your re-drafted statement to your parents, tutor or careers adviser as a final check

  • Cut and paste your final statement into Apply by the right deadline 

  • Re-read it before you go for an interview – it may form the basis for questions

Layout guidelines example

There is no rigid format to a personal statement but you can use the following guidelines to help give it structure.

Paragraph One

This is a general paragraph which should immediately give an introduction as to why you are interested in the subject and why you want to study that course. You don’t need to demonstrate skills or list experiences at this stage.

Paragraph Two

What have you done related to your course. In this paragraph you should explain your academic experiences. Discuss your relevant subjects and how these have inspired you and what you find interesting about them. Try to give specific examples of things you have enjoyed studying. You don’t need to list the subjects you’re studying in detail as these are in the Education section of your application.

Paragraph Three/Four

Work experience and extra-curricular activities. You should discuss your interest in the subject outside of the classroom, this might include summer schools or open days you have attended, books you have read and any relevant experience. Giving specific details of what you did and how this makes you a well informed and prepared candidate. When talking about any work experiences you should also focus on how the experiences have enabled you to develop relevant skills for the course, use this is an opportunity to show appreciation of what skills the course requires.When discussing books or lectures that have inspired you, try to explain exactly what it was that you found particularly interesting, and why you found it interesting.

Paragraph Five

Personal interests outside of school or college. Include any hobbies and extra-curricular activities in a paragraph again with the focus on skills and personal development. Sport, music and voluntary work are all good examples and help to show that you are a diverse person outside of the classroom. Avoid more mundane hobbies like socialising with friends, watching TV, playing computer games or browsing the internet. This should be ideally be quite a short section to make room for the more academic sections.

Paragraph Six

Your overall goal of going to university closing comment. Your conclusion can be brief but should summarise and reiterate your interest in the subject and your aptitude and skill for it. This is also a good place to discuss any future career aspirations that this course will support.

Remember

  • You are only allowed 47 lines of text or 4000 characters including spaces

  • Don’t write your statement directly into the online form as it will time out after thirty five minutes of inactivity and you will lose your work

  • Write your personal statement in a word document and copy and paste it into your online form when it is complete

  • Don’t lie, there is no need to, and you will be caught out

  • Don’t copy or use statements from the internet, UCAS run all statements through similarity checking software

  • Check the spelling and grammar, and then check it again

  • You can copy and paste it into your online form at any time and click the preview button to check layout and number of lines used

  • Don’t mention particular course titles or universities as the statement will be sent to all of your choices

  • Ask someone else to read through it

  • Save a copy for future reference

If you need any further help or advice, please contact the Careers and Employability Team