Your personal statement is one of the most important parts of your UCAS application and many Uni’s take it seriously. Find out what should be in yours.
What is it? A letter to your chosen Universities explaining why you are the best candidate for a potential spot in their University.
When does it need to be submitted? Keep a close eye on the UCAS website from September onwards. There are various dates.
What should it look like? 4000 Maximum characters of formal written English.
What should be in your UCAS Personal Statement?
Your UCAS Personal Statement is your opportunity to show to your chosen Universities why you are deserving of a place on their course. University tutors use the personal statement to compare applications, so its importance should not be underestimated. You can guarantee other students will have written superb, finely-tweaked statements so it is in your best interest to put time aside to perfect your own. Although it may sound daunting, it really is your chance to shine and show the Universities that you are applying to that you are more than just good grades.
Where to begin
The first thing you need to do is plan. Familiarise yourself with the deadlines for sending off your personal statement and allow yourself plenty of time for your research. The level of research you have performed will ultimately show in the quality of your statement, so should it should be given adequate time.
Once you have a timeline of events or something to that effect, begin researching by asking questions such as; why do I want to study this subject? Why do I want to pursue this subject in higher education? Do I see a career developing from this choice? How have my previous studies related to this topic? The UCAS website has a variety of questions to consider. The more you can answer honestly and then incorporate into your statement the better.
Additionally, another way to begin would be to write down everything you have accomplished that you think needs to be included in the statement. Students often include awards they have won, achievements or other successes they have had, volunteering opportunities, relevant jobs they have held down or any other type of experience or position of responsibility that demonstrates how you have used your time wisely. All of this allows the university to get an idea of who you are as a person, your interest and your goals. Furthermore, it is important to note that it is mandatory to enter your GCSE’S and you’re A-Levels etc. so refrain from talking about these in the statement itself.
It can be extremely beneficial to take some time to look at example personal statements that you can find online. They are useful way of showing you first-hand what a great statement looks like. However, be aware of plagiarism as UCAS uses technology designed to detect such fraud and the penalties are strict.
Putting pen to paper
Once you have a wealth of research ready and waiting you can begin to write your personal statement. Begin by developing a structure in your mind that will flow naturally and make sense to the tutor who is reading it. Your introduction needs to be succinct yet interesting. Draw the reader in with a unique opening, (this can be tricky, I know) but it will captivate their attention and thus make them interested to read the rest of your statement. The word limit is up to 4000 characters, so you have plenty of room to work with.
Following from the introduction you could give some background information on yourself, but relate it to the course you are applying for! It is also important to note that when referring to a particular skill or attribute you should aim to back it up with an experience or position that helped you develop said skill. See it as proof of your skill so to speak. You need to sound enthusiastic and naturally drawn towards your chosen topic. Citing examples of your achievements to back up your enthusiasm will create a solid base for your statement.
Develop your statement by including why you would be suited to higher education, and explain why you think your course will help develop you as an individual. Universities want to know your future plan so this is a good opportunity to really think about your career path and a possible answer to the dreaded, ‘ where do you want to be in five years?’ question. Additionally, keeping the course requirements in mind, explain why you are a fantastic candidate and how your experiences to date lend themselves to you being a successful student.
Finally, conclude by summarising your entire statement in a concise but passionate display of your written skills. In the words of T.S Eliot, do not allow your statement to end ‘not with a bang but a whimper’ – make sure the tutor is impressed with the wrapping up of your compelling statement.
- Give yourself appropriate planning and research time
- Use the abundance of resources both online and within libraries to guide you
- Treat the statement almost as if you are applying for your dream job and this is your CV!
- Be natural – the statement needs to strike the perfect balance between professional and enthusiastic
- Do not be afraid to show off your English writing skills to demonstrate your wittiness
- My primary piece of advice would be to leave an abundance of time. This will allow you time to draft and re-draft until you have it perfected!