The personal statement may be the part of your university application that you’re dreading the most, but, it’s one of the most important parts of your whole application. Your personal statement is your chance to explain why you want to study a particular course and the skills, experiences and ambitions that show your passion for the subject or field. It really is your chance to stand out from the crowd and sell yourself to universities.
It’s important to remember that you only submit one personal statement that goes to all of your chosen universities or colleges. So, as a word of warning, don’t start naming specific institutions and reeling off reasons that you want to study there in particularly – it won’t be well received by your other choices!
It’s also worth noting that you do have a limit on your personal statement – UCAS states that it must not be longer than 4000 characters and 47 lines. Whilst this may sound a lot, it will be eaten up before you know it, so make sure that you are clear and concise.
With a tight limit, it’s worth setting out a structure for what you want to include within your Personal Statement. The key areas we feel that should be included are:
Introduction – why do you want to study this course.
Academics – Focus on the subjects you’ve studied that are relevant to the course. Any additional qualifications, like an EPQ should also be included here.
Interest & engagement outside the classroom – try and demonstrate your deep understanding or passion for the subject. This could be via personal trips and experiences, reading, events and talks you’ve been to, etc.
Relevant Experience – If you’re applying for law or medicine, relevant experience is crucial to stand out amongst top-performing candidates. Paid or unpaid work can all be relevant, as long as it’s developed subject understanding or skills that you can link it back to your desire to study the course.
Hobbies & Interests – Keep this section brief, but this can make candidates stand out from one another and helps admissions staff build a more rounded picture of you. Be careful with what you include though (going out with friends shouldn’t make the cut!). Activities that are related to the subject are great, just make sure that you relate it back to the course or your passion for the subject. If you play sports, mention the qualities it’s taught you – teamworking, discipline, tactics, etc.
It’s likely that you’ll go through several drafts before perfecting your personal statement. It’s best to start it as a word document, rather than straight into the UCAS portal, making spell checking and proof reading easier. Get teachers, tutors, parents and friends to read over it – everyone will have a different take on what you’ve written, just like all those different admission departments. Your school will probably set a deadline for drafts and checks to be done, so make sure you’re well aware of them in advance.