How to Write Your UCAS Personal Statement
Admissions staff want to see active, well-rounded, motivated applicants.
With only 47 lines of text, or 4,000 characters, the UCAS personal statement may see daunting. Your one, single statement will go to all five of your UCAS choices. It is a short piece of writing that gives you the chance to tell universities about your qualifying skills and experiences. Admissions tutors read through hundreds of applications, so what exactly are they looking for?
Tutors say, "I use a personal statement to get a sense of an applicant’s personality, their interests, and how motivated they are."
Make sure you stand out! Since other students may look similar in grades, this is your opportunity to prove that you are best suited for the course. Convince us that you are the student who deserves an offer to study.
Tutors say, "It is a pleasure (although a surprisingly rare one) to read a statement where the candidate’s voice comes across clearly — be yourself."
A good guideline is that 70-80% of the statement should focus on your academic achievements in the field to which you are applying. This can include any relevant work experience as well. The rest should discuss your personal attributes, interests, and extra-curricular activities as they relate to you as a student. Admissions tutors also look for demonstrated academic interest. In other words, what you have done to prepare for your course, why you want to study that field, and what you intend to do with your degree. It is okay to not have a firm idea of your career path after graduation — still, there should be a strong indication that you understand the content of the course. Feel free to mention any authors, writers, or artists that have impacted you.
Your personal statement can be used to explain any gaps in education, or if you intend to take a gap year. Both are perfectly acceptable, and the explanation will help to paint a better picture of who you are. There is an additional expectation that you will indicate some transferable skills that you have gained over the years. These qualities should be contextualized as to how they will help in your university career, and should be explained with concrete and specific examples of how you gained, utilize, and plan to use your skills going forward. Some of these enviable traits include organization, creativity, problem solving, and team work.
Tutors say, "We want to see an active, well-rounded individual, not just a good academic."
Remember to spell and grammar check your personal statement. Try to have someone who is familiar with UCAS review it. Be clear in what you want to say; admissions tutors do not want to infer what you are trying to say. Stay positive and do not provide negative reasons or examples. It should go without saying, but it is never okay to lie, or plagiarize. This also means you need to write your own essay.
UCAS has some great resources to help you. Universities can also provide guidance (check out the University of East Anglia's advice), but we hope this has been a handy guide to help you and understand and get started on crafting a successful personal statement. We look forward to reading about you!