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UCAS Personal Statement – How To Write

UCAS Personal Statement – How to Write

What is a Personal Statement in UCAS?

A personal statement in UCAS is an important part of your application to study at a UK University. The way you articulate your thoughts and experiences in the statement often lands you to your dream UK University, subject to you meeting the other entry requirements.

The personal statement you write provides additional evidence of your intellectual and creative achievement. Such an essay is also the only opportunity for the readers of your application (ie. the admissions committee) to get a feel for you as a person as well as for you as a student. The essay is also the place where you can put your academic record into the context of your opportunities and obstacles, your long-term career goals and more.

Your personal statement should be exactly that — personal. This is your opportunity to tell a University about yourself — your hopes, ambitions, life experiences, inspirations. Be open. Be reflective. Find your individual voice and express it honestly.

What to write about in the Personal Statement for UCAS?

Points that you could write on in a personal statement for UCAS:

  • learning till date
  • education
  • work experience / internships (learning from these places) – if any
  • extra-curricular activities alongside your academic studies
  • interest areas ie. how you became interested in the subject
  • short-term career interest
  • mid-term and/or long-term career goals
  • why a specific course ie. how will the specific course help you?
  • why study in a specific country? (ie. why study in the UK)
  • what could you contribute to the class that you will be studying in
  • other relevant academic interests and passions which display positive character and personality

Some students may write about why study in a particular UK University, however since you can apply to 5 Universities through UCAS application system, all Universities will be reading the same personal statement. Thus, we recommend you avoid writing about a particular University.

A personal statement is to be written in an essay format (not point-wise) but if you answer to the points above, a good personal statement should shape up.

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How long should the Personal Statement for UCAS be?

You have 4,000 characters and 47 lines, including spaces and line breaks.

We suggest you follow these steps while working on your UCAS personal statement:

  1. It is best to use an external word processor such as Microsoft Word instead of typing your statement on the UCAS application.
  2. Then, edit it as many times as you want.
  3. While writing and calculating the characters, you must paste the statement in the UCAS application to check the character count and the number of lines used. This is especially because the line spacing in your word processor will be different than the one on the UCAS application.
  4. Once you are ready with the final version of your personal statement which is within or equal to 4,000 characters with spaces, paste the entire statement into the UCAS application, and check if the last few lines with the last word written is showing up
  5. Proofread the statement thrice to check for any errors. Again, the punctuation marks such as dash or quote that you use on word processors may not show up correctly when you paste the content in the UCAS application. Correct these if you find any.
  6. Once all of the above is done, save the personal statement. You will see a check mark on the personal statement page in UCAS.
  7. Lastly, log out and login to UCAS application again to see if the personal statement is fine

What kind of things have students included in the Personal Statement for UCAS in the past?

You can write whatever you feel like as long as it is important and has significantly impacted your thoughts, your decisions, and “you”. Besides academics, points on which students have written in the past include:

  1. Activities that have made a difference to their life. Some may be pursuing a sport, while some hit out for adventures periodically. In both instances, students show their ability to work in teams or bring out their leadership or risk taking abilities.
  2. Some students may have attended MUNs (Model United Nations) so they write about it
  3. Students have sometimes even written about stories of how they converted their weaknesses into strengths. You may have had a fall out in School, but then you did not relent, and achieved what you were set out to do!
  4. We have also seen students writing about a performance-based activity such musical instrument they play or a dance form they practice that has helped them reduce academic stress levels.
  5. Community service is always liked by Universities and students who have engaged in such activities, have written about how they have been to schools to help underprivileged kids or helped with fundraising. Any social activity is fine.
  6. Applicants who have had a hard time during their previous studies have mentioned about it and how inspite such circumstances, they have delivered well at academics and otherwise.
  7. Many students would write about their reading habits and the titles they have read, especially which are aligned to the future course of study
  8. Applicants who have learnt a foreign language, or may be some programming languages make a mention of these. Its nice to see for example a business study aspirant learning a technology course or Coursera for instance!

7 Common Errors while writing UCAS Personal Statement

  1. Short Personal Statement: The UCAS personal statement is too short. While you are not obligated to use the entire space of 4,000 characters, everyone has some story or experience that can take up space in the personal statement.
  2. Flow of the Statement: Writing an unstructured personal statement can be a big put-off. You must be able to connect the dots even if you are moving from talking about one thing to another.
  3. Repetitive Content: You should avoid writing the same over and over again. Often times, applicants stress on a particular aspect because it is really the one point that they want the admissions committee to read. However, if you write a second sentence to explain their previous written sentence would mean that you did not articulate your thought in the first sentence correctly in the first place.
  4. Flowery Language: Your personal statement should — “candid”. It has to be simple and concise. Good use of English language is great, but making it flowery does not make any difference to your application.
  5. UCAS Deadline and Last Minute Application: Many students leave it to the last minute to submit the UCAS application or finalizing the personal statement. Its best to begin early and plan the application. UCAS application deadline is 15th January each year except for applications to Oxbridge (Oxford and Cambridge) and Medical, Veterinary Medicine/Science and Dentistry applications for which the deadline is 15th October each year. If you wish to study medicine in the UK, then there may be other requirements like appearing for UKCAT and thus, students must be prepared well in advance
  6. Careless Errors: Applicants sometimes make simple errors like not proof reading after pasting the personal statement content in the UCAS application, or not using a spell checker before submitting the UCAS application. Once the application is submitted, no changes can be made to the application.
  7. Writing about specific programme and University name: It is fine to name a University and the course you are applying to if you are only applying to one UK University. However, if you are applying to more UK Universities upto 5 which you are allowed to, the same personal statement goes to all UK Universities. In such a case, it is best to concentrate on writing about your interest in the subject and not name the exact programme or University.

We have also found this very interesting article on 10 things NOT to put in your UCAS personal statement which you can read.

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