The Personal Statement is the only part of the UCAS application form which gives you a chance to say something about yourself, and at the same time make a positive impression. It is vital to get it right and this guide explains how to put a good UCAS Personal Statement together. As our advice article Six Top Tips for an outstanding UCAS form explains, your personal statement may well be the deciding factor in whether you get an offer.
Over the years the space for the Personal Statement has grown from a few lines to a whole page, emphasising how important it is to universities. You should give it similar attention. Take as much time and care as you can to make it effective.
The most important thing is to explain why you are applying for your particular courses. The UCAS Personal Statement should also include details of your achievements in and outside school/college, your experience of work, travel, responsibility and helping others and what you enjoy doing in your spare time.
Quite a writing challenge, but if you follow the guidelines below you should find you end up with something really effective.
Tackle the UCAS Personal Statement in stages
Getting started can be tough, but if you approach the task as a series of steps, you will find it easier. Get started early so that you can give the process the time it will need. You'll probably find that you need to come back to the task over several sessions. Starting before the summer holidays is ideal: it gives you time to do all the necessary thinking and to beef up your cv if you need to. Don't leave the Personal Statement to the last minute!
You'll fill in your UCAS Form online, but when you start writing, work off-line so that you don't feel under time pressure and can cut and paste as much as you want.
The very first thing to do is to check out what the university website says about the courses you are applying for, and look at the course entry profiles you'll find on the UCAS website. What you say on the form about your reasons for choosing the course and about your interests, skills and experience, must match up to the qualities admissions tutors are looking for.
So, where to start? Here is a step-by-step guide to getting it right.
- List everything which might be relevant.
- Decide what is best to include.
- Decide on the order to put your points in.
- Sort out where the supporting detail should come, and what it should be.
- Write a draft and show it to your adviser. Be prepared to write several more drafts!
Each step is described in more detail below. Just click on the titles to expand a section.
Very few people get the UCAS Personal Statement right first time. If you find yourself sweating blood over it you will be in good company, but don't skimp on the effort. You will be lucky to get away with rewriting it only twice.
For more about the UCAS Form and Personal Statement in particular, visit the UCAS website.
Content by kind permission of Cambridge Centre for Sixth-form Studies