How to write a UCAS Personal Statements

If you’re looking for the best UCAS personal statement writing tips, then you’ve come to the right place! The UCAS personal statement is a big part of the UK's university application process. This article will teach you how to write a good personal statement that will help you a place in your dream university.

The UCAS personal statement is a vital component of your university application. It is your opportunity to show the university that you are the right student for their institution, and it is an opportunity to put your best foot forward.

Entering higher education is the path many school student choose to follow. The UCAS personal statement is an introduction to what this choice entails. As the supporting essay to your university application, it's important to examine what admissions tutors are looking for and how to tackle writing your personal statements.

1. Choosing what to include in your personal statement is essential to the process – just one statement supports your application for each university you apply to. This may have to cover multiple courses.

2. A personal statement represents a person's skills and knowledge, but it also needs structure and an element of critical thinking.

3. There are many things to avoid when writing your personal statement, so looking at language and practices to stay away from will boost your application's quality.

4. ClassRx offers a bespoke online tutoring service that will prepare school leavers for university admissions.

What is the UCAS personal statement?

The UCAS personal statement is at the heart of your university application. It's an essay that reflects why the university should choose the student for the course they are applying to. It sits alongside the student's A-level grades (predicted or achieved) or equivalent as part of the entrance process. Who reads the UCAS personal statement? The answer is admissions tutors who ultimately decide on who is offered a place and who is not.

Planning your UCAS personal statement and personal statement structure

For an undergraduate course, the student may want to draw on personal experiences and recent academic studies to showcase your skills, passion, and knowledge of the course or subject. Remember, you only get one application form to cover one or more institutions, so the first thing to research is what skills and qualities each university want from potential students.

List the things you want to include, including past experiences, work placements, projects and/or what influenced you to apply in the first place. Please choose what you want to include based on how it shows your enthusiasm for a certain subject, its relevance in showcasing your skills, and thinking about what makes you stand out.

How to write a UCAS application for multiple courses

When planning to write an application for multiple courses, you have to have a slightly different approach. All in all, you get five choices. If they are similar with only slight differences, this shouldn't matter; ensure each subject is commented upon.

If there are big differences, you can either be open and honest and explain why with evidence to back up your decision or write about your skills, experiences and studies in a way that covers all the courses you have chosen. Remember always to be earnest and keep in mind that places on courses are competitive.

Suppose one of your choices is completely different from the other four. In that case, you might be allowed to submit a separate personal statement. Still, the admissions staff have to agree, and you should contact the university to make them aware of the situation. It's also a great idea to contact department staff if you have any questions about the entrance process; it may help boost your application.

The top 10 things to include in your UCAS personal statement

Your personal statement is your chance to show universities who you really are and what you can bring to their university. Whether you are writing an application for one course or several courses, here are the things every university application needs to include.

1. Have a clear structure

There are some key structural notes to keep in mind when writing a UCAS personal statement. Firstly, divide your personal statement into clearly defined sections to make sure you include all relevant information and don't miss anything out. Like any well thought out essay, it should include an introduction, use specific examples, have an element of critical thinking, and come to a satisfying conclusion. You can also use appropriate headers to split the personal statement into sections.

2. An intriguing introduction – why are you applying to university?

Effectively, you tell a story, so keep the opening succinct, specific and show your enthusiasm from the first line. In this section, state why you are interested in studying your chosen course or subject. Admissions tutors don't want gimmicky introductions; they want something that sounds natural, and above all, it needs to be relevant to what you're interested in now. As it's the hardest part to write, it's advisable to leave it until the end and return to it once you have fleshed out the rest of the application.

3. Talk about relevant subjects and specific projects

In the main section of your personal statement for university, go into more detail and focus on what makes you a suitable candidate. Firstly, focus on the subjects you have studied which bear relevance to the course(s). This can vary depending on the course; for example, courses such as medicine or journalism may be more focused on relevant experience. If there is a specific project you worked on outside of your curriculum, this is advantageous because it sets you apart, but keep the description brief as there is a character limit.

4. Think about what inspired you outside of your studies

Secondly, move on to your interest in the course or subject which go beyond your studies. Don't just list various inspirations; choose one or two examples that were key to leading you on this path and use a little critical analysis here. This could be a journal or book you read, a special event or through an influential figure in your life.

5. Work experience and voluntary work

Next, think about work experience or voluntary work you might have done. Pick out one or two placements or jobs and focus on what you got from these experiences and why they are relevant. Perhaps it was positive reinforcement, or it put you off a career path. Try not to be too negative, though; this is really all about picking out the qualities and skills the university is looking for. It will also help to add any achievements and training here too.

6. Add an element of critical thinking

You've talked about your academic achievements, what has influenced you, and shown the jobs or placements that have led you on this path to university. What you should also try to do is inject some critical thinking into your application. Think about how the things you have highlighted relate to your chosen course and explain why you are equipped to study your chosen discipline. Universities will want to see that you have the tools necessary to excel at a higher education institution.

7. Hobbies and extracurricular activities

Lastly, a brief section that goes into hobbies, extracurricular activities and interests relevant to your course or subject or demonstrates key transferable skills should conclude the middle section of your statement. Always keep in mind your audience and think about how someone reading your personal interests will perceive them. Please stick to the things that will impress them but stay modest. Examples of extracurricular activities could be captaining a sports team that shows leadership skills, discipline, watching films that taught you critical analysis, and always linking it back to why this makes you suitable.

8. Write a forward-thinking conclusion

The conclusion could go in a few different directions. Still, ultimately you want it to leave a lasting impression on the admissions tutor. Firstly, you may want to summarise the key points you made and link them back to the opening introduction. You can also talk about future goals, such as a particular career path and explain how the university will help you fulfil your ambitions.

9. An alternative conclusion

If you want to talk about it in broader terms, then an alternative conclusion might be to say why you want the university experience and what makes you an asset. This will only work as a conclusion if you've effectively demonstrated what makes you stand out throughout the rest of the application.

10. Get feedback and write several drafts

In addition to all the above, remember to leave time to write several drafts, get feedback from others on what you've written and check grammar, spelling and punctuation. You can ask friends, family or even a teacher. This will ensure you don't miss any small errors, and a well-written personal statement will impress whoever reads it!

What to avoid in a UCAS personal statement?

Now you're equipped with what you should include in your UCAS personal statement, let's look at what will turn off admissions tutors.

Cliches and generalisation

You want to show, not tell, by using specific examples that demonstrate some analysis instead of empty words and cliché phrases.

Don't ramble

Keep things concise.

Be careful with humour

The admissions tutor might not share your sense of humour, so while you want to show off your personality, be careful with adding humour.

Ditch the quotes

Opening your personal statement with quotes is a huge cliché. Adding them into your application might be unnecessary, so think about what they add and remember admission tutors will read many of the same quotes, so perhaps it's better to show your own thoughts.

Childhood stories

While they can add something to your application, admissions tutors are more interested in recent achievements than your life story and opening with "from a young age" or "for as long as I can remember" instantly makes it less appealing because it has become a cliché.

Keep to the character limit

There is a character limit of 4000 with a maximum of 47 lines. Still, there's no UCAS word limit, so it's best to check beforehand that it fits the UCAS online application. When writing your UCAS personal statements university admission essay, it is important to remember that you are not writing a novel.

Remember to keep saving your application online

As you make changes and re-draft, remember to hit save – you don't have to complete your application all at once.

Ask for opinions

You as a student shouldn't send it without giving it to someone else to read and utilise their constructive comments in your re-drafts.

Don't lie

This may seem obvious but lying on applications serves no purpose, especially if it comes up in your interview; even if it's a small exaggeration, it could be detrimental.

Don't copy

The biggest no-no is copying someone else's personal statement. UCAS as well all the universities have plagiarism softwares that will detect similarities between applications. It will jeopardise the whole application process if you are caught copying someone else's work.

The road to success

The UCAS personal statement is the only opportunity in your application to show the university why you are the perfect candidate for their course. It also provides you with the opportunity to demonstrate your personality, skills, your creativity and your eloquence. It is important to find a balance between your strengths and weaknesses when writing a personal statement for university.

Remember always, a student could be a good fit for a particular university even if the they don't meet all the usual requirements. If you have a definite plan for what you want to do, go for it. Tell the admission officer in the personal statement what you want to study, and why.

Writing an interesting and unique personal statement relies on a student's experiences and academic achievements and ability to show their commitment to further study and the skills that will allow them to reach those goals. The things touched upon by prospective students in writing the personal statement will be discussed in more detail at the interview stage, so this is about making a striking first impression to progress in the UK University admissions process.

Universities are insanely competitive these days and not only you have to be a good student and have solid grades to get in but other diversified skillset that will provide a great talking point in personal statements and at university interviews both in the UK and US college/university applications. ClassRx equips every student with knowledge & relevant skills that will instantly set them apart in their university application.

Do you need help with your UCAS Personal Statement? Do you want to learn more about our specialised university admissions services? Get in touch today.