In order to successfully gain entry into a UK university, you will need to construct a great personal statement. A good personal statement can often be the difference between outright rejection, and acceptance into your chosen Uni. But what is a personal statement, why is it important, and how can you perfect your own? In this 2 part blog, we’ll show you how to write a UCAS personal statement.
What is UCAS?
Before we begin looking at how to write a personal statement, it’s important to understand the role of UCAS. UCAS is the organisation responsible for processing full-time undergraduate applications to UK universities and colleges. Along with listing your results, GCSE grades and predicted results (which will then be forwarded via UCAS to universities) UCAS also gives you the chance to construct a personal statement. In order to be successful, it’s critical that you understand how to write a UCAS personal statement.
What is a personal statement?
A personal statement is a single page of A4, which acts as a reference for your qualities, skills and ambitions. You will insert this into your UCAS form online, which will be sent off to the different universities that you have applied to. To put it in simple terms: a personal statement is YOUR attempt to persuade universities that they should give you a place on their course. It should take the form of a well-written letter. Our advice is to treat your personal statement like a job application – you are essentially trying to sell yourself to the university.
Who will look at my personal statement?
After your personal statement has been sent off, it will be looked at and used in the following way:
- Firstly, your statement will be looked at by university and college admissions tutors. These will generally be an allocated individual from the course that you are applying to. They’ll look at whether your statement meets with the expectations of those running the course, and whether you’d be likely to achieve good grades upon completion.
- Following this, if your statement is good enough, 1 of 2 things will happen. You may be offered a place (conditionally) or the admissions tutor may decide to give you a ring. This will allow them to further evaluate whether you are suitable for the course. If this does happen, they’ll have your personal statement to hand and will actively ask questions based on what you have written.
- Finally, if you are given a conditional offer, but don’t meet the grade expectations; there is a chance that your statement could be re-examined and then weighed up to decide whether it’s worth giving you a place anyway. A great statement can sometimes make up for a slight lack of grades, and tip the scales in your favour.
How To Write a UCAS Personal Statement
Now, the most important part – constructing your statement. When writing a personal statement, there are a huge number of things to consider. However, fundamentally, you need to show the following qualities:
Why you want to study the course that you have chosen. This is absolutely essential, and the number 1 tip on our list. While admissions tutors are interested in your skills, grades and interests, the thing they most want to know is why you’d be a good candidate for the course. That means showing them that you are interested in the subject, have taken extra-curricular steps to improve your knowledge, and want to learn. If you are applying for an English course, don’t write that you have a keen interest in Maths. Write about your interest in books, poetry and plays. Tell them what you studied at school and why it interested you, and why that has made you want to take an English degree. You can even talk about your early life, and how you have always been interested in the subject, as well as your future ambitions for a career within the subject.
What type of person you are. By this, we mean that you need to show that you are hardworking, dedicated and interested in the subject. Universities do not want lazy candidates, who will sit back and put minimum effort into the degree. They are looking for motivated, interested and enthusiastic students, who will achieve the best results possible. Make sure that you write about your positive qualities, and not your negative.
Structure. When writing any persuasive letter or essay, it’s important to consider the structure. Imagine if you were an admissions tutor, and got handed the following two UCAS statements:
- 1. A statement that lists the qualities of the candidate, their motivations for applying to the course and a strong background of interest in the subject; in a clear, concise and ordered manner.
- 2. A statement that lists the qualities of the candidate in the same paragraph as their motivations, whilst occasionally adding hints of interest in the subject, before going back to their qualities and their motivations again, finishing with more interest in the subject.
Which statement would you be most likely to choose? The answer is statement 1. The reason for this is that it’s easy to read! That doesn’t mean that admissions tutors are lazy though. By making your statement easy to read, you show a number of things:
- Firstly, you show that you have considered the readability of the statement and written it accordingly.
- Secondly, you show that you are someone who is already capable of writing good and extended pieces of work or essays.
- Thirdly, you show that you are an organised individual with a clear and full understanding of why you want a place.
All of the above points show that you are a strong candidate, who is worthy of a place on the course of your choice.
Grammar, spelling and punctuation. This goes without saying. If you want to have any chance of your application being successful, you need to make sure that the grammar, spelling and punctuation is as flawless as possible. Put yourself in the position of the admissions tutor. If you received a personal statement that was riddled with spelling mistakes, and hadn’t been proofread, what impression would you get of the candidate? Clearly not a good one. This shows the admissions tutor that you don’t care about the presentation of your work, and are therefore likely to take the same attitude towards their course.
In our next week’s blog, we’ll give you some more top tips on what to do and what not to do, and show you how to STRUCTURE your personal statement!