Access to HE: The next steps to University

Prep for University

Writing your Personal Statement

1. What is Personal Statement

Universities use Personal Statements to test your commitment and passion for your chosen course, assess your ability to write effectively and to see how you differentiate yourself from other candidates. Your Personal Statement is an important part of your UCAS application and can make the difference between getting a place and not.
Read our tips on crafting the perfect personal statement:

2. Consider The Word Limit

For UCAS applications there is a strict limit on the number of characters and lines that you can include in your statement. It can’t exceed 4000 characters or 47 lines which may sound like a lot, but if you consider that you have to condense your entire life down into this one page, you can run out of words very quickly once you start writing. Cut down on “waffle” and make each sentence that you write purposeful and to the point. Explain why you’d be good for the course and why you want to go to University. Follow George Orwell’s five rules of writing and you can’t go far wrong.

3. There Can Be Only One

Take some time to plan what you’re going to write about. Don’t rush to get it all down on paper in one go. You can use a spider diagram or other organisational methods to think through everything you want to include, and this will ensure you don’t leave anything out.
Start by thinking about the subjects you have particularly enjoyed studying, and academics you have been inspired by. Also make sure to include any extra-curricular activities you have taken part in, your achievements, and any work experience or volunteering you have done. After listing all these different ideas, you can then order them into an order that will create a good flow. Listing everything you want to include in the Personal Statement will also help you to avoid repetition and ensures that every sentence has a purpose. There’s also no need to restate information that you have included elsewhere, such as your grades.
It’s also important to talk about what you want to get out of the course, your ambitions and goals for university and then what you would like to do after the degree. This shows that you are thinking ahead, and not just applying because you don’t know what else to do and it’s the “next step”.

4. Be Yourself (It’s all you can be)

It’s called a ‘personal’ statement for a reason - it acts as a way for the people reading it to get to know you – the person behind the application. Much of the process can be impersonal, and admissions tutors are keen to see the real people who want to become involved and invested in the field they’re applying for. So if you can get across your personality, all the better for you.

5. Check for Spelling and Grammar Mistakes!

Nothing ruins a good Personal Statement like sloppy or incorrect spelling and grammar and syntax. Once you’ve got a first draft done, read it aloud to make sure that all the sentences flow together and that it reads ‘right’. Then get someone else to read it, checking for spelling, sense and flow. Ideally, this will be someone like a teacher who has experience looking at an academic style writing. Don’t stress over the little things like semi-colons and colons, but do make sure to get the basics right.

6. Collaborate

Ask your friends for their opinions! They are your greatest supporters, and are likely to notice something that you may have missed out.

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