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Make your personal statement shine

TLDRoffon

The UCAS personal statement is your chance to persuade admissions tutors in 4,000 characters or less why you deserve a place.

Your personal statement is the only part of the UCAS application form where you get to show admissions tutors what makes you unique and why the university would be lucky to have you.

A few paragraphs could be the deciding factor as to whether you are offered a place, which is why you need to make every word work hard to make your case.

The 4,000-character limit includes spaces, punctuation and blank lines between paragraphs. So, you're looking at roughly 650 words. Before you start writing, take time to really think about why you want to go to university.

Questions to ask yourself include: why do you want to study your chosen degree? How do your skills, interests and experience show that you deserve a place? What will you bring to the university? What makes you different? What will you get out of your time here?

Once you've jotted down your thoughts, you're ready to make a start on your first draft.

Do

  • Plan what you want to say and the order you want to say it. This will help you build up your case and end on a high.
  • Show passion and excitement for the subject you want to study.
  • Keep hobbies and outside interests to a minimum and ensure they that reveal a relevant quality, such as teamwork or resilience, or an insight into your passion for your chosen subject.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to read, edit, redraft and repeat.
  • Get feedback from teachers, parents and other people you trust.

Don't

  • Leave it too late. You'll end up rushing it and won't do yourself justice.
  • Exaggerate achievements. You could be caught out if you are asked about these, such as at interview.
  • Copy other students' statements. UCAS uses programmes designed to spot this.
  • Use clich├ęs, slang or overcomplicated, pretentious words and phrases. Keep it simple and clear.
  • Feel that you have to use the whole 4,000-character count.

Useful links

Final word

Your personal statement is not only important at the application stage. If you narrowly miss your grades, it is one of the things admissions tutors look at to decide whether to still offer you a place.