Useful Guidelines for Writing the UCAS Personal Statement

Admissions officers read thousands of personal statements. Therefore, making your personal statement easy to read with a good structure and proper organization will help to keep the reader's attention. Additionally, keep the following in mind when writing your personal statement:

1. Space is extremely limited. You only have 4,000 characters and 47 lines to impress admissions officers. Don't waste space on irrelevant or out of date examples and be concise.

2. Start with a draft containing all your thoughts – even if it exceeds the character limit. It is easier to cut down than to increase with meaningful content.

3. It is easy to get carried away and make outrageous claims. For example. if you claim to be an environmental activist then you have to support it with facts. Some courses have interviews where you are asked to elaborate on specific details from your personal statement so if you have fabricated this, you will not have a successful outcome.

4. Talk about the why - why you want to study your chosen course and why you are suited to it. Besides your academic interests, your reasons should include your future ambitions (related to your chosen course), extracurricular experience and what specifically makes the course right fit for you. Here, the admissions officer is looking to understand how you developed an interest in the subject that you want to study and why you would be a good candidate. Also, if you are an international student, you can write about why you want to study in the UK and how it would be beneficial to you. 

5. Remember to reflect on your achievements, activities and experiences. For example, reflect on how your work experience influenced your view of your chosen subject; or talk about challenging situations with which you were presented and how you were able to overcome them or what you learned from these experiences. This higher level of critical thinking can appeal to an admissions officer.

6. Strike the right balance between academics and extracurriculars, as this can have a significant impact on the overall message.  The primary focus should be on academics while extracurricular activities should be used to demonstrate dedication and commitment, along with attributes such as leadership and communication. However, be careful that unrelated extracurricular activities do not form a large part of your statement.

7. Your personal statement should not read like a laundry listof everything you have done. Rather than listing the names of the five or six books you've read this year, you should talk about one or two books and share your insights about each of them and how this will benefit you in the course you want to study. Once again, focus on building a story rather than trying to pack in everything.

8. All the colleges which you apply to will see the same personal statement. No specific college or course name should find its way into your personal statement. Stating your desire to study at college X won't go down well with colleges A, B and C. The same applies to comments about the location.

9. Do not forget to use British English.

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