The UCAS Personal Statement is a vital component of a UK university application, but also one that perplexes many applicants. In today’s competitive admissions, where the number of applicants far outstrips the number of places on highly selective courses, meeting the academic grade requirements is simply not enough to guarantee an offer of admission. A compelling Personal Statement can make all the difference to the success of an application.But what should it say?

material or readings that you are referencing. Rather than simply name-dropping authors/theorists, show that you have understood the key arguments of their work. You can even go a step further and add in your own viewpoint or challenge and question the material you have read. This shows that you capable of formulating original arguments!

6. Do not customize your content to any single university

While you can apply to five universities through the UCAS, you can only submit one Personal Statement to all of these universities! It is therefore important to avoid mentioning the names of specific universities that you are applying to in your statement. If you want to refer to anything university-related, it is best to just write “your university.”

Furthermore, your chosen courses must share significant similarities, or else it will be very difficult to write a coherent Personal Statement. For example, applying to a mixture of General Engineering and Mechanical Engineering courses would probably be fine as there is substantial overlap in content, as would Politics & Economics and Philosophy, Politics, & Economics. But the less your courses have in common, the more unfocused your Personal Statement is likely to be – which will certainly hinder your candidacy. (There are some very unique courses that allow applicants to submit a second Personal Statement tailored to them. Do check the university’s course page for this information.)

7. Use your characters wisely!

While it might be tempting to open your essay with a famous quote from an expert in your chosen academic field, you have a mere 4,000 characters (including spaces and symbols) to work with and you need to be judicious about what to include. The point of the Personal Statement is to convey your ideas and opinions, so stay focused on the task at hand – the admissions tutors will appreciate it. If you must use a quote, make sure that it is less well-known and supports a specific argument that you are trying to make.

Also, avoid grand and idealistic statements about your aspirations or subject, like “I have always wanted to be an engineer” or “psychology can solve all of the world’s problems.” These sentences add little value, especially if you do not have solid evidence to support them.

8. Use positive phrasing and specific examples to highlight your strengths

Positive phrasing is a powerful tool to highlight your interests and skills in a way that is persuasive and assertive. These include expressions like “prepared me well for” or “gained valuable exposure” or “motivated me to” when describing specific activities or experiences and outlining what you learned from them. Specific examples and anecdotes are also helpful in showing rather than telling a reader about specific skills that you gained and tend to help readers visualize what you did.

9. Be original

The UCAS utilizes sophisticated software to detect plagiarism, which can quickly identify if your Personal Statement is similar to someone else’s, even if it was written a few years ago. It is also best to avoid embellishing or exaggerating the truth to try and stand out, since you could run the risk of being caught, especially if your course includes an interview process.

10. Proofread and check your character count

As the single piece of writing that is sent to all your 5 UCAS universities, it goes without saying that you should proofread your Personal Statement multiple times. Ask someone to proofread the Statement for you and maybe even read the essay aloud. To check that your writing falls within the UCAS character and line requirements, you can use this line and character counter.

Finally, if you are working on your essay in a separate document, be sure to proofread it again once you cut and paste it into the UCAS platform to avoid unexpected formatting and spelling changes that can occur unexpectedly.

For further information or to discuss your UCAS Personal Statement or your college application plans, do not hesitate to reach out to us.

The goal of your Personal Statement is to make a concise yet compelling case for why you should be admitted to your course of choice, and demonstrate your suitability through your academic interests, achievements, skills and extracurricular activities.

Still puzzled? Here are a few tips to help you tackle this task.

1. Read your course description before you start writing

On their websites, UK universities publish very detailed descriptions of every course they offer. These guides cover everything from the core modules in each year, optional modules, as well as methods of evaluation (projects, exams, written work). Reading through these web pages will help you identify key qualities, skills and experiences for success on your chosen course, and decide which of your personal and academic experiences you should and should not include. If you are applying to two slightly different courses, try to identify and focus on the qualities that are common to both.

2. Give yourself time to brainstorm

As with any application writing, start early so that you have ample time to draft, edit and refine your work. In the spring of Year 12/grade 11, we recommend creating a document where you can jot down ideas and inspiration from your classes at school, further reading you may have completed, or extracurricular activities that are relevant to your course. Write down everything that comes to mind, so that you can narrow down your content when you start drafting.

3. Structure your statement with purpose

Organize your writing in a way that will make sense to the admissions tutor. If you are finding this hard to do, you can use the following Personal Statement structure that many UK universities recommend:

  • Introduction: An anecdote explaining why you want to study this course and what intrigues you about the subject
  • Academic History: How you developed your interest in the subject (notable coursework in or outside of school, further reading)
  • Extracurricular Activities / Work Experience: Activities you are involved with outside of the classroom, which are relevant to your course. Use the ABC rule – explained below!
  • Conclusion: Reiterate why you would like to pursue this degree and elaborate on your future goals

Even if you do not follow this exact structure, you can use this as a checklist to ensure that your statement includes all of the information that admissions teams will expect to see.

4. Follow the ABC rule

Everything in your Personal Statement should relate back to the course or courses to which you are applying. To help you follow this rule, you can use the ABC method, where every Activity you mention should be accompanied by a brief description of the Benefits it gave you as well as an explanation of how it is relevant to your Course. In most cases, the activity itself is less important than the insight you gained and transferable skills that it gives you. Skills like communication, organization, team-working will be an asset on almost any course!

5. Have a specific focus or coherent theme

Rather than writing a laundry list of everything that you love about your subject, try to focus on a few ideas or concepts that genuinely interest you. If these concepts are linked to each other by a common theme, that is even better, as your content will flow more seamlessly. Remember that your Personal Statement will often be read by faculty members who are experts in your chosen discipline, which makes it even more important to show that you have deeply engaged with any