Writing a personal statement is never easy and it can take a long time to perfect, but if you take a look at our UCAS personal statement tips, then you'll see exactly what you should (and what you shouldn't) include in your personal statement.
Write for the degree course you want to study
There is no simple formula to write a personal statement for two unrelated degree courses. However, if the courses are similar, such as a Banking degree course, and an Accounting degree course, you can adjust your writing to suit both of these subjects.
The trick is to not mention the subject(s) by name if you are applying for different ones. The same can be said for universities, don’t talk about the institution if you are applying to separate universities.
Choose your biggest passion
Although if the courses are totally unrelated – you find that you have two passions, media and music and are waiting for A-Level results day to make a decision – it can be impossible to write about both subjects well.
If this is the case, then you will need to look at your predicted grades, your degree courses and career aspirations if you have them. Once you have chosen a degree course that you prefer over the other, then write about that one in your personal statement.
The most important thing to remember is to ensure your statement suits its purpose; to impress the university, to answer questions, and to represent yourself.
Check your notes
Hopefully, you will have a structured plan before you start writing and this could be in the form of bullet points or an entire page of notes. Regardless of your planning style, the crucial factor is that you have thought about your personal statement before sitting down to write it!
Within your notes, you can decide what language you want to use, the style, and goals of your statement. Once you begin writing don’t forget to check back to your notes! Some students produce a weak statement because they don’t remember to re-read their initial goals. Referring to your plan will also help you if you find that you go off-topic, or lose inspiration during writing.
You do not need to include everything, but the relevant information will help them form a decent impression about you and your personality.
Think about the structure of the personal statement
Our next tips for writing a personal statement, is about how your personal statement looks and reads and how important it is to universities. It shows admission tutors that you understand how to write effectively and to follow instructions. Remember to address the aims of a personal statement – why you should be accepted on to the degree course, at that university, and why you are a good fit for the subject.
The language that you use will also be judged. Avoid text or messenger style of writing and the use of slang, because let’s be fair, that’s not what universities are looking for in a personal statement.
Never write your statement on the UCAS personal statement page
Next up is one of the most important university personal statement tips. Students should write their personal statement within a word document where they can check spelling and grammar as well as being able to use a programme they understand. However, after each paragraph, you should then copy your statement back into the UCAS page to see how many lines or characters you have used.
Remember you are only allowed to have 47 lines or 4000 characters worth of space. This is different to a word count and can be easily misunderstood. One scenario that can make you panic is that you write this amazing statement and check the line count before submission to find out you are extremely over the limit!
The ending of your personal statement is another key element to keep in mind. There is no right or wrong way to end your personal statement, however, we recommend two key elements: Make it personal and reinforce the key messages you've made earlier in the statement. These are the fundamental tenents to a good personal statement conclusion and will ensure that you sign off the statement in a meaningful way.
There is no need to feel that you have to explain any shortfalls or negative aspects of your application – especially if the university won’t pick up on this!
Try to be positive and interesting to the admission tutor, tell them about any side projects you’ve done if this will seem more relevant and worthwhile than how you completed your coursework.
Look at the university prospectus
Most of our tips for writing UCAS personal statement might seem pretty obvious, but this one is often overlooked by students.
Before writing your personal statement actually read the university website and prospectus. In most cases, institutions will describe the type of students they are looking for, whether that be innovative, creative or those with academic excellence. You need to look at these prospectus as thoroughly as possible because these will yield more information than you think.
Talk about you
It seems like one of the more obvious personal statement writing tips, but it’s the most important one. The purpose of the personal statement is for universities to find out about you because the basic information within the application won’t tell them this.
Try to include the following: what you like to do in your free time, subjects you study that maybe won’t be graded, sport and leisure activities, hobbies, musical instruments, prizes you’ve won, competitions you’ve entered, languages you speak or side projects you were involved in.
You do not need to include everything, but the relevant information will help them form a decent impression about you and your personality. The vital thing is that you have a good reason for why you want to study that subject.
There is no simple formula to write a personal statement for two unrelated degree courses.
If you take a gap year then talk about your gap year
This too may seem like one of our more blatant tips on writing personal statements, but you’d be surprised just how many students are reticent to mention their gap year(s).
Admission tutors can see when a student has had a gap year in between college and university. They will be interested to know why you chose to have a year out and briefly explaining why will help your application. Discuss what you did during that time, why you chose to take a gap year and how it may be related to the course.
If you are considering taking a gap year or applying for a deferred place at university or if you have retaken your exams during a gap year or if you’ve been travelling during your gap year, then you can talk about this too. Write about your plans during this time and why it would benefit you in the long run.
Although there are no strict rules about discussing your gap year in your statement so if you decide not to that is okay too. You may still be asked about it during an interview with the university.
Why you want to study that degree course
This really is what the personal statement is about. Yes, you need to talk about yourself, but one of the best tips on how to write a personal statement we can give you, is talking about your deeply-held passion and love for the degree course.
The vital thing is that you have a good reason for why you want to study that subject. It doesn’t matter if it sounds silly or different to your friends’ personal statement; you can work on it later or go into more detail during the admission interview. The best part is that you’re honest. However, if your reasoning is purely due to not doing anything else at that moment then it’s best not to include that!
Take a look at some Personal Statement examples for ideas on how to effectively mention your potential degree course. Admission tutors search for enthusiastic and passionate students because they will be the best fit for the degree course.
Talk about the subject
Write down as much as you can about the subject you want to take. There may be certain aspects or modules that really interest you, or that you understand it is the right step for your career aspirations.
All of these reasons are music to the university’s ears because it not only shows that you have done your research but that you understand why you should study the subject.