UCAS

UCAS personal statements are changing: here’s what you need to know

Ben Maples  · May 28th 2024  · 4 min

Personal statements as we know them are set to become a thing of the past. UCAS has introduced a new process for applications in 2025.

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The University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) has introduced a new process for university applications for 2025, meaning that the process will change in 2025 ready for 2026 entrants.

Personal statements have always been an essential part of the university application process. However, UCAS has decided to scrap personal statements in their traditional form. They will now be replaced by a new three-question structure.

IYou don't need to worry too much if you’re preparing to apply for university right now. This new structure isn’t coming into play until 2025 when students apply for 2026 entry.


What is the new application process?

Currently, to apply to university you need to write a personal statement which is uploaded to UCAS Hub. Universities you apply to will then read your statement and make their offers from there.

With the new process, things will work a bit differently. You will no longer need to write a detailed personal statement, and will instead need to answer questions related to three key areas.

The key areas are:

  • Motivation for course: Why do you want to study the course?
  • Preparedness for course: How has your learning thus far helped you to be prepared for your course?
  • Preparation through other experiences: What else have you done to help yourself prepare? How and why are these experiences so useful?
  • Extenuating circumstances: Is there anything the university needs to know about you? (optional)
  • These questions will allow you to present yourself in a way that has more structure than the previous version. While the original question list included longer questions on preparedness for study and preferred learning styles, these questions caused confusion due to different teaching and assessment styles. Because of this, they’ve been removed from the potential questions.

    Along with this change, teachers' references will also change to allow for more objective comments.


    UCAS application process changes

    When does this new process start?

    This new process will be introduced in 2025 and take effect for 2026 applicants. Those applying to university for 2023, 2024 or 2025 will still need to write a personal statement for their application in the current format.

    This means the new process will be coming in after January 2025 (October 2024, if you are applying to Oxbridge).

    A personalised tool will also launch later this year. This tool will provide applicants with entry-grade reports that will give students a range of the profiles accepted onto similar courses over a five-year period, using UCAS data.

    This process was originally supposed to start in 2024 but after ongoing testing, this has been pushed back. It’s unknown whether the new process will be postponed again to 2026.

    Why is the process changing?

    UCAS has decided to change the university application process based on student feedback. This process will now offer greater support for applicants from different academic backgrounds.

    UCAS has recently published their own report on current applications, called the Future of Undergraduate Admissions report. This research discovered that, out of 13,000 polled students, as many as 83% found writing a personal statement to be too stressful, while a further 79% found the statement too difficult to write without appropriate support.

    Personal statements were not unpopular, however. 72% of students found that personal statements were essential parts of the university application process. Personal statements allowed students to stand out as more than just application numbers and their grades. However, the question format s will allow students to continue to stand out from other applicants.


    UCAS personal statement questions

    How are teacher references changing?

    Teacher references are changing to allow teachers to make more objective comments regarding students. Students can pick current or former academic referees, such as teachers, tutors or head teachers; these referees will then write a full reference to their career goals, work experience and predicted grades.

    This process is set to change slightly for 2026 applicants. Under the new system, the referee will instead answer three structured questions. In these questions, teachers will include a general statement about the student’s school or college, any extenuating circumstances that could affect the student’s exam performances and any other circumstances the teacher feels the university should be aware of.

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