Writing a Personal Statement

For some people the UCAS personal statement can cause fear and anxiety.

Creating and writing the perfect personal statement is a task that requires time, thought and creativity.

A Personal Statement provides admission officers in your chosen universities the opportunity to filter the talented students from the large pool of applications.

A Personal Statement is your chance to shine, it’s your only opportunity in the UCAS application to demonstrate your personality, academic intelligence and most importantly who you are and why you want to study at your chosen universities.

Follow our tips below to make sure that you nail and make a success of your personal statement!


1. Technical information

UCAS have specific requirements that you can’t forget nor ignore when writing your personal statement. You can’t exceed 4,000 characters, or 47 lines of text (including blank lines and spaces). If you go over the stated amount, the universities won’t receive your entire statement. To make sure that you’re tracking the total amount of characters or lines (whichever comes first) use Word (or an equivalent tool) to track how much you have written.

2. Plan your time and write it in advance!

It would be foolish and to your detriment if you leave your personal statement to the very last minute. The average student will go through 8 drafts of a personal statement before sending it off, make sure that you leave enough time to plan and write and most importantly having somebody in your school, college or somebody who you can trust to read through your personal statement. We recommend that you start thinking about your personal statement in July (before your break up for the summer holidays) and then writing it in September. The more time you allow yourself, the longer you can take to edit and perfect your application.

3. Make sure that you know which universities you're applying to before starting

The academic level of every university and courses across the UK varies, therefore make sure you know where and what you’re applying for before starting your personal statement. Knowing what course/ universities you’re applying to will help you cater your personal statement appropriately.
Rule of thumb, the more traditional and academically acclaimed the university is, the less time and space you should dedicate in your personal statement discussing non-academic activities.

4. Find out what admissions tutors are looking for

The best way to impress the reader of your personal statement is to find out exactly what they are looking for in a candidate. Find out what our admissions tutors in your academic area are seeking when reading your personal statement. We also recommend speaking to our admissions team and representatives of your chosen departments during our Open Days about the UCAS personal statement.

5. Show that you're interested and want to study the course!

Admissions tutors will discover immediately whether you have a genuine desire to study the course at your chosen university.  You need to convey sincerity and enthusiasm as to why you want to study a particular course in a particular university. Avoid wasting lines on waffle but focus on why the three or four years of that course will be of benefit to you.

6. Choose your extra-curricular activities wisely!

The golden rule when discussing extra-curricular activities is to only mention the activity if it’s relevant to your course, e.g. if you’re applying for Law degree you might want to mention discuss your contribution to the debating society in your school/ college. For traditional subject, this might be tricky, but think outside of the box and if in doubt ask your teacher, mentor or advisor for assistance on this. Here are some ideas that we have thought about; a mathematics applicant could share enthusiasm for chess, a geographer might want to discuss the physical/ human geography of their local area or somewhere they have visited.  Read some of the tips shared by our admissions tutor.

7. Avoid rambling, waffling and long winded statements

Remember you only have 4,000 characters and 47 lines (whichever comes first), don’t swallow a thesaurus and don’t spend line after line talking about one thing! If something is interesting, provide the reader a brief overview, this will leave them wanting to know more! Avoid clichés e.g. “committed, passionate and hard-working” will not give the university an overview of who you’re and why you want to study their course.

8. Don't lie!

We all know that it’s immorally incorrect to lie, but if you’re caught your application could be reconsidered. Don’t become another case study of a university interview that goes wrong! Many applicants have been interrogated about something that they’ve included in the personal statement.

9. Don't copy!

Reading previous personal statements gives you an idea of the standard that is required but don’t try and re-use what has already been written. Copying will not demonstrate your uniqueness and self-drive. UCAS also use programmes to prevent plagiarism. Remember your personal statement needs to be your own!


Good luck with your Personal Statement