PS Tip 81: UCAS personal statement

We write a lot of UCAS personal statements, and whilst applicants are not expected to have a huge array of experience, knowledge and skills, competition for university placements is so now so fierce that a statement which would have sufficed 10 years ago may no longer be good enough.

When writing a personal statement for UCAS, there are certain criteria that must be observed – Your statement must be no longer than 4000 characters (including spaces), and span no more than 47 lines. On the flip side, there is no need to worry about formatting considerations, as UCAS personal statements are always submitted via an electronic form.

Beyond these restrictions, there are two primary questions that you’ll be expected to answer:

1. Why are you applying? This includes why you want to progress to higher education, why you want to study this course specifically, and what (if any at this stage) career aspirations you’re hoping to reach
2. Why are you a good candidate? What skills, knowledge, experience and achievements do you have that demonstrate your suitability for the course? How can you evidence your potential as an asset to the university? How can you link your extracurricular activities and personal interests to the course you’re applying for?

Part of the process of writing a good UCAS statement is to ensure you have the material you need to work with – Work and voluntary experience is ideal, as is any paid work you might have done, but also reading relevant books and keeping up-to-date with news in your field will make you look like a dedicated and responsible student.

Beyond this, make sure you read up on the courses you’re interested in very thoroughly, and go through the earlier tips for planning, writing and editing your statement – just because you’re not in the professional workplace yet, that’s no excuse for sloppy work.

Above all, try not to get too stressed out by the whole process. Whilst competition is fierce, you’re not going to be expected to turn out a masterpiece. You still need to do a good job, but if you’ve done your preparation and follow the tips given here, that should put you in a much better position than you were previously.

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