How to Write a Personal Statement for UCAS

Knowing what to write in your personal statement for UCAS can be really difficult. Unfortunately there is no definite recipe, as applications are largely judged on their individuality. However, there are some tips which can help you on your way.


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    Decide what you want to study. Decide what you want to study before you write your statement. 2/3's of a personal statement is usually related to your future degree, so it's vital that you are sure of what you want to study.
    • If you're struggling to decide, talk with your family and friends, as well as your teachers and tutor to confirm for "you" whether or not a certain degree is the right option of study. Go on plenty of open days and look at a range of subjects.
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    Gather your ideas. The following steps can be taken in any order. Starting a task with the most tricky aspect could discourage and demotivate you before you even start. You'll notice that your non-degree related issues are focused on first and then those which are specific to your degree. People are able to talk more freely about themselves, however ask the all important question "Why are you choosing this degree" and they could be lost for words. Remember everything in this section is rough workings, so unless you think of a fancy sentence, stick to brief notes.
    1. Brainstorm using the 5 WS. Find a blank piece of paper and in the centre write subject title, branching out from this write: who, what, why, when, where, how as your starting point for ideas about your course. This approach will encourage you to think outside the box.
    2. Find a blank piece of paper and jot down a whole list of activities and achievements you could tell your potential university. These are anything that's personal to you. Are you involved in a team sport? Were you selected as the most improved modern languages student during your GCSE studies? Everything and anything that makes you stand out from the crowd is worth writing in this preparation stage.
    3. Go back to the degree you're considering studying. What is it that drew you to choosing this particular degree? Have you had any work experience related to this future study? Have you previous studied the subject at a lower level? It's these key aspects that will make your personal statement stand out, as everyone will have their own reasons for choosing a particular degree. These bits are still personal and you'll start to see how your personal statement breaks away from the mundane standard statement.
    • You should now have a list which details the following (use it as a check list):
      • Why you are applying for this certain degree, your reasons with backed-up ideas and experiences (e.g. reading around the subject)
      • Future career plans or ideas
      • Work experience
      • Previous studies; lessons, topics, fieldwork and projects
      • Prizes (e.g. Key Stage 3 Science prize)
      • Extra curricular activities
      • Hobbies and interests
      • Part-time job
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    Decide on a structure. Everyone has their own writing style, and what you write in your personal statement will some what dictate the way your structure develops. The best way to structure a personal statement is to extensively plan and then see what structure forms, you will intuitively know how to structure it.
    1. Try to plan around a three-paragraph structure. Using all the ideas you previous gathered, split them into the following categories:
    • One - The degree (Everything that relates to why you are choosing this particular degree and what you have done to confirm your choice, this may even include a childhood experience that relates to your subject - don't be afraid to think outside the box.)
    • Two - Work experience, career plans and prizes (Pretty self explanatory)
    • Three - Extra curricular activities, your hobbies, interests and part-time job (As above)
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    Commit to 15 minutes a day. If you spend 15 minutes each morning planning, then writing your personal statement you will get it done within a couple of weeks, without it getting in the way of your other work. Keep a diary with you, in which you can write any ideas that come to you during the day.
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    Draft your personal statement. Use all the ideas you have gathered and categorized to try to explain concisely each of the different aspects, highlighting if they relate to your degree choice, and the personal qualities you have gained from them, whether this be team building, or an improvement in your oral communication, think carefully about these qualities as they will sell your personal statement.
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    Add an introduction and conclusion. With the main body of your personal statement drafted out, you need to start bringing it all together, tying it up with a snappy conclusion, without forgetting a quirky but interesting introduction.
    • These two parts need to be kept to a minimum as you will inevitably write more than your character limit.
    • If you're applying for a combined degree, your introduction should state what you are applying to do, and why you have chosen to study the two subjects together.
    • The final conclusion should be a brief summary of your reasoning behind choosing the degree, it's your one final chance to clinch the deal, and assure them you've put great time and effort into this decision.
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    Condense your personal statement to fit within the requirements. If your personal statement is already within the requirements, then skip to the next step. It has to be within the limit of 4000 characters or 47 lines, whichever is shortest. It's best to write your statement in a word processor before copying and pasting it into UCAS, because the form doesn't have a spell checker. Keep in mind that the word-processing programs tend to underestimate both the character and line counts, so you may find that it doesn't fit when you paste it in.
    1. Be ruthless. Start working through your personal statement deciding if what has been written is relevant to your degree, or shows you to be special in any way.
    2. Start rewording. You'll be amazed at how much you can reduce your personal statement by cutting out a lot of unnecessary language. The key to a successful personal statement is to be concise, the admissions tutor definitely doesn't want to read anything they don't have to.
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    Get someone else to give you some final help and guidance. What you have in front of you is something you should be very proud of, especially since it's taken a great amount of time to construct.
    1. Find a friend who knows you well to see if your personal statement is a true representation of yourself.
    2. Get a family member who probably knows you even better, to suggest anything you may have missed out that is worth a mention within your personal statement.
    3. Get a teacher or tutor (one who has some experience in deal with personal statements is always better) to check whether you have a good enough personal statement that will hopefully guarantee that offer from each of your university choices.
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    Think you've finished? Check back through these step to ensure you've covered everything!


  • Be concise; the admissions tutor will have little time to read your personal statement so keep their attention by sticking to the point.
  • Essay ideas. It is quite common to come up with essay/dissertation ideas when writing a personal statement. Jotting these down and keeping them safe could save you a lot of work later on.
  • Examples of personal statements can be found all over the internet. Reading a personal statement of a subject different to that of the one your are applying for, helps give you a good general grounding of what is expected. It's easy to get stuck with something someone else has wrote if it relates to your subject, restricting your own creativity.
  • A well researched quote in the right context could give a clear indication that you know what you're talking about. However, get this wrong, and the admission tutor may be easily frustrated.
  • Not everyone has the same sense of humor, so if you're going to try a joke or two, make sure you're not the only one that finds it amusing. Get your friends, family or teachers to check if its suitable.
  • Draft, redraft, and draft some more. This is not uncommon. A good personal statement requires a great amount of time and effort.


  • If plagiarism is detected within your work, you will be rejected from the UCAS application process and your Universities will be notified.
  • Do not plagiarize other peoples' work.

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Categories: Applying for Tertiary Education