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Writing a personal statement

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Writing your personal statement

The personal statement in your UCAS form is your opportunity to tell us about your interests, and what you want to study and why.

But how can you do this successfully without sounding like everyone else?

What to include

  • Roughly 75% of your statement should focus on the subject you want to study, and the remaining 25% should focus on your other skills, experience and interests
  • You should explain why you're applying for the particular course you're interested in
  • Make sure you demonstrate a good understanding of the subject, and talk about the skills you have that will help you complete the degree (for example, your analytical or communication skills)
  • The personal statement should be exactly what it says – personal to you. So use the 25% to answer some of these questions: What are your interests outside of school or college? How does this link to the subject you want to study, or show how you're ready for university life? For example, if you're applying to study History of Art you may want to talk about the best exhibitions you've visited recently
  • Tell us about the academic reading you've done. Who's your favourite author, researcher or academic, and why do they inspire you?
  • Use line breaks in between paragraphs. You might lose characters doing this, but it will make the statement much easier to read
  • Check your spelling and grammar. A well-presented and grammatically correct statement will demonstrate that you can write in an academic style

What not to include

  • Don't embellish the truth. You may get caught out if you're invited to an interview and asked to elaborate on what you've said
  • Avoid writing lists, unless you're listing technical specifications of programming languages
  • Don't tell us you 'like reading' or 'like music' – if you're not careful you can start to sound like everyone else. It's better to tell us what you enjoy reading or listening to and why, and how this relates to the subject you want to study

Think about your audience

Your personal statement will be read by someone who will decide whether to:

  • Make you a conditional or unconditional offer of a place to study
  • Invite you to an interview
  • Decline to offer you a place to study

Your statement will usually be read by an academic member of staff called the Admissions Tutor. The Admissions Tutor will read hundreds of personal statements, so making yours stand out from the crowd is really important. Most importantly they will be looking for your potential to succeed: they don't expect you to know everything already, but want to be sure that you'll work hard and are passionate about the subject.

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