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What is a personal statement?

What is a personal statement

BY Charlotte O’Neill

The personal statement is a very important part of your UCAS application. Alongside information about your grades, work experience, and references from your teachers, you will be required to write a 47 line – or 4000 character – piece of writing. This explains why you feel you should be given an offer by the universities/colleges you have chosen.

Your personal statement is important because it is just that – personal! It gives you the opportunity to show the admissions staff at university/college just what makes you the best choice for the course. This includes your passion and enthusiasm for the subject, your special skills, what you’ve learned from your previous studies, and much more. It is important to give your application a special ‘edge’, making you stand out as an ideal candidate.

Your personal statement should ‘advertise’ your skills and abilities, in the same way your CV is used to apply for jobs. It gives you the opportunity to evaluate how your experiences and learning can be applied to the HE course you want to take, whilst demonstrating your writing skills.

As you can imagine, it is very important to write a great personal statement that will be really attractive to the admissions staff. There are lots of ways in which this can be done:

tickboxGo on the university’s website and look at their information on writing personal statements. Often you will find that they have certain criteria they like to see included, so knowing these give you an advantage.

tickboxMake sure you plan your statement first. You will find that you have much more to say than you think, so it is important to organise this information coherently!

tickboxBe distinctive. Show your passion for the subject and draw in the reader, for example through a strong opening line. Also, show your special suitability by considering your unique and valuable skills, including your extra-curricular ones e.g. hobbies and work experience, and how they have shaped who you are.

tickboxBe realistic. Don’t exaggerate or lie in your personal statement, and although it should be distinctive, the way you write should be appropriate— remember, you are applying to enter an academic environment!

tickboxUCAS check all personal statements against a library of previously submitted ones. Any statement which shows a level of 10% similarity or more is reviewed. With this in mind, don’t be tempted to copy anyone else’s personal statement.

This may all sound brain-boggling, but as long as you give yourself plenty of time before the application deadline to plan and write your statement, you have the best possible opportunity to really impress. UCAS has lots of advice on writing your statement, which can be found here:

About Lynette Daly

Lynette is the publishing editor of Moving On magazine. Moving On is devoted to helping young people make good choices for their future – education, qualifications and careers. Moving On really wants to motivate you! Our articles cover a range of topics to inspire and give ideas. Our magazines are delivered free to all schools, colleges and sixth forms in England and is also available online.

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