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Seven tips to smash your personal statement

Friday 27 September 2019, UCAS advice

by UCAS

Seven tips to smash your personal statement

Relevant to
UCAS

Your personal statement is a key part of your application. It’s your chance to show the uni or college what kind of person you are, and how you’re suitable for their course. Here are seven top tips to help you write a killer personal statement:

  1. Start early – The deadline for applying to most undergraduate courses is 15 January, but don’t think you can start your personal statement the week before and casually hit ‘submit’ at 17:59 on deadline day. Your personal statement is the one section of your application that will set you apart from everyone else. Unsure where to start? Sign up for the UCAS Hub and get started with the personal statement builder!
  2. Write everything down – Your personal statement is limited to 4,000 characters, or 47 lines (whichever comes first). Remember, it’s 4,000 characters, not words! When you start off don’t set yourself any barriers, just try and write down as much as you can – you’ll have time to edit it later. Think about the sections you want to include, such as why you are applying, why the subject interests you, your skills and achievements, and your plans for the future. The personal statement builder in your UCAS Hub can help with this.
  3. Be enthusiastic – You need to show the best you. Admissions teams read hundreds of statements every year, and if yours starts slowly they will switch off fast. Be positive and enthusiastic to keep them engaged from start to finish. Use a punchy opening paragraph to grab their attention, but leave the clichés behind – if you’ve heard them before, they will have too.
  4. Make it 'personal' – Let your personality shine through (it’s called a ‘personal’ statement for a reason). Show the uni or college who you are, what your passions are, why you want to be on the course, and why you will excel at your chosen subject. Talk about achievements you’re proud of, how they are relevant to your chosen subject, and why you want to study it. Sometimes it’s hard to write about yourself without sounding arrogant, but don’t feel embarrassed to show a little passion. Be loud and proud about your achievements!
  5. Make drafts – Once you’ve written a rough draft, it’s good practice to write another. You can then pick and choose the best bits of each for your final version. You want it to be packed with as much quality as possible, so make sure each one of those 4000 characters counts.
  6. Check, check, and check again – Decided on a final draft? Make sure you read through it several times, and it’s always a good idea to get family members or a teacher to read it too. A fresh pair of eyes might catch something you’ve overlooked. Spellcheck will help you with any obvious spelling errors, but computers haven’t replaced the human race just yet, so it won’t spot if you’ve written the wrong word (e.g. hear instead of here, or their instead of they’re).
  7. Read out loud – When you’ve worked on the same document for hours on end, your brain can switch to auto pilot, and you may skim over chunks of text. Read it out loud and slowly, and you may spot some mistakes that you previously didn’t notice (writing the same sentence twice, using too many commas, etc.).