UCAS shares the most frequently-used opening lines in university applicants’ personal statements

“From a young age I have (always) been...” was the most popular opening line with university applicants last year, UCAS has revealed.
Posted Wed 20 April 2016 - 15:48

Some 1,770 students (from over 700,000 who applied) started their personal statements that way; and most of these finished the sentence with ‘interested in’ or ‘fascinated by’.

“For as long as I can remember I have…” was close behind, followed by “I am applying for this course because…”

Over 900 applicants told universities: “I have always been interested in …” with “Throughout my life, I have always enjoyed…” and “Reflecting on my educational experiences…” some way behind.

Next was a sentence specific to Nursing – the degree course with the highest number of applications. Over 200 people wrote: “Nursing is a very challenging and demanding [career/profession/course].”

“Academically, I have always been…” was another popular pick and equal numbers (160) began with “I have always wanted to pursue a career in…” or “I have always been passionate about…”

Just outside the top ten was a quote from former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”, chosen by nearly 150 people.

The UK’s admissions service for higher education has shared the most common first sentences to help applicants convey their connection with the subject, in language that makes them stand out.

It’s not too late to apply to start at university or college in 2016. Applicants can make five university choices up until 30 June this year and may still get offers if places are available.

Mary Curnock Cook, UCAS’ Chief Executive said: “The personal statement is supposed to be personal. Learning to write about yourself in a compelling way is a vital skill when applying for jobs; using hackneyed phrases is not the best way to stand out.”

The ten most common opening lines used in personal statements during the 2015 UCAS application cycle were:

1. From a young age I have (always) been [interested in/fascinated by]… [1,779]

2. For as long as I can remember I have… [1,451]

3. I am applying for this course because… [1,370]

4. I have always been interested in… [927]

5. Throughout my life I have always enjoyed… [310]

6. Reflecting on my educational experiences… [257]

7. Nursing is a very challenging and demanding [career/profession/course]… [211]

8. Academically, I have always been… [168]

9. I have always wanted to pursue a career in… [160]

10. I have always been passionate about… [160]


11. Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world… [148]



Notes to editors:

  • The UCAS website has comprehensive advice on how to write a strong personal statement, including a new tool to help structure this important part of the application.
  • Last year, UCAS analysed the balance of ‘passion’ and ‘career’ related words in personal statements from students applying to a selection of subjects.
  • UCAS’ end of cycle data resources include applications (choices) and acceptances (individuals) to around 150 subjects in full-time undergraduate UK higher education.

About UCAS

UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, is a charity and the UK’s shared admissions service for higher education. We manage applications from over 700,000 applicants each year for full-time undergraduate courses at around 380 universities and colleges across the UK.

Press Office contacts
UCAS Press Office: 01242 545469


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