Writing your UCAS personal statement – dos and don’ts

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When it comes to writing your UCAS personal statement the key is to start early.

Although the deadline for most courses isn’t until January 2017, the opening date for applications is 6th September so the sooner you can get your application submitted the better.

Here are some dos and don’ts to consider when writing your personal statement.

DO start with a brainstorming session and make a ‘mind map’ (either on paper or using a tool such as Mindmeister) of all the things you want (and need) to include. Think about:

  • why you are applying to study your chosen subject
  • how your current studies are relevant to that course
  • what experience you have either through work, hobbies or volunteering
  • what skills and qualities you have that make you the right person for the course

DO write draft copies – you’ll probably change your mind several times before you’re happy with it and only when you’re 100% confident that you’ve got it right should you copy and paste it into the online application.

DO think about the structure of your statement – you should use a similar technique to the one you use when writing essays:

  • Start with a compelling introduction that makes the admissions tutor keen to know more about you
  • Structure it in a logical order with the most relevant information at the top
  • Show your enthusiasm for the course you’ve selected
  • Conclude by reinforcing the key points you’ve made

DO make sure you check for spelling and grammar mistakes. It isn’t enough to just use spellchecker – get others to look over it too. Ask them for their feedback at the same time – your parents and tutors may be able to give you some ideas you hadn’t thought of.

DO save a copy – you’ll need to refer to it when you get invited to interviews.

UCAS personal statement

DON’T mention a university or college by name – your UCAS form is seen by all the universities you apply to so you don’t want to limit your options.

DON’T forget that you only have up to 4,000 characters (47 lines of text) including spaces and blank lines so you will need to think carefully about what you want to say. So with that in mind…

DON’T use overly long words when plain English will do – you’ll impress the admissions tutor more by writing in your own voice and showing your enthusiasm and interest in the course rather than by your ability to use a thesaurus.

DON’T try and be too clever – while it’s good to stand out make sure it’s for all the right reasons. You don’t know what sense of humour the admissions tutors reading your statement have so, when in doubt, play it safe. Similarly, don’t exaggerate or tell lies – you’ll be asked questions at interview and will more than likely be caught out if you can’t evidence or elaborate on what you’ve written.

DON’T copy – UCAS screens all personal statements using software which detects similarities so attempts at plagiarism will be picked up, your application will be flagged and your selected universities will be notified. The consequences are serious so don’t risk it.

Writing your UCAS personal statement can seem like a huge task but, by breaking it down and following these tips, it can be a fairly painless experience.

Get it Write offers advice and assistance to students on getting their personal statements ‘UCAS ready’. Whether you prefer to work on a one-to-one basis or in a small group get in touch to see how we can help.

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