WOI has partnered with UK Education Experts, Renewed Learning. In this blog, we dive into how to write a strong UCAS personal statement.
Every student applying for UK universities needs to write a Personal Statement as part of their UCAS application. A personal statement is hugely important in your application and allows you to showcase your interests and achievements, as well as explaining why you want to study a particular course. It is also fairly short (47 lines or 4000 characters whichever comes first) so it is important that every sentence and paragraph has a clear purpose and message that you are trying to convey. At Renewed Learning we have a lot of experience working with students on their Personal Statements and here are our five top tips to improve yours!
Top tips to improve your Personal Statement!
1- Include Concrete Examples
Your personal statement should clearly explain why you are interested in the subject you are applying for and it is crucial that you justify this interest with concrete examples of how you have pursued this interest. This can be in the form of a project that you have completed (we always recommend an EPQ), an essay competition that you entered, or a society that you have joined – or perhaps even founded. Adding in these specific details helps to show that you have more than a passing attraction to the subject as you have proactively sought further information. This not only convinces a reader you would enjoy the course but is also a great indicator of your future performance during your studies.
2- Don’t understate the experience you gained through A-Levels/IB
Your priority should always be extra research, as this is how you can most effectively stand out from other candidates. However, don’t dismiss your A-Level and IB studies as a source of content for your Personal Statement! Explaining how your current studies will help you at university shows that you’ve been considering the course you’re applying for, for a significant amount of time. This speaks volumes regarding your dedication to the subject. This is also a great opportunity to show you’re able to thoughtfully reflect on the skills you’ve gained through A-Levels or IB and how these apply to a university course. This will show the reader you have done your research regarding the university course- you wouldn’t be able to find parallels between your current and future studies otherwise!
3- Use your time efficiently
It’s always good to do further reading, not just for the Personal Statement or to prepare for university but also for your general enjoyment. Personal Statements are a particularly great place to mention subject-specific books that you have found fascinating. However, we often find that some students find the idea of reading additional books quite daunting, especially as this preparation work comes at a very busy time with examinations fast approaching. This means it’s best to use your time as efficiently as possible, so don’t read books that you aren’t interested in. If you’re not excited by the topics of these books, they probably won’t make it into your Personal Statement. You could also consider alternative formats for information – whether attending public lectures, listening to podcasts or watching educational videos. This could be a great way to gain a base understanding of the topic before you dive into further research.
4- Focus on the best points
An incredibly common mistake students make is by trying to squeeze in too much into their personal statement! Setting up each point takes up valuable space, and it is always better to fully develop a thought rather than have a myriad of undeveloped sentences. It’s always a struggle to cut down your Personal Statement when trying to meet the word limit, and it can be tempting to simply remove a few sentences from each paragraph. But this can mean you lose out on key moments where you’ve interestingly developed your points, and sometimes it’s best to instead remove weaker paragraphs. A helpful exercise to try can be to rank your paragraphs by strength: judge them by relevance; whether they contain concrete examples; if they’re based on generic topics and so on. This helps you consider the variation in your paragraph strength: compare your best point with your weakest point, and judge whether you want both associated with your Personal Statement.
5- Keep your introduction focused
Lots of students spend quite a few words giving a general introduction to the subject they’re applying for. This is easy to do if you’re used to this style of essay writing and try to copy it for your Personal Statement. However, if each sentence doesn’t relate to why you specifically should be admitted to the course, the words could be put to better use. It’s good practice to assume any reader has a passing knowledge of the subject you’re applying for: remember, this is the job of any admissions officer, so they will have done their homework! Essentially, you don’t need to talk about why the subject is important unless you’re talking about why it’s important to you.
The best way to approach writing a Personal Statement is to think from the perspective of a lecturer or admissions official: if you were in their position, what would you be looking for? You would most likely be searching for independent thinkers, who are proactive and willing to contribute to the learning environment. You would also consider the fact that any student graduating from your university will go on to represent it in the professional world, so you would be looking for a good ambassador for your institution. These are the main things to show in your Personal Statement, and if you can do this and make the five improvements we’ve outlined here you should be set up for success!
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