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One of the most important pieces of writing you will ever complete will be your UCAS personal statement. This is your chance to convince universities why you are worthy of a place at their institution. Although it may seem daunting, once you start you can write those all-important 4000 characters very quickly.
My top five tips for the perfect personal statement
- Start early
As soon as you start year 12, begin documenting all that you do, from participating in school events, to all the extracurricular activities you take part in. You can use UNIFROG and gather the evidence to support skills such as Leadership, Team Work, Organisation and Time Management.
Aim to write your personal statement over the summer holiday between Year 12 and 13. It will mean that when you start year 13 you are prepared. Your last year at school flashes by… it will be Christmas before you know it.
Although the UCAS deadline is January 15th every year, you will also have a school deadline. The application needs to be processed by the Head of Sixth Form and your tutor, and this does take time.
- Think four paragraphs
Although it can be scary having to write about yourself, think about it as four paragraphs.
Paragraph 1 – why this subject? What has inspired you?
Paragraph 2 – This is a chance for you to document all your related experience, virtual or in person.
Paragraph 3 – All the other stuff that makes you stand out – extracurricular, all your important school roles.
Paragraph 4 – What you are looking forward to and any other important information you want to include.
The most important thing is to ensure that it is not a ‘list’ of things you have done, but what you have learned from the experience.
- Don’t lie!
Sounds obvious I know, but I remember reading a personal statement that said the student was fluent in French! In fact, the truth was they thought they were as they had a GCSE in the subject. It’s important that your application has integrity, and that you don’t make things up. If you are called for an interview, the university may well ask you to elaborate. So, stick to the truth.
- Stand out
University admission tutors can end up reading thousands of personal statements, and it can be hard to stand out. But try not to sound like everyone else. Universities have read countless times about a student’s ‘passion’, ‘lifelong dream’, ‘since an early age'. Try to sound interesting and interested, but don’t overdo it. Always use your own words, using quotes from others is frowned upon. Blow your own trumpet, but remember not too hard!
- Too many cooks spoil the broth!
Once you have written your personal statement, it will be tempting to give it to everyone – your tutor, subject teacher, your auntie, uncle, and your Head of Sixth Form. Each of these will have a different opinion on what constitutes a good personal statement. None of them are wrong! But the whole idea of a personal statement is that it is ‘personal’ and ultimately reflects you. Too many people checking and correcting the same statement will not help. I suggest you ask your subject teacher if you are applying for a related subject, your tutor, and finally your Head of Sixth Form. They are the most experienced and will be able to give you the best feedback. Also, be prepared to re-write and edit your personal statement about eight times to get it right!
Miss Purewal, Head of Sixth Form