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Top Tips for your UCAS application

Your personal statement is one of the most crucial elements of your UCAS application. 

Here are some tips to help you write yours:

1. Why the personal statement is important

Personal statements are important at all stages of the application process.

They can:

  • aid in the selection of who to interview and course offers 
  • be used to determine the nature of questions during the interview
  • be re-evaluated should a candidate narrowly miss a conditional offer

2. Key facts

  • Universities and College Admissions Service (UCAS) handles all undergraduate applications through their website
  • you can make five choices

Deadlines

  • 15 October: Medicine/Veterinary Science/Dentistry/Oxford/Cambridge
  • 15 January: all other applicants

3. Structure

The basic structure for your personal statement should look something like this:

  • opening statement
  • examples and evidence of your academic skills
  • examples and evidence of your interpersonal skills
  • your hobbies and interests
  • a closing statement

4. Opening statement

A good opening will grab the readers’ attention.

Your opening statement should reflect:

  • why you are interested in the course
  • motivation
  • enthusiasm
  • commitment to the subject (e.g. extra reading/related experience etc.)
  • career ideas

5. Academic skills

Subject specific skills

If you are currently studying the subject you're applying for:

  • what do you love about it? 
  • which topics do you enjoy the most?
  • what extra reading have you done?

Other skills

  • organisation
  • problem solving
  • logical thinking
  • evaluation
  • analysis
  • research
  • presentation
  • meeting deadlines
  • investigative
  • working independently
  • essay writing

6. Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills include not only how we communicate with others, but also our confidence and our ability to listen and understand.

Evidence the skills you have learnt through:

  • work - full-time, part-time or voluntary
  • society membership, Duke of Edinburgh etc.
  • sport, music etc.
  • summer schools, taster days

Plus:

  • being responsible
  • communication
  • independence
  • efficiency
  • confidence
  • trustworthiness
  • ability to co-operate with others 
  • time management
  • self-motivation
  • teamwork
  • using initiative

For certain subjects you'll need to demonstrate specific skills and experience:

Social Work

Experience of working with children, young people or families is essential. 35 hours of work experience in addition to any placements through school or college and within the last 2 years.

  • how long you have undertaken the work for
  • your roles and responsibilities
  • reflect on the way your experience has helped to prepare you for working with children, young people and families

Clinical Sciences

Students need to demonstrate that they have relevant health care experience and that they possess the personal qualities needed for a future health professional. Examples from their life should be provided that demonstrate they can take responsibility, work in a team and they have social and cultural awareness.

They should also indicate their motivation and insight into the profession that they are hoping to progress into and evidence their commitment, achievements and hobbies. The key is to reference - examples must be concrete, do not expect the admissions tutor to second guess.

7. Hobbies and interests

Link your hobbies and interests to the subject you have applied for if you can. If not, show that you are a well-rounded individual. 

Say why you enjoy what you do and what you have gained and learned from it.

8. Closing statement

A good conclusion will help make you stand out. This is your chance to make sure the reader remembers you, and then hopefully recommend you.

You could include something about why you want to go to university and how you hope it will enhance your life and future career.

9. Dos and don'ts

Do

  • say why you want to study the course
  • refer to your current studies – what you enjoy and why
  • mention positions of responsibility
  • be reflective 
  • sell yourself
  • show your statement to other people
  • talk about work experience
  • check your spelling, grammar and punctuation
  • think about who you are writing for
  • make sure it has a concluding paragraph
  • type in size 12 font
  • write in paragraphs

Don't

  • refer to experiences that are too long ago
  • mention experiences without stating the skills you have gained
  • repeat information already on your form
  • lie
  • apply for too many different kinds of courses
  • write a statement which makes your choices look random and not thought through

10. Useful links and resources

Good luck!