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How to write a UCAS personal statement

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Writing a great personal statement

Read our guide on what it is, what to include, how to start, length and what makes a good personal statement 

Once you've decided which universities and courses to apply for, completing your application is pretty simple – until it comes to how to write your UCAS personal statement.

This guide covers everything you need to know about how to write a personal statement for university. We look at what it is and how you can start your personal statement. We've also got questions to guide you and a suggested personal statement structure you can use so you know what to put in it.

If you'd like even more resources, support and UCAS personal statement examples, you can sign up to access our personal statement hub .

What is the UCAS personal statement?

How universities use your ucas personal statement, how to start a ucas personal statement.

  • Get feedback on your UCAS personal statement

The personal statement is part of your UCAS application. It's how you show your chosen universities why you'll make a great student and why they should make you an offer.

Your personal statement also helps you think about your choice of course and your reasons for applying, so you know you’ve made the right decision.

Get feedback on your personal statement

Sign up to our personal statement hub to get feedback on your draft. You'll also get access to videos, help sheets and more tips.

Sign up now

UCAS personal statement word limit

Your personal statement length can be up to 4,000 characters long. 

This may sound a lot, but it's a word limit of around 550–1000 words with spaces and only about 1 side of typed A4 paper.

You need to keep it concise and make sure it's clear and easy to read.

Applying for multiple courses

Although you can apply for up to 5 courses on your UCAS application, you can only submit 1 personal statement. So it needs to cover all your course choices.

If you really want to show your commitment to applying for different courses, we will accept a second personal statement from you to reflect your application e.g. if you are applying for Law elsewhere, but Criminology and Criminal Justice with us.

Lots of students who apply to university have achieved the basic entry requirements and many more students apply than there are places available. Admissions teams can use your UCAS personal statement to get to know you and decide why you're more suitable than other applicants.

Some universities read every personal statement and score them. Then they use them alongside your qualifications and grades to decide whether to offer you a place or interview. Other universities put less emphasis on the personal statement and use it with students who have borderline entry requirements.

Universities might refer to your personal statement again on results day if you don't get the grades you need. So a good personal statement could clinch you a uni place even if your grades aren't what you hoped for.

Starting your personal statement can seem scary when you're staring at a blank screen. But, things will seem less daunting once you start.

  • Set aside some time in a place where you're comfortable and won't be disturbed. Grab a notepad or computer.
  • Write down anything and everything that's influenced your decision to go to university and study your chosen subject. Jot down your skills and experience too.
  • Use the questions below to guide you. Don't worry about the personal statement length at this point – you can cut things out later.

When to start your UCAS personal statement

Ideally, you want to leave yourself plenty of time – a few weeks or even months – to plan and write your personal statement.

Try not to leave it to the last minute, as tempting as this may seem when you've got so many other things to think about.

Questions to guide you

Your motivation.

  • Why do you want to study at university?
  • Why do you want to study this subject?
  • How did you become interested in this subject?
  • What career do you have in mind after university?

Academic ability and potential

  • How have your current studies affected your choice?
  • What do you enjoy about your current studies?
  • What skills have you gained from your current studies?
  • How can you demonstrate you have the skills and qualities needed for the course?
  • What qualities and attributes would you bring to the course and university?

Your experience

  • What work experience (including part-time, charity and volunteer work) do you have and what have you learnt from it?
  • What positions of responsibility have you held? (For example, prefect, captain of a team or member of a committee)
  • What relevant hobbies or interests do you have and what skills have they helped you develop?
  • What transferable skills do you have, such as self motivation, team working, public speaking, problem solving and analytical thinking?

Research and reading

  • How do you keep up with current affairs or news in your chosen subject?
  • What journals or publications relevant to your chosen subject do you read?
  • Which people have influenced you, such as artists, authors, philosophers or scientists?

Now it's time to write your personal statement using your notes. It's best to draft it on a computer, and remember to save it regularly.

You can copy and paste it into your UCAS application when you're happy with it.

Personal statement structure

While there's no set template for a personal statement, you may find it useful to follow this personal statement structure when you decide what to put in your statement.

What to include in a personal statement

  • Reasons for choosing this subject(s)
  • Current studies and how these relate to your chosen subject(s)
  • Experiences and how these relate to your chosen subject(s)
  • Interests and responsibilities and how these relate to your chosen subject(s)
  • Your future after university
  • Summary including why you'll make a great student

Further tips for a good UCAS personal statement

  • Use information on university websites and the UCAS website. This often includes the skills and qualities universities are looking for in applicants
  • Ask friends, family and teachers to remind you of activities you've participated in. They might remember your successes better than you do
  • Don’t include lists in your application, like a list of all your hobbies. Focus on 1 or 2 points and talk about them in depth to show their relevance to your application
  • Explain and evidence everything. It’s easy to say you have a skill, but it's better to demonstrate it with an example of when and how you’ve used it
  • Avoid clichéd lines such as ‘I've always wanted to be a teacher’ as it says nothing about your motivations or experiences
  • If you’re applying for a joint degree or different subjects, give equal time to each area and try to find common aspects that show their similarities
  • Never lie or plagiarise another statement – you'll be caught and it could result in your application being automatically rejected
  • Proofread your personal statement by reading it out loud and ask friends, family or a teacher to check it for you

Sign up to our personal statement hub

Watch videos, get top tips and download our help sheets – that's what our personal statement hub is for. It's for you to write your story, so you can show your strengths, ideas and passion to your chosen universities.

You'll also be able send us your draft, so you can get feedback and feel confident about what you've written.

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How to write a great UCAS personal statement

What is a personal statement.

The personal statement is the most important part of the UCAS process. It is your opportunity to explain why you have picked the subject you want to study and demonstrate your personality, passion and knowledge about your chosen subject.

Although your personal statement is the most important part of your application, it can also be the most difficult to put together. Writing your personal statement requires you to think seriously about your goals and aspirations. You might even change your mind about these as you are putting together your statement. However, this is a key part of working out what you want to do in the future.

How long can my personal statement be?

Your personal statement can be up to 4,000 characters (including spaces) or 47 lines of text long – whichever comes first.

Seven tips for writing a great UCAS personal statement

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1. Do your research

You can use websites such as the National Careers Service to research the sort of jobs you would enjoy and the recommended routes into those careers. The UCAS website features details about every UK university course. Use this to find out subject specifics such as minimum entry requirements, available additional funding, career prospects and more. Visit campus open days and take the opportunity to speak with lecturers and see university facilities in person.

A woman writing in a notepad next to a Mac

2. Take your time to plan and draft

A good personal statement cannot be written the night before. Take your time to plan what you want to say, and use multiple drafts to make sure you say it in the right way. As well as this, make sure you have enough time before the deadline to give yourself a break before rereading and sending off your statement. Taking a break can help you notice things you might not otherwise see and catch mistakes that might otherwise damage your chances of success.

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3. Show off your personality

Hundred of thousands of students apply through UCAS every year — but only one of them is you. Your personal statement needs to reflect your personality and show universities what makes you unique. Talk about specific personal experiences and interests that have led to you choosing your subject. What do you do outside the classroom that is interesting and related to your chosen course? However, avoid using jokes or humour, even if it is a natural part of your personality.

crop chemist holding in hands molecule model

4. Show off your passion

Above all else, university admissions staff want to see how enthusiastic, motivated and focused you are on your chosen subject. Devote over half of your personal statement to talking about the subject area you are applying for and why you are passionate about it. Talk about specific areas of the course that interest you — but avoid mentioning anything that only one of your chosen universities offers. Keep in mind that you can only submit one personal statement, no matter how many places you are applying for.

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5. Be specific and relevant

Everything in your personal statement should show universities that you have the skills and qualities they are looking for. This means you should talk about your experience and aspirations in relevant ways. For example, if you have experience working in a shop, talk about how it has helped you develop the strong communication skills needed for a business management degree. Make sure you provide evidence for why you are the skilled, experienced person that your chosen universities are looking for.

Wooden letter counters

6. Use your own language

Keep your writing simple and to the point. Avoid cliched words like ‘passionate’, as these can come across as inauthentic to the person reading your personal statement. Stick to vocabulary that you are familiar with — if you do not use a word in your day-to-day life, then do not use it in your personal statement. Make sure that you do not plagiarise other people’s work: UCAS has software to detect any writing that is copied or paraphrased from anywhere else, and some universities will reject you outright if your application is plagiarised.

Close up of a watch face

7. Keep it brief

Admissions tutors have a lot of personal statements to read, so make sure you get to the point and do not take up more reading time than you need to. Use short paragraphs, straightforward language, and only include information that is relevant. A good idea is to write your opening and closing sentences last, as writing the rest of your statement might help inspire you and help cut down unnecessary words.

How to structure your personal statement

1. explain the reasons for your choice of subject.

Do not just talk about the importance of your chosen subject: the person reading your statement already knows this.

2. Explain why you are suitable for the course

You can use this section to explain how certain aspects of your chosen degree will help you progress and succeed.

3. Discuss your career aspirations

Demonstrate your knowledge of your chosen sector and your ambitions within it.

4. Describe the person behind the application

This can be a relatively short section: a few lines of interesting, relevant information will do.

5. Conclude by linking back to your introduction

Be brief: your conclusion is necessary, but everything above it is more important.

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Personal Statement FAQs

Our personal statement FAQs will help ease the pain of writing a personal statement for your UCAS form . More advice can also be found on our blog .

What can I find in this article?

1. When should I start writing my personal statement?

It's never too early to start thinking about it! Unfortunately, UCAS deadlines have a tendency to creep up on most students, especially if you are applying to Oxbridge where the deadline is much earlier than other universities ( 15th October ).

However, you probably want a good idea of what course you're going to apply for before you launch in to actually writing the thing .

Check out Choosing A Degree if you're still deciding what subject to take.

On the other hand, don't leave it too late - you'll probably need a few weeks to write it and a week or so to get a reference written.

As a general guide we would say start writing it when you come back to school or college after the summer, though it might be worth jotting down a few ideas during the holidays.

We know some people are extremely organised and get at least their first draft done by the end of the summer!

2. How long can the personal statement be?

There is no actual word limit - instead, you have a maximum of 47 lines or 4000 characters to work with.

This is all the space UCAS give you on their online system, Apply . You can check that your statement will fit in the area provided by using our handy Personal Statement Length Checker .

3. How do I start writing my personal statement?

Most people won't be able to just start writing their personal statement off the top of their head - so it's a good idea to jot down a few notes first.

The main things to think about are:

  • why do you want to study your chosen course?
  • how do your skills, experiences and interests prove you are passionate about and committed to taking this course?

These are the two main things to start with, and if this still doesn't help you can look at a few more detailed starting points .

Many people have trouble writing about themselves and their personal qualities.

So if you're having trouble pop down to a library or bookstore and get a book on writing CVs that will go into this process in much more depth.

4. What are admissions tutors looking for?

Usually the sort of things you've written about for the part above!

Obviously the things admissions tutors are looking for will differ but in general: "Do we want this student on this course?" And "Do we want this student at this university?".

The idea of your personal statement is to show this - so once you've written it, have a read through and see if it answers these questions.

Individual universities and departments often publish information on applying and writing personal statements, so surfing the admissions scetion of their website should turn up more specific information on exactly what they're looking for.

Our blog post, 8 Things Not To Put In Your Personal Statement , will help you avoid making any obvious errors. Then check out What You Should Include In Your Personal Statement to make sure you don't miss anything important.

Read through our Personal Statement Writing Tips and How To Write A Personal Statement Guide for more comprehensive information and advice.

5. What's the most important part of the personal statement?

From our days of GCSE English, we would say either the beginning or the end.

A good first sentence will get the reader interested and ensure they actually read your statement rather than skim it.

A good ending will ensure the reader remembers your personal statement, though it also helps to have a good middle section as well.

The first line is probably the most important thing to work on. Most people put their reasons for studying the subject at the top, and this is generally regarded to be the most crucial part of the statement, as you need to hook the reader and make them want to read more.

However, the rest of your statement should make you shine as a candidate too, so there isn't really a definite answer to this question!

Just try to make your personal statement as interesting and polished as you can.

6. How do I write a statement for two different courses?

There's no easy way to write a personal statement for two totally unrelated courses.

If the courses are similar (i.e. Business Studies and Economics ) you may find you can write a personal statement that is relevant to both subjects without mentioning either subject by name.

If the courses are totally unrelated it may be impossible to write for both subjects without your personal statement sounding vague and unfocused.

Instead, you will need to concentrate on just one subject and just ignore the other, although you may want to question whether it's a good idea to apply for such different course, and re-think your subject choice .

7. Should I talk about what I want to do after university?

You could, but only if you have a good idea of what you want to do.

If you sound sure about what you want to do after university , it gives the impression that you've thought carefully about your course and what you want to do with it.

It is also a nice way to round off your personal statement , rather than just finishing on less important stuff like extra curricular activities.

If you don't have any future plans then leave it out - you don't want to be asked about them at interviews .

8. How should I structure my personal statement?

Most people write their personal statement in an essay style, usually starting off with the course and why they want to do it, then talking about their relevant work experience and skills, and finishing off with extra curricular activities.

However, you can use any style that you feel works best for you.

As a guide, spend around 50% of the space talking about your course and how you're suited to it and 50% on your work experience and other activities.

Exactly how you write your personal statement depends on your subject - generally people write more about work experience for vocational subjects like Medicine and Law than they would for Maths or English , where work experience is less important.

9. Is it worth doing loads of extra-curricular stuff to make my statement sound good?

There's no point doing extra things just to try and make yourself look good to universities - you won't enjoy it and it probably won't help much either.

From what we've seen, an interest and aptitude for the course is more important to admissions tutors than lots of extra curricular activities.

If you do want to do something to boost your application, read relevant books or do work experience related to the subject instead.

10. Should I talk about my qualifications?

No. There's already a section on the UCAS form for this, so don't waste space talking about them on your personal statement.

If you have something important that doesn't go in the qualifications section, ask your referee to put it down in your reference - it will sound better if it comes from them than from you.

11. Where can I see some example personal statements?

We have loads of free personal statement samples that you can browse through, broken down into subject categories so you can hopefully find what you are looking for quite easily!

Looking at what other students have written and submitted on their application is a useful way of seeing what makes a great personal statement (and what doesn't!).

Just make sure you don't copy sentences or whole chunks of these examples though, as UCAS has plagiarism detection software and your application will be rejected if it's found you've cheated!

12. What should I do after I've written my statement?

Ask for opinions on it!

Show it to your friends, parents, teachers, career advisors, etc and note down their comments.

The most useful comments are likely to come from your teachers in the subject and the people at your school or college who handle UCAS applications.

If you have enough time, leave your personal statement for a couple of weeks or a month and come back to it - if you're not still happy with what you wrote, it's time to start redrafting.

13. Should I post my personal statement online?

It's generally not a good idea to post it on an internet forum or discussion board before you've started university.

Anyone can steal information off a website and pass it off as their own, and with something as important as a personal statement, you don't want that to happen.

You should be OK sending it to people you trust by email - see the next question for a better way of getting people to look at it.

14. Where can I ask for feedback on my personal statement?

To get people to look at your personal statement without the risk of plagiarism visit the personal statement review section.

You can also get your personal statement professionally edited and reviewed here at Studential, through one of our very popular personal statement editing and critique packages.

We offer a range of services covering a variety of prices, so there's bound to be a package suited to you.

15. I'm still stuck with my personal statement - where can I find more in-depth advice?

Some people say writing a personal statement is easy – maybe it is, but it’s difficult to write a personal statement well. As this is such a big topic to cover, we suggest taking a look at our personal statement examples to help give you some inspiration for what to write, and then read through our  personal statement writing guide  when you’re ready to put pen to paper. Browse through the  other information and advice  we have in our personal statements section, and if you still feel you need a little extra help, you can always get your personal statement  professionally edited and reviewed  by one of our editors. We offer a range of UCAS personal statement editing and critique services , so there’s bound to be one suited to your needs. Don’t forget to ask your family, friends, teachers and careers adviser to look through your personal statement drafts, and incorporate any feedback they give you until you are 100% happy with it. Remember - it doesn’t matter how many times you have to redraft your personal statement – the most important thing is you get it right so you give yourself the best possible chance of being offered places by your chosen universities/colleges.

IMPORTANT:  When writing your personal statement, it’s vital you remember  not to copy from anyone else’s personal statement  (not even just a sentence!). Not only is it wrong and unfair, but any plagiarism will be detected by the Copycatch Similarity Detection Software. If UCAS discover you have plagiarised your personal statement, whether you have copied someone else’s entirely or parts of it, they will cancel your application.

You can also try looking through our personal statement guide for extra guidance.

This takes you through how to write a personal statement step-by-step, and goes into far more detail than this FAQ does.

If you feel you need more help, check out our personal statement editing and critique services  where our professional editors will review your statement to make it a success.

16. How do I write a personal statement if I'm a mature student?

Don't worry if you're a mature student applying to university - your qualifications, skills and extra experience will count as an advantage! Universities want to take on students from all walks of life, and this includes mature ones with more life experience.

Focus on what you can bring to the university if they offered you a place on the course, and how your degree fits into your future plans.

Read through some of our Mature Student Personal Statement Examples for inspiration.

17. How do I write a personal statement if I'm an international student?

As mentioned previously, universities want students from a range of backgrounds, and this includes those who want to study at their institution from abroad.

Again, try to convey how your experiences in your own country will benefit you on your course, and how they make you a valuable asset to the university.

To give you an idea of what other international students have written in the past, read through some of our International Student Personal Statement Examples for inspiration (but please remember not to copy them, or your application will be penalised!).

A few last tips

What have you done, relevant to your subject, that is unique and no one else is likely to put down?

Many people have the same old boring interests and work experience - you need something to separate you from the crowd, and while it's a gamble to make an individual personal statement, anything individual you do related to your chosen field can only look good.

Have a think - what makes you so special? If you can't think of anything then you can't complain if you get rejected! Finally, remember it's your personal statement, and you can write whatever you want in it.

If everything in this guide conflicts with what you've got already but you think you still have a killer personal statement, then use that.

A personal statement is about you, and you shouldn't let anyone tell you what to put in it - sticking blindly to the formula mentioned here will just stop your true personality showing through.

Further information

For more tips and advice on writing your personal statement, please see:

  • The 15th January UCAS Deadline: 4 Ways To Avoid Missing It
  • Analysis Of A Personal Statement
  • Personal Statement Editing Services
  • Top 10 Personal Statement Writing Tips
  • Personal Statement Advice From A Teacher
  • Personal Statement Writing Guide
  • What To Do If You Miss The 15th January UCAS Deadline .

Best of luck with your personal statement!

Has lots of valuable

Mon, 19/09/2011 - 05:17

Has lots of valuable information

Thu, 06/10/2011 - 20:30

very good site!! Helped a lot!!!!

Wed, 12/10/2011 - 17:21

Great info, i appreciate it.

Fri, 14/10/2011 - 14:35

i wana apply for a science

Tue, 25/10/2011 - 10:22

i wana apply for a science faculty but what i did in the past were only related to English (eg:joining competitions in sos verse speaking,public speaking;volunteered to teach english;being chairman of english society at school./) and seems almost nth for science.... so should i write those experience also?but how can i link them to the content.... thanks

Wed, 26/10/2011 - 22:56

Excellent website, I have searched high and low for a website like this. Very impressed.

wow this has just simply

Fri, 28/10/2011 - 21:15

wow this has just simply saved my life:)

Sun, 30/10/2011 - 11:11

Thank you for the guidance, its very simple and straight forward


Fri, 04/11/2011 - 06:38

I have Aspergers should I include this in my PS because it has affected my involvement in extra curricular activities

like to point out that it is

Wed, 09/11/2011 - 15:13

like to point out that it is 47 lines and not 37 :) that aside, very helpful - thanks!

The best site I have found to

Fri, 02/12/2011 - 22:29

The best site I have found to help with personal statements, got so much useful infomation and straight to the point, will definately recommend to others in my class who are in the middle of their personal statments!

I have read that you should

Tue, 06/12/2011 - 14:57

I have read that you should write about why you wish to study at university and what inspires you to, and i want to but the real reason i want to study at uni is because of a very personal reason and im not sure wether to mention it as i feel i may come across as an attention seeker? the real reason i want to go is because of a very abusive relationship with an ex boyfriend that made me realise i should make the most of my life and do exactly what i want and never let anyone bring me down... do u think it would be too much if i said this - I was very unsure whether to write about the real reason I want to pursue what I’m passionate about, because its very personal. The truth is that is wasn’t a good experience. A traumatising abusive relationship with an ex boyfriend woke me up and made me see I should make the most out of my life.

Tue, 06/12/2011 - 15:03

Tue, 06/12/2011 - 15:08

Amazing Stuff

Mon, 13/02/2012 - 13:06

I'm so glad I found this site

Thu, 01/03/2012 - 15:46

I'm so glad I found this site. It's helped alot.

I'm so glad I found this site. It's helped alot. :)

Thu, 01/03/2012 - 15:47

Lying on your personal statement

Tue, 10/07/2012 - 20:27

I was very disappointed to see this included in your FAQs. Even more to see it answered in the way it was. If someone can lie and "get away with it" does that not suggest we could potentially have a generation of useless, brainless, incompetent potential lawyers, doctors, politicians heading our way? Oh, long have you been giving this advice out?

do we have to write about our

Tue, 31/07/2012 - 19:13

do we have to write about our interests and hobbies???

if yes what if we dont have enough space and gone over max line limit??

thx a lot for the post..lots

Thu, 13/09/2012 - 23:21

thx a lot for the post..lots of info :)

you get 47 lines not 37 as it

Thu, 20/09/2012 - 11:35

you get 47 lines not 37 as it says

Wed, 17/04/2013 - 11:16

Some of the universities I'm applying to offer different courses to other unis I'm also applying to. Is it possible to send two different personal statements depending on which uni? For Edinburgh and Manchester, I want to apply for English Literature, but for Aberystwyth, East Anglia and Manchester Metropolitian they offer English Lit and Creative Writing.

Any advice would be great, thanks!

Wed, 24/07/2013 - 03:11

Say, you got a nice article.Much thanks again. Awesome.

Wrong information

Thu, 25/07/2013 - 16:15

The maximum on UCAS for personal statements is 47 lines and 4000 characters, not 37 lines as stated on this page.

This is really helpful and

Fri, 27/09/2013 - 14:15

This is really helpful and informative but I'm fairly sure the number of lines allowed is 47, not 37 as written here.

Retaking year 12

Sun, 29/09/2013 - 12:22

I have recently retook year 12 and I am now in the process of writing my personal statement. Having gathered differing opinions on this matter i was wondering for your input on whether or not its worth putting it down on my personal statement.I have changed subjects, left one out for a year and returned to it and retaken a subject. This now leaves me with 5 As levels.

Mon, 30/09/2013 - 20:06

"Have a think - what makes you so special? If you can't think of anything then you can't complain if you get rejected!"

As if we're not under enough stress already!

Previous Work

Tue, 29/10/2013 - 20:33

can I put links in to websites I have professionally made

wow very good much

Fri, 15/11/2013 - 09:25

wow very good much informative

Very informative. I really

Wed, 15/01/2014 - 14:57

Very informative. I really appreciate your site.

Not required

Mon, 30/06/2014 - 14:27

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How to Write a UCAS Personal Statement [With Examples]

how long are ucas personal statements

James is senior content marketing manager at BridgeU. He writes and directs content for BridgeU's university partners and our community of international schools

What are the big challenges students should be aware of before writing their UCAS Personal Statement?

  • The essential ingredients for writing a great Personal Statement
  • How to write the UCAS Personal Statement [with examples]

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The UCAS Personal Statement can sometimes be a student’s only chance to impress a UK university. Read our in-depth guide to helping your students plan & write a winning application.

There are hundreds of articles out there on how to write a UCAS Personal Statement that will grab the attention of a UK university admissions officer.  

But if you’re working with students to help them perfect their Personal Statement in time for the  relevant UCAS deadlines , we can sum up the secret to success in three words.

Planning, structure and story. 

The UCAS Personal Statement is a student’s chance to talk about why they want to study for a particular degree, course or subject discipline at a UK university. 

As they set about writing a personal statement, students need to demonstrate the drive, ambition, relevant skills and notable achievements that make them a  suitable candidate for the universities they have chosen to apply to . 

But the UCAS Personal Statement requires students to write a lot about themselves in a relatively short space of time. That’s why lots of planning, a tight structure and a compelling story are essential if a student’s Personal Statement is to truly excel. 

As important deadlines for UK university applications grow closer, we at BridgeU have put together a guide, outlining some of the strategies and techniques to help your students to write a personal statement which is both engaging and truly individual.

Handpicked Related Content

Discover the simple steps that will boost the confidence of your native English speaking & ESL students alike in  University Application Essays: The 5 Secrets of Successful Writing .

As they begin to plan their Personal Statement, students may feel intimidated. It’s not easy to summarise your academic interests and personal ambitions, especially when you’re competing for a place on a course which is popular or has demanding entry requirements. In particular, students will likely come up against the following challenges.

Time pressure

Unfortunately, the Personal Statement (and other aspects of university preparation) comes during the busiest year of the student’s academic life so far.

Students, and indeed teachers and counsellors, must undertake the planning and writing of the personal statement whilst juggling other commitments, classes and deadlines, not to mention revision and open day visits!

Because there is already a lot of academic pressure on students in their final year of secondary school, finding the time and headspace for the personal statement can be hard, and can mean it gets pushed to the last minute. The risks of leaving it to the last minute are fairly obvious – the application will seem rushed and the necessary thought and planning won’t go into  making the personal statement the best it can be . 

Sticking closely to the Personal Statement format

The character limit which UCAS sets for the personal statement is very strict – up to 4,000 characters of text. This means that students have to express themselves in a clear and concise way; it’s also important that they don’t feel the need to fill the available space needlessly.  Planning and redrafting of a personal statement is essential .

Making it stand out

This is arguably the greatest challenge facing students – making sure that their statement sets them apart from everyone else who is competing for a place on any given course; in 2022 alone, UCAS received applications from 683,650 applicants (+1.6k on 2021) students. In addition, UCAS uses its own dedicated team and purpose built software to check every application for plagiarism, so it’s crucial that students craft a truly  original personal statement which is entirely their own work .

The essential ingredients for writing a great UCAS Personal Statement 

We’ve already mentioned our three watch words for writing a high quality Personal Statement.

Planning. Structure. Story. 

Let’s dig deeper into these three essential components in more detail.

Watch: How to Write a UCAS Personal Statement with University of Essex

Planning a ucas personal statement.

It might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s vital that students plan their Personal Statement before they start writing it. Specifically, the planning phase could include: 

  • Students thoroughly researching the UK university courses they plan on applying to. 
  • Deciding on what relevant material to include in their Personal Statement (we’ll cover this in more detail later on). 
  • Writing an unedited first draft where they just get their thoughts and ideas down on paper. 

Structuring a UCAS Personal Statement

As we’ve discussed, the UCAS Personal Statement requires students to be extremely disciplined – they will be required to condense a lot of information into a relatively short written statement. This means that, after they’ve written a rough first draft, they need to think carefully about how they structure the final statement. 

A stand out Personal Statement will need a tight structure, with an introduction and a conclusion that make an impact and really help to tell a story about who your student is, and why they are drawn to studying this particular degree. 

This brings us nicely to our third and final ingredient…

Telling a story with a Personal Statement

The UCAS Personal Statement is a student’s opportunity to show a university who they are and how their life experiences have shaped their academic interests and goals. 

So a good Personal Statement needs to offer a compelling narrative, and that means making sure that a student’s writing is well-structured, and that every sentence and paragraph is serving the statement’s ultimate purpose –  to convince a university that your student deserves a place on their subject of choice. 

How to help your students start their UCAS Personal Statement

In order to ensure that a personal statement is delivered on time and to an appropriate standard, it’s essential to plan thoroughly before writing it. Here are some questions you can ask your students before they start writing:

How can you demonstrate a formative interest in your subject?

It may sound obvious but, in order for any UCAS personal statement to have the necessary structure and clarity, students need to think hard about why they want to study their chosen subject. Ask them to think about their responses to the following questions:

What inspired you to study your chosen subject?

Example answer:  My desire to understand the nature of reality has inspired me to apply for Physics and Philosophy

Was there a formative moment when your perspective on this subject changed, or when you decided you wanted to study this subject in more detail?

Example answer:  My interest in philosophy was awakened when I questioned my childhood religious beliefs; reading Blackburn’s “Think”, convinced me to scrutinise my assumptions about the world, and to ensure I could justify my beliefs.

Can you point to any role models, leading thinkers, or notable literature which has in turn affected your thinking and/or inspired you?

Example answer :  The search for a theory of everything currently being conducted by physicists is of particular interest to me and in “The Grand Design” Hawking proposes a collection of string theories, dubbed M-theory, as the explanation of why the universe is the way it is.

Asking your students to think about the “why” behind their chosen subject discipline is a useful first step in helping them to organise their overall statement. Next, they need to be able to demonstrate evidence of their suitability for a course or degree. 

How have you demonstrated the skills and aptitudes necessary for your chosen course?

Encourage students to think about times where they have demonstrated the necessary skills to really stand out. It’s helpful to think about times when they have utilised these skills both inside and outside the classroom. Ask students to consider their responses to the following questions. 

Can you demonstrate critical and independent thinking around your chosen subject discipline?

Example answer :  Currently I am studying Maths and Economics in addition to Geography. Economics has been a valuable tool, providing the nuts and bolts to economic processes, and my geography has provided a spatial and temporal element.

Are you able to demonstrate skills and competencies which will be necessary for university study?

These include qualities such as teamwork, time management and the ability to organise workload responsibly.

Example answer:  This year I was selected to be captain of the 1st XV rugby team and Captain of Swimming which will allow me to further develop my leadership, teamwork and organisational skills.

How have your extracurricular activities helped prepare you for university?

Students may believe that their interests outside the classroom aren’t relevant to their university application. So encourage them to think about how their other interests can demonstrate the subject-related skills that universities are looking for in an application. Ask students to think about any of the following activities, and how they might be related back to the subject they are applying for.

  • Clubs/societies, or volunteering work which they can use to illustrate attributes such as teamwork, an interest in community service and the ability to manage their time proactively.
  • Have they been elected/nominated as a team captain, or the head of a particular club or society, which highlights leadership skills and an ability to project manage?
  • Can they point to any awards or prizes they may have won, whether it’s taking up a musical instrument, playing a sport, or participating in theatre/performing arts?
  • Have they achieved grades or qualifications as part of their extracurricular activities? These can only help to demonstrate aptitude and hard work. 

How to write the UCAS Personal Statement [with examples] 

If sufficient planning has gone into the personal statement, then your students should be ready to go!

In this next section, we’ll break down the individual components of the UCAS Personal Statement and share some useful examples.

These examples come from a Personal Statement in support of an application to study Environmental Science at a UK university. 

Watch: King’s College London explain what they’re looking for in a UCAS Personal Statement


This is the chance for an applying student to really grab an admission tutor’s attention. Students need to demonstrate both a personal passion for their subject, and explain why they have an aptitude for it .  This section is where students should begin to discuss any major influences or inspirations that have led them to this subject choice. 

Example :  My passion for the environment has perhaps come from the fact that I have lived in five different countries: France, England, Spain, Sweden and Costa Rica. Moving at the age of 15 from Sweden, a calm and organized country, to Costa Rica, a more diverse and slightly chaotic country, was a shock for me at first and took me out of my comfort zone […] Also, living in Costa Rica, one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, definitely helped me realize how vulnerable the world is and how we need to take care of it in a sustainable manner. 

This opening paragraph immediately grabs the reader’s attention by giving the reader an insight into this student’s background and links their academic interests with something specific from the student’s personal backstory. 

Discussing Academic Achievements 

The next paragraph in this Personal Statement discusses the student’s academic achievements. Because this student has had an international education, they frame their academic achievements in the context of their personal background. They also cite useful examples of other curricula they have studied and the grades they have achieved. 

Example : 

Throughout my academic life I have shown myself to be a responsible student as well as a hard working one, despite the fact that I have had to move around a lot. I have achieved several other accomplishments such as a high A (286/300) in AS Spanish at age 15, and also completed a Spanish course of secondary studies for ‘MEP’(Ministerio de Educacion Publica), which is a system from Costa Rica.   

You’ll notice that this student doesn’t just list their achievements – their strong academic performance is always linked back to a wider discussion of their personal experiences. 

Showcasing Extracurricular Activities

As well as discussing academic achievements, a good Personal Statement should also discuss the student’s extracurricular activities, and how they relate back to the student’s overall university aspirations. 

By the third/fourth paragraph of the Personal Statement, students should think about incorporating their extracurricular experiences, 

Another valuable experience was when my class spent a week at a beach called ‘Pacuare’ in order to help prevent the eggs of the endangered leatherback turtle from being stolen by poachers who go on to sell them like chicken eggs. We all gained teamwork experience, which was needed in order to hide the eggs silently without scaring the mother turtles, as well as making it more difficult for the poachers to find them. 

When the poachers set fire to one of the sustainable huts where we were staying, not only did I gain self-awareness about the critical situation of the world and its ecosystems, I also matured and became even more motivated to study environmental sciences at university.

This is a particularly striking example of using extracurricular activities to showcase a student’s wider passion for the degree subject they want to study. 

Not only does this Personal Statement have a story about volunteering to save an endangered species, it also illustrates this applicants’ wider worldview, and helps to explain their motivation for wanting to study Environmental Science. 

Concluding the UCAS Personal Statement

The conclusion to a UCAS Personal Statement will have to be concise, and will need to tie all of a student’s academic and extracurricular achievements. After all, a compelling story will need a great ending. 

Remember that students need to be mindful of the character limit of a Personal Statement, so a conclusion need only be the length of a small paragraph, or even a couple of sentences. 

“ After having many varied experiences, I truly think I can contribute to university in a positive way, and would love to study in England where I believe I would gain more skills and education doing a first degree than in any other country.  “

A good Personal Statement conclusion will end with an affirmation of how the student thinks they can contribute to university life, and why they believe the institution in question should accept them. Because the student in this example has a such a rich and varied international background, they also discuss the appeal of studying at university in England. 

It’s worth taking a quick look at a few other examples of how other students have chosen to conclude their Personal Statement. 

Medicine (Imperial College, London) 

Interest in Medicine aside, other enthusiasms of mine include languages, philosophy, and mythology. It is curiously fitting that in ancient Greek lore, healing was but one of the many arts Apollo presided over, alongside archery and music.   I firmly believe that a doctor should explore the world outside the field of  Medicine, and it is with such experiences that I hope to better empathise and connect with the patients I will care for in my medical career. 

You’ll notice that this example very specifically ties the students’ academic and extracurricular activities together, and ties the Personal Statement back to their values and beliefs. 

Economic History with Economics (London School of Economics)

The highlight of my extra-curricular activities has been my visit to Shanghai with the Lord Mayor’s trade delegation in September 2012. I was selected to give a speech at this world trade conference due to my interest in economic and social history. […] I particularly enjoyed the seminar format, and look forward to experiencing more of this at university. My keen interest and desire to further my knowledge of history and economics, I believe, would make the course ideal for me.

By contrast, this conclusion ties a memorable experience back to the specifics of how the student will be taught at the London School of Economics – specifically, the appeal of learning in seminar format! 

There’s no magic formula for concluding a Personal Statement. But you’ll see that what all of these examples have in common is that they tie a student’s personal and academic experiences together – and tell a university something about their aspirations for the future.

Watch: Bournemouth University explain how to structure a UCAS Personal Statement

how long are ucas personal statements

Know the audience

It can be easy for students to forget that the person reading a personal statement is invariably an expert in their field. This is why an ability to convey passion and think critically about their chosen subject is essential for a personal statement to stand out. Admissions tutors will also look for students who can structure their writing (more on this below). 

Students should be themselves

Remember that many students are competing for places on a university degree against fierce competition. And don’t forget that UCAS has the means to spot plagiarism. So students need to create a truly honest and individual account of who they are, what they have achieved and, perhaps most importantly, why they are driven to study this particular subject.

Proof-read (then proof-read again!)

Time pressures mean that students can easily make mistakes with their Personal Statements. As the deadline grows closer, it’s vital that they are constantly checking and rechecking their writing and to ensure that shows them in the best possible light. 

Meanwhile, when it comes to giving feedback to students writing their Personal Statements, make sure you’re as honest and positive as possible in the days and weeks leading up to submission day. 

And make sure they remember the three key ingredients of writing a successful Personal Statement. 

Planning, structure and story! 

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how long are ucas personal statements

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Personal statements for university applications

Forming a key part of your university application, you should use the UCAS personal statement to showcase how your skills, experience and aspirations make you a good fit for the course

What is a university personal statement?

With two sides of A4 to work with, this is your opportunity to tell course tutors in your own words the reasons why you feel you'd be an asset to their university.

How long should a personal statement be?

There's no maximum word count, but you'll need to remain within the 4,000 character limit (including spaces and punctuation) allowed in your UCAS application, as well as keeping the statement to a total of 47 lines of text.

UCAS recommends that you write your personal statement in Microsoft Word before copying and pasting it into the online application form. This is because the application page times out after being inactive for 35 minutes. You'll still need to account for how individual characters are counted differently between Microsoft Word and the online form.

What do I write about?

When considering what to include in your personal statement, take time to think about the reasons you're applying to university and what makes you a suitable candidate.

To make this work for different courses and universities, you'll need to find some common ground by providing examples of why you'll be a success - demonstrating enthusiasm for the choices you've made and how they fit in with your career ambitions.

You'll need to talk about the relevant skills, experience and achievements you've gained through extra-curricular activities - whether these are sporting, musical or creative.

As well as going through your academic record to date, your personal statement also gives you the opportunity to mention any work experience or volunteering you've undertaken, detailing what you've learned from it. For instance, you may have been involved with the Young Enterprise programme at school and have a better idea of how to manage your money.

It's never too late to show you're actively preparing for higher education. Get involved with an extra-curricular club, secure a part-time job or do some volunteering. You could even complete a free online course in a relevant subject with an organisation such as FutureLearn or the Tech Nation Digital Business Academy .

If you're an international student, you could discuss why the UK is your preferred study destination ahead of universities in your own country. Don't forget to mention the English language tests, courses and qualifications you've taken.

Finally, if there are any personal or financial circumstances that have had a strong bearing on your performance at school or college, you can outline these in this statement.

How do I write a personal statement?

By breaking your personal statement down into sections, you can ensure you cover the most relevant points.

Course-relevant skills and credentials should be given prominence in the overall structure. You can use the course descriptions to help you.

However, as you only have the one personal statement for all your choices, if you've selected a variety of subjects that aren't that similar, you'll need to focus on the transferable skills and common qualities typically valued by universities - for example, creativity or problem-solving.

Adopt a simple, concise and natural style for writing your statement, while still showing enthusiasm. Allow your personality to shine through.

It can often take a number of redrafts until the statement is ready, so allow plenty of time to write it properly, and set yourself a schedule.

Get used to reading your statement aloud and asking for feedback from family, teachers and advisers before redrafting to make sure your writing flows well. You'll also need to check for the correct punctuation, spelling and grammar and not just rely on a spellchecker.

Keep an up-to-date copy of your statement saved so you can refer back to it during the interview process.

How do I start a personal statement?

At this point, think about why you're applying for the course, and how you became interested in it in the first place. Was it through work experience or studying the subject at A-level?

Once you've noted down your reasons for choosing the course, you can move on to your skills and what makes you stand out positively from other applicants, providing evidence of where each attribute has been utilised.

After you've written this down, condense it so it's less wordy. You can then attempt to write a punchy opening paragraph showcasing your excitement at the prospect of going to university, and an understanding of what you're getting yourself into.

Get off to the best start by using the UCAS personal statement builder .

What should I avoid?

  • As you'll only have the one statement, it's important not to mention universities by name - unless you plan on applying to just a single institution.
  • Remember that admissions staff may not share your sense of humour, so steer clear of anything that might get misinterpreted.
  • Refrain from using clichés or making arrogant or exaggerated statements.
  • Resist any temptation to use somebody else's work as your own. The UCAS Similarity Detection Service utilises the Copycatch system, which will compare your statement against those stored within a comprehensive library of statements - those sent to UCAS and elsewhere (including paper publications).
  • Be careful not to ramble. Structuring your work so you know how much space you have for each section will make sticking to your main points much easier.

University personal statement examples

While you can find some examples online - from the likes of and King's College London - it's important to use your own words and not copy them directly.

Indeed, the UCAS personal statement worksheet can prove just as useful when it comes to helping you decide what to put in your own personal statement.

You can simply print out this personal statement template and jot down any ideas into the various sections as you think of them.

Find out more

  • Read the full lowdown on how to apply for university .
  • Get tips on preparing for a university interview .
  • For further advice on writing a university personal statement, visit UCAS .
  • Take a look at The Topic for the latest news, insights and opinions.

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  • The Ultimate UCAS Personal Statement Guide

Last Updated: 31st May 2022

Author: Rob Needleman

  • Getting started

Table of Contents

When it comes to completing your UCAS application, the Personal Statement is one of the most important parts to consider.

While your grades show your academic ability and Admissions Tests assess your knowledge and capabilities, a Personal Statement is all about you. Tutors want to see the person behind the application and understand why you’re a suitable candidate for your chosen course. 

Although each university will have its own unique way of shortlisting applicants, your Personal Statement is your opportunity to demonstrate your strengths and let your personality shine through.

However, over 20,000 students apply for Oxbridge every year which is a lot to compete with. As such, you need to stand out from the crowd and really get across your reasons for wanting to study your topic, which can make the prospect of writing one and including all the right things pressurising. To help you, we have written this ultimate Personal Statement guide. Let’s get started.

How to write a Personal Statement

Your Personal Statement isn’t a long monologue of your life so far, nor a gigantic list of all your achievements. Think of yourself as a storyteller. Start at the beginning with how you developed an interest for your chosen subject and end with where you see yourself after university.

Before You Start

How to get started.

Before you sit down to write your UCAS Personal Statement, the first thing we recommend is to research the courses you want to apply for. This will help you prepare your statement as courses vary from university to university, and your content should reflect these. Bear in mind, you are only able to send one Personal Statement to all your chosen universities, so you can’t overly cater to one. Look at all of the details, including the structure, modules and examination methods, as well as what they’re looking for from a student. This will support your first draft, though bear in mind you’ll redraft a few times before it’s perfect.

For example, Oxford lists the personal characteristics that they look for in applicants to their Medicine degree:

How many words should a Personal Statement be?

Personal Statements can be up to 4,000 characters long (615-800), and no more. This might sound like a lot, but it’s just one side of A4 paper. There’s plenty of information to include, so make sure it’s concise, clear and easy to read.

When to start writing it

It’s never too early to start thinking about your Personal Statement and what you’re going to write about. But there is a deadline : October 15th for all Oxbridge courses including Medicine and Dentistry, and January 25th for other undergraduate subjects. We suggest you begin preparing at the start of the year, as this gives you plenty of time to plan, draft and rewrite until it’s perfect for submission.

Your Personal Statement is the first thing Oxbridge Admissions Tutors will see about you. It’s imperative you get it right.

Our Oxbridge Premium Programmes help you write a successful Personal Statment that ticks all the Admission Tutor’s boxes. Our proven support is implemented through various mediums including Personal Statment Intensive Courses, Personal Statment Marking and Personalised Reading Lists.

Discover our Oxbridge Premium Programmes  by clicking the button below to  enrol and triple your chances of success.

What To Include

Your Personal Statement is a glimpse into your passion, how keen you are to learn and what you already know about your chosen subject. Express your interest by commenting on the areas that fascinate you most. For example, is it helping people that draws you into Medicine, or is it the fascinating human anatomy? 

Another great way to show your enthusiasm is through your previous experience in the subject. Demonstrate why you’re suitable for the course by providing evidence of any relevant skills and qualities that relate to this. What are you good at? What have you done that proves it? 

  • Answering Your Personal Statement Questions

Mention any additional projects, work experience or extra-curricular activities you’ve got involved with that further demonstrate you’re an ideal candidate. Reflect on the skills you’ve gained from these (as long as they’re transferable to your studies). Admissions Tutors will be looking for such information, as well as your unique selling points — give examples of things you’ve done that show you have a wider interest in learning. 

You should also try to link your interests, skills and qualities to your university research. However, Oxbridge are not interested in sports, hobbies or if you play any musical instruments — keep it academic.

Show you’re an interesting person and have a true passion for your subject, and your Personal Statement should be a winning one. Your enthusiasm is what will make your statement stand out, so don’t shy away from expressing your love for your chosen subject, though you don’t need to say you’ve dreamed about doing the course your entire life.

Aim to include things like:

  • Personal attributes, such as adaptability, problem-solving and organisation
  • Employment experience and volunteering work
  • Personal interests in your subject
  • Relevant extracurricular activities, like any clubs or societies you belong to
  • Your future after university

The Structure

The key to writing a good UCAS Personal Statement is getting the structure right, as this can have a huge effect on the message it delivers. Often, students get caught up in the content and forget that presenting information effectively is just as important as the words included.

Each section of your statement needs to be crafted correctly so that Admissions Tutors can digest the information easily. While there are no strict rules on how to structure it — since it’s personal to you — there are a few rules of thumb to use to find the right balance. In general, though, remember to consider the format, structure and content equally, and you’ll write a great Personal Statement.

  • Personal Statement Cheat Sheet

Here is a breakdown of how we recommend students to split up their essay:

  • Introduction - About six lines
  • Academic abilities - 22 - 27 lines
  • Extra-curricular information - 10 - 12 lines
  • Conclusion - No more than four lines

Personal Statement Introduction

Rightly or wrongly, it is highly likely that your UCAS Personal Statement will be remembered by its opening sentence. It must be something short, sharp, insightful, and catch the reader’s attention. It sets the precedent for the rest of your statement and unfortunately, decides whether your statement is paid particular attention to when read.

  • Avoid using overused words like “passionate”, “deeply fascinating”, and “devotion”.
  • Avoid using clichéd quotes like the infamous Coco Chanel’s “fashion is not something that exists in dresses only”.
  • If you are going to use a quote, then put some effort into researching an obscure yet particularly powerful one – don’t forget to include a reference.
  • Draw on your own personal experiences to produce something both original and eye-catching.

Once that’s out of the way, you need to answer the most important question:

The introduction does not need to be very long. It is generally a good idea to open the statement with something that sets the context of your application. For example, someone who is applying to study History may open: ‘History is all around us’, rather than ‘I have always been interested in History because…”

By the end of the introduction the reader should clearly know:

  • What subject you are applying for
  • What motivated you to apply for this subject

Make sure you keep it personal and honest! The exact phrase: “from a young age, I have always been interested in” was recently used more than 300 times in Personal Statements in a single year, and substituting “young” for “early” gave an additional 292 statements – these phrases can quickly become boring for Admissions Tutors to read!

Personal Statement Main Body

In the rest of your text, your aim should be to demonstrate your suitability for the course by exemplifying your knowledge of the course structure and its requirements through personal experience. Again, there are no rigorous guidelines on how to do this and it is very much down to your own writing style. Whereas some prefer a strict structure, others go for a more synoptic approach, but always remember to be consistent to achieve a flowing, easy to read Personal Statement.

Here’s the structure we recommend:

Paragraph #1: This should cover why you are suited for your subject. This will include your main academic interests, future ambitions (related to the chosen degree), and what makes the course right for you. This should be the academic side of why you want to study this subject.

Paragraph #2: This should still cover why you are suited for your subject. However, it can be less focused on academic topics. If you’ve had to overcome any significant challenges in life and wish to include these in your Personal Statement, this is normally the best place to do so. Similarly, any work experience or relevant prizes & competitions should be included here.

Paragraph #3: This is the smallest part of the main body and is all about extra-curricular activities. It is easy to get carried away in this section and make outrageous claims, e.g. claim to be a mountain climber if all you have ever climbed is a hill at the end of your street etc. Lying is not worth the risk, given that your interviewer may share the same hobby that you claim to be an expert in. So, don’t be caught out!

What you should include in your Personal Statement main body:

  • Sports and other hobbies
  • Musical instruments
  • Work experience
  • Personal interests in the field of study
  • Personal attributes

What you shouldn’t include in your Personal Statement main body (or anywhere!):

  • Negative connotations – always put a positive spin on everything
  • Lack of reflection
  • Controversy in whatever form it may come
  • Generic/stereotypical statements
  • Listing things

Personal Statement Conclusion

The conclusion of your Personal Statement should be more about leaving a good final impression rather than conferring any actual information. If you have something useful to say about your interest and desire to study your subject, you shouldn’t be waiting until the very end to say it!

A good conclusion should not include any new information, as this should be in the main body. However, you also need to avoid repeating what you have said earlier in your Personal Statement. This would be both a waste of characters and frustration for the tutor. Instead, it is better to put into context what you have already written and, therefore, make an effort to keep your conclusion relatively short – no more than four lines.

For more inspiration, take a look through our other successful Personal Statement a nalysis articles:

Successful Personal Statement For Natural Science (Physical) At Cambridge

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1. Show passion for your subject

Admissions Tutors aren’t going to pick a candidate who doesn’t seem particularly interested in their field. Show your passion and eagerness to learn and succeed. Why do you love your subject? Why have you chosen it? What do you find most interesting and why?

2. Talk about you

This is your chance to talk about you, your interests and skills. It’s no good saying you’re passionate if you don’t prove that you are. Write in a natural style to show off your personality, making sure it’s genuine, relevant and specific.

3. Use appropriate language

Re-read your Personal Statement multiple times and check that the content is academic, engaging and clear.

4. Provide evidence to back up your claims

It’s all well and good saying you love medical science, but this is going to fall flat if you can’t back it up. Talk about your school subjects and results, any wider reading and relevant work experience. Perhaps you attended a lecture on your subject — this would be good evidence.

5. Link your activities outside of education to your course

Tell tutors why these activities are relevant and what you have learned as a result. Focus on transferable skills gained too, such as time management or organisational abilities.

6. Spell check and look for grammatical mistakes

Poor spelling and grammar makes for a terrible first impression, so ensure you triple-check it’s written to the highest standard before submitting it.

Our Personal Statement dont’s

1. Write a clichéd beginning

Don’t waste time thinking of a catchy opening. The best Personal Statements get to the point quickly, so avoid starting with phrases like “From a young age”, “I am applying for this course because”, and “Throughout my life I have always enjoyed…”. Go straight into why you are interested in your course subject.

2. Use cringe-worthy language and cheap gags

This is not impressive and can indicate that you’re not a serious student. It’s essential you don’t come across as verbose or pretentious too, as Admissions Tutors will spot this immediately. They are well-versed in the ramblings of students who think this tone makes them seem more intellectual.

3. Overcomplicate things

Say what you need to, be specific and don’t waffle too much — you’ll run out of characters fast.

4. Go overboard with extra-curricular activities

Talking about these is good, but the truth is, Admissions Tutors have very little interest in what you do outside of education unless you can find a way to directly link them to your subject.

5. Plagiarise content

You can read Personal Statement examples online for inspiration but avoid copying and pasting them. During your interview, you’re likely to be asked about specific parts of your statement, and if you’re caught off-guard, you’re going to look silly. This could ruin your chances of being accepted. Use a plagiarism detector to ensure your essay is unique.

6. Mention universities or specific courses by name

You can only write one Personal Statement, so it’s the same for each course you apply for. Avoid mentioning specific unis by name or detailing exact specifics of a module, for example. Keep it general.

Now you know what to include in your Personal Statement and the best practices for doing so, we hope you feel more confident writing it. We have plenty of guides and successful personal statement examples to go through in our Free Personal Statement Resources page. Good luck submitting your UCAS application!

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The Ultimate Guide To UCAS And Personal Statements

by The Oxford Scholastica Team | 31 Jan, 2024 | Blog Articles , Get the Edge

A student preparing their UCAS application

Table of Contents

What does UCAS stand for?

UCAS stands for Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. It is the centralised online service in the UK that everyone has to use in order to apply to any undergraduate University course in the UK.

How many courses can you apply to on UCAS?

Through UCAS, you can select up to five different courses to apply to. These can be at the same university, different ones, or a combination of both. It’s completely up to you! If you’re struggling to choose what to study, read our guide on how to find the right university course for you .

How does UCAS work?

You write and submit your application via UCAS, and UCAS sends this to the admissions teams for each of the courses you’ve selected. They will then consider your application along with all the others they have received from different students around the world, and decide who they would like to offer places.

So, UCAS is effectively the link between you and the universities you’re applying to. This means you have to sell yourself as best you can on your UCAS application, since this may be all that the admissions teams are basing their decisions on.

UCAS deadlines

UCAS have two major deadlines for undergraduate application submissions. The earlier deadline is for anyone wanting to apply to Oxford or Cambridge, and for most medicine, veterinary medicine and dentistry courses across the country. This early deadline is usually 15th October . But be sure to double check that this is true for your year! The deadline for all other undergraduate courses is usually 15th January . However, many universities and colleges continue to accept applications from international students until later in the year as part of the regular college admissions cycle .

There’s quite a big gap between these two deadlines. This is because all courses with the earlier cut off point require you to go for an interview before they make their offers, so they need time to schedule these. This means you need to decide quite early in the year (by the summer before your deadline) whether you’re going to apply to any of the courses with the 15th October cut off, so that you have enough time to write your application!

UCAS application

You fill out your application using UCAS’s online hub. There are several sections to the form; some require information that you can fill out quickly and others need more time. You don’t have to do it all at once though. You can save your progress and come back to it as many times as you want.

What information are they looking for?

Most obviously, UCAS will want to know your 5 course choices! You don’t have to place them in order of preference at this point and none of the admissions officers will see the other courses you have applied to. They will, however, have access to this information after you reply to any offers you receive, but it can’t impact your application in any way.

Under the current system, a personal statement will also be required, showing your vested interest in your chosen subject. It should also demonstrate your motivation and enthusiasm, as well as any skills you have picked up so far that will help you do well at university. This is your chance to tell admissions teams why they should offer you a place on their course.

Please note: In January 2023, UCAS announced some changes to the admissions process, and the personal statement will be different for admissions cycles from 2024/25. This article will be updated when the changes are confirmed.

There will also be some additional questions for monitoring purposes. These don’t affect how likely you are to be offered a place in any way. The information is not shared with the universities until the end of the application cycle, when you’ll already know their decisions. If you’re applying from the UK, you will be asked questions about your ethnic origin, national identity and what your parents do for a living. There are also some optional questions about religion, sexual orientation and identity.

Within the additional questions section, there will be optional queries relating to your personal circumstances. These will be shared with the university if you wish to provide information about, for example, your parental education or whether you’ve been in care. This is known as ‘contextualised admissions’ and allows the university to form a more complete understanding of you as an individual so that they can provide support if necessary. If you want to know more about how a university will use this information, you can ring their admissions team directly and ask. Don’t be scared to do this at any point as, again, it won’t affect your likelihood of being offered a place!

Other information that UCAS will require is listed below:

  • Full education history: GCSEs and predicted A-Level/IB qualifications
  • Full employment history
  • Reference from teacher, adviser or professional who knows you academically.

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Thanks for signing up, how do i write a good ucas personal statement.

There isn’t a ‘correct’ way to write your personal statement. The key is in the title – the statement is personal. And so it should be as unique to you, your experiences and your interests as possible. That being said, there are some ways you can structure your statement to ensure clarity. Also, there are key things you can include to make sure you are providing the information admissions tutors want to know, so that you come across as an enthusiastic, mature and motivated student.

What do I put on my UCAS application?

Why you find the subject interesting.

Explain what it is that attracts you to your subject, and why you want to study it at university level. Mention particular areas you want to find out more about, for example something you’ve briefly covered on the course at school, or something you’ve read about in your own time.

Detail the relevant things you’ve read that you found the most engaging, and talk about why you found them interesting. Whether or not you’re applying for a literature-based course, make sure you’ve done some reading around the subject. And don’t just regurgitate views you’ve heard in class, read in a textbook or seen online. Remember, the admissions teams want to hear your personal opinion. This is one reason why attending a summer program like an Oxford summer course is so helpful: it introduces you to wider perspectives about your subject, and good ideas for further reading! For inspiration, check out these recommended lists of best books for English literature students , best psychology books and top law books to read .

Employment or volunteering experiences

There is a different section in which to detail your complete employment history, so only pick the most relevant to discuss in your personal statement. Choose the ones that have either taught you useful skills or made you more passionate about your subject.

Work experience / Summer schools / Taster Courses

Talking about any relevant work experience, summer schools or Higher Education taster courses can be really valuable in your personal statement. Again, choose the ones that are most representative of your engagement with your chosen subject, and detail the skills and knowledge you gained. For example, if you’ve ever attended our Oxford Summer School that’s a great one to talk about here! Going to an academic summer school like Oxford Scholastica shows your dedication to your subject outside school, which all admissions tutors are looking for.

Extracurricular activities

Clubs and societies you are a part of at school, or have leadership roles in, can be useful to discuss here, as long as you explain what you’ve gained from them. More on this in the next section!

Extra qualifications

You can also mention the skills you may have developed through any extra courses or qualifications you’ve completed, such as Duke of Edinburgh (DofE), National Citizen Service (NCS), Young Enterprise, etc.

Note for International students:

If you’re applying from outside the UK, you should also mention: why you want to study here, your English language skills, and any English courses or tests you’ve taken. It can also be good to mention why you want to be an international student, rather than studying in your own country.

UCAS personal statement structure

  • Universities are quite clear about the skills and qualities they are looking for in their students; make sure you read the course descriptions for each course you’re applying to and structure your statement to demonstrate that you have met everything they are looking for.
  • You have a maximum of 4,000 characters and 47 lines when you input your personal statement into UCAS. This means you need to think carefully about how many paragraphs to have and what information it is most important to include.
  • Try to present your achievements and interests in a clear and concise manner. This means having different paragraphs for different experiences where possible, and not repeating yourself. Link anything you have done to what you have learnt from it and how that better prepares you or makes you more interested in the course.
  • Avoid presenting a list of things you have done. Admissions teams won’t care about how many charity projects you’ve been involved with unless you tell them what you have gained from each one.

8 top tips for the best UCAS application

1. Keep it focused on you. Don’t try to define your subject or explain it to the admissions tutor – they are already experts!

2. Write in a natural style – show your understanding of your subject but without going into too much detail or trying to make it sound too complex. Again, you don’t have that many characters available and you need to prioritise talking about yourself. The most important thing is to come across as enthusiastic and eager to learn MORE – don’t focus on trying to show off what you already know.

3. Equally, don’t pretend to know more than you do, or exaggerate your achievements – this is especially important if you are going to be interviewed because they will ask you to elaborate on things you mentioned in your statement.

4. Be careful with humour or quotes – the admissions tutor may not have the same sense of humour as you and it could be a waste of characters!

5. Proofread it aloud , and get as many people to check it as possible so that you have a lot of different perspectives – ask your teachers, friends, and family.

6. Make sure the spelling, punctuation and grammar are completely correct as errors will suggest that you’re careless.

7. You will probably produce several drafts of your personal statement before you’re completely happy with it. This is why it’s important to start writing as early as possible – this is not something to be left to the last minute!

8. Don’t copy bits of another personal statement or share yours with anyone applying for similar courses or similar universities. All personal statements are checked for similarity and if yours is flagged as being too similar to someone else’s, it might reduce your chance of being offered a place.

How much extracurricular content should I include?

Most universities like to see that you have been engaged in extracurricular activities throughout your time at school. They show that you can juggle several commitments at once, and also that you know how to balance work and play – something that is very important at university! However, your personal statement should be mainly focused on the course you’re applying for and why you want to do it. Extracurriculars should only make up one small paragraph towards the end. That said, it shouldn’t be the focus of the final paragraph – you should wrap up with something about your relationship with your chosen subject.

Extracurriculars relevant to the course you’re applying for are amazing, but you can include ones that aren’t directly relevant too. The key is to mention what you do, and then link it back how it has helped you develop the skills and attributes that the university wants to see. These could include commitment, dedication, confidence, teamwork, resilience and interpersonal skills – all important qualities for a university student to have. For medical school applicants, see our tips on the best extracurriculars for medical students .

For those of you applying to Oxford or Cambridge, a lot of advice online says not to include extracurriculars that aren’t directly relevant to your subject. However, there is a lot of variety among different admissions tutors in their attitudes towards this. Our advice would be to include them if they demonstrate personal attributes, impressive achievements or unique skills. Just make sure you are concise and that this only makes up one small paragraph. That way, you’ve covered it if the admissions tutor does want to see it… and if they don’t there’s still a lot more to your personal statement that they will like!

What if I’m applying to different courses at different Universities?

Applying to different courses at different Universities is difficult because unfortunately, you are usually only allowed to submit one personal statement.

If just one of your choices is completely different from the others, a University may accept a separate personal statement for that course, but it has to be sent directly to them – not through UCAS. You have to call the university’s admissions team to ask if this is possible or speak to them on an open day. Speaking to them individually is the only way you can find out, but you should try to get some advice from a teacher or advisers before you do this. If one of your courses is fairly unusual and only offered by a small number of universities, the admissions team will have probably received calls like this many times before and so may be more lenient, but it’s definitely best to just ask.

There may be slight differences between the five courses you’re applying for, for example, if they are all joint or combined degrees with slightly different subject combinations. In this case, writing one statement shouldn’t be too much of a problem. You just have to make sure that you make your statement as relevant as possible to all of them – so make sure each subject is covered by what you are saying.

However, if there are big differences between all of your course choices, you will have much more difficulty writing a great personal statement. You can try to make your statement appropriate to all courses by demonstrating your skills and academic interests more generally. Alternatively, you can openly state that you are applying to several different courses and try to explain as best as possible why you have done this based on your academic interests. The focus here should be on a strong interest in all the courses and the different things they offer. Make sure you don’t come across as simply indecisive or not sure what you want from a course!

Both are risky strategies so we would advise you to apply for five courses that have some clear common ground that you can focus on in your statement.

Students writing their UCAS applications on laptops

When can I expect to hear back from UCAS?

Once you’ve sent off your application, the UCAS hub will allow you to check how your application is progressing. Most interview invitations (although not all – some course providers may email you directly), offers and rejections will be shown on there.

Unfortunately, each university’s application monitoring process takes a different amount of time, so it’s difficult to know for sure when you’ll have all of your decisions back. However, UCAS says that if you met their application deadline (15th January), you should have heard back by the 31st March and will definitely hear by the 9th May. Having said that, many universities will get back to you within just two or three weeks of applying.

If you applied at the earlier deadline (15th October), this probably means you’ve applied to one or more courses that require an interview. If you’re applying to Oxford or Cambridge, look over the Oxbridge section for more specific information about when you will hear back, tests and interviews! If you’re applying for medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine, different universities hold their interviews at vastly different times. Generally, the earliest are in December and the latest are in March.

There is also a big range in how much time different universities give you between letting you know you have an interview, and the interview itself. Once you’ve decided where you want to apply, you might like to contact the admissions teams of each university directly, so that you have a rough idea of your personal timeline of events and deadlines.

What’s the difference between conditional and unconditional offers?

An unconditional offer means the university is very keen to have you on their course. If you accept it, they will automatically confirm your place regardless of the exam results you receive. Many universities (such as the University of Birmingham) will often state that if you accept an unconditional offer from them, you have to put it as your firm choice – you can’t have it as your insurance. The terms ‘firm’ and ‘insurance’ are explained in the next section.

A conditional offer is one that is dependent on the grades you are yet to receive. In the offer, they will outline which grades you need to get in order to take up your place on their course. Most universities provide their usual grade offers for each course on their website, so you know before you apply.

This is something you should bear in mind when discussing your predicted grades with your teachers. Your predicted grades on your application need to match, be close to or exceed what the university usually asks for, or it’s unlikely that you’ll be offered a place. You should think optimistically but realistically about what you can achieve.

Responding to offers – firm and insurance choices

Once you have received all your decisions, you have until a fixed deadline to reply to any offers through UCAS. This deadline is usually 31st March, as long as you’ve heard back from all five choices by then. If you have two or more offers, you have to choose one to make your ‘firm’ choice, and one to make your ‘insurance’. Your firm choice is your preferred option, so if it’s unconditional, or it’s conditional and you meet the grade requirements on results day, you will have a place on that course. Your insurance choice is your back-up, so it makes sense to choose a course with lower offer conditions, in case you don’t meet your first choice offer. You should make sure this is still a university you would be happy to go to, though!

Think carefully before you respond – you can’t change your mind on Results Day (unless you do much better than expected – see our section on ‘Adjustment’). Remember that there’s no rush as long as you meet the deadline: the universities can’t take back their offers because you’re taking too long!

You’ll then have to decline any other offers you receive that you haven’t made your firm or insurance option.

If you have a complete change of heart, you can decline all of your offers and apply to more courses using UCAS’s ‘Extra’ service.

What if I miss my offer? What is Clearing?

If you don’t get the grades you needed for your first-choice offer, your first port of call should be ringing your chosen university’s admissions team directly. They may still give you a place, especially if you only just missed your grades, because other prospective students may have missed their grades too. There’s no harm in trying, and, if there’s a particular reason as to why you achieved lower grades than anticipated, this context could help explain to them why you didn’t make the offer.

If you miss the grades for your insurance choice too, and you don’t have any luck with ringing either university, you can turn to UCAS’s Clearing Service. This allows you to find a similar course, usually at a different university, with entry requirements that match the grades you have. In 2021, Clearing ran from 5th July to 19th October (2021), but again you should check the dates for your own year of application. The application process works differently to the initial submission process.

When you apply to clearing, you are given a ‘clearing number’ – a form of ID. There are two routes you can take; Clearing Plus matches can be found in your UCAS Hub, register your interest with a course that appeals and have your application sent directly to them to make a decision. You can also search for all the available course vacancies, which means contacting the university directly if you find a course you’d like to apply to. You provide them with your clearing number and Personal ID over the phone so that they can look up your application, and then ask them if they’d accept you.

If they give you an informal offer over the phone, you can then add the course as a clearing choice in the UCAS Hub. You can only add one course at a time, and if the university confirms it, you definitely have that place and can’t apply anywhere else. Many universities have spare places on their courses after results day, so this is a very common option for people whose grades don’t align with their original universities’ requirements.

Better results than expected? What is Adjustment?

If you get better results than expected (i.e. you have met and exceeded the conditions of your firm offer and think you could be accepted onto another course which typically gives out higher offers), you may be able to apply to that course through Adjustment. You register for Adjustment via the UCAS Hub.

Adjustment is only available for a small, fixed amount of time, so you have to act fast! In 2021, this was from 10th August – 18th August (as always, check the exact dates for your year of application!). Adjustment is different to Clearing, as there isn’t a list of available courses for you to search through. Instead, you have to find out the grade requirements of courses you’d be interested in on a university’s website, and then contact the admissions office of those universities directly to ask about any possible vacancies. You have to provide your Personal ID so they can check you’ve exceeded the conditions of your original firm choice, and that you meet their own conditions of entry.

Then, if you are absolutely sure you want a place at that university, you can verbally agree an offer with them. The university will then add themselves to your application, your UCAS Hub will be updated, and you’ll have a place on that course!

A bird's eye view of the Oxford university campus

What’s different about Oxford and Cambridge?

If you’re thinking about applying to either Oxford or Cambridge (you can’t apply to both for undergraduate study – you can only choose one), you need to make up your mind well ahead of the typical UCAS application period. Firstly, as we mentioned earlier, the UCAS deadline for applying to Oxford and Cambridge (15th October) is three months earlier than the main UCAS deadline for all other universities (15th January). Secondly, there are often extra tests and pieces of work you have to complete as part of an Oxbridge application and the earlier you start preparing for these, the better!

Extra written work and tests

  • Written work : This is a required element of applications to some, but not all, courses offered at Oxford. This is your chance to showcase your abilities in and enthusiasm for your chosen subject specifically. Note that this is NOT work that you have written specifically for your application, but original, marked schoolwork, unchanged from the time of marking. Generally, this will be required for Humanities subjects more than Sciences, but there are several exceptions so you’ll have to check your relevant course page. The deadline to submit written work is the 10th November, and is the same across all subjects (except Fine Art, which is earlier). Have a look at the full list of courses, and check whether you need to submit written work, here.
  • Admissions tests : These are required for a handful of subjects. Again, take a look at the subject you’re applying to. They are generally designed to test your natural aptitude for your subject and are just another thing the tutors can use to help them decide between many excellent candidates. You must have registered for your admissions test by 15th October, and make sure you have your test candidate entry number from your school or test centre as proof of entry by 6pm that day.
  • Admissions tests : At Cambridge, the system is slightly different: the majority of subjects require some kind of admissions test. In most cases, the test is to be taken before interviews, but in some cases it is done at the interview itself. If taken before interviews, again you have to register by 15th October, and the tests are usually taken around 30th October – though the exact date may change. If taken at interview, you don’t have to register. Find out which subjects have pre-interview tests, and which have at-interview tests here.
  • Submitted work : This is required for several courses – mainly Arts and Social Sciences – but only by certain colleges. Again, this will be an original, marked piece of work from a relevant A Level/IB (or equivalent) course. The deadlines for submission will vary from college to college, and they will contact you about it directly. More information can be found here.

Please note that both the submitted work and your test scores for both universities only form one part of your overall application. They will not be viewed in isolation and there is usually no pass or fail mark, so please don’t let any of this put you off applying!

Also note that, if you’re applying for medicine at either university (or Biomedical Sciences at Oxford), the admissions test deadlines are slightly different, because the same test is also used by many other medical schools across the country. For both Cambridge and Oxford, you will have to take the BMAT (BioMedical Admissions Test) on 30th October (like all other Cambridge pre-interview tests), but you have to be registered before 15th October. You cannot register yourself. Either your school or a local test centre can register you any time between 1st September and 1st October (as always, please double check these dates hold true for your year of application).

University interviews

The other main thing that differentiates the application process at Oxbridge from other UK universities is the interview. Every course at both institutions will require you to attend an interview before places are offered. The interviews for both universities generally take place in the first few weeks of December.

What happens in an Oxbridge interview?

The Oxbridge interviews are designed to imitate an Oxford tutorial or a Cambridge supervision, and test how you would respond to that kind of teaching style. This is because tutorials and supervisions are an important component of teaching at Oxbridge. It’s therefore important that the tutors know that you would be able to contribute well and get the most out of these should you be offered a place.

There’s no denying, however, that different tutors can vary a lot in their approach in the interview. Some will be very friendly and make a big effort to put you at ease from the start. Some may ask about any extracurriculars you mentioned you enjoy on your personal statement, while others may go straight to the more challenging stuff. The most important thing is to try and keep a level head and remember that you have already done so well to be there. Just listen to and focus on the questions you’re being asked and you’ll do wonderfully!

What do the interviewers look for?

As well as looking for a dedication to and aptitude for your chosen subject, the tutors will be looking for a desire to learn more about your subject. Just like with the personal statement, they don’t want you to pretend to know it all already – otherwise what would be the point of going to the university? So, if you don’t know an answer to a question, don’t be daunted. Interviewers want to see how you think more than what you know. Show them how you would go about trying to find the answer, or steer the conversation towards a related topic you’re able to extrapolate from. Try to avoid guessing.

Many tutors will present you with a piece of text, an image or an object that you will probably never have seen before and ask you questions based on that. Here, they are testing your ability to use what you already know and apply it to a new context. This uses skills like intellectual agility, open-mindedness, and also being able to make links between different topic areas.

Above all, the tutors want to see that you have a deep intellectual curiosity and interest in the subject you’re applying to, so the best thing you can do is just try to stay positive and enthusiastic throughout!

Having mock interviews is a good idea if you haven’t been put on the spot academically in the same way before, or if you think you will struggle a lot with nerves in the real thing. You could ask a teacher at school (ideally one you don’t know very well), or an older student who is studying your subject to give you a mock interview. However, even if you can’t get anyone to give you a mock interview, just talking about your subject and reading a lot around it in the weeks before your interview will be really helpful too!

Need help with your UCAS application?

If you’re an Oxford Scholastica alumnus , our team would love to answer any more specific questions that you have about any part of the UK university application process! Get in touch via the box below. We’ve also included a list of helpful links so do make sure to take a look at any of those which sound useful to you.

Wishing you all the very best of luck in your applications!

Ready to get a head start on your future?

Next steps for applying to university through UCAS

Check out these useful resources to help you on your way to completing your university applications through UCAS.

  • UCAS’ key dates timeline
  • UCAS’ Oxbridge application tips
  • Taking the International Baccalaureate? Read this article on applying to UK Universities while studying for IB
  • Not from the UK? Have a look at UCAS’ application tips for international students
  • Bloggers’ video on ‘How we got into Oxford and Cambridge: top tips’
  • Which? University article on ‘How to write a personal statement that works for multiple different courses’

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How Long Should Your UCAS Personal Statement Be?

"The ideal length for a UCAS personal statement is dependent on the quality and relevance of the information included, rather than the number of words." UCAS recommends a maximum of 4,000 characters or 47 lines of text.

Writing a UCAS personal statement can be a daunting task. It’s your chance to showcase your skills, experiences and motivations to universities, and convince them that you’re the right fit for their course. However, when it comes to the length of your personal statement, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. In this blog post, we’ll explore some tips and guidelines to help you determine the ideal length for your UCAS personal statement.

First and foremost, it’s important to note that there’s no official word count limit for a UCAS personal statement. However, UCAS recommends a maximum of 4,000 characters or 47 lines of text (including spaces and blank lines) for your personal statement. While this may seem like a lot of space, it’s important to use it wisely.

When it comes to length, quality should always be prioritized over quantity. Admissions tutors are looking for evidence of your passion and potential for their course, not a long list of achievements or experiences. In fact, including irrelevant or unnecessary information can actually be detrimental to your application.

It’s important to structure your personal statement in a way that flows logically and is easy to follow. A good rule of thumb is to divide your statement into three parts: an introduction, a main body, and a conclusion. In your introduction, you should grab the reader’s attention and explain why you’re interested in the course. In the main body, you should expand on your experiences, skills and achievements, and explain how they relate to the course. Finally, in your conclusion, you should summarize your main points and explain why you’d be a great fit for the course.

When it comes to the length of each section, the introduction and conclusion should be relatively brief, while the main body should make up the bulk of your statement. As a general guideline, aim to spend around 70% of your personal statement discussing your skills, experiences and achievements, and around 15% on your introduction and conclusion respectively.

It’s also important to tailor your personal statement to each individual course you’re applying to. Make sure to do your research and understand what each course is looking for in a candidate. This will help you to emphasize the most relevant skills and experiences in your personal statement.

In summary, the ideal length for a UCAS personal statement is dependent on the quality and relevance of the information included, rather than the number of words. Aim to use the space available wisely, and focus on showcasing your passion and potential for the course. By following these guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to crafting a compelling and effective UCAS personal statement.

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The University Guys

UCAS Personal Statement and Examples

What is the ucas personal statement .

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) Personal Statement is the main essay for your application to colleges and universities in Great Britain. UCAS gives a nice explanation here , but in short, this is your chance to stand out against the crowd and show your knowledge and enthusiasm for your chosen area of study.

You’ve got 4,000 characters and 47 line limit to show colleges what (ideally) gets you out of bed in the morning. How long is that, really? Use your “word count” tool in Google or Word docs to check as you go along, but 4,000 characters is roughly 500 words or one page.


Think they’re the same? Think again. Here are some key differences between the UCAS and the US Personal Statement:

When you apply to UK schools, you’re applying to one particular degree program, which you’ll study for all, or almost all, your time at university. Your UCAS personal statement should focus less on cool/fun/quirky aspects of yourself and more on how you’ve prepared for your particular area of study.

The UCAS Personal Statement will be read by someone looking for proof that you are academically capable of studying that subject for your entire degree. In some cases, it might be an actual professor reading your essay.

You’ll only write one personal statement, which will be sent to all the universities you’re applying to, and it’s unlikely you’ll be sending any additional (supplemental) essays. Your essay needs to explain why you enjoy and are good at this subject, without reference to any particular university or type of university.

Any extracurricular activities that are NOT connected to the subject you’re applying for are mostly irrelevant, unless they illustrate relevant points about your study skills or attributes: for example, having a job outside of school shows time-management and people skills, or leading a sports team shows leadership and responsibility.

Your personal statement will mostly focus on what you’ve done at high school, in class, and often in preparation for external exams. 80-90% of the content will be academic in nature.


This may be obvious, but the first step to a great UCAS Personal Statement is to choose the subject you’re applying for. This choice will be consistent across the (up to) five course choices you have. Often, when students struggle with a UCAS personal statement, it’s because they are trying to make the statement work for a couple of different subjects. With a clear focus on one subject, the essay can do the job it is supposed to do. Keep in mind you’re limited to 47 lines or 4000 characters, so this has to be concise and make efficient use of words.

To work out what information to include, my favourite brainstorming activity is the ‘Courtroom Exercise’. Here’s how it works:

The Courtroom Exercise

Imagine you’re prosecuting a case in court, and the case is that should be admitted to a university to study the subject you’ve chosen. You have to present your case to the judge, in a 47 line or 4,000 character statement. The judge won’t accept platitudes or points made without evidence–she needs to see evidence. What examples will you present in your statement?

In a good statement, you’ll make an opening and a closing point.

To open your argument, can you sum up in one sentence why you wish to study this subject? Can you remember where your interest in that subject began? Do you have a story to tell that will engage the reader about your interest in that subject?

Next, you’ll present a number of pieces of evidence, laying out in detail why you’re a good match for this subject. What activities have you done that prove you can study this subject at university?

Most likely, you’ll start with a class you took, a project you worked on, an internship you had, or a relevant extra-curricular activity you enjoyed. For each activity you discuss, structure a paragraph on each using the ABC approach:

A: What is the A ctivity?

B: How did it B enefit you as a potential student for this degree course?

C: Link the benefit to the skills needed to be successful on this C ourse.

With three or four paragraphs like these, each of about 9 or 10 lines, and you should have the bulk of your statement done. Typically two of these will be about classes you have taken at school, and two about relevant activities outside of school.

In the last paragraph, you need to demonstrate wider skills that you have, which you can probably do from your extracurricular activities. How could you demonstrate your time management, your ability to collaborate, or your creativity? Briefly list a few extracurricular activities you’ve taken part in and identify the relevant skills that are transferable to university study.

Finally, close your argument in a way that doesn’t repeat what you’ve already shared. Case closed!


What if I’m not sure what I want to study? Should I still apply? 

There are a number of broader programs available at UK universities (sometimes called Liberal Arts or Flexible Combined Honours). However,  you should still showcase two or three academic areas of interest. If you are looking for a broader range of subjects to study and can’t choose one, then the UK might not be the best fit for you.

What if I haven’t done much, academically or via extracurriculars, to demonstrate that I’ll be able to complete the coursework for my degree? Should I still apply?

You certainly can, but you will need to be realistic about the strength of your application as a result. The most selective universities will want to see this evidence, but less selective ones will be more willing to account for your potential to grow in addition to what you’ve already achieved. You could also consider applying for a Foundation course or a ‘Year 0’ course, where you have an additional year pre-university to enable you to develop this range of evidence.

If I’m not accepted into a particular major, can I be accepted into a different major?

It’s important to understand that we are not talking about a ‘major,’ as what you are accepted into is one entire course of study. Some universities may make you an ‘alternative offer’ for a similar but perhaps less popular course (for example you applied for Business but instead they offer you a place for Business with a Language).At others, you can indicate post-application that you would like to be considered for related courses. However, it’s not going to be possible to switch between two completely unrelated academic areas.

What other information is included in my application? Will they see my extracurricular activities, for example? Is there an Additional Information section where I can include more context on what I’ve done in high school?

The application is very brief: the personal statement is where you put all the information. UCAS does not include an activities section or space for any other writing. The 47 lines are all you have. Some universities might accept information if there are particularly important extenuating circumstances that must be conveyed. This can be done via email, but typically, they don’t want to see more than the UCAS statement and your school’s reference provides.

Now, let’s take a look at some of my favourite UCAS personal statement examples with some analysis of why I think these are great.


When I was ten, I saw a documentary on Chemistry that really fascinated me. Narrated by British theoretical physicist Jim Al-Khalili, it explained how the first elements were discovered and how Chemistry was born out of alchemy. I became fascinated with Chemistry and have remained so ever since. I love the subject because it has very theoretical components, for example quantum Chemistry, while also having huge practical applications.

In this introduction, the student shows where his interest in Chemistry comes from. Adding some additional academic detail (in this case, the name of the scientist) helps guide the reader into more specific information on why this subject is interesting to him.

This aspect of Chemistry is important to me. I have, for example, used machine learning to differentiate between approved and experimental drugs. On the first run, using drug molecules from the website Drug Bank, I calculated some molecular descriptors for them. I started with a simple logistic regression model and was shocked to find that it had apparently classified almost all molecules correctly. This result couldn’t be right; it took me nearly a month to find the error. I accidentally normalized the molecular-descriptor data individually, rather than as a combined data set, thereby encoding the label into the input. On a second run, after fixing the error, I used real machine learning libraries. Here I actually got some performance with my new algorithm, which I could compare to professional researchers’ papers. The highest accuracy I ever saw on my screen was 86 percent. The researchers’ result was 85 percent; thanks to more modern machine learning methods, I narrowly beat them. I have also studied Mathematics and Physics at A Level and have been able to dive into areas beyond the A Level syllabus such as complex integration in math and the Schrödinger equation in Physics.

This paragraph outlines a clear case for this student’s aptitude for and interest in Chemistry. He explains in detail how he has explored his intended major, using academic terminology to show us he has studied the subject deeply. Knowing an admissions reader is looking for evidence that this student has a talent for Chemistry, this paragraph gives them the evidence they need to admit him.

Additionally, I have worked on an undergraduate computer science course on MIT Opencourseware, but found that the content followed fixed rules and did not require creativity. At the time I was interested in neural networks and listened to lectures by professor Geoffrey Hinton who serendipitously mentioned his students testing his techniques on ‘Kaggle Competitions’. I quickly got interested and decided to compete on this platform. Kaggle allowed me to measure my machine learning skills against competitors with PhDs or who are professional data scientists at large corporations. With this kind of competition naturally I did not win any prizes, but I worked with the same tools and saw how others gradually perfected a script, something which has helped my A Level studies immensely.

Introducing a new topic, the student again uses academic terminology to show how he has gone beyond the confines of his curriculum to explore the subject at a higher level. In this paragraph, he demonstrates that he has studied university-level Chemistry. Again, this helps the reader to see that this student is capable of studying for a Chemistry degree.

I have been keen to engage in activities beyond the classroom. For example, I have taken part in a range of extracurricular activities, including ballroom dancing, public speaking, trumpet, spoken Mandarin, and tennis, achieving a LAMDA distinction at level four for my public speaking. I have also participated in Kaggle competitions, as I’m extremely interested in machine learning. For example, I have used neural networks to determine the causes of Amazon deforestation from satellite pictures in the ‘Planet: Understanding the Amazon from Space’ competition. I believe that having worked on projects spanning several weeks or even months has allowed me to build a stamina that will be extremely useful when studying at university.

This penultimate paragraph introduces the student’s extracurricular interests, summing them up in a sentence. Those activities that can demonstrate skills that are transferable to the study of Chemistry are given a bit more explanation. The student’s descriptions in each paragraph are very detailed, with lots of specific information about awards, classes and teachers.

What I hope to gain from an undergraduate (and perhaps post-graduate) education in Chemistry is to deepen my knowledge of the subject and potentially have the ability to successfully launch a startup after university. I’m particularly interested in areas such as computational Chemistry and cheminformatics. However, I’m  open to studying other areas in Chemistry, as it is a subject that truly captivates me.

In the conclusion, the student touches on his future plans, using specific terminology that shows his knowledge of Chemistry. This also reveals that he aims to have a career in this field, which many admission readers find appealing as it demonstrates a level of commitment to the subject.


This next statement has to accomplish a number of tasks, given the subject the student is applying for. As a vocational degree, applicants for veterinary medicine are committing to a career as well as a subject to study, so they need to give information demonstrating they understand the reality of a career in this area. It also needs to explain their motivation for this interest, which quite often is demonstrated through work experience (something which is often a condition for entry into these programs). Finally, as this is a highly academic subject to study at university, the author should include a good level of academic terminology and experiences in the statement.

There is nothing more fascinating to me than experiencing animals in the wild, in their natural habitat where their behaviour is about the survival of their species. I was lucky enough to experience this when in Tanzania. While observing animals hunting, I became intrigued by their musculature and inspired to work alongside these animals to help them when they are sick, as a veterinarian.

In an efficient way, the applicant explains her motivation to become a vet, then squeezes in a bit of information about her experience with animals.

As a horse rider and owner for nearly ten years, I have sought opportunities to learn as much as I can about caring for the animal. I helped around the yard with grooming and exercise, bringing horses in and out from the fields, putting on rugs, and mucking out. I have also been working at a small animal vet clinic every other Saturday for over 2.5 years. There, my responsibilities include restocking and sterilising equipment, watching procedures, and helping in consultations. Exposure to different cases has expanded my knowledge of various aspects, such as assisting with an emergency caesarean procedure. Due to a lack of staff on a Saturday, I was put in charge of anaesthesia while the puppies were being revived. I took on this task without hesitation and recorded heart and respiration rate, capillary refill time, and gum colour every five minutes. Other placements following an equine vet, working on a polo farm, and volunteering at a swan sanctuary have also broadened my experience with different species and how each possesses various requirements. During pre-vet summer courses, I was also introduced to farm animals such as pigs, cows, sheep and chicken. I spend some time milking dairy cows and removing clustered dust from chicken feet, as well as tipping sheep in order to inspect their teats.

In this paragraph, she synthesizes personal experience with an academic understanding of vet medicine. She demonstrates that she is committed to animals (helping in the yard, regular Saturday work, assistance with procedures), that she has gained a variety of experiences, and that she understands some of the conditions (caesareans, clustered dust) that vets have to deal with. Note that she also briefly discusses ‘pre-vet summer courses,’ adding credibility to her level of experience.

I have focused on HL Biology and HL Chemistry for my IB Diploma. I was particularly excited to study cell biology and body systems because these subjects allowed me to comprehend how the body works and are applicable to animal body functions. Topics like DNA replication as well as cell transcription and translation have helped me form a fundamental understanding of genetics and protein synthesis, both important topics when looking into hereditary diseases in animals. Learning about chemical reactions made me consider the importance of pharmaceutical aspects of veterinary medicine, such as the production of effective medicine. Vaccines are essential and by learning about the chemical reactions, I f developed a more nuanced understanding about how they are made and work.

Now, the statement turns to academic matters, linking her IB subjects to the university studies she aspires to. She draws out one particular example that makes a clear link between school and university-level study.

I have also written my Extended Essay discussing the consequences of breeding laws in the UK and South Australia in relation to the development of genetic abnormalities in pugs and German shepherds. This topic is important, as the growing brachycephalic aesthetic of pugs is causing them to suffer throughout their lifetime. Pedigree dogs, such as the German shepherd, have a very small gene pool and as a result, hereditary diseases can develop. This becomes an ethical discussion, because allowing German shepherds to suffer is not moral; however, as a breed, they aid the police and thus serve society.

The IB Extended Essay (like an A Level EPQ or a Capstone project) is a great topic to discuss in a personal statement, as these activities are designed to allow students to explore subjects in greater detail.

The first sentence here is a great example of what getting more specific looks like because it engages more directly with what the student is actually writing about in this particular paragraph then it extrapolates a more general point of advice from those specificities.

By choosing to write her Extended Essay on a topic of relevance to veterinary medicine, she has given herself the opportunity to show the varied aspects of veterinary science. This paragraph proves to the reader that this student is capable and motivated to study veterinary medicine.

I have learned that being a veterinarian requires diagnostic skills as well as excellent communication and leadership skills. I understand the importance and ethics of euthanasia decisions, and the sensitivity around discussing it withanimal owners. I have developed teamwork and leadership skills when playing varsity football and basketball for four years. My communication skills have expanded through being a Model U.N. and Global Issues Network member.

This small paragraph on her extracurricular activities links them clearly to her intended area of study, both in terms of related content and necessary skills. From this, the reader gains the impression that this student has a wide range of relevant interests.

When I attend university, I not only hope to become a veterinarian, but also a leader in the field. I would like to research different aspects of veterinary medicine, such as diseases. As a vet, I would like to help work towards the One Health goal; allowing the maintenance of public health security. This affects vets because we are the ones working closely with animals every day.

In the conclusion, she ties things together and looks ahead to her career. By introducing the concept of ‘One Health’, she also shows once again her knowledge of the field she is applying to.


Standing inside a wind tunnel is not something every 17 year old aspires to, but for me the opportunity to do so last year confirmed my long-held desire to become a mechanical engineer.

This introduction is efficient and provides a clear direction for the personal statement. Though it might seem that it should be more detailed, for a student applying to study a course that requires limited extended writing, being this matter-of-fact works fine.

I enjoy the challenge of using the laws of Physics, complemented with Mathematical backing, in the context of everyday life, which helps me to visualise and understand where different topics can be applied. I explored the field of aeronautics, specifically in my work experience with Emirates Aviation University. I explored how engineers apply basic concepts of air resistance and drag when I had the opportunity to experiment with the wind tunnel, which allowed me to identify how different wing shapes behave at diverse air pressures. My interest with robotics has led me to take up a year-long internship with MakersBuilders, where I had the chance to explore physics and maths on a different plane. During my internship I educated young teenagers on a more fundamental stage of building and programming, in particular when we worked on building a small robot and programmed the infra-red sensor in order to create self-sufficient movement. This exposure allowed me to improve my communication and interpersonal skills.

In this paragraph, the student adds evidence to the initial assertion that he enjoys seeing how Physics relates to everyday life. The descriptions of the work experiences he has had not only show his commitment to the subject, but also enable him to bring in some academic content to demonstrate his understanding of engineering and aeronautics.

I’m interested in the mechanics side of Maths such as circular motion and projectiles; even Pure Maths has allowed me to easily see patterns when working and solving problems in Computer Science. During my A Level Maths and Further Maths, I have particularly enjoyed working with partial fractions as they show how reverse methodology can be used to solve addition of fractions, which ranges from simple addition to complex kinematics. ­­­Pure Maths has also enabled me to better understand how 3D modelling works with ­­­the use of volumes of revolution, especially when I learned how to apply the calculations to basic objects like calculating the amount of water in a bottle or the volume of a pencil.

This paragraph brings in the academic content at school, which is important when applying for a subject such as engineering. This is because the admissions reader needs to be reassured that the student has covered the necessary foundational content to be able to cope with Year 1 of this course.

In my Drone Club I have been able to apply several methods of wing formation, such as the number of blades used during a UAS flight. Drones can be used for purposes such as in Air-sea Rescue or transporting food to low income countries. I have taken on the responsibility of leading and sharing my skills with others, particularly in the Drone Club where I gained the certification to fly drones. In coding club, I participated in the global Google Code competition related to complex, real-life coding, such as a program that allows phones to send commands to another device using Bluetooth. My Cambridge summer course on math and engineering included the origins of a few of the most important equations and ideologies from many mathematicians such as, E=mc2 from Einstein, I also got a head start at understanding matrices and their importance in kinematics. Last summer, I completed a course at UT Dallas on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. The course was intuitive and allowed me to understand a different perspective of how robots and AI will replace humans to do complex and labour-intensive activities, customer service, driverless cars and technical support.

In this section, he demonstrates his commitment to the subject through a detailed list of extracurricular activities, all linked to engineering and aeronautics. The detail he gives about each one links to the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in these subjects at university.

I have represented Model UN as a delegate and enjoyed working with others to solve problems. For my Duke of Edinburgh Award, I partook in several activities such as trekking and playing the drums. I enjoy music and I have reached grade 3 for percussion. I have also participated in a range of charitable activities, which include assisting during Ramadan and undertaking fun-runs to raise money for cancer research.

As with the introduction, this is an efficient use of language, sharing a range of activities, each of which has taught him useful skills. The conclusion that follows is similarly efficient and to the point.

I believe that engineering is a discipline that will offer me a chance to make a tangible difference in the world, and I am certain I will enjoy the process of integrating technology with our everyday life.


Applying for a joint honours course presents a particular challenge of making the case that you are interested in the first subject, the second subject and (often overlooked) the combination of the two. In this example, the applicant uses her own academic studies and personal experiences to make her case.

I usually spend my summer breaks in Uttar Pradesh, India working at my grandparents’ NGO which produces bio-fertilizers for the poor. While working, I speak to many of the villagers in the nearby villages like Barokhar and Dharampur and have found out about the various initiatives the Government has taken to improve the production of wheat and rice. I understand the hardships they undergo and speaking to them has shown me the importance of Social Policy and the role the government plays in improving the lives of people and inspired me to pursue my university studies in this field.

In the introduction, this applicant explains where her interlinking experiences come from: she has personal experiences demonstrating how economics impacts the most vulnerable in society. In doing so, she shows the admissions reader that she has a deep interest in this combination and can move on to discussing each subject in turn.

My interest in these areas has been driven by the experiences I had at high school and beyond. I started attending Model United Nations in the 9th grade and have been to many conferences, discussing problems like the water crisis and a lack of sustainability in underdeveloped countries. These topics overlapped with my study of economics and exciting classroom discussions on what was going on how different events would impact economies, for instance how fluctuations in oil prices will affect standards of living. Studying Economics has expanded  my knowledge about how countries are run and how macroeconomic policies shape the everyday experiences of individuals.

Unusually, this applicant does not go straight into her classroom experiences but instead uses one of her extracurricular activities (Model United Nations) in her first paragraph. For students applying for subjects that are not often taught at school (Social Policy in this example), this can be a good idea, as it allows you to bring in material that you have self-studied to explain why you are capable of studying each subject at university. Here, she uses MUN discussions to show she understands some topics in social policy that are impacting the world.

By taking up history as a subject in Grade 11 and 12, I have seen the challenges that people went through in the past, and how different ideas gained momentum in different parts of the world such as the growth of communism in Russia and China and how it spread to different countries during the Cold War. I learned about the different roles that governments played in times of hardships such as that which President Roosevelt’s New Deal played during the Great Depression. From this, I gained analytical skills by scrutinizing how different social, political and economic forces have moulded societies in the past.

In this paragraph, she then takes the nearest possible class to her interest in Social Policy and draws elements from it to add to her case for Social Policy. Taking some elements from her history classes enables her to add some content to this statement, before linking to the topic of economics.

To explore my interest in Economics, I interned at Emirates National Bank of Dubai, one of the largest banks in the Middle East, and also at IBM. At Emirates NBD, I undertook a research project on Cash Management methods in competitor banks and had to present my findings at the end of the internship. I also interned at IBM where I had to analyze market trends and fluctuations in market opportunity in countries in the Middle East and Africa. I had to find relations between GDP and market opportunity and had to analyze how market opportunity could change over the next 5 years with changing geo-political situations. I have also attended Harvard University’s Youth Lead the Change leadership conference where I was taught how to apply leadership skills to solve global problems such as gender inequality and poverty.

Economics is explored again through extracurriculars, with some detail added to the general statement about the activities undertaken during this work experience. Though the level of academics here is a little thin because this student’s high school did not offer any classes in Economics, she does as well as she can to bring in academic content.

I have partaken in many extra-curricular activities which have helped me develop the skills necessary for this course. Being a part of the Press Club at school gave me an opportunity to hone my talent for the written word and gave me a platform to talk about global issues. Volunteering at a local library taught me how to be organized. I developed research and analytical skills by undertaking various research projects at school such as the sector-wide contribution of the Indian economy to the GDP in the previous year. As a member of the Business and Economic Awareness Council at school, I was instrumental in organizing many economics-based events such as the Business Fair and Innovation Mela. Being part of various Face to Faith conferences has provided me with an opportunity to interact with students in Sierra Leone, India and Korea and understand global perspectives on issues like malaria and human trafficking.

The extracurricular activities are revisited here, with the first half of this paragraph showing how the applicant has some transferable skills from her activities that will help her with this course. She then revisits her interest in the course studies, before following up with a closing section that touches on her career goals:

The prospect of pursuing these two subjects is one that I eagerly anticipate and I look forward to meeting the challenge of university. In the future, I wish to become an economist and work at a think tank where I will be able to apply what I have learnt in studying such an exciting course.


This applicant is also a joint-honours applicant, and again is applying for a subject that she has not been able to study at school. Thus, bringing in her own interest and knowledge of both subjects is crucial here.

At the age of four, I remember an argument with my mother: I wanted to wear a pink ballerina dress with heels, made for eight-year-olds, which despite my difficulty in staying upright I was determined to wear. My mother persistently engaged in debate with me about why it was not ok to wear this ensemble in winter. After two hours of patiently explaining to me and listening to my responses she convinced me that I should wear something different, the first time I remember listening to reason. It has always been a natural instinct for me to discuss everything, since in the course of my upbringing I was never given a simple yes or no answer. Thus, when I began studying philosophy, I understood fully my passion for argument and dialogue.

This is an unusual approach to start a UCAS Personal Statement, but it does serve to show how this student approaches the world and why this combination of subjects might work for her. Though it could perhaps be drawn out more explicitly, here she is combining an artistic issue (her clothes) with a philosophical concern (her debate with her mother) to lead the reader into the case she is making for admission into this program.

This was first sparked academically when I was introduced to religious ethics; having a fairly Christian background my view on religion was immature. I never thought too much of the subject as I believed it was just something my grandparents did. However, when opened up to the arguments about god and religion, I was inclined to argue every side. After research and discussion, I was able to form my own view on religion without having to pick a distinctive side to which theory I would support. This is what makes me want to study philosophy: it gives an individual personal revelation towards matters into which they may not have given too much thought to.

There is some good content here that discusses the applicant’s interest in philosophy and her own motivation for this subject, though there is a lack of academic content here.

Alongside this, taking IB Visual Arts HL has opened my artistic views through pushing me out of my comfort zone. Art being a very subjective course, I was forced to choose an opinion which only mattered to me, it had no analytical nor empirical rights or wrongs, it was just my taste in art. From studying the two subjects alongside each other, I found great value, acquiring a certain form of freedom in each individual with their dual focus on personalized opinion and taste in many areas, leading to self- improvement.

In this section, she uses her IB Visual Arts class to explore how her interest in philosophy bleeds into her appreciation of art. Again, we are still awaiting the academic content, but the reader will by now be convinced that the student has a deep level of motivation for this subject. When we consider how rare this combination is, with very few courses for this combination available, the approach to take slightly longer to establish can work.

For this reason, I find the work of Henry Moore fascinating. I am intrigued by his pieces, especially the essence of the ‘Reclining Nude’ model, as the empty holes inflicted on the abstract human body encouraged my enthusiasm for artistic interpretation. This has led me to contemplate the subtlety, complexity and merit of the role of an artist. Developing an art piece is just as complex and refined as writing a novel or developing a theory in Philosophy. For this reason, History of Art conjoins with Philosophy, as the philosophical approach towards an art piece is what adds context to the history as well as purpose behind it.

Finally, we’re given the academic content. Cleverly, the content links both the History of Art and Philosophy together through a discussion of the work of Henry Moore. Finding examples that conjoin the subjects that make up a joint-honours application is a great idea and works well here.

Studying Philosophy has allowed me to apply real life abstractions to my art, as well as to glean a deeper critical analysis of art in its various mediums. My IB Extended Essay examined the 1900s Fauve movement, which made a huge breakthrough in France and Hungary simultaneously. This was the first artistic movement which was truly daring and outgoing with its vivid colours and bold brush strokes. My interest expanded to learning about the Hungarian artists in this movement led by Henri Matisse. Bela Czobel was one of the few who travelled to France to study but returned to Hungary, more specifically Nagybanya, to bestow what he had learned.

Again in this paragraph, the author connects the subjects. Students who are able to undertake a research project in their high school studies (such as the IB Extended Essay here, or the A Level Extended Project or AP Capstone) can describe these in their UCAS personal statements, as this level of research in an area of academic study can enliven and add depth to the writing, as is the case here.

As an international student with a multicultural background, I believe I can adapt to challenging or unfamiliar surroundings with ease. I spent two summers working at a nursery in Hungary as a junior Assistant Teacher, where I demonstrated leadership and teamwork skills that I had previously developed through commitment to sports teams. I was a competitive swimmer for six years and have represented my school internationally as well as holding the school record for 100m backstroke. I was elected Deputy Head of my House, which further reflects my dedication, leadership, teamwork and diligence.

As in the previous examples, this statement gives a good overview of the applicant’s extracurricular activities, with a mention of skills that will be beneficial to her studies at university. She then concludes with a brief final sentence:

I hope to carry these skills with me into my university studies, allowing me to enrich my knowledge and combine my artistic and philosophical interests.


A good range of UK universities now offer courses called ‘Liberal Arts’ (or similar titles such as ‘Flexible Combined Honours’), which allows students to study a broader topic of study–perhaps combining three or four subjects–than is typically available in the UK system.

This presents a challenge in the personal statement, as within the 47 line / 4000 character limit, the applicant will have to show academic interest and knowledge in a range of subjects while also making the case to be admitted for this combined programme of study.

As a child I disliked reading; however, when I was 8, there was one particular book that caught my attention: The Little Prince. From that moment onwards, my love for literature was ignited and I had entered into a whirlwind of fictional worlds. While studying and analysing the classics from The Great Gatsby to Candide, this has exposed me to a variety of novels. My French bilingualism allowed me to study, in great depth, different texts in their original language. This sparked a new passion of mine for poetry, and introduced me to the works of Arthur Rimbaud, who has greatly influenced me. Through both reading and analysing poetry I was able to decipher its meaning. Liberal Arts gives me the opportunity to continue to study a range of texts and authors from different periods in history, as well as related aspects of culture, economy and society.

Here we have a slightly longer than usual opening paragraph, but given the nature of the course being applied for this works well. A personal story segueing from literature to modern languages to history and cultural studies shows that this student has a broad range of interests within the humanities and thus is well-suited to this course of study.

Liberal Arts is a clear choice for me. Coming from the IB International Baccalaureate Diploma programme I have studied a wide range of subjects which has provided me with a breadth of knowledge. In Theatre, I have adapted classics such as Othello by Shakespeare, and playing the role of moreover acting as Desdemona forced me to compartmentalise her complex emotions behind the early-modern English text. Studying History has taught me a number of skills; understanding the reasons behind changes in society, evaluating sources, and considering conflicting interpretations. From my interdisciplinary education I am able to critically analyse the world around me. Through studying Theory of Knowledge, I have developed high quality analysis using key questions and a critical mindset by questioning how and why we think and why. By going beyond the common use of reason, I have been able to deepen greaten my understanding and apply my ways of knowing in all subjects; for example in science I was creative in constructing my experiment (imagination) and used qualitative data (sense perception).

Students who are taking the IB Diploma, with its strictures to retain a broad curriculum, are well-suited to the UK’s Liberal Arts courses, as they have had practice seeing the links between subjects. In this paragraph, the applicant shows how she has done this, linking content from one subject to skills developed in another, and touching on the experience of IB Theory of Knowledge (an interdisciplinary class compulsory for all IB Diploma students) to show how she is able to see how different academic subjects overlap and share some common themes.

Languages have always played an important role in my life. I was immersed into a French nursery even though my parents are not French speakers. I have always cherished the ability to speak another language; it is something I have never taken for granted, and it is how I individualise myself. Being bilingual has allowed me to engage with a different culture. As a result, I am more open minded and have a global outlook. This has fuelled my desire to travel, learn new languages and experience new cultures. This course would provide me with the opportunity to fulfil these desires. Having written my Extended Essay in French on the use of manipulative language used by a particular character from the French classic Dangerous Liaisons I have had to apply my skills of close contextual reading and analysing to sculpt this essay. These skills are perfectly applicable to the critical thinking that is demanded for the course.

Within the humanities, this student has a particular background that makes her stand out, having become fluent in French while having no French background nor living in a French-speaking country. This is worth her exploring to develop her motivation for a broad course of study at university, which she does well here.

Studying the Liberal Arts will allow me to further my knowledge in a variety of fields whilst living independently and meeting people from different backgrounds. The flexible skills I would achieve from obtaining a liberal arts degree I believe would make me more desirable for future employment. I would thrive in this environment due to my self discipline and determination. During my school holidays I have undertaken working in a hotel as a chambermaid and this has made me appreciate the service sector in society and has taught me to work cohesively with others in an unfamiliar environment. I also took part in a creative writing course held at Keats House, where I learnt about romanticism. My commitment to extracurricular activities such as varsity football and basketball has shown me the importance of sportsmanship and camaraderie, while GIN (Global Issue Networking) has informed me of the values of community and the importance for charitable organisations.

The extracurricular paragraph here draws out a range of skills the student will apply to this course. Knowing that taking a broader range of subjects at a UK university requires excellent organizational skills, the student takes time to explain how she can meet these, perhaps going into slightly more detail than would be necessary for a single-honours application to spell out that she is capable of managing her time well. She then broadens this at the end by touching on some activities that have relevance for her studies.

My academic and personal preferences have always led me to the Liberal Arts; I feel as though the International Baccalaureate, my passion and self-discipline have prepared me for higher education. From the academics, extracurriculars and social aspects, I intend to embrace the entire experience of university.

In the final section, the candidate restates how she matches this course.

Overall, you can see how the key factor in a UCAS statement is the academic evidence, with students linking their engagement with a subject to the course of study that they are applying to. Using the courtroom exercise analogy, the judge here should be completely convinced that the case has been made, and will, therefore issue an offer of admittance to that university.

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Personal statement

Personal statement

Your personal statement is a really important part of your UCAS application. 

It helps our admissions tutors get an insight into who you are and whether you'd be a good fit for the course you're applying to. 

You can only submit one personal statement for the five courses and universities you apply for. 

You're also limited to 4,000 characters (including spaces) or 47 lines, whichever comes first, so it's useful to make a plan of what you want to say before you start.

Tell us why you want to study the course you're applying for

We're looking for people with a genuine enthusiasm for the subject they're applying for – and that they understand what it involves – so it's useful to   highlight things that inspired your interest, including:

  • books you have read
  • work or voluntary experience you have undertaken
  • lectures or courses you have attended
  • any relevant extracurricular activities you’ve taken part in

This a really important part of your personal statement so make sure your passion really shines through.

This means avoid saying you want to study something just because it is interesting.

Instead, explain what you find interesting about it, for example, a particular topic you know you’ll be able to carry on studying at university or something related to it.

Don’t be afraid to use language which shows your enthusiasm for the course or life in general. Be positive and focus on things you thoroughly enjoy.

Skills and experiences

At Imperial, you'll have the freedom to take control of your learning, with options within many courses to customise what you learn and the experiences you have. 

As a research-led university, we'll encourage you to get hands-on in the process of discovery, innovation and learning through and from your own mistakes.

You will also learn to communicate your research findings and have the opportunity to work in teams, as well as on your own.

Think about the sort of skills that you have gained that are relevant to your chosen subject – you'll be able to find more detail about the style of learning for your chosen subject on our course pages .

Don't forget to provide evidence for the skills and knowledge you have. And remember to choose quality over quantity – we'd rather read about a smaller number of skills with evidence than a long list which doesn't explain how you've acquired each skill/quality and how it will help you be successful in your chosen course of study.  

Work experience

Work experience isn’t essential for most Imperial courses, but if it is a course requirement, make sure you get some and then tell us how it's helped to confirm your choice of subject.

You may also wish to use your personal statement to outline your career aspirations and motivation for the future.

Get the right balance

Imperial is not all work and no play. Our students have a huge range of interests – evidenced in our 350+ student-run clubs and societies.

Tell us about your passions and your hobbies, particularly how they have helped you develop skills and qualities that make you a strong candidate. Made you a better leader, for example. Made you more resilient. Or improved your teamwork and communication skills. 

Also tell us about something you do simply for the fun of it. You don't need to go into too much detail as you don’t have the space, but it helps us to get to know you and may be something we ask you more about if you're invited for an interview at a later stage.

Make it personal

Your personal statement should be about you so don't focus on what your friends are writing. Be clear about your own motivations and what you can bring to Imperial. 

Use it to create a unique picture for our admissions tutors of who you are and why you'll be successful in your chosen course of study. 

Also avoid the temptation to copy anyone else's. UCAS runs all personal statements through its similarity detection system, Copycatch, to compare them with previous statements.

11 episodes

I’ve worked in university student recruitment and admissions for well over 25 years. I’ve read countless Personal Statements, delivered hundreds of sessions on how to write them, and I have even trained teachers and advisers on how to help their students. This podcast is for you if you are applying through UCAS, and are writing your UCAS Personal Statement In just one hour, over 10 super-short episodes, I’ll give you information and insight into the admissions process, and a very practical guide on writing your statement. Just listen, take notes, and start writing. You’ll also find the whole series available as an online course, or as a written guide that you can download for free at:

How to write your UCAS Personal Statement - a Better Uni Choices podcast Jonathan Tinnacher

  • 28 MAR 2024

Part 10: Top Personal Statement tips

Looking for some final tips before you start your first draft? Here are some thoughts that I have picked up from a whole bunch of admissions selectors and other experts over the years.

Part 9: Getting help and support

Want to know how to get the best possible feedback on your statement? There are lots of people around who can help you with your Personal Statement. This part will help you get the very best input, by planning how and when you get feedback from different people.

Part 8: Using ChatGPT

Thinking of using ChatGPT? If you ask Chat GPT to write your statement for you, it will simply make stuff up; a whole statement full of lies. However, engage with it as if it is your counsellor, and it can be extremely helpful. In this part I suggest a couple of really useful prompts, and give some further helpful tips on how to use AI usefully and ethically.

Part 7: Writing a Personal Statement for two subjects

Are you applying for two different subjects? How to write a statement that covers two different courses could be the most asked question in university admissions history, and the answer is not straightforward. There are a number of possible scenarios, and in this part I suggest how to approach these.

Part 6: The power of reflective writing

How do you make sure everything you write really matters to the admissions tutor? You now have lots of content, and a sensible structure for your statement. You know which content you are going to prioritise, and roughly how long each section is going to be. There is just one more area to focus on before you start writing the statement in full, and that’s how to write reflectively.

Part 5: A clear, simple structure

Not sure what goes where? If you have done the exercise in Part 4 reasonably well, you now probably have several pages, and perhaps ten or twenty ideas about yourself, your skills, your experiences, and your chosen course. In this part I’m going to show you how to organise all this content within a really clear, simple structure.

Top Podcasts In Education

Looking back at former Trump fixer on the stand in hush money trial: Who is Michael Cohen?

how long are ucas personal statements

Michael Cohen , Donald Trump 's former lawyer and fixer, took the witness stand Monday in Trump's criminal hush money trial .

Cohen's testimony could be a central link prosecutors use to show Trump authorized the $130,000 paid to porn star Stormy Daniels in an attempt to stop her story about an alleged affair from becoming public ahead of the 2016 election. Trump has been charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records to allegedly disguise reimbursing Cohen.

But Cohen's journey to the witness stand has been complicated. Once an adamant Trump loyalist, Cohen has repeatedly attacked Trump in recent years. He has also been convicted of several felonies, including lying to Congress:

Here is what to know about Cohen, a key witness in Trump's criminal trial:

Trump trial live updates: Latest updates as Michael Cohen returns as hush money witness

Prep for the polls: See who is running for president and compare where they stand on key issues in our Voter Guide

How long did Michael Cohen work for Trump?

Cohen was Trump's personal attorney and fixer from 2006 until 2018.

How long was Michael Cohen's prison sentence?

Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison . He started his sentence in May 2019, but was sent home early for house arrest due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Where did Michael Cohen go to law school?

Michael Cohen went to Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan. Politico reported that "Cooley may be, by some measurements, the worst law school in America."

What did Michael Cohen lie about? 

In November 2018, Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to Congress. In an effort to protect Trump, had told Congress his boss stopped trying to pursue a real-estate deal in Moscow in January 2016 when they actually continued efforts through June 2016.

That guilty plea came months after Cohen pleaded guilty to tax evasion, making false statements to a bank, and violating campaign finance laws by causing or issuing two hush money payments: $130,000 to Stormy Daniels and $150,00 to Karen McDougal, the latter of which was paid by American Media Inc. Those amounts greatly exceed the personal contribution limits to a political candidate.

Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison, according to a Department of Justice release .

Why did Michael Cohen turn on Trump? 

Cohen's falling out with Trump was partly due to his conviction. In February 2019, he told a congressional committee he made a clean break with Trump.

"I have done bad things, but I am not a bad man. I have fixed things, but I am no longer your fixer, Mr. Trump," Cohen said in a dramatic testimony.

The two have continuously lobbed attacks at one another since then.

Contributing: Aysha Bagchi, Erin Kelly, Josh Meyer

Trump insults prosecutor at Jersey Shore rally filled with vulgar jabs

The presumptive Republican nominee spoke at a large rally where there were plenty of personal attacks and vulgar expressions from Trump and his supporters.

how long are ucas personal statements

WILDWOOD, N.J. — Donald Trump on Saturday insulted the prosecutor who has charged him in his ongoing New York criminal trial, speaking at a large rally on the Jersey Shore filled with personal attacks, coarse language and vulgar expressions from the former president and his supporters.

The presumptive Republican nominee called Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg “fat Alvin.” He described New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan , who is presiding over his trial, as “highly conflicted.” And he reprised his accusations that both are “doing the bidding” of President Biden , even though there is no evidence they have coordinated with Biden or his administration.

Trump hush money trial

how long are ucas personal statements

The attacks were the latest show of defiance against judges and prosecutors from a candidate who is facing 88 criminal charges across four indictments. They were part of a flurry of broadsides or baseless claims that Trump and his backers launched during a beachside rally that marked a return to the campaign trail at the end of another week when Trump spent much of his time in a courtroom .

He said he was indicted on “bulls---” prompting some in the crowd to repeat “bulls---” in response. He attacked former New Jersey Republican governor Chris Christie , winking at the audience, “you cannot call him a fat pig.”

As Trump berated the Biden administration, he asked the crowd: “Everything they touch, turns to what?”

“S---!” the crowd responded.

“You can’t use the word s---,” Trump said, to laughs.

At another point, as Trump complained about the news media, one rallygoer turned to the workspace for journalists, yelling: “You guys suck. F--- fake news. Go f--- yourselves.”

Thousands attended the event on a chilly evening, which marked a blue state detour for a candidate who is trying to balance his four-day-a-week trial and running for president with about six months left until the election. The setting was a change of scenery from a typical Trump rally.

But it included many of the same polarizing features of such a gathering that critics have voiced alarm over, including attacks on undocumented immigrants, whom he accused of staging an “invasion” as he vowed to “stop the plunder, rape, slaughter and destruction of the American suburbs, cities and towns.” He sharply derided his domestic critics and opponents, claiming “the enemies from within are more dangerous to me than the enemies on the outside” of the country. He praised the six Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade. And he engaged in meandering asides, including about conversations he has had with celebrities or world leaders.

Trump at one point told the crowd: “Let’s talk about hot dogs, I just had one actually,” before he went on to discuss inflation.

While Trump has spent the past week angrily complaining about his trial, he appeared to bask in the attention from his supporters on Saturday. He spoke surrounded by a roller coaster and Ferris wheel, complimenting his own remarks as a “good speech” and telling the crowd: “Do I feel comfortable with you? I love you.”

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R), who has been discussed as a potential vice-presidential candidate , spoke at the rally before Trump took the stage.

Supporters lined up early in the day, standing in the sand, some wearing red hats and chanting “Let’s go Brandon,” a term used by some on the right to reference a profane attack on Biden. Many sat in white chairs on the sand, while others farther back brought beach blankets.

The stores along the boardwalk in this predominantly White New Jersey shore town advertised Trump merchandise for those walking toward the rally. One woman working at a store on the boardwalk wore a blue sweatshirt that said “TRUMP STRONG” with red, white and blue rhinestone hoops to match. Another attendee wore a white sweatshirt she bought that said: “This Jersey girl loves Trump, get over it.”

Not since George H.W. Bush in 1988 has a Republican presidential candidate won New Jersey, and nonpartisan analysts regard it as a safe hold for Biden this fall. Yet Cape May County, which includes Wildwood, has voted Republican in every presidential race going back to 2000. Trump performed better in Wildwood in 2016, winning the city by 35 points compared with eight in 2020. He predicted Saturday that he would “win the state of New Jersey.”

Trump last held a rally in Wildwood in January 2020, shortly after Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who represents the area, switched from being a Democrat to a Republican. Trump’s message then was similar to what it was Saturday. At that time, the Senate was holding Trump’s first impeachment trial and he said that “Democrats are obsessed with demented hoaxes, crazy witch hunts.”

Trump advisers said they wanted to hold a rally in Wildwood in part because the South Jersey and Jersey Shore media market overlaps with Philadelphia’s, allowing the campaign to reach voters in the battleground state of Pennsylvania. One adviser also noted New Jersey’s proximity to New York, where the campaign is also considering holding a rally.

“That part of the state is very similar demographically to what you would see in other battleground states that have shifted,” said Mike DuHaime, a New Jersey native and longtime Republican strategist.

Some Trump supporters attending the rally said they were paying some attention to the New York trial, but not following it closely. They echoed some of Trump’s claims about the case, which centers on allegations of falsifying business records related to his repayment of attorney Michael Cohen for hush money to an adult-film actress.

Janet Spica, 64, called the trial a “waste of taxpayer dollars” and said she receives news about the trial through “either word of mouth or on the internet,” with many of her friends on Facebook following it more closely.

Liz Crescibene, 55, who drove three hours to see Trump for the third time, said she’s not watching the trial closely “because it’s a witch hunt.”

“How many trials can we have against Trump?” she asked. “They’re doing everything in their power because they want to get this man locked up. For what? I don’t know. I’m still waiting to see the evidence.”

Dan Keating in Washington contributed to this report.

Election 2024

Get the latest news on the 2024 election from our reporters on the campaign trail and in Washington.

Who is running? President Biden and Donald Trump secured their parties’ nominations for the presidency . Here’s how we ended up with a Trump-Biden rematch again.

Key dates and events: From January to June, voters in all states and U.S. territories will pick their party’s nominee for president ahead of the summer conventions. Here are key dates and events on the 2024 election calendar .

Abortion and the election: Voters in about a dozen states could decide the fate of abortion rights with constitutional amendments on the ballot in a pivotal election year. Biden supports legal access to abortion , and he has encouraged Congress to pass a law that would codify abortion rights nationwide. After months of mixed signals about his position, Trump said the issue should be left to states . Here’s how Biden’s and Trump’s abortion stances have shifted over the years.

how long are ucas personal statements


  1. How To Write Your Undergraduate Personal Statement

    Just start by showing your enthusiasm for the subject, showcasing your knowledge and understanding, and sharing your ambitions of what you want to achieve. Avoid cliches! Remember, this opening part is simply about introducing yourself, so let the admissions tutor reading your personal statement get to know you. Keep it relevant and simple.

  2. How to write a UCAS personal statement

    UCAS personal statement word limit. Your personal statement length can be up to 4,000 characters long. This may sound a lot, but it's a word limit of around 550-1000 words with spaces and only about 1 side of typed A4 paper. You need to keep it concise and make sure it's clear and easy to read.

  3. How to Write a UCAS Personal Statement

    The UCAS personal statement strikes fear into most sixth formers. Sculpting the perfect personal statement is an arduous an unavoidable process. With approximately 600,000 people applying to university each year, admissions officers need a way to filter stronger candidates from the rest of the pool. ... Three years (minimum) is a long time, and ...

  4. How to Write a UCAS Personal Statement

    One area that is particularly important and can help your application stand out is your UCAS personal statement. ... How long should my personal statement be? Your personal statement must be between 1,000 and 4,000 characters long. It is best to use as many of the 4,000 characters (approximately 47 lines) as possible in order to showcase all of ...

  5. 7 tips for writing a great UCAS personal statement

    Your personal statement can be up to 4,000 characters (including spaces) or 47 lines of text long - whichever comes first. Seven tips for writing a great UCAS personal statement 1.

  6. Personal Statement FAQs

    This takes you through how to write a personal statement step-by-step, and goes into far more detail than this FAQ does. If you feel you need more help, check out our personal statement editing and critique services where our professional editors will review your statement to make it a success. 16.

  7. How To Write A UCAS Personal Statement

    Tips for writing a Personal Statement. Express a passion for your subject. Start the statement strongly to grab attention. Link outside interests and passions to your course. Be honest, but don't include negative information. Don't attempt to sound too clever. Don't leave it until the last minute; prepare ahead of the deadline.

  8. How to Write a UCAS Personal Statement [With Examples]

    The character limit which UCAS sets for the personal statement is very strict - up to 4,000 characters of text. This means that students have to express themselves in a clear and concise way; it's also important that they don't feel the need to fill the available space needlessly. Planning and redrafting of a personal statement is essential.

  9. Personal statement FAQs

    Read more: universities reveal all about personal statements; How long can the personal statement be? Statements are limited to whichever is shorter of either: 4,000 characters (including spaces) OR; 47 lines; Be aware that software such as Microsoft Word may not give a character or line count that completely matches what the Ucas form says.

  10. Personal statements for university applications

    How long should a personal statement be? There's no maximum word count, but you'll need to remain within the 4,000 character limit (including spaces and punctuation) allowed in your UCAS application, as well as keeping the statement to a total of 47 lines of text. UCAS recommends that you write your personal statement in Microsoft Word before ...

  11. How to write an excellent personal statement in 10 steps

    Use your closing couple of lines to summarise the most important points in your statement. 9. Check your writing thoroughly and get someone else to check it, too. 10. Give your brain a rest by forgetting about your personal statement for a while before going back to review it one last time with fresh eyes.

  12. The Ultimate UCAS Personal Statement Guide

    The UCAS Personal Statement is challenging to write and the process can seem daunting. Read our ultimate guide to help you craft yours. ... Your Personal Statement isn't a long monologue of your life so far, nor a gigantic list of all your achievements. ... You can read Personal Statement examples online for inspiration but avoid copying and ...

  13. Guide to UCAS & Personal Statements

    4. Be careful with humour or quotes - the admissions tutor may not have the same sense of humour as you and it could be a waste of characters! 5. Proofread it aloud, and get as many people to check it as possible so that you have a lot of different perspectives - ask your teachers, friends, and family. 6.

  14. How Long Should Your UCAS Personal Statement Be?

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  15. UCAS Personal Statement and Examples

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    Your personal statement is a really important part of your UCAS application. It helps our admissions tutors get an insight into who you are and whether you'd be a good fit for the course you're applying to. You can only submit one personal statement for the five courses and universities you apply for. You're also limited to 4,000 characters ...

  17. How to write your UCAS Personal Statement

    I've worked in university student recruitment and admissions for well over 25 years. I've read countless Personal Statements, delivered hundreds of sessions on how to write them, and I have even trained teachers and advisers on how to help their students. This podcast is for you if you are applyi…

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    How long did Michael Cohen work for Trump? Cohen was Trump's personal attorney and fixer from 2006 until 2018. ... Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to Congress ...

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  21. UCAS announces new initiatives to encourage students from low-income

    UCAS Press Office. 07880 488 795. [email protected] (monitored regularly) @ucas_corporate. About UCAS. UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, is an independent charity, and the UK's shared admissions service for higher education.