Your personal statement is the key opportunity to demonstrate your enthusiasm, commitment, and suitability for the course(s) you’re applying for. Many courses have no formal interview requirements, so most decisions on whether to offer you a place are based entirely on the strength of your UCAS application form, particularly your Personal Statement. Here, Schools and Colleges Liaison Officer Sammy Dedicoat gives you his expert advice on how to make the most of this key opportunity.

Your course choice

Admissions tutors want to see that you are enthusiastic and passionate about your chosen subject, and that you have the right skills and experience to succeed on the course. Discuss why you have chosen to apply for the course concerned; what motivates you to take this course at a university level? Mention how your interest developed, what you have done to pursue it or how you’ve drawn inspiration from your current studies.

School and college life

Include details of what you studied at school or college, as well as any extra-curricular activities, or positions of responsibility (for example prefect, student ambassador), that highlight the necessary skills needed for your chosen course. It’s vital that you provide examples to support your claims and relate everything back to your course or university life in general.

Experience

It could be work experience, volunteering, or a university masterclass/taster session; relevant experience is an essential requirement for many courses and will help to demonstrate your enthusiasm and commitment in wanting to study the course. Reflect on your experiences, explaining what you’ve learned from them or how they’ve helped develop your interest in the subject.  

Your future plans

Think about what you want to do in the future – whether you have a specific job in mind or just a general idea of the type of field you want to work in. If you’re not sure yet, just talk about what you’re looking forward to at university and what you want to gain from your course or from university life. If you are taking, or have taken, a year out, it is useful to state your reasons why and what you achieved or hope to achieve.

Things to remember

  • Don’t panic! It can be difficult to get going with your statement so start off by creating a mind map with all of your ideas. Remember that you want to stand out from the crowd so ensure you play on your key strengths and achievements.
  • The UCAS system doesn’t have any spelling or grammar checks so you need to check your statement is perfect before submitting your application. Ask as many people as possible (teacher, careers adviser, family member or friend) to look over it and give you some feedback.
  • The clue is in the title – make sure your statement is personal to you. Don’t be tempted to copy parts of someone else’s statement or lift ideas from the web – UCAS operates a Plagiarism Detection Service, which checks forms against a statement library and web sources to ensure all statements are personally written.
  • Make sure you keep a copy of what you’ve written as it may be referred to at your interview (if you have one) – or the information may be useful when applying for jobs in the future.

UCAS application timeline

1 September – Opening date for UCAS applications 2016.

15 January – Main deadline for the majority of undergraduate courses (Some schools/colleges have their own internal deadline so make sure you check with your teacher/careers adviser for when this is).

25 February – UCAS extra opens- this is for any applicants without an offer to make an additional application.

4 May – Deadline for applicants to accept one firm and one insurance offer.

July – Start of clearing process for those who have not yet secured a place.

18 August – Exam results published

If you require more information about applying your School or Faculty please do not hesitate to contact us.