How to write a killer personal statement for your UCAS form 

For most of us at fivesquid HQ the hazy days of completing our personal statement on our UCAS form is a distant memory, but the scars of having to write one still show! A personal statement is such an awkward thing to write, how much do you sell yourself - when does a little exaggeration here and there become a blatant embellishment of gigantic proportions. How on earth do you start it? Surely getting the right grades is enough… OMG! the exams… ok, calm down and relax. There's loads of advice out there and you have until January 15th to submit your form (unless you’re applying to Oxbridge because that deadline has been and gone), so use the Christmas break wisely and use our top tips on how to write a killer personal statement for your UCAS form. And remember there's no right or wrong way to do it, you just have to be yourself. Grab yourself a camomile tea and read on...


Before we begin two RULES to adhere to...


RULE 1: CHECK THE DEADLINE  

Double check with the university you are applying to, some have different deadlines - never assume (take that as a generic life rule). 

RULE 2: DON’T COPY OR PARAPHRASE 

Really don’t even think about copying or paraphrasing anyone else’s personal statement or share yours. Did you know that all UCAS forms are electronically scanned to check this? The clever device can also pick up uncanny similarities so don’t just change the odd word and think you can cheat it. It will seriously hinder your chances of getting into any university let alone one of your choice. 


Now that's clear, onwards and upwards...


How to write a killer personal statement for your UCAS form 

 

Research: 

Hopefully you know your subject area and have a list of universities you are applying to. Spend some time looking at the course requirements, content and teaching styles. Make a note of anything that stands out. This will help you make sure your personal statement is relevant to the course you are applying for. 


Content:

It can be hard to decide what to include in your personal statement, but UCAS on their handy guide for preparing your personal statement summarises it perfectly. You must include why you want to specialise in your field of study, show you’ve got some gumption, write about how your; studies, work experience or volunteering to date are relevant to the subject. Hobbies can also be included especially if they add oomph to your subject choice. You can also include any relevant awards you've received and also more anecdotal evidence of how great you are and how you’d be an asset to any university. Sounds straight forward, but hard to write. 


Map it:

You have your key areas of what you need to include, why not look at creating a mind map of what you could include? XMind is great for this and it’s free. List every achievement, be it sporting or academic, all jobs, all charity and volunteer work. All your hobbies, make them real ones and give examples, if it’s reading talk about a book you have read that's relevant to your subject matter - ditto with movies or anything else. Use this as a complete brain dump - ask teachers, colleagues, friends and family - they’ll see you differently and unless you’re blessed with buckets of confidence they’ll be able to help you highlight why you're so amazing! 


Write it:

So you’ve got all the research, now is the time to start writing it. As with every compelling story you'll need a beginning, a middle and an end. Your introduction needs to be snappy and lure the reader to want to find out more. The middle, this is the meat on the bone… don’t leave the best to the end, go bold and big from the get-go and work your way down the list. Remember you’re limited to 4,000 characters (again double check!) don’t waffle just let them know how damn amazing you are. The ending should be a strong sign off, reiterating that you quite literately rock and they’d be lucky to have you as a student. 


Writing style:

A simple answer to this one - as you normally write. Fight the urge to write in more formal tone then you normally would, using complicated words and lengthly sentences. You’ll come across as insincere and you’ll waste precious characters! Writing as you normally do will allow your personality to shine through. Just keep it clean and steer clear from slang, you don’t want the panel to be referring to the urban dictionary. 


Check it:

When you work on something for a long time you’ll start to read what you want to read - the mind does silly things. Get someone with fresh eyes to check your grammar and spelling. You could even ask a freelance proof reader on fivesquid to give it the once over. And another top tip from UCAS is to make sure you get your school’s University Advisor (if you have one) to give you their feedback on it - do take their comments on board… they should have been round the block a few times. 


We used this quote on a blog the other day, but it applies here too. This is a great opportunity don’t miss it… 


"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work!”  Thomas Edison

 

Good luck! You’ll be enjoying Freshers Week before you know it. 

 

 

Source:  UCAS

 

 

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