As few universities interview prospective candidates, your  personal statement is the only chance you have to differentiate yourself from  other students. 

You do not have to use all the space provided, but probably  will!  You cannot continue on an extra  page.  You have 47 lines or 4000  characters and you must use font size 12; this is a UCAS ruling, made because  they reduce your form in size to copy it before distribution. 

It is vital that there are no spelling or  grammatical errors. We will not process forms which contain misleading or  inaccurate statements. UCAS scans every personal statement to prevent plagiarism. Draft your statement in a Word  document first and use the spell checking facility to correct any errors. It is  very important that this document is accurate.   Most students write 4-6 drafts before it is good enough to import onto  the UCAS form.

Be honest and specific.   Try to start with a basic structure of 3 paragraphs.

  1. Why this subject/course?  You need to explain your interest in the subject and give evidenceof this interest.  What first caught your attention: a lesson, a  topic, a t.v. programme?  You may have  read a book or article, seen something in the news or heard a radio programme  about the subject.  Analyse it, say what was interesting about it, what you  learned.  Try to choose something outside  the curriculum to show that you have an interest beyond school.  This would be better starting point than ...’I  have always wanted to..’. You should also avoid suggesting that you are  following in your parents’ footsteps.

Universities want you to  demonstrate that you understand what is involved in the course and give evidence supporting why you are  suitable for the course.  If you have  undertaken work shadowing or work experience, what did you learn?  If you are  applying for a subject not covered by A levels e.g. medicine, physiotherapy,  media studies etc., you must demonstrate that you know what is involved in  these careers/courses.             When making links, avoid  saying, ‘I think this shows I have the skills needed...’. This is a judgement  for the admissions tutors to make; they can infer qualities from your  statement.  You can say ‘I enjoyed developing my interpersonal/teamwork/time  management skills...’ and leave the admissions tutors to interpret this.             The commonest reasons  universities quote for rejecting candidates is that they do not emphasise their  interest in the course, or show sufficient intellectual curiosity about the  subject, so this section must glow!

  1. What have  you learned from your A levels? You must refer to your A levels; why  did you choose them?  What interests you  in particular and how do the subjects  link to the course being applied to?   What academic skills have you acquired (such as research, use of ICT, teamwork, critical analysis,  separating relevant from irrelevant, mathematical) and how will these be useful in the course(s) to  which you have applied?
  2. Extra-curricular  interests and achievements outside the classroom should be outlined. Many of you are involved in multiple  relevant and worthy activities outside school so you may need to be a bit  selective.  Try to link learned skills (e.g. ICT, communication, organisational) or attributes (e.g. commitment) and experience to your chosen course.  This can be from paid employment, sport or  additional responsibilities undertaken in/out of school.  The following example is from the UCAS  website, where you can find further help.

 

'I enjoy badminton'

'I play badminton twice a week with a club that plays in local  competitions and I play in both singles and doubles matches. Doubles matches  requires good team working, an ability to support your partner, to devise a  game plan but be able to adapt it as required and fast reactions. I enjoy the  social side of the club and take responsibility for organising the social  activities and fundraising events. This gives me an opportunity to develop my  organisational and planning skills. Fitting in all these activities while  keeping up with my academic studies demands good time management and I think I  do that very well.'

When you have made a first draft, give one copy  to a subject specialist and one to your tutor, asking them to check it  through.  Please don’t expect them to  correct your spelling and grammar.  You  may wish to give a final draft to your Head of Year for checking.  Good luck!

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