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Plan it out.

This does depend on how you work best; some can start writing and they’re off to go, others work best with a structure already in place. Whichever works for you, go with it. Just remember that if you put a plan together, it reduces the risk of you missing something out and may save time later on when you’re editing and structuring your personal statement.

Do your research.

Whether it’s online or a prospectus, it’s important to look at the descriptions of the courses you’re applying for – doing this will help you to identify talking points in your personal statement. Find links between the skills and qualities they highlight, and your own strengths and experiences.

No name dropping.

Remember that you can only have one personal statement no matter how many universities you’re applying to, so avoid mentioning any universities or modules by name. Instead, it’s your task to show these universities why you’re well-suited to their courses, without mentioning any specifics that won’t make sense across all your university choices. No one said this was easy! If you’re going for similar courses, you should notice likenesses in the skills, qualities and experience they’re looking for, making your life a bit easier. If you’re applying for courses that are very different, have a think about how your achievements, skillset and experience can be applied more generally to fit with the varying course descriptions.

Be yourself.

We get that you’re out to impress, but there’s no need to use overcomplicated language. Natural and succinct is the way to go! It’s also really important to avoid exaggeration in your personal statement – you don’t want to get caught out at an interview. While we’re on this subject, avoid copying a personal statement or buying one online. UCAS have a nifty tool that checks all submitted personal statements against their library, so don’t think that you’ll get away with it, it could end up being pretty awkward… The universities you're applying to will be notified and it’s up to them how they choose to proceed, hardly the best first impression!

Play by the rules.

These are the rules that you need to stick to - your personal statement must be either:

4,000 characters (including spaces)

or:

47 lines of 95 characters (again, including spaces, but also including blank lines)

Whichever is shorter.

It’s important to remember that you’ll be submitting this through UCAS’s form, so don’t take software like Microsoft Word as the final authority on your counts - it’s the line numbers you need to watch out for especially! To be absolutely sure, you can put your personal statement into the UCAS form to see how you’re doing, BUT be careful; you don’t want to submit it if it isn’t the final, proofread version (we’ll come onto that next).

Check your work.

Now is not the time to be lazy with your proofreading and spellchecking! The extra time you spend checking your personal statement could make an important difference. Obviously, if you do send off your personal statement with a mistake in, it isn’t the end of the world! But don’t take away from the great things you’re saying with errors that could have been caught. Here’s some proofreading tips:

  • Read your personal statement aloud - this can help you spot mistakes
  • Print it out and get a pen - sometimes checking your work in a different format highlights sneaky slip-ups
  • Get someone else to check over it - a fresh pair of eyes can work wonders

Finally...

The tips we’ve put together aren’t exhaustive, we’d recommend seeing what the big boys at UCAS are recommending, too.
Good luck with writing your personal statement and try to get a head start on it. Imagine getting it boxed off before Christmas and not having to think about it over the festive break… too much? Okay, well just make sure it’s all sorted before the deadline – 15th January 2020.

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undergraduate UCAS personal statement