UCAS personal statements: write a great personal statement

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It might seem strange for a company called RateMyApprenticeship to be talking about personal statements, which are a key part of the process of applying for a place at university.

However, part of our mission is not just to talk about apprenticeships and sponsored degree programmes, but rather to discuss every opportunity that exists for young people and school leavers looking for their next move beyond Year 11 or Year 13.

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This includes considerations around university and the benefits and drawbacks of going into higher education.

If you do want to apply to go to university, you’ll need to write a UCAS personal statement.

Just what is your personal statement?

A personal statement is your chance to show the person dealing with admissions that you’re a good fit for their university.

Your personal statement is important because it lets you put across your strengths, experiences and abilities in your own words. This can help you differentiate yourself from other candidates.

For example, if two students have the same grades but one has a significantly better personal statement, it could make a big difference. As it is your ‘personal’ statement, show your personality!

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We don’t mean talking in slang or anything like that, and it does still need to be academic and targeted towards a degree subject, but put across your motivations and aims to show that you’re a real person and not a robot.

Everyone’s personal statement examples will be different, but broadly speaking there are certain features that should always be included.

How to write a personal statement

When starting it off, try to use a sentence that isn’t too boring but not too out there either. Just make it interesting but relevant.

You definitely need to quickly relate it to the subject you want to study. Say why you’re interested in that subject and how you want to develop your understanding. Show that you’ve done some research on the degree course or industry in general; this should demonstrate your commitment.

Whenever you make a statement or point, try and back it up with an example or evidence. Try to show the reader why you’re a good fit, don’t just tell them.

Try to emphasise what you’ve learned from situations and experiences too. This shows that you can develop and think critically.

What should you include in personal statements?

If you’re struggling to think of examples, answer questions like:

  • What have you done in your own time outside of school?
  • How is this relevant to your course and your own development?
  • How might it be relevant to your career?
  • What transferable skills do you have, how did you develop them and why are they useful?

While there is an upper word or character limit, this doesn’t mean your personal statement ‘has’ to meet that limit.

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If you feel like you’ve said all you can, wrap it up professionally – avoid rambling on just to fill the space, because it lowers the overall quality of the personal statement and wastes the reader’s time.

When you’re done…you’re not actually done. Now comes the time to go back through and proofread your UCAS personal statement for errors or mistakes.

Checking is as important as writing

We can’t stress enough how important this is. Check it multiple times and then have someone else look through it. You need to mop up all the typos because even one is way too many.

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Equally important is telling the truth. Whatever you put on your personal statement template may be brought up in future face-to-face meetings, so any lies will be found out. And that wouldn’t be cool.

Personal statements can take a while to complete and get right, but they are in themselves useful exercises.

They make you think analytically about your skills and experiences gained from education, work or elsewhere and then convey this information.

This will come in handy in other situations, for example when you put together your CV, cover letter or other applications for school leaver schemes. Remember to check out our hundreds of honest apprenticeship reviews too!

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