Writing your UCAS Personal Statement

In a recent blog I introduced readers to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, or UCAS for short. In the article I went over the different elements that make up a UCAS application and gave a brief description of the Personal Essay that students need to write. In this blog I’m going to go into more detail about the essay, what it is and how to write it.


UCAS Personal Statement

In a nutshell…

Your UCAS Personal Statement (PS) is the one opportunity that you get to talk about why you want to study a particular degree. It is your opportunity to demonstrate the drive, ambition, skills and achievements that make you a great choice for the universities you have applied to. Unfortunately, you only have a limited amount of room to sell yourself, 4,000 characters, including spaces, and 47 lines, roughly one page of A4. This limitation means that you need to express yourself in a clear and succinct way, leaving little room for filler.

Making at start

Often the most difficult part, so don’t sit down with a blank document in front of you, writing you PS should start well before you write your first word. Take some time to really understand the courses you are applying to by researching not just what the course studies but how you would study and ways in which you can tailor your time at university to meet your needs.

Having done your research use a mind map or spider diagram to make notes answering these questions.

  • What inspired you to study this subject? Perhaps there was a specific time when you decided that this was an area you wanted to understand better, or maybe you read a book or watched a TED Talk, if so, make a note of it.

  • What evidence can you provide that supports your interest and shows that it is more than superficial? A good personal statement will provide evidence of wider reading or participation in activities that support and extend your knowledge and understanding of the course you have picked.

  • How can you show that you have the skills and attributes to enable you to do well in the course? You will hopefully have some examples to share from both inside and outside the classroom.

  • How have your extra-curricular activities helped to prepare you for study at university? These might be academic exploration, team and leadership skills or perhaps a prize for an academic competition you entered.

·      What have your studies so far taught you about the course you hope to apply for? For instance, if applying for an engineering course, what have you done through your high school curriculum that sparked your interest?

Putting it together

Now that you have put all of your ideas in some kind of order now is the time to start putting words onto paper. Having a clear structure will help you write a PS that has a natural flow and enable you to develop good transitions from one section of your PS to the next.


Your role with the introduction is to grab the interest of the admissions tutor, they probably have to read hundreds of these PS so try to make yours stand out. This might be the point to share a story about the time you realised that the subject you are applying for was what you wanted to study.

Academic achievements

This should not be a list of subjects and grades, that information will go elsewhere in your application. What you want to tell the admissions tutor about are the specific things that you have done in your curriculum and how they link with both your interests and the content of the course.

Extra-curricular activities

Having showcased your abilities and interest in school now show how you have pursued those interests through extra-curricular activities. These extra-curricular activities should demonstrate how you have pursued your interests beyond the curriculum and perhaps different aspects of your personality that a university might look for, perhaps leadership or an interest in wider issues facing humanity.


Your conclusion should tie in all the most important aspects of your achievements into no more than two or three sentences. Finish off with a clear, positive statement that encapsulates why the universities reading your PS should accept you.

 Final points

You should expect to rewrite your PS a few times but each time you think that you have finished read it out loud to yourself, it’s a great way of testing out the flow and identifying any clunky language. Having done that, put it down overnight and then proof read it again, keep doing this until you stop making changes to what you have written. It is always a good idea to ask somebody that knows you well to read it before you add your essay to your UCAS application, they may pick up on something that you have missed.

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