Writing a personal statement is a challenge so here are some tips to help you craft the perfect essay
For 2021 entry, UCAS received nearly 700,000 applications. With that many people trying to secure a place on their dream course, you have to find a way of making your application stand out from the crowd. This is your opportunity to communicate your reasons for choosing your subject. The question is how do you get started?
Research courses before you starting writing a personal statement
The first thing that you should do is to thoroughly research the courses you are applying for. Courses vary hugely from university to university and it is highly recommended that you research the content of each one and compare modules between them.
Once you have completed your research and you have got your list of 4 or 5 courses you are applying for, it is time to start brainstorming. A good way to do this is to begin by listing all of your ideas, the pros and cons and why you’re interested in each university.
From your list you should be able to create a 1st draft. It is highly unlikely that this version will be anything like your final statement. The purpose of your first draft is to highlight areas that need attention or removal completely and things that should have been included in the first place. Once you have the first draft, you can make a start on re-drafting. Your re-draft is a great opportunity to receive some feedback.
Remember that your personal statement needs to tell a story, beginning with how you developed an interest in your chosen subject, strong enough for you to choose to study it to degree level. Here are our five top tips to write a fantastic personal statement:
Consider how universities use your Personal Statement
When writing your personal statement you should ask yourself the question, ‘how will the universities I have applied for use my personal statement?’. For those universities that don’t interview, your personal statement is directly bidding for a place on the course, and should be written as such. However, if you need to attend an interview for your course, your personal statement will require a little more thought and tactics.
The point being, know your audience.
Keep UCAS deadlines in the back of your mind
It’s worth reminding yourself that the UCAS deadline is January 15th or October 15th if you’re applying for medicine, dentistry, Oxford and Cambridge. Remember that if you don’t get your application in on time, it will not be considered. You should also familiarize yourself with the timescale for your school BEFORE the end of your AS year.
Include relevant extra information in your personal statement
Whilst admissions tutors are interested in your academic ability, they also want to know you’re an interesting person. The best way to do this is by mentioning extra-curricular activities. However, often students dedicate too much of their personal statement to extracurricular activities. Don’t waste space on things that aren’t related. Use this part as an opportunity to reflect on the skills you have gained from these activities that are transferable to your studies.
keep your personal statement sections balanced
The balance of you personal statement can have a significant impact on the overall message you convey and whilst there are no strict rules, it is important to consider the balance between sections. As a general rule of thumb you should be looking to use about six lines for your introduction, 22-27 lines for academic discussions, 4 – 10 lines for talk of extra-curricular activities and no more than 4 lines for your conclusion.
Show passion for your subject
The last thing, and the most important part of your personal statement, is showing a true passion for your subject. This is what can make your statement stand out for the right reasons so don’t be shy in expressing your enthusiasm for your chosen subject. It is important to remember that in order to show passion, you don’t have to say that you have dreamt about doing this for your entire life.
It is quite possible to have chosen a course based on its appeal at a university open day, just so long as you can justify your reasons for having reached that decision. In allowing your passion for this course to shine through (however recently it was discovered), you will convince your reader that you are committed to your chosen subject.
Include Work Experience in your personal statement
So now you have a bit more of an idea about what should go into your statement and the balance between sections, the question is when should you start? The answer to this one is… Today!
The best thing you can do is just write those first words. Start a list, develop into a first draft, write lots as it is always easier to take things away than add to them and before you know it you will have a second draft and be well on your way to producing a killer personal statement!
This was obviously a quick summary – and you should do more research on how to write a brilliant personal statement.
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