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All about UCAS Personal Statements

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If you’re going into grade 12 in the fall and thinking about applying to the UK for university, it’s time to start working on your UCAS Personal Statement. Summer is just the right time to start brainstorming, outlining, and writing! However, if you’re not quite sure how to get started, check out our tips below.

Personal Statement Overview

The UCAS personal statement is a 4000 character (characters, not words) essay, which supports your application to most universities and colleges in the UK. You will only write one personal statement, no matter how many programs you apply to, so it’s important to remember not to mention any university or course by name. This essay is a chance for you to explain to the admissions committees why you’re interested in the subject you plan to study and what skills, abilities, and experiences you have that demonstrate your passion.

Planning

Before you jump into writing, make a list of all your extracurriculars, relevant experiences, hobbies, awards, work and volunteer opportunities, and educational endeavours. Once you have your list, categorize them based on the type of activity and make note of which ones are related to the field of study you plan to pursue. For instance, if you’re applying to medicine and had the chance to job shadow a doctor at their practice, take special note of this.

Structure

Your personal statement will be structured into four or five paragraphs and answer three broad questions: why are you interested in your course, what have you done that demonstrates this interest and prepared you to study your course, and what else demonstrates your suitability for university-level study.

Paragraph One:

This is the best place to tackle the first broad question: why are you interested in your course. Think about what prompted your interest and what motivated you to want to study it. Did someone or something in particular influence you? Is there an experience or short anecdote you might tell about your interest? Be specific and concise here; it’s important to get to the point quickly.

Paragraph Two and Three:

In the second and third paragraph, dive into the second question: what have you done that demonstrates your interest and prepared you to study your course. We suggest to start by thinking academically and then more broadly about extracurricular activities and experiences that relate to your field of study. In these paragraphs, it’s important to think about what you’ve done that shows your interested in and prepared for your course as well as how the skills and abilities you’ve developed will help you next year. Be as specific as possible here — discuss the books you’re reading by name, highlight exactly what your responsibilities were during your work expereinces, and specify how the skills you learned will support your studies. The majority of your characters should be spent in these two paragraphs.

Paragraph Four:

In the fourth paragraph of your personal statement, you should deal with the last broad question: what else demonstrates your suitability for university-level study. Here, you can begin to discuss other activities and experiences that have built your skillset and prepared you to be both a good student and a good community member. How have you developed your communication skills, problem-solving, and creativity? What have you done to enhance your time-management and organization? How have you contributed to your school and community? As always, show specific examples in this paragraph.

Paragraph Five:

In the last paragraph, it’s time to tie everything together. Revisit the key points you’ve made in previous paragraphs, and then look to the future. Thinking about how this course might fit into your plans, even vaguely, can help the admissions committee understand what your goals and ambitions are. Last but not least, consider why you want to study in the UK and not anywhere else in the world. Think through the academic reasons first, but don’t forget to consider some of the other perks of an international education. Finally, remember to consider the UK as a whole rather than talking about the resources of one specific university.

Tone and Style

The UCAS Personal Statement tends to be quite formal in its tone and style. While “I” statements are encouraged and there’s no need to break out your thesaurus for every sentence, it’s important to remember your audience is the admissions committee. Avoid contractions, being too negative, and writing conversationally. Double, triple check your grammar and spelling and check your character count one last time. No matter how significant your experiences are, if they’re told in the wrong tone or with too many distracting grammar errors, your reader might miss your point.


We know writing can be hard, so if you need any help working on your personal statement, get in touch with us at info@optionssolutionsed.com or 604-922-8456. A writing coach will be happy to help you with your writing process.

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