A Complete Guide on UCAS Personal Statement

A Complete Guide on UCAS Personal Statement

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Updated on Mar 9, 2023 13:02 IST

If you want to study in the UK, a strong UCAS personal statement is a must. This single essay will go to almost every British school, so you want to follow the guidelines and present yourself in the best possible light.

Writing a personal statement for university admissions can be intimidating. Don’t let it be! The sooner you begin, the sooner you’ll have a draft that you can work with. This guide will help you figure out exactly how to start and how to end a UCAS personal statement that shows you’re ready to study in the UK!

Before you start writing….

Take some time to brainstorm and organize your thoughts. If you know exactly what you need to include, the writing process will go much more smoothly!

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Step 1: Determine your academic focus

List your courses, and decide what they have in common. For students who have already decided what they want to study, and are applying to the same course across several schools, this step is very simple!

However, if you are applying to a variety of different courses, you should think about what ties them together.  Perhaps all of your courses involve hands-on laboratory work, or perhaps you’re intrigued by history and political science courses that will help you understand more about how human power comes into conflict.

Step 2: Gather information about your experiences

For the UCAS essay, you’ll want to offer proof that you are prepared for your courses. Sit down and list experiences in two categories:

  • Academic: This is the most important! Think about the classes you have taken and the special projects you’ve completed that directly relate to your courses. Don’t forget about awards, summer courses, or any study you’ve done on your course subjects alone, in your free time.
  • Extracurricular: This can include club leadership roles, charity work, after-school jobs, or anything else that shows you have the initiative and drive to succeed at university.

Step 3: Why Britain?

If you are an international student, your UCAS personal statement needs to cover a couple of key points:

  • Why the UK? Try to find a specific reason related to your course.  Perhaps you want to study Irish literature in Dublin, or perhaps you are looking to build business connections in the city of London. You can also think about why you want to pursue international study in general rather than attending college in your home country.
  • Your background in English: They want to know that you’re prepared to study in an English-speaking country. List all of the courses and qualifications you have as an English speaker (including informal qualifications, like growing up in a bilingual household.)

Step 4: Find Your Guiding Message

In this step, you’ll define your motivation for pursuing this course. List:

  • Your goals.  These can be goals for your career or just goals for college. What’s important to you? What do you want to do in life? How will your proposed courses help you accomplish your goals?
  • Your values. What do you like about yourself? What makes you proud? When you face a challenge, what qualities do you rely on? How will these qualities help you succeed in your proposed courses?

Then, tie it all together in a single sentence.  See if you can fill in these blanks:

“Because I _____, I plan to study ____ in order to ____.”

Also Read: UCAS Application Guide 2024

UCAS Personal Statement Structure

Now that you’re done brainstorming, it’s time to write!  Let’s look at a basic outline that you can use to organize your UCAS essay.

Beginning

  • Consider starting with a “hook,” just one or two sentences that will grab the reader’s attention and help them get to know you as a person. It’s important that your hook directly relates to your course of study.  
    • For example: “I couldn’t believe it! I had correctly predicted the results. For a 16-year-old armed only with excel spreadsheets, this felt like an unbelievable accomplishment.”
  • Then, summarize your courses/ academic focus, using what you wrote for Step 1.
  • Finish your introductory paragraph with a version of the guiding message that you created in Step 4
    • For example: “By pursuing university courses in data science, I hope to understand how to analyze the complex events that will shape my future.

Middle

  • This is where you can include the information about your experiences that you gathered in Step 2. The exact order will depend on what you came up with, but you should include at least one paragraph on your academic experience, and at least one paragraph on your other experiences.
  • If you are an international student, include a brief section on your motivations for studying abroad in the UK, and your qualifications in English.

End

  • Many students have no idea how to end a UCAS personal statement, but if you’ve really thought about your guiding message, it’s simple!  State your goals, then use your conclusion to reflect on how your proposed courses will help you accomplish those goals.

A note on length: There is no actual word limit; instead, you have a maximum of 47 lines or 4000 characters to work with. (This tends to be about 500 words.)

Candidates looking to study abroad can get in touch with our Shiksha Study Abroad Counsellors for assistance with university applications. Candidates can also write to us in the comments section below.

Read More:

UCAS: All You Need to Know How to choose the Best Common App Essay Prompt?
How to approach a common application essay? How to Write College Supplemental Essays?

About the Author:

Brad is a Co-founder and the CEO of Prompt – the #1 provider of admissions essay feedback in the world. Prompt's 150 writing coaches provide instructional, actionable feedback to help students improve their essays' content, structure, clarity, and grammar. He has advised hundreds of students who gained acceptance at highly-selective universities, and his team works with over 5,000 students per year on admissions essays. Brad is a former McKinsey Consultant and holds degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Management Science from MIT.

 

How to Write the UCAS Personal Statement FAQs

Q. What is a UCAS Personal Statement?

A. For students applying to British colleges and universities for undergraduate programmes, the UCAS personal statement is written as part of the application process. The personal statement, which is submitted via the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), details the applicant's reasons for selecting a particular course of study as well as the skills and background that qualify them for the programme. The personal statement gives applicants the chance to showcase their distinctive talents, abilities, and experiences that make them stand out from other applicants. Admissions officers use the personal statement to learn more about the applicant and assess if they are a suitable fit for the programme and the school.

Q. What are some UCAS Personal Statement writing tips?

A. Writing a good UCAS Personal Statement is essential for your admissions. A strong personal statement is organised, focused on your course of study, and unambiguous. Avoid including anything in your personal statement that is unrelated to your course and instead use it to highlight your skills, knowledge, and relevant experiences. Here are a few tips that you may consider while one:
  • Don't think too much about the first sentence. Simply begin by demonstrating your interest in the topic and your expertise in it.
  • Write your personal statement to showcase your talents, knowledge, and experiences that are pertinent to your selected course.
  • Be honest: The most sincere personal statements are always the best.
  • Explain why you are a good fit for the course and link your reasons with your future goals.
  • As for genuine feedback.
  • Don't provide pointless details.

Q. How to start my UCAS SOP?

A. It can be difficult to write a strong UCAS personal statement introduction. Here are some general pointers to get you going:
  • An attention-grabbing, powerful first line should be used to hook the reader. Steer clear of clichés and generalisations.
  • Explain why you wish to study the topic and demonstrate your interest in it. Emphasize your accomplishments, experiences, and talents that are relevant.
  • Avoid using jargon or too complex language, and be straightforward and succinct.
  • Make your point more interesting and memorable by including personal anecdotes or experiences.
  • To draw the reader's attention, think about utilising a quote, statistic, or intriguing fact.

Q. How to conclude my UCAS Personal Statement?

A. A UCAS personal statement ending should be succinct and leave the reader with a favourable, long-lasting impression. It should summarise the applicant's academic and extracurricular background and emphasise their desire to enrol in the course they are enrolling for. The conclusion should steer clear of quoting well-known authors and just restate the earlier material. Instead, a fresh viewpoint should be used to clarify the applicant's appropriateness for the course. It is advised to sum up the main ideas presented in the essay and relate them to the thesis statement.

Q. Which are the top universities in the UK?

A. There are several rankings and sources that list the best universities in the UK. Here are some of the top universities in the UK based on different rankings: the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, University College London (UCL), Imperial College London, King's College London, University of Edinburgh, University of Manchester, University of Aberdeen, Coventry University, etc. Note that the exact ranking and order may vary depending on the ranking system or source.
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