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Top tips for writing a personal statement

Find out how you can perfect your personal statement to show why you deserve a place on your dream university course.

Your personal statement is arguably the most important part of your UCAS application. It’s your opportunity to tell universities why you want to study a particular course and demonstrate your passion and enthusiasm for the subject.

How to write a UCAS personal statement

  • Your UCAS personal statement can only be 4,000 characters or 47 lines of text long (including spaces and blank lines), so it needs to be clear and concise while showcasing your relevant achievements and talents
  • Make sure you have a good structure and use paragraphs
  • Spell check, proofread and show your statement to teachers and parents to ensure there are no mistakes
  • Don’t try to be funny or controversial
  • While personal statement examples are available online, don’t plagiarise - UCAS has advanced software to detect this

Personal statement tips

Universities use your personal statement to compare you to other candidates with similar grades. Not all programmes require an interview, so your statement is your opportunity to present your skills and experience.

Remember to include:

  • Why you want to study the particular subject or course – show why you’re passionate about the field
  • How your current studies have helped you prepare for university. Be reflective - explain why you've made certain choices and what you've learnt, but don’t go into lots of detail
  • How you’ve gone above and beyond the curriculum to demonstrate your interest in the subject (for example, books you’ve read, taster sessions you’ve attended)
  • Your skills and experiences (including work and placements) and how you feel they’ll help you to succeed on your chosen course
  • The achievements that you’re particularly proud of. Be honest – you may be asked about them at interview!
  • What you hope to gain from university, and your career aspirations
  • Your interests/hobbies. It’s recommended that 75 per cent of your statement is academic/course-related, while the other 25 per cent can focus on extra-curricular activities

Opening lines to avoid

In 2015, UCAS did a study into the most common opening lines in personal statements. The statements below were the most common:

  1. From a young age I have (always) been [interested in/fascinated by]… (seen 1,779 times)
  2. For as long as I can remember I have… (seen 1,451 times)
  3. I am applying for this course because… (seen 1,370 times)
  4. I have always been interested in… (seen 927 times)
  5. Throughout my life I have always enjoyed… (seen 310 times)

To make your personal statement stand out, it's worth avoiding the sentences above and coming up with your own way of expressing yourself.

Have a look at out schools and colleges page to find more resources and advice about applying.

Read our feature on how to make the most of a UCAS exhibition, learn more about applying to university and discover what it’s like to be a student at the University of Surrey. 

This feature was originally published on 9 October 2014