Perfecting the #personal #statement

The personal statement is an important part of your UCAS application and can make the difference between getting a place and not.

Read on for our tips on crafting the perfect self-boast letter!

  1. Consider The Word Limit

For UCAS applications there is a strict limit on the number of characters and lines that you can include in your statement. It can’t exceed 4000 characters or 47 lines which may sound like a lot but if you consider that you sort of have to condense your entire life down into this one page, you can start to run out pretty quick. Make sure to cut down on “waffle” and make each sentence that you write purposeful and to the point. Show why you’d be good for the course or subject and why you want to go to university. Follow George Orwell’s five rules of writing and you can’t go far wrong.

If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

2. There Can Be Only One

You only get one personal statement for all the courses and universities that you want to apply for. This might not be an issue if you’re applying for the same course five times at different places, but if you’re less sure of the path you want to take, you’ll need to be make sure your personal statement is more generic. In that case don’t focus on specific aspects of courses, subjects or universities. Instead, spend more time talking about what makes you a good student, your transferable skills and common themes which are necessary for all courses…like creativity or problem solving!

3. Content is King

Take some time to plan what you’re going to write about. Don’t be in a rush to get it down and out onto paper in one go.

Instead write onto a post-it each of the important things that has happened in your education: subjects you have enjoyed, academics you have been inspired by, extra-curricular activities and other aspects. Then you can order them afterwards into a coherent, flowing write-up. Doing this will help avoid repetition and redundancy in your work, and makes sure that every sentence is doing something.

No Post-its to hand? You can use a spider diagram or other organisational method to think through everything you want to include, ensuring that you don’t leave anything out.

The perfect spider diagram

There’s no need to restate anything that you have included elsewhere, so your grades etc. are not necessary to put in, but any other takeaways from your courses and classes as school and college can! For example, if you really enjoyed learning about the human body in Science and this has influenced you in your choice of university course then say why, specifically.

It’s also important to talk about what you want to get out of the course, your ambitions, desires and goals for university and then onwards into life. This shows that you are thinking ahead and not just applying because you don’t know what else to do and it’s the “next step”.

4. Be Yourself (It’s all you can be)

Trust who you are!

They call this thing the personal statement for a reason, and that is that the people reading it are trying to get to know you, the person behind the application. So much of the process is really impersonal, a number crunching exercise that really isn’t why most admissions tutors got into the field. They want to see real people becoming really involved and invested in the field, so if you can get across your personality, all the better for you. Don’t worry about being embarrassed or self-conscious — you are awesome!

Conversely, you do need to remember that things like humour are subjective, and the things that you find funny might not be what the academics reading the statement find funny, so stick to non-controversial funnies, like puns. Everyone loves puns…

Don’t open with this…

5. Chcek for Spelling and Grammar Mistakes…like 30 times.

Ross knows, man.

Nothing ruins a good personal statement like sloppy or incorrect spelling, grammar and syntax. Once you’ve got a first draft done, we recommend reading it aloud making sure that all the sentences actually flow together and it reads ‘right’. Then get someone else to read it, checking for spelling, sense and flow. Ideally this will be someone like a teacher who has experience looking at academic style writing. Don’t stress over the little things like semi-colons and colons, but do make sure to get the basics right.

6. Collaborate

Try to look at the drafts of your friends and fellow students’ statements. Obviously don’t copy what they’ve written, especially if they are applying to the same uni, but you can look at what they’ve included and see if there’s anything you’ve missed out. Ask them for their opinion! They are your best cheerleaders so maybe you have missed out something they could remind you about.

Need some more help? Contact us on Twitter @UNINORTHANTS OR USE #UNandYou