A personal statement is a piece of text applicants write to the university to show why they are applying and why they would be a great student for the course provider to accept. It helps the admission tutors to decide how suitable you are for your degree programme.
Who will read my Personal Statement?
A selector who needs more than just examination results to assess your suitability for the course. This is usually the admissions tutors.
Why is the Personal Statement necessary? Aren’t my results enough?
The earlier parts of the UCAS form enable you to give the factual information needed to assess your present academic skills. However, for some applications, the Personal Statement can play a key role in receiving an offer on a competitive course or university. There are more well-qualified candidates than there are places available!
In some subjects particularly those connected with the Arts, (Drama, Fine Art, Interior Design, Architecture, Music, etc.) a strong candidate may already have relevant experiences that are important for the selector to know about.
For some other subjects, a major factor in suitability of applicants is their motivation, personal values, and attitudes. Medicine is an obvious example of this. Some medical applicants may have acquired some relevant medical exposure or experience, and that should be mentioned.
So how can I get started with my Personal Statement?
There is probably no part of the application process that is more challenging than the Personal Statement, so first of all remember that there are thousands of others in the same position as you! So don’t panic, and if you need guidance, feel free to reach out to your MABECS consultant who has helped thousands of others in the same shoes.
Dedicate time to plan your personal statement carefully. Think about the points to be included in your personal statement; begin with a draft, and gradually improve it based on feedback received.
What do I write about in the Personal Statement?
There are no hard and fast rules but the following two are the major points that needs to be covered in your Personal Statement.
- You need to convey a genuine interest in the degree/subject you have applied for at the university.
- Express yourself thoughtfully in the Personal Statement on why you have chosen the course you have listed. This forms quite an important part of your Personal Statement.
For more detailed writing points, include:
- why you have chosen the degree course in question.
- the reasons why that subject area interests you; also what specific areas (if any) interest you.
- an insightful discussion of any activities or interests that can further support your commitment to this degree. For example, discussion of any relevant placements/work exposure; books you have read that have inspired you to pursue this degree; participation in any relevant projects, events, seminars, conferences, etc.
- what you learnt from these experiences and the skills that you have acquired.
- evidence that you understand what is required to study the course, e.g. if applying for psychology courses, show that you know how scientific the subject is.
- how your current or previous studies relate to the course(s) that you have chosen.
- details of non-accredited skills and achievement which you have gained through various activities (e.g. Duke of Edinburgh Awards, etc.)
- discussion (rather than just a list) of positions of responsibility that you hold/have held both in and out of school, e.g. form prefect or representative for a local charity and the challenges faced, skills acquired, etc.
- discussion of hobbies, interests and social activities that demonstrate your skills and abilities.
- highlights of achievements/attributes that make you interesting, special or unique.
- discussion of future plans/career plans (if any) of how you want to use the knowledge and experience that you gain.
- Don’t be intimidated if you don’t possess achievements mentioned in the points above. It is more important to be confident of who you are and be sincere, rather than boasting about what you have not achieved.
- Although some universities have indicated that they are looking for well-rounded applicants, the reality is, three quarters (3/4) of your Personal Statement should focus on the discussion of your academic interest. The remaining quarter (1/4) can be used to discuss your non-academic interests. This is something to bear in mind for very competitive courses/universities.
- Applicants for Medicine and Dentistry need to highlight and discuss areas that will convey your genuine interest in this field. For example, your voluntary work, practical attachments, etc. Please refer to the MABECS Subject Booklet for Medicine, for further guidelines.
- Your personal statement must be an original piece of work. UCAS puts all applications through similarity detection tests such as ‘CopyCatch’, which identify statements that have been copied from another source and to detect plagiarism. The universities you have applied to will then be informed if the system detects this in your personal statement.
- Avoid flowery language – express yourself simply and precisely. Also try to avoid using too many quotations in your personal statement. The Admissions Tutor is interested in what you think, not what someone else thinks.
Further guidelines on Personal Statements may be obtained from the UCAS website: http://www.ucas.com/students/applying/howtoapply/personalstatement/
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