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Five tips for writing a great personal statement

21 January 2022

The deadline for submitting UCAS applications is now less than a week away (26 January). If you are an Access to Higher Education student, this is a crucial time of year for you as you complete your application, including your all-important personal statement.

 

The personal statement is a vital part of the application, as it provides you with an opportunity to sell yourself, showcase your personality, and convince admissions tutors that you should be offered a place on your chosen course.

 

As always, our Access team are on hand to offer guidance to you on personal statement writing.

 

Here, we have picked out five of the most important things to keep in mind as you finalise your statement.

 

 

Commit fully to your chosen course

 

Admissions tutors want to offer places to applicants who will be fully committed to their course and will see it through to its conclusion, so you should aim to convince the reader that you are set on your chosen path. Write about your career ambitions, plans for the future, and how the course will help you to achieve them.

 

To show that you have made an informed choice of course, you could mention relevant open days, summer schools and lectures that you have attended while researching your choices. You could also make use of university prospectuses and websites to ensure that your statement is closely tailored to the course requirements.

 

However, remember that your personal statement is seen by all of the institutions to which you apply, so you should not mention specific universities or course titles by name.

 

 

Show that you can meet the demands of the course

 

You may be returning to education after several years away, so it is important to demonstrate that you can rise to this challenge. If your course has unusual requirements, such as a need for travel or working unusual hours, make it clear that you are aware of this and can cope with it.

 

Furthermore, show the admissions tutor that you will be able to adapt to your new environment at university, and to the demands of a full-time higher education course. Anything that emphasises your work ethic, resilience and adaptability will be worth including.

 

 

 

 

Always include specific examples

 

While it is important to mention your personal qualities in your statement, you should always include supporting evidence. If you state that you are ‘enthusiastic’ or ‘hard-working’, you should then give examples of when you have demonstrated these qualities.

 

As an Access student, one advantage that you have over other applicants is your level of work and life experience. You may have spent several years in the world of work, and this will have given you a wealth of knowledge and skills that you can use to strengthen your application. Similarly, any previous studies or voluntary experiences may also be valuable.

 

 

Let your personality shine through

 

Always keep in mind the purpose of the personal statement; the university will receive a huge number of applications, and you are making your case for why they should choose you over other applicants. You want your statement to be original and stand out from the crowd.

 

Think about what makes you unique. Aim to personalise your application and show how you have developed through your experiences and achievements. It is also a good idea to mention your hobbies and interests and how these have contributed to your personal growth. This gives the admissions tutor an insight into your personality and shows that you know how to relax outside of your studies.

 

 

Make every word count

 

You have a limited amount of space - 4,000 characters and 47 lines – so everything you write should be relevant. Avoid repeating points within the statement and, similarly, do not repeat things that are already mentioned elsewhere on your UCAS form.

 

You should also ensure that your statement is clear and well written. Keep your writing style simple and do not feel you have to use elaborate language. Proofread your statement several times to check your punctuation and grammar too. It is also a good idea to ask your tutor and family members to read it and provide feedback.

 

You should expect to produce several drafts of your statement before you are completely happy with it. Once your application has been submitted, you cannot make any further changes, so it is worth taking the time to ensure your statement is as good as it can possibly be.

 

 

We wish you the best of luck with your UCAS application. If you have any questions about the application process, feel free to contact us.

 

Our team have many years of experience in Access to HE and we want every student to achieve the best possible outcome. We treat staff at our Centres as our colleagues and see their students as our students. If you would like to work with a friendly, supportive Access Validating Agency, please get in touch with us or find out more about becoming a Centre here.