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Write a personal statement for a UCAS or college application

Get top tips to create the perfect personal statement.

It's an important part of your UCAS form or college application – a personal statement. We'll help you get it right.

Careers adviser Vikki Gemmell has some advice. Follow her tips to make your personal statement pop!

1. Sell yourself

If you need some inspiration, talk to friends, family, colleagues and teachers. Ask them what they admire most in you. Remember, keep it relevant to the course!

You should also show the range of skills you’ve developed both inside and outside the classroom (or in the workplace). Mention projects or volunteering you’ve taken part in at school or college, or gained during your working life.

Admission tutors will look to see if you have taken part in, for example:

  • fundraising activities
  • the school year book
  • organising band nights
  • running for student president

Explain how these activities developed your skills and strengths. You can learn more about what skills there are and how you can highlight them.

Need some inspiration? We can help you discover your strengths.

2. Research

Show knowledge about your course and get across your passion for the subject. One girl told me she was rejected because she didn’t mention why she wanted to study the subject.

The course may have a strong vocational focus, like social work or occupational therapy. It’s crucial to explain that you’ve thought about life beyond university and why you want to take up this career.

If you're applying for more than one type of course, remember you still have only one personal statement. This makes it a little trickier. What connects your choices? How can you make sure the information you provide is useful to the different people reading it?

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3. Explore the campus

Think back to university open days or visits to your preferred departments. Students who do this pick up valuable information from tutors and current students, both about the course and what they’re looking for from applicants. Don't be scared to contact a tutor, they’ll be more than happy to help you.

4. Get to work

Think about whether the course you're applying for expects you to have relevant work experience. More and more, this is a key expectation and not one that a week’s work experience in school will provide. Students in the past have been rejected from primary teaching courses because they have no evidence of working with young people.

Get some work experience in a school, offer to volunteer at any school summer clubs, youth groups, Brownies or Scouts. Similarly, medicine applicants need relevant work experience. Whether in a hospital setting (this can be difficult so even making a point of trying to talk to a range of medical staff can be helpful) or a local nursing home. You could also contact other agencies who work with vulnerable or sick people.

5. Final checks

Step away from the statement for a short while, then reread and edit it. This approach helps you critique your own work, and can help refine structure, flow and language choice.

And lastly, ask someone to check over your personal statement before sending it. I’ve heard admission tutors say they have binned applications with spelling mistakes regardless of how good the content is. I’ve also heard tutors complain when a statement is littered with text speak.

You want to make sure you cover everything your college or university will be looking for.

Visit UCAS for handy guidance to make sure there's nothing you've forgotten to add.