What is a UCAS Personal Statement?

It’s often considered the hardest part of the UCAS application process. It’s where you show the university why they should give you an offer.

You only have 47 lines of text or 4000 characters (not words) to show how great you are and how suited you are to the course you want to study.

Think of the Personal Statement as your written answers to these two questions:

  • Why do you wanto to study that course?
  • What have you done to be ready to study this subject at a higher level?

Good things to do

  • Mention future aspirations – it’s good to show admissions tutors you know where the course can lead to
  • Get feedback from others – especially teachers, parents / guardians but not from others applying with you
  • Write it early and don’t rush it
  • Edit it again and again until it says what
    you want it to say
  • Keep a copy so you can reread it before
    any interviews

Bad things to do

  • Don’t be too funny – it’s not easy to get your sense of humour across when writing – especially to someone you’ve never met before!
  • Don’t fill your statement with Latin words
  • Don’t use a thesaurus to change every other word to one you’ve never heard before
  • Don’t mention one institution or course by name – or the others will reject you
  • Don’t use boring clichés – ‘From an early age I’ve always wanted to . . ‘

It’s as easy as ABC

It is important that your statement is not full of lists. Lists of what you have done or lists of skills you have. There is a way to avoid writing in this way – it’s called the ABC rule


Each sentence should evidence skills you have that are relevant to the course you want to study. Do this by discussing a specific activity. For example:

‘I studied history A level’

‘I had the chance to improve my research and essay writing skills whist completing my history A level’

‘For one of my essays I decided to focus on the history of British political thought. I really enjoyed this topic and look forward to studying it in more detail at a higher level. The experience I gained from researching this subject and completing my essay I’m sure will help me in my degree course’

Use these sentences as the basis for your personal statement. The best sentences show your enthusiasm and preparation for the degree course you are applying for.

Final checklist

When you think you’re done, read through your personal statement and ask yourself these questions:

  • Is it obvious what I am hoping to study?
  • Are my opening & closing lines striking?
  • Have I used the ABC guideline to avoid lists, give evidence of skills and show I’m ready for the course?
  • Have I included evidence of extra curriculum work or research?
  • Have I mentioned what I hope this course will lead me to do?
  • Have I avoided using over-long sentences?
  • Am I certain all this work is my own – not copied from a friend, a website or written by a parent?