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10 Essential Items of Stationery for End of Year Exams

April 22, 2014

10 Essential Items of Stationery for End of Year Exams

For many students in the UK and around the world the end of year exams are stressful enough as it is. Not having the right stationery will add to the pressure, and will make the whole experience that much worse. You want to make sure you have all the items you need so that focusing on the task at hand is the number one priority during your exams. Realizing that you are missing something essential in the middle of your exam will just add panic and stress to the situation, which is exactly what you are looking to avoid.

This list outlines the top 10 essential items every student needs for their end of year exams. Make sure you are well prepared and have everything on the list well in advance. All those hours of revision and preparation need not be wasted because of something so easily avoided!

  1. Pens

Exam stationary Pens

Note that we have written pens, not just pen. The last thing you want is to run out of ink during your exam and have no other pens at hand. Not only will you have to disrupt other students’ exams by asking for another pen, but it will break your flow and concentration. We suggest using black or blue ink pens, as these tend to be preferred, and some examiners won’t actually allow you to use other colours like red. It’s worth getting yourself a pen you are familiar with too. It sounds slightly temperamental, but using a comfortable pen for hours on end can really make the difference– especially with essay-based questions.

Click here to view some pens we recommend 

  1. Pencil

    exam stationary pencils

Some people prefer mechanical pencils, but they are not always allowed at exams. So, be sure to find out if they are if you plan on taking them in with you. Otherwise, classic wooden pencils are just fine. You will usually need pencils for multiple-choice exams, as you may want to change your mind on questions you may not be sure about. Make sure they are all sharpened beforehand to avoid fiddling with sharpeners and pencil shavings during the exam.

You may also want to bring some colored pencils with you in case you need them, such as for geography exams. If you’re allowed to take notes in your exam, colours are a fantastic way of memory association too.

Click here to view some pencils we recommend 

  1. Eraser

exam stationary eraser

Bringing in an eraser is always a good idea in case you need to make any changes to your answers. This is especially the case in multiple choice exams and exams that require additional workings (like maths and physics). Be sure to take any wrapping off beforehand and make sure your eraser is totally plain. Usually, branded or patterned rubbers are usually not allowed.

Click here to see some erasers we recommend 

  1. Small Sharpener

sharpener exam stationary

A small sharpener is best, as they won’t take up much room and won’t be a fuss. Buy a good quality sharpener, such as a metal one. These are cheap, easy to find and you won’t have to worry about them breaking like with plastic ones. It’s worth noting that it’s a good idea to sharpen all your pencils prior to each exam, as to not waste precious time or distract yourself and others during the exam.

Click here to view some sharpeners we recommend 

  1. Ruler

Ruler exam stationary

Many exams will require the use of a ruler, such as maths, physics and geography. Choose a sturdy or bendy ruler that won’t run the risk of snapping. Again, it’s probably best to buy a plain ruler with no branding or patterns on it, as these could be taken off you if deemed inappropriate by the exam moderator.

Click here to see some rulers we recommend 

  1. Highlighter

Highlighter exam stationary

Highlighters can come in handy, especially in English literature exams where you may need to read long pieces of text. You can highlight anything you feel will be relevant when answering the questions at the end. In fact, you could use a highlighter to breakdown and highlight key parts of questions that you don’t understand. This is a great way to dissect complex questions in any subject. 

Click here to view some highlighters we recommend 

  1. Geometry Set

geometry exam stationary

You will usually be asked to bring in a geometry set with you if you are taking a maths or physics exam. This includes a compass and protractor, so be sure you have them with you. In certain exams a geometry set is an actual requirement, and in many schools they could potentially provide students with a set if needed. However, it’s almost certainly easier and an advantage to have your own set for the sake of a few pounds. 

  1. Calculator

calculator exam stationary

Check with your exam moderator which type calculators you are allowed to take in with you for your exams. Usually, a scientific calculator will be sufficient. You may need a graphic calculator if you are taking a more advanced maths exam, but they are not always allowed for other exams so it’s best to check beforehand. The last thing you want is to be left without such an essential piece of stationary. 

Click here to view some calculators we recommend

  1. Clear Pencil Case

You will need to buy a clear pencil case so the examiners can see its contents. This is necessary, in the eyes of the exam’s adjudicators, to prevent students from cheating. In any case (no pun intended) it’s a lot less hassle to just buy a clear pencil case then carry it all in a Ziploc bag.

Click here to view a clear pencil case we recommend 

  1. Bottle of Water

Finally, you should bring a bottle of water with you to the exam. You might need to take the label off first, but they should be allowed to be placed on the floor next to you. Just make sure you don’t take any answers with you into the exam on the inside label!

Now that you have all of your essential stationary items for your exams, you should be ready to give the exams your best shot.

Best of luck everyone!

help overcome procrastination
5 Tips on How to Prevent Procrastination When Revising

April 10, 2014

5 Tips on How to Prevent Procrastination When Revising

The lure of procrastination is a danger to students everywhere – that productive study sessions can quickly turn into hours of surfing the net, watching TV, or finally deciding to finish your household chores. In short, any excuse is used to put off revision.

To prevent procrastination, you need a proactive approach. If your revision is to be a success, consider implementing the following 5 tips. You’ll soon find you have plenty of time to get your work done and have a little fun as well.

1. Join a Study Group

No, this isn’t an excuse to hang out with your friends. Instead of picking your favourite people, opt for a selection of students that are up for being productive. In many ways joining a study group is similar to private tuition, as it allows discussions to be had and ideas to bounce off one another.

The reason this works so well is that you’ll feel motivated by seeing others put in the work as well. In addition, you can get your hands on their notes, their brains, and their company to make sure you don’t get lonely (and distracted!).

2. Write a To-Do List

When you feel like the pressure is on and time running out, the last thing you want to do is add more tasks. That’s why many people forego spending time on creating a to-do list, which throws organisation into disarray. Distractions become easy options when we’re not quite sure what we’re meant to be doing.

To-do lists don’t need to be detailed schedules of our study plans. They just need to be quick and dirty, easy to follow and simple to put together in just a few minutes. Checking off what you need to do will make the process more enjoyable, organised, and effective.

3. Take Breaks

Many students that have wasted their time procrastinating will try and abolish all breaks. Unfortunately, this is simply untenable and usually leads to procrastination. That’s why it’s so important to give yourself a break every hour or so.

This reinvigorates your body and mind, giving you plenty of energy to tackle more revision without getting distracted. It also gives you something to look forward to, allowing you to focus until that time comes.

4. Turn Technology Distractions Off

The web offers a wide range of study benefits, having the information of the world at your fingertips. However, students will usually opt for funny YouTube videos instead of revision material.

That’s why you need to turn all of these distractions OFF. Your Internet connection, iPad and smartphone should pose no danger if they’re not connected to the rest of the world.  

5. Set Yourself Realistic Goals

There’s a reason you want to revise in the first place – and that’s the role your revision plays in achieving your goals. Whether you’re looking to improve your job prospects or trying to get the marks to get yourself into a specific University, revision has a very important part in making things happen in your life.

Think about those goals when you start your day or when you find yourself tempted by the various distractions. Consider how wasting time doing these things will ultimately affect you, despite the short-term fun you may be having while watching TV or checking out Facebook.

Ultimately, it all comes down to taking appropriate action. You’ll never completely eradicate procrastination. After all, you’re human – over time, however, you can train yourself to become a very effective revision machine.

5 Fun Ways to Improve Your Handwriting

April 1, 2014

5 Fun Ways to Improve Your Handwriting

To celebrate National Stationery Week we’ve decided to come up with 5 fun ways in which you can improve your handwriting in preparation for the UK’s end of term GCSE and A-Level exams.

In the age of computers, tablets and smartphones, putting pen to paper is becoming a rare occurrence. Nevertheless, despite its declining usage, handwriting remains a critical cog of the way we communicate – think of examinations, conferences, lectures or meetings. 

Improving your handwriting has several key benefits. Firstly, it speeds you up – you’ll be able to answer questions more quickly and keep up with what’s being said during meetings or workshops. It also makes it legible, which makes it easier for examiners to mark your paper and for you to be able to read your own notes later on. To improve your handwriting without making it seem like a chore, why not try these 5 fun ways?

Write Letters

Since the inception of emails, people hardly send letters anymore. It’s quite a shame, as they’re more personal, unique, and it’s just appealing to receive something tangible. So next time you want to write your friend an email, why not turn to writing a letter instead?

Try and convince your friendly and family to get in on the action as well. Try and exchange letters or cards once or twice a month with a few people – you’ll soon notice a noticeable improvement in your handwriting!

Take Up Drawing

If you’re not much of an artist, why not give it a try by taking up a bit of drawing? It’s a fun pastime that will help you develop your skills with your pen, resulting in improved handwriting without you even realising it.

You can sign yourself up with a private tutor to ensure you use the right drawing techniques. It also makes the process much more fun when you start seeing actual development in your skills!

Play Games!

Wait, how do games help with handwriting? It’s all about getting involved with something that requires you to draw and/or write. Think about anything that requires your hand to be precise and the pressure applied to be just right – games like Jenga or Don’t Spill the Beans work extremely well.

Dot-to-Dot and Maze Worksheets

The traditional dot-to-dot is one of the most effective ways to help develop a younger student’s handwriting at an early age – they improve how you use your pen, as you have to be very careful and precise when connecting the dots. Mazes also work extremely well and they’re also quite challenging for younger students.

The web is full of these that you can print off for free, meaning it’s a cheap way to work on your handwriting without actually having to write!

Finally, Find The Right Pen

Most of us simply write with whatever we can find, whether it’s the cheapest pen at your local stationary shop, or something you just found lying around at home. This is a mistake – the first step to great handwriting is using the correct equipment.

You don’t need to invest in an expensive fountain pen. You just need something that works. Wait till you come across a model that feels comfortable to the grip, and where the ink comes out without the need to apply a lot of pressure – fingers tire very easily while writing for hours on end!

Make the process fun by going to the shops and getting a range of different types – try them all out and see which one feels right. Don’t go too crazy with the colours though!

Private Dyslexia Support
5 Tips for Teaching a Student with Dyslexia

March 25, 2014

5 Tips for Teaching a Student with Dyslexia

Whether you’re a parent of a child with dyslexia or teaching a child with learning difficulties, it can present a real challenge. It’s said that up to 20% of the population has a form of reading disability, with dyslexia easily being the most common type, with 10% of the UK diagnosed with dyslexia.

While the exact causes of dyslexia aren’t fully understood, studies have nevertheless brought us a wealth of knowledge about how teachers can help students to write well. The following 5 tips have been shown to improve performance, leading to increased confidence and results.

Dyslexia cannot and should not be categorised as one overlaying issue that children suffer from. A student may be a visual learning, an auditory learner or a kinesthetic learner; a student may struggle with numerical work but excel in other academic areas, and so on.

The overall message here is that just like in all walks of life, no two people are the same, and often you will find that different learning techniques will benefit some students more than they do others. Teaching Dyslexia needs to be attentive, and more so than the average classroom in the UK.

Identify where the student is weakest, and what areas of learning they struggle with the most, then use these five quick tips as a guide to support the learning process – nothing is impossible and you’re not alone.

1. Practice, Practice (and More Practice)!

Many Dyslexic students struggle with interpreting information. One of the best ways to combat this is actually showing them how something is done, rather than simply explaining a subject with no other sensory stimuli.

Once the student has been shown what they need to do and the types of techniques they can use to take advantage of improved learning, they will hugely benefit from implementing these steps themselves. This needs to be done many times over, and it will take more effort compared to the average student, but the rewards will be worthy of the hours put in.

However, don’t make the mistake of overloading dyslexic students. Don’t rush through materials and ensure you add in plenty of breaks, and varied learning techniques. It’s all about consistency, repetition, and organisation; not simply adding on additional hours of block-style learning or cramming. Dyslexia shows no correlation to the level of intelligence a student may or may not have, it simply affects the way in which someone absorbs information.

2. The Right Environment and Materials

You need to give a student with dyslexia an environment where he or she can thrive. It should be quiet, structured, calm, and consistent. The student needs to know what to expect so that focus can be retained throughout each study session.

If you’re teaching a child from home or an environment outside of the typical classroom, it’s a good idea to establish a specific room or area as a ‘learning zone’. Ensure they’re aware that this is a place where they need to focus and take new things in – otherwise information will never stick.

Different learning environments can have a huge affect on what a student associates learning specific subjects with. For example, a typical ‘dull’ classroom may not have as much of a positive effect as a room with range of sensory stimuli with practical learning tools.

3. Multi-Sensory Approach

Most students with learning difficulties will benefit from a multi-sensory approach to taking in new (or repeat) information, but dyslexics really reap the benefits from teaching that uses sight, sound, movement and touch.

Try and incorporate a range of quality sensory learning techniques during a single session, they will not only improve the rate of learning but also break up the lesson nicely.

The trick is in teaching the same (or similar) things with various methods, which helps the information stick. Use pictures, multimedia, play games, draw and paint, listen to books on tape, or simply watch a documentary with discussion points.

It all helps and it’s worth getting creative!

4. Keep Your Child Healthy

Dyslexic students tend to have difficulties with focusing on singular tasks in hand, and with short-term memory absorbtion. If they arrive tired, hungry or ill, they’re less likely to be able to maximise the learning experience.

Although this rule isn’t exclusive to students with dyslexia, the same can be said for all students; especially at a younger age.

If being tired or ill is something circumstantial that can’t be helped, work with the situation instead of against it. Reading is probably something you should reserve for another time – try going for a discussion or an artistic pursuit as an alternative. Look to engage the student and raise their attention to the task at hand.

It can be incredibly frustrating for students with learning difficulties because they will want to learn and do well in exams, just like other students. Ensure that you don’t punish them for lackluster grades. If one method of learning clearly isn’t working for them, try others – and keep going until you crack it.

5. Professional Dyslexia Tutors

By no means should seeking out professional dyslexia tutors be the last port of call here. Getting professional help really could make the difference between a student suffering without the knowledge of how to deal with dyslexia and a student learning to cope with learning difficulties.

It’s important to remember that you don’t need to tackle the entire teaching experience on your own. Even if you’re an experienced teacher, it’s important to use alternative resources to ensure the child gets the best possible education.

For example, get your hands on the latest technology that has been shown to help dyslexic students. Games and multimedia programs have been specifically developed to help.

You can also employ someone to give your student some high quality private tuition. It helps tremendously and won’t make the child feel as if they’re falling behind their peers.

Remember, dyslexic students aren’t unable to learn – they simply struggle with certain aspects of your run-of-the-mill teaching methods. With just a few adjustments and tweaks, dyslexic students can achieve just as much as anyone else, if not more!

 

Alex Dyer discusses the PISA tests live on the BBC News

December 20, 2013

Alex Dyer discusses the PISA tests live on the BBC News

According to a report by the BBC and the results from the latest Pisa tests, the UK is falling behind global rivals in international tests taken by 15 year olds, failing to make the top 20 in maths, reading and science, and currently being ranked 26 in the world!

The Pisa tests (Programme for International Student Assessment) have become widely recognised as the most influential rankings in international education, testing up to 500,000 15 year old pupils in maths, reading and science in 65 countries.

Here’s a video of Alex Dyer speaking live on the BBC last month:

Why UK children are academically falling behind other nations

Why UK children are academically falling behind other nations

Tutor House was recently asked to do an interview live on the BBC. Alex was asked a number of questions relating to the latest PISA results and how they’re relevant to our educational standards.

Why is the UK lagging behind other countries around the world? And why is Asia paving the way to academic success?

Is short, Asian countries, including China, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan place huge importance on education, learning and tuition. Students spend hours of additional time, outside of school, being privately tutored. Passing exams and going to university is the most important thing. Teachers and tutors are well respected in Asia, they’re idolised and looked up to. That’s not really the case in the UK. Yes parents require tutors for they’re children, and 1 in 4 children are tutored at some stage in their lives in the UK. However, it’s the time and effort that non-western students spend on their education and studies. In some Asian countries children spend up to 5 hours a day studying, most 16 year olds in the UK, that would be per week.

You can read more here.

How to effectively deal with Cyberbullying

November 19, 2013

How to effectively deal with CyberBullying

To support #AntiBullyingWeek, the London-based private tutoring agency Tutor House has come up with its own tips and advice on how to effectively deal with CyberBullying, and what parents and teachers should look out for when dealing with a suspected victim.

What is CyberBullying?

With the rise of technology it no longer means that bullying is limited to playgrounds, street corners and classrooms anymore. With all out access to smart phones, social networking sites and online forums bullying can happen to anyone, anywhere and anytime without stepping outside of the home.

The BBC reported that over a fifth of children have witnessed a classmate or friend being bullied online. They also recently covered a story of one child’s experience with CyberBullying. Although turning a negative into a positive, the teenager now helps others overcome their online bullies.

The effects of CyberBullying are devastating and can make children feel hurt, angry, helpless, isolated and even, in extreme cases, feel suicidal. Online bullying can even be more harrowing than face-to-face bullying because:

1. CyberBullying can be anonymous. Bullies feel that by using online channels to target victims they’re less likely to get caught and as a consequence the bullying can be more severe.

2. CyberBullying can be done anywhere, anytime and by anyone. As if face-to-face bullying in school playgrounds, classrooms or street corners wasn’t enough, now victims can be targeted within the sanctity of their own homes. It can seem like there’s no escape from the taunting and humiliation.

3. CyberBullying can be social. With social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter, CyberBullying can now be witnessed by potentially thousands of people. What’s worse is that these provocative messages and taunts stay up for all to see way beyond just a few words in the playground.

How to deal with CyberBullying:

If online bullies have targeted you, it’s so important not to respond to any messages written to or about you. Responding will often make the situation worse, and can fuel the bullies to spur on and continue their verbal assault.

Just as importantly, you should never seek revenge on a CyberBully or sink to their level. This will put you in the wrong, and will only make the problem worse, and could even result in legal consequences for the both of you.

Instead, here are some ideas for how you should handle the matter:

1. Report the threats, taunting and harm to someone you trust. What may seem like casual bullying to you may actually turn out to be offensive or be deemed as dangerous. In which case, the police may need to be involved. In more and more circumstances, the police have to become involved in cases of severe online bullying.

2. Prevent all communication with the CyberBully. Block their E-Mail address, mobile phone number and delete them from all your social media accounts. The key here is to remove all avenues in which the bully can communicate with you online. Bullies are cowards, especially online, and if you remove their direct lines of communication with you, they will hopefully give up and stop the abuse.

3. Save all the evidence. Keep all abusive messages or screenshots of all instances of bullying, and then report them to a trusted adult or someone that you feel can help you. If the bullying is left unreported, that gives the bully the opportunity to continue and usually become more aggressive.

4. Keep Going! Unfortunately bullying is rarely limited to just a couple of incidents. Bullies are often as relentless as they come, but as long as you keep reporting them, gathering evidence and limit their communication with you, even the most relentless bully will give up.

5. Unplug from technology. In this day and age that statement sounds crazy right? How else could you possibly know what Grandma had for dinner on Tuesday? Well, unplugging yourself from technology for a couple of weeks allows you to live your life away from the sometimes-harsh cyber world.

Always Remember:

Every case of bullying is different, and there’s no foolproof solution for preventing or stopping bullying that suits everyone. However, all victims of bullying whether it’s face-to-face or online should always remember the following things:

1. Get Help. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that you’re not alone on this one. Bullying is a disgraceful act of cruelty, and is not tolerated under any circumstances. You can always talk to a parent, teacher, brother, sister or any trusted adult.

2. It’s not your fault. Never be ashamed of who you are, and never blame yourself for what’s happening to you. It doesn’t matter what a CyberBully says, they’re the ones with the problem – not you!

3. Try to forget about it. We understand that it’s not as easy as that, sure. But the more time you spend with your friends and family doing the things that you enjoy, the easier it will be for you to manage.

4. Life will get better. No matter how low a CyberBully has made you feel, just remember that it won’t last forever and life will get better. For every bully out there, there are ten wonderful people who treat you for who you are – you just need to find them!

5. You’re not alone. Whilst every case of bullying is personal and effects different people in different ways, just remember that there’s always someone out there you can talk to who understands and has been through similar experiences as you.

How to spot if your child or friend is being bullied:

No matter how painful it is, children often suffer in silence without sharing their horrible experiences with friends, family of trusted adults like teachers and councillors.

Whilst parents should monitor the online activities of their children in some way, it’s important to remember not to punish a child that’s been a victim of CyberBullying. Watch out for these signs, and reach out to your friend / child if you recognise any of the following:

1. Withdraws from family, friends and all activities they previously enjoyed.

2. Refuses to go or skips school and avoids going to extracurricular group activities.

3. Becomes angry, aggressive or inexplicably sad or distressed.

4. Increased levels of anxiety and upset.

5. Lower school grades or increases absences from school.

It’s increasingly becoming more important to recognise the implications of CyberBullying and to prevent it before it does lasting serious damage to young people.

Stay safe with technology and encourage your children to effectively refuse and prevent CyberBullying in all cases. Prevent the problem before it starts or grows by blocking communications with online bullies and speaking with the bully’s parents.

Easter-Revision-Course-2014
How to Choose the Perfect Private Tutor

November 13, 2013

How to Choose the Perfect Private Tutor

Education is an integral part of the development of child. And with private tuition on the rise in the UK, the London based private tutoring agency Tutor House has come up with its top tips on how to choose the perfect private tutor.

Tutor House’s director, Alex Dyer said, “Getting a child’s educational development right has never been more critical, with tough and highly competitive entrance exams for the best schools and stringent entry requirements for the top Universities.”

Where to find Private Tutors:

Upon deciding that your child would benefit from additional educational support, one of the first questions that you’ll ask yourself is where to look for qualified, experienced and high quality private tutors.

In a recent poll by Tutor House, 51% of parents said that they’d use search engines to find a private tutor whilst 32% said that they’d trust a personal referral and 17% suggested they’d use other means such as going through schools and local advertisements.

What to ask:

1. Is the tutor qualified?

One of the most important questions to ask is whether or not the tutor has a degree in the subject they are teaching. Do they have the appropriate knowledge and experience of the curriculum your child is studying at school?

Currently the industry isn’t currently regulated, which means that almost anyone can advertise himself or herself as a private tutor. Most agencies like Tutor House do not take on tutors without a degree in their chosen subject and a full CRB check.

Don’t be afraid to ask for recent client referrals!

2. What are your child’s needs?

Poor exam results aren’t always a reflection on a child’s intelligence or ability. Extra support in more general aspects of education such as exam technique, organisational skills, how to write an essay, time management etc. can positively influence exam results in addition to subject tuition.

Speak to your child and their teachers about their strengths and weaknesses to see how additional tuition can be put to best use.

3. Is the tutor CRB checked?

Private tutors should be able to produce a recent CRB certificate, and you should ask to see it before contracting that tutor, even if found through a word of mouth referral, and especially if the tutor is freelance.

When Tutor House asked its parents, 90% suggested that the industry should be regulated with 95% supporting the notion that tutors should be CRB checked.

4. How will your child get on with the tutor?

Being a great teacher is more than just experience, qualifications and subject knowledge. The best private tutors are the ones that build a friendly relationship with children by engaging with them, improving their confidence, focus and motivation to learn.

5. How experienced is the tutor?

Years of experience doesn’t necessarily mean that a private tutor will provide a better service. However, on the whole, the more years of experience a tutor has, the better they will be.

For example, all of Tutor House’s private tutors have at least 3 years teaching experience in schools, a degree in their chosen subject and have an up to date CRB certificate.

How much should you pay?

Tutoring fees are often dependent on location but as a guide, a highly qualified and experienced private tutor will cost slightly more. Tutoring agencies start from as little as £25 per hour and go up to £120 per hour, although the average is £40 per hour.

Alex Dyer goes on to say, “At Tutor House, we feel that the industry needs some form of regulation, and because of that we only employ private tutors that have a degree in their subject, a recent CRB certificate and have at least 3 years teaching experience in schools.”

“Private tutoring is not a cheap service, and can be a financial stretch for a lot of families in the UK. With that in mind, it’s imperative to ensure that the level of service we provide is the best for each and every child and parent that comes to us.”

Tutor House employs the services of over 300 private tutors, offering a variety of disciplines, from PE to physics, tennis to IT, with specific tuition offered for Common Entrance and senior school examinations, GCSE and A levels.

How-to-write-Personal-Statement
How to write the perfect personal statement in 2013/14

October 15, 2013

How to write the perfect personal statement in 2013/14

Just like a sales pitch, a student’s personal statement is one of the main contributing factors of getting into your desired university.

Remember, you will be one of thousands of prospective university students all pitching their own case for getting into University. Therefore, whatever you end up writing needs to be great.

Instead of sitting down and slogging out page after page of nothingness, here are a few basic tips to keep in mind before you start:

1. A personal statement should be no longer than 4,000 characters in length

2. Always start with a bang. Write a ‘wow’ sentence draw in the reader’s interest

3. Use consistent, professional and neat formatting, and don’t exceed 47 lines (make sure you double check this when uploading your statement on to the UCAS website)

4. Divide the overall content into four main sections:

– Why you want to study the chosen course at that particular University

– What you’ve done to date (or in the near future) that’s relevant to the course

– Your work experience and the key skills you’ve picked up

– All other activities that could make you stand out as well rounded person

5. Write with passion and interest. Writing a personal statement isn’t just something you ‘have’ to do. It’s your chance to really get across why you want to go into further education.

6. Make sure the whole statement is100% free of grammatical errors.

7. Listen to the advice from your teachers and parents – they’ve all done it before!

8. Be 100% honest and genuine. Even the smallest of white lies could prevent you from gaining a placement if found to be untrue!

9. Write it from the heart. Show the reader how much you really want this. (But don’t be cheesy)

10. This is your one chance to really sell yourself!

Writing your personal statement

Introduction

Word document open, line spacing set to 1.5, easy to read Sans Serif font and intimidating blank screen in front of you; it’s time to draw attention to your case with a ‘wow’ opening sentence.

Along with the conclusion, your opening sentence is arguably the most important one you’ll write. It should set the tone for the rest of your personal statement and draw the reader’s interest in. A division of around 40% of the personal statement should be devoted to why you want to study the chosen course. Ensure that your opening sentence / paragraph introduces your reasons and is suitably backed up by the inspirations behind them.

A good example of an opening sentence may be; “Reading Professor Stephen Hawking’s `A brief history of time’ first awakened my interest in natural sciences, and in particular, physics”.

Try to avoid writing generic sentences and phrases such as ‘I am passionate about leaning’ and ‘I am very hard working’. In truth these types of statements really mean nothing in the grand scheme of things, they can sound cheesy and most importantly, they waste precious words!

Always write from the heart and be credible. If it’s not obvious, you need to sit down and really work out why you have chosen this degree. Did you read a book, see a TV programme or do some work experience? Maybe you’ve always been interested in this degree and it’s been a lifelong passion? Once you’ve got to grips with why you want to spend 3 – 4 years studying your degree, present your reasons concisely, personalise what you say and relate your reasons to your past experiences.

You should always avoid making throwaway comments like ‘Because my dad’s a doctor’, or ‘it was the one thing I could think of that interested me’. As you write, demonstrate that you have a good understanding of the course and make sure what you write supports your decision to study it.

Previous Academic Experience

This section of your personal statement should inform the reader what you have been doing with your life to date that’s relevant to your chosen course. If you don’t like reading vast chunks of text then a law degree probably isn’t for you.

Similarly if you can’t cope well under pressure then medicine or journalism may not be your bag after all. If you get to this part of your personal statement and find yourself questioning why you even chose your course in the first place, it might be worthwhile to stop writing and go back to the drawing board.

But let’s assume you’ve got this far and are still enthusing about your chosen course; note down what aspects of your life including your studies, hobbies, work and leisure experiences are relevant to the course. For example, if you’re applying for Economics, mention the positives of taking Mathematics as an additional A level. Mention work experience that is relevant, such as shadowing an accountant, working in a corporate environment.

Similarly, producing a student newsletter is relevant to being a journalist, so extract which aspects of those experiences are directly relevant and explain them.

The important thing here is to really get a grasp on what’s impressive and relevant to your course, and then make sure you include it. Modesty will get you nowhere when writing a personal statement – sell yourself!

Extra Curricular Experience

In this section, you’ll have to draw in non-specific work experience and all other academic achievements such as DoE qualifications and instrument grades. It doesn’t matter how long ago or how briefly you worked or trained to get that skill, what’s important is how you bring it into the statement.

For example, if you didn’t complete the DofE award but you achieved parts of it, then mention it. There no need to lie, but don’t overlook the team-building skills of a weekend yomping the dales, or the commercial skills of working pricing goods and operating the tills in a charity shop.

Final Section – Conclusion

The last section is where you bring in other aspects of your personality to create a picture of a well-rounded, interesting person; (even if you’re rough round the edges and/or boring!).

Rack your brains and note down the times you were in the school play, or performed on stage, or played a sport for the year or the school. If your achievements transcend this, for example, you played hockey for the county, then best to upgrade that to paragraph three.

Make sure you give examples of hobbies that make you a more interesting person than the guy who plays on his PlayStation 3 all day, and then relate them back to your university aspirations. Playing football in a team develops team building, helping organise the social side of a sports club demonstrates organisational and social skills.

Finally, think the closing sentence is the second most important one to the opening sentence. Draw together the experiences, skills and knowledge you’ve presented with a concluding statement, such as “I’m a well rounded and motivated person, who will thrive in a university environment.”

Then check, check and re-check that what you say is relevant, well presented, grammatically correct and is delivered with passion and enthusiasm. Editing and re-editing is even more important than drafting those 2,000 characters in the first place.