What is UCAS?
UCAS is a UK-based university and college admissions service designed to speed up the application process across British universities. From 2021, the UCAS application fee is £20 for single options and £26 for multiple options.
What is a personal statement?
A university personal statement is essentially a sales pitch for a university place. Think about it this way, your personal statement is the only thing that sets you apart from someone who has achieved the exact same grades as you in the exact same subjects.
Places on certain courses and at particular universities are, more often than not, oversubscribed and highly sought after. A personal statement should therefore be used to highlight why a university should choose to offer you a place over another candidate.
How long should a personal statement be?
UCAS personal statements are notoriously limited. You only have 4,000 characters (including spaces) and approximately 47 lines to summarise why you are a great candidate for your university course of choice.
Ultimately this means you have to use each word wisely, make sure that you don’t waffle and make use of each sentence to build your case: why you'd be a great candidate for a university place.
⭐ Tip: character counters
If you are worried about your word count when writing your personal statement, use a character counter so you can better plan your paragraphs. These can be found and used for free when you search 'free character counter' online.
How to start writing your personal statement
Try not to overthink at this stage. Firstly, don’t waste precious characters with a generic quote or witty one-liner, many administrators consider these a complete turn off.
The best personal statements get to the point quickly, conveying an enthusiasm for a chance to study a chosen course and a passion for the subject. Start your personal statement with a short sentence that sums up why you’re interested in studying the area you are applying for.
⭐ Tip: leave the beginning to the end
If you’re struggling to start at the beginning, our expert UCAS tutors suggest leaving the introduction until last.
The opening paragraph can sometimes be the toughest thing to write. By concentrating on the main content; explaining why you want to study the course you will be better prepared to go back and highlight your main points in your opening lines.
Personal statement openings to avoid
It’s always useful to know what not to do. Here are some of the worst ways you can start a personal statement.
- Ever since I was a child I have wanted to study…
- I knew from the day I was born I would be great at….
- I have always been interested in…
- Throughout my life I have always loved…
- For as long as I can remember…
- My dad was a doctor so it’s a natural…
- I was unsure which path to take, until...
Good examples of personal statement introductions
You want to demonstrate a keen interest in your subject knowledge, without including banal phrases like “my passion for…” or “I love learning about…” because it lacks proof. Some good examples are:
“Since working in a nursery for my Silver DofE award my interest in Child Psychology has really grown...”
“Reading Professor Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time first awakened my interest in natural sciences, and in particular, physics.”
“After watching Netflix’s documentary Making a Murderer I felt compelled to work and change the Criminal Justice System to ensure that all defendants are equally represented.”
Oxford or Cambridge?
Can't decide? Read our Oxbridge Applications: A Complete Guide to find out more about the Oxbridge application process.
When should I start writing my personal statement?
Yes, the University application process may seem a long way off now, but it sneaks up on you! These next few years, months and weeks are going to fly by and, before you know it, that UCAS deadline will be on top of you.
We know that it’s tempting to avoid something that you think might be stressful, but it is super important to keep on top of things now. If you take these steps early on, you’ll reap the rewards when it's time to leave the nest. Trust us, it's worth it!
What to include in a personal statement
Your personal statement should always include evidence to support your claims. If you state that you are an excellent candidate for a course, provide real life examples that demonstrate exactly why that is.
Be 100% honest. Don’t be tempted to over exaggerate. It’s never a good idea to fill your personal statement with half-truths or worse, blatant lies.
Administrators are well used to spotting personal statements that seem too good to be true. And you may well get asked follow up questions in your interview.
Universities aren’t expecting you to be an expert on your chosen subject area, in fact this is probably the main reason why you're applying to go to university!
Rather than cramming everything you can think of about the subject into your personal statement, mention what inspired you to choose the course.
Include references to books, essays and any other materials that can back up your claims — make sure you have actually read or watched these sources otherwise you might be caught out in university interviews!
How should I format my personal statement?
We recommend using smart fonts like Arial or Times New Roman in size 12. It should be typed with 1.5 line spacing for easy reading. Keep to a standard black front to look professional.
Around 40% of the Personal Statement should be devoted to why you want to study the chosen course, not how, so make sure the opening sentence introduces your reasons and is backed up by the inspirations behind them.
Break your personal statement into 4 sections:
1. Why you want to study the course
2. What subjects you are studying that contribute to the course and book you have read/talks you’ve been to
3. Your work experience, your achievements
4. Your hobbies, interests, could include sport, music, volunteer work
How to write a killer conclusion for your personal statement
Like with any written piece, a conclusion is there to conclude and analyse the information you have already presented.
Thinking about it like this, use your conclusion to hammer home why the points you have made throughout your personal statement matter and why they make you an excellent candidate.
Try and avoid bringing up new points in your conclusion. Instead repeat your key interests, experiences and skills to form a sense of closure to your statement.
You can also use it as a chance to talk about the future.
Use it as a chance to explain what it would mean to you if you secured a place at university and how it would help you develop and grow.
Where can I get help to write my personal statement?
At Tutor House we have several experienced tutors who can help you with your personal statement and the application process. Our tutors will help you on every step of the way when deciding which university is right for you.
Whether you’re looking for guidance on writing an Economics personal statement, Computer Science personal statement or a Law personal statement, we’re here to help with all subject areas!
With the 1:1 guidance from one of our UCAS Advisorsor Personal Statement tutors, you get tailored advice from an experienced professional who can take your UCAS Personal Statement from average to amazing. Don’t just rely on your school teachers, use all the resources available to you to help you beat the competition.
You and your tutor will work together to track your UCAS progress, ensuring that you feel confident with your applications whatever universities you are applying to.
For more information, click “Ask an Expert” today and receive free educational advice on everything UCAS, personal statements and more!