How to write a great UCAS personal statement – what do you REALLY need to say?

ucas tips choices

Need to write a great UCAS personal statement but not sure what to put in it? These key tips will make all the difference.

Read through the personal statement writing tips from UCAS

First, start with a visit to UCAS for inspiration. They have their very own personal statement tips, including handy videos! You’ll find do’s and don’t’s and pointers on what to include about yourself.

Explain why the university course you’re applying for is such a great fit for you.

Say why you want to do your chosen course. Do you think it will help with your future career? How does it match your interests and education?

Say why you think you’re a good fit for the course. What relevant experience have you had, perhaps in terms of volunteering, work experience, hobbies or life experience? For example, your babysitting experience would be relevant to a childcare degree – or your blog might be relevant to your journalism or marketing degree. You can think outside the box, too.

Show how your current or recent studies match your chosen degree course.

Your course provider wants to see you have a real interest in the course – and that you enjoy the topic enough to have studied something related before. So you can write about relevant courses you’ve done that you found interesting or were good at.
For example, maybe doing well in French at school made you excited at the thought of a business degree with a year’s placement abroad. Or maybe studying Geography and talking to a careers adviser helped you think about opportunities in the transport sector, which is why you’re applying for a geography degree with transport studies.

Include your skills and achievements – don’t be shy!

Write about anything you’ve done or achieved in life that could help you stand out.

  • Have you done any awards like the Duke of Edinburgh awards, or been in scouts/guides?
  • Have you held positions of responsibility, like being a prefect or volunteer team leader?
  • Are you proud of achievements outside studying, like being selected for the school sports team or getting graded in music or martial arts?
  • Have you done well in any competitions, like poetry or dance or cooking competitions?

When you write about your skills and achievements, think about how they show you have the five must-have life skills that show you’d do your very best in your chosen degree:

Show how your hobbies and interests relate to your chosen course

Hobbies and interests give a glimpse of what matters enough to you that you’ll do it even if no-one is making you.

Try to link the skills you use in your hobbies and interests to the skills you might need on your chosen course. Writing about your hobbies in this way will help show you’ll do your best on the degree course because you want to, not because someone’s making you!

HOT TIP: Think about how the five life skills (self-belief, self-management, teamwork, communication and problem solving) relate to your personal interests AND your chosen course.

Write about your work history (stuck for ideas? We can help)

This one might seem tricky if you haven’t had many (or any) jobs yet, but there is always something to say.

Examples of work history could include:

  • Volunteering (like joining us as a Youth Ambassador)
  • Work placements, work shadowing or work experience
  • Part-time work or summer/Saturday jobs

For each example you give, think about how you developed new skills from it, or learned something about yourself.

HOT TIP: Want to show you really care about your future? Become a Young Professional. It’s free training that helps you build five essential skills for career, study, and life. It’s also an achievement you can put on your UCAS personal statement

Write about your career plans – your chosen course is just the start of a new adventure

Writing about your career plans can feel hard – especially if you’re not sure what you want to do in the future. However, thinking about what your chosen course offers in terms of topic and structure is a good clue about what you want to work on in life and your future career.

The career plans section of your UCAS application is where you can say what you’d like to do once you’ve completed your chosen course. Talk about a career goal you want to achieve, and say how you think your chosen course would help you achieve it.

HOT TIPS:

Search online for “what jobs can I do with a [name] degree”. Replace [name] with the title of the course you are applying for. It can give you some good ideas about where your course can take you in life. Many degrees can help you branch off into all kinds of careers you might not know about yet!

Visit our Careers Hub for inspiration. It helps you discover all kinds of careers by industry with tips on how to get into them.

Before you send off your UCAS application…

Paste your completed UCAS application into Word. This helps you check any spelling or grammar mistakes, and check the word count too.

Read your personal statement aloud to yourself. How does it sound? Does it flow well, without sounding awkward? Does it make sense? Do you repeat yourself, or does each sentence say something new?

Get a second opinion. Yes, it makes everything take a bit longer but getting the opinion of someone experienced like a family member or teacher can help you feel like you’ve given this your very best shot. Other people can be great at spotting achievements and skills you forgot to mention, too!

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