How to write a UCAS Personal Statement that stands out

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Thank you to the hundreds of you who joined our Insta Live at 5 yesterday talking about personal statements!

We’re aware that they can go a bit fast sometimes, so here are the key takeaways from that session.

Top 3 ways to write an exceptional personal statement

1. Avoid the most common problems

This is what HEAN (Higher Education Access Network) said were the biggest problems with personal statements.

Having analysed thousands of them in a study that took in both student perceptions and the perspectives of admissions officers, the most common problems they identified were:

  • Failure to show academic suitability and interest in a specific degree: students use generalisations, clichés or attempt to “define” a subject
  • Not developing or analysing wider reading or particular situations encountered during work experience
  • Over-emphasis on extra-curricular activities
  • Poor editing and use of inappropriate register

personal statement 1

2. Don’t just state your interest in a subject- show it

Conversely, HEAN looked into what academics really want and value in a personal statement. Their key findings were:

  • Academics particularly value sections in which students show rather than state their interest in a subject by pursuing a focused topic of interest
  • The topic of interest can take a number of forms, for example:
  • Analysing a particular argument or claim in History
  • Examining a specific case study in Geography
  • Analysing an experiment in Physics
  • Evaluating a case or legal development for Law

personal statement 2

Remember the person reading your personal statement is an academic in this field and genuinely loves the subject you’re applying to. They want to see that you love it too.

They want to see you nerding out over your subject; every time you make a point, analyse it, think about what your thoughts were, what you learned. If you do that, they’ll believe you love something, you don’t have to tell them.

3. Follow this structure

Here’s an example of a structure from HEAN, which can help you keep your personal statement simple, short, and make everything you say valuable:

1. Reasons for wanting to study the course

2. Topic of interest

3. Course-related activities

4. Extra-curricular activities

personal statement 3

Watch Beyond the Blackboard videos for additional help

We’ve teamed up with Beyond the Blackboard UK to bring you this super informative video on how to write an outstanding UCAS personal statement while social distancing.

👇 Watch it below! 👇

ucas personal statement

Any other questions?

If you have ANY further questions about this, comment them on our most recent Instagram post! We’ll be answering them all week.

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We’re also going Live at 5pm every weekday to answer your questions and help you guys through this crazy time, so come join us for that if you’re interested!

-The Adapt team

Cover photo by: @risstudy

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