Writing a personal statement for UCAS is tricky. Where does one start?
UCAS statements are challenging because students need to demonstrate a genuine interest in their chosen subject, but also it is the only opportunity to present their character.
There needs to be a balance between the personal nature of the personal statement and course-related.
Here are a few strategies that can help:
1. Writing a draft
Firstly, the personal statement will never be perfect the first time around. This should not be a reason to not put anything down in writing! Personal statements can be made memorable by sharing an emotional connection with the reader, and offering an interesting outlook, however, they should not be over the top and unrealistic without addressing your academic results and work experience!
2. Use a problem-solution writing structure
Personal statements typically include a catchy opening sentence, motivation for the course, previous experience in school and work experience, followed by a concluding statement. In addition, they include problem-solution situations where the student outlines how they overcame challenges or worked in teams. Overcoming differences in a team or overcoming a personal barrier can be written to reflect your character!
3. Depth before breadth
There is the challenge of writing as much content as possible whilst still having a clear narrative. However, too much breadth in the personal statement can be confusing and it does not show direction to the reader.
A more effective personal statement may cover the key requirements and then focus at one subject-specific issue in depth and relate it to personal experience e.g. working in a charity or taking part in music competitions.
4. Explore motivation
Universities globally look to see if students are motivated. Typically you are meant ot be motivated by the subject of choice, although there may be other reasons that motivate you e.g. family, overcoming adversity, a desire for social justice that can justify the choice of the chosen subject.
5. Vision for the future
This is the final section of the statement. Rather than packing in lots of new information, this should bring together the main points of the essay.
Personal statements should finish on a high, presenting the student’s ambitions and plans. This is your change to shine through the personal statement!