Every country in the world has a unique education system, university application procedures and spooky terminology.
If you’re an international student who wants to study in the UK, by now, you have probably heard about “the UCAS personal statement”. By the name itself, you have easily guessed what it stands for, but like many other overseas students, you know little or nothing how to write a decent one. And knowing that the UK universities are highly competitive, the UCAS personal statement is VERY important.
Follow the instructions explained below to write a worth-reading piece of content and what common mistakes you must always avoid in the process in order to get admitted at a university in the UK.
Before that, a little introduction to what is a UCAS personal statement?
The personal statement is a kind of document where you describe your motivations about why are you willing to enroll in a particular university course and what are your long-term goals you believe your favorite study program will help you accomplish. Online international applications for university in the UK are collected through a joint online application platform known as UCAS, hence the name “the UCAS personal statement”.
The UK universities deal with a large number of foreign applications and to choose the best candidates it is necessary for them to rely on several documents. Besides your academic qualifications and your excellent grades, they want to collect more information about your personal and academic profile. In a UCAS personal statement, you must try to describe your academic and personal strength and skills so the admission committee you’re a candidate worth-admitting.
All that being said, a UCAS personal statement is a very important part of your application and writing a decent one can easily affect the score of your application.
What To Write?
At the beginning, you must have a clear understanding of what precisely you need to write down in this letter. As such, you will easily find a balance between personal and formal communication, which is often a problem for many international students in the UK.
Remember you can apply for more than one course through UCAS and you only have to attach one personal statement for all of them. If you’re applying for more than one course your personal statement must do well for each of them. Given that, avoid mentioning course titles and university or college names. If every course is about similar subjects, try to be less specific and focus on common things.
Here are some ideas to get you started
Carefully read the content of your aimed course to be able to identify what skills and qualities you need to share in order to stand out the competition.
Provide reasons about what encouraged you to apply for that course and that university. Focus on your future long-term ambitions and personal interests and motivations which led you to this decision.
Next, you must focus on explaining why do you think you’re a suitable candidate for that course. You can talk about your academic achievements, skills and experiences relevant to the course of your choice.
Mention other activities you have participated in the past and be specific about why those activities are relevant to the course you’re applying for. These activities may include work experience, summer schools, short-term courses, sports events etc.
If you’re an EU or international student your UCAS personal statement must also include the followings
- Personal reasons about why did you choose to study in the UK. For instance, the point of your argument can be the global reputation the UK universities have.
- How proficient you’re in English language and what English courses you have taken in the past.
- Also, explain why did you decide to study abroad rather in your own country. For instance, you can mention that the opportunity to get an international studying experience has been a major driver in your decision.
Tips On How To Write a UCAS Personal Statement
So far, you have acquired a basic understanding of what your UCAS personal statement must include. Now comes the most important part: writing your hard-hitting UCAS personal statement.
Always remember that a UCAS personal statement must be original and unique to you. That being said, you won’t find a universal format on how to write have an excellent one. However, there are some elements every good personal statement must have. If you properly follow the instructions provided below you can easily make a decent copy.
Admit it that you cannot write the best piece of content ever on your first try. So your approach must start from a general perspective and then gradually develop it into a refined final version.
You surely agree that a blank sheet of paper is intimidating. Thus, you must first write down everything you want your UCAS personal statement to include. Reasons why you have chosen that course, specific motivations and interests, personal strength and skills, qualifications, future ambitions and further on.
From then on, you can start editing the whole material, cut unnecessary parts and optimize the ones left by reviewing important sentences and considering your expressive style.
Arrange information in a clear, concise and easy-to-follow order. Even if your sentences are structured well, putting them in proper order is a vital part of your UCAS personal statement. In that case, UCAS officers can easily get a realistic picture of your academic profile and assess if you’re worth admitting.
After the information is put in the right order, it is time to work with details. Pay specific attention to important sentences and see if standing formulation you believe will send the message you want. Avoid long, complex and hard to understand sentences. Keep in mind, that the admission committee is not interested in revealing your true potential in literature, but want to know your academic and personal skills and their relation to the course you’re applying for.
Your opening sentences must entirely focus on your personal motivations on why you want to study in that specific program. Avoid subjective expressions, the sorts of “I wanted to study Mathematics ever since I was born” because this totally lacks a realistic sense.
Following the optimization of your introduction, you can start talking about your academic and personal qualities and demonstrate how they make you the right candidate to be given a place.
In the end, giving someone else to read it before the submission is never a bad idea. Sometimes we get locked down in a task that we can hardly see any mistake otherwise so obvious. Give it to your close friends, to your teacher or any family member and get to know what do they think.
Frequently Asked Questions
The personal statement is a common entry requirement in universities and most students do have a basic idea of what it is. But the British education system and its unique terminology have this potential to trigger confusion in many foreign students.
Here are some common questions international students in the UK have about the UCAS personal statement
What is the optimal length of a UCAS personal statement and how many words can I write?
The UCAS sets out a standard upper limit of characters and a specific length each personal statement letter must have. When you write your own UCAS personal statement make sure it doesn’t exceed 4,000 characters and 47 lines. Be cautious that some word processors show a different number of words if tabs and spacing paragraphs are not counted as characters.
What happens if I copy my UCAS personal statement from someone else?
Certain actions will be taken against you. Always remember that the UCAS platform has an extensive database containing all personal statement letters ever uploaded on it. The moment you submit your own one, it will immediately be compared with every other UCAS personal statement. If only 10% of your copy is similar to another one, your application will be declined in the first place.
What if I apply for more than one course?
In UCAS you can choose up to five courses to apply for, however, you’re only allowed to submit a single UCAS personal statement. Make sure your statement is general and does well for each type of course you want to apply for.
When Should I Start Writing my Personal Statement?
Your goal must be to write an excellent UCAS personal statement and the truth is you cannot do that overnight. Our recommendation for you is to start as early as possible.
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