Guest blog: How to write a personal UCAS statement

Guest blog from Debbie Gingell, Career Coach at Leg Up Careers

Keys to writing a successful personal statement:

1) Focus (on the subject/s you want to study)
2) Structure (your statement)
3) Sell (yourself)

Some top tips…

Opening and closing paragraphs are key. Work hard to present a positive and punchy introduction to grab the reader’s attention. Your opening sentence will establish the tone of your statement, so it is important to give your statement an identity and demonstrate your enthusiasm. Avoid obvious statements like “I have always been passionate about Maths”.

UCAS suggest your first steps should be to write out the reasons why you are applying for your chosen course. Their website also provides some opening sentences for you. These might be helpful to get you started but consider how many people will be using similar sentences – you will need something individual if you want your statement to have the right impact.

It is extremely difficult is to keep to the word count, but essential that you do. Good statements are sifted to get rid of the irrelevant information, even some of the good stuff, in order to really highlight what is relevant.
Guard against starting too many paragraphs or sentences with ‘I’. Consider alternatives: My ability to… During… When… Although…, Whilst… An example of…etc

Refrain from writing long winded sentences. If your sentences consist of more than 32 words or more, then for the reader’s sake, reduce them!

Take the reader on a journey, link your paragraphs and try to ensure that your statement flows. Refrain from making grand statements about yourself. If you have excellent communication skills, imply this with evidence or examples, rather than a declaration.

Not all students are called for an interview but if your course is competitive it is highly likely that you will be. Assume you will be and therefore assume that someone will question all of the claims in your statement. This will help you to be genuine and consider examples and evidence to substantiate everything that you write.

Check your statement for typos and spelling errors, then check it again and then ask your parents and tutor to check again!! A spelling error or silly mistake will spoil all of your hard work!

5 paragraphs are sufficient if you structure them in a good way:

1. Introduction – why have you chosen this course or subject? How did you become interested in it?

2. What have you done to find out more about the subject (or career)? Include any talks, seminars, visits, work experience, books you have read etc

3. How do your AS and A2 or Diploma subjects relate to your chosen course? What have you learnt that you can apply to your future studies?

4. What have you gained from your personal activities or interests that will support your application? Think about skills that you have developed, achievements etc

5. Conclusion – what are your aspirations and ambitions? what personal qualities do you have that will make you an excellent student? Why should the Uni give you an offer?

About Debbie Gingell:

Throughout my career, I have worked with people from a variety of backgrounds including: students, senior business executives, refugees, mums returning to work, ex-offenders and long term unemployed. I have worked hard to support people who need to secure their first/next job or University place and genuinely love what I do!

We are all unique individuals and I believe that it is important for us to secure the right job because it can lead to a sense of worth and personal satisfaction. My freelance work involves professional CV writing and career coaching for the Times Education Careers Department in London. Providing local and on line career advice and support via Leg up careers, and working with students at an Independent School in Cambridge, supporting students with their University applications and career decisions.

I am extremely committed to helping people to overcome barriers to employment so that they can move forwards and become more successful!

Feel free to email me on: dgingell@legupcareers.co.uk or visit www.legupcareers.co.uk

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