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Personal Statement Maximum Length

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    I've done a search and I see that this is quite a popular question. However, I haven't found a clear, definite answer, so I thought I'd best check with you guys.

    From looking at the UCAS web site, I finally found this in the FAQ:


    12. How much text will fit into the personal statement and reference sections?
    Each of these areas will allow the input of 53 lines of text, 72 characters per line, using Courier New font at 12pt.
    So this implies that the maximum size is 72x53 = 3816 characters.

    I'm just writing my first draft ready for my 2005 entry (I want to get it done before the Summer... even if I do anything more in the Summer, I won't be able to fit it on - I've had to chop off loads already ). I have my brother's old personal statement here and he's written his in Times New Roman - this is on an official form returned by UCAS. This is my first point of confusion - is it okay to write it in Times New Roman rather than Courier New? I would guess it is.

    Second point of confusion: do they limit the length by number of lines or number of characters? At the moment, mine is written in Times New Roman, size 12, with 3811 characters (after much tweaking!) and 46 lines long. Some people have said that 45 lines is the limit... but this contradicts what UCAS are saying.

    If it's dependant on whether you hand-write your UCAS application or whether you send it electronically: everyone at our school has to use the electronic entry form.

    So as it stands: is my personal statement okay at this length, or do I need to hack it down a bit more (I hope not! )?
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    (Original post by Aeroxyn)
    At the moment, mine is written in Times New Roman, size 12, with 3811 characters (after much tweaking!) and 46 lines long.
    3811 characers is far, far too long. Even if you included spaces in you figure, I'd estimate 3811 is well over 600 words. The point of a personal statement is NOT to cram as much information about yourself as possible. Surely you can argue cogently why you want your subject in under 600 words?

    Also, I'd guess you were writing it too early. It's 8 months before the regular deadline, 5 months before the Oxbridge/Medicine deadline. Surely you will develop as a person during that time?
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    631 words (that character count was including spaces).

    Thanks for the advice about leaving it to account for development though. Maybe - I don't want to -submit- it before the Summer, I'd just like to get it ready so I don't have to worry about it as much as someone who hasn't done anything at all about it.

    At the end of the Summer break, I will probably end up looking over it and modifying it if I need to. Maybe I will do something majorly significant, but all of the stuff in my PS at the moment is focussed towards reasoning for wanting to do the course.

    I've currently covered:

    • Personal interest in the subject (Computer Science)
    • My background as far as the interest goes
    • Various relative work experience - how this has benefitted me as a person (development of skills)
    • Future aims
    • Current activities related to the subject (coding, writing tutorials, web design, etc.)
    • Personal achievements (awards for presentations, ...)
    • Out-of-school activities (fairly brief; reading, cycling, etc. the usual cop-out )
    • One paragraph dedicated to how I will be able to cope with the course and my personal qualities. Enjoy helping others as well.


    This is the groundwork. I can add to it later on in the year, perhaps.

    Any opinions on this? Am I missing something? Or maybe I can do without something?

    Thanks!
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    The easiest way is just to download a template and work to that - here's one I made earlier. Also here's some tips for how to get more words on the page.

    Edit: on general tips there's also my personal statement guide - watch outs for updates to this and other info on studential over the summer.
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    I wrote about 700 words.. >>big problem, as they say do not attach any other papers to the form (except the copies of blah blah.. )..

    I couldn't leave out any sentences, and I didn't have any time to change it ( I wrote and sent it like a day before the deadline..).. so I started writing in the smallest print possible and continued on the other page, that is supposed to be for pc print..(sticked the whole thing on a plain paper) then I just attached it to the form with a paper clip.
    Maybe I was lucky, I dunno .. but they accepted it and I got 4/5 offers, so it was even successfull.

    Good luck to you...
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    (Original post by Aeroxyn)
    If it's dependant on whether you hand-write your UCAS application or whether you send it electronically: everyone at our school has to use the electronic entry form.
    Well, there are 3 ways you can apply to UCAS and your word limit depends which one you're using.
    #1 is the paper application form. Your space for a personal statement here is quite restricted and is supposed to fit into the box on the page in a font no smaller than Times New Roman 12 point. This is because UCAS photocopies your application and shrinks it down before it's passed on, so it needs to be readable.
    #2 is apply online. This is done at ucas.com directly through the website, and has to be done via a school/college. I don't know what the personal statement limit is here.
    #3 is EAS, or electronic application system. This is what I used. You get software which guides you through filling in the various bits of information required, then you save your form and pass it onto your referee, who does their thing then 'locks' the file and sends it to UCAS. Your personal statement here can be longer than it can using the paper application; I think the difference was around a third.

    Unfortunately I can't remember anything more specific but hope that'll help a bit!
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    Aha! Thanks... Yes, we have to use the EAS too. I assumed that the word limit for 'UCAS Apply' and the EAS would be the same.
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    We are always told it is 47 lines of size 12 font with 1.5 cms margins. That will fit in the box.
    Don't try to fill it to maximum though - leaving a space between paragraphs is very effective.
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    Ah. Excellent then. My PS is 45 lines now (623 words) and I have got neat-n-tidy lines between paragraphs (didn't do GCSE English for nothing, I guess! ).

    I'll hand this in to my form tutor tomorrow and see what she says. Maybe I'll remember to ask what they think the maximum limit is for the EAS as well.

    Thanks for all your help people!
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    I spent a whole summer drafting mine to perfection, ruthlessly leaving out whole paragraphs I wanted to put in for space reasons, and it fit perfectly within the box on the form. Then I found out the EAS allows loads more space and I had to hurriedly write new parts.

    I'd thoroughly disagree with H&E. The space allowed for the personal statement is tiny and if there's anything to you as a person at all, it's not nearly enough. Use the space you have, as you should always be able to find another way to sell yourself.
Updated: May 13, 2004
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