This discussion is closed.
oxymoronic
Badges: 19
Rep:
?
#1
Report Thread starter 10 years ago
#1
Question thread for 2013-14 HERE

The UCAS Personal Statement is an important part of a university application as it is the only opportunity that you have to write at length about why you want to study the course you are applying for and to set yourself apart from other applicants with the skills and experiences you have to offer. For many people this may be the first time they have had to write an important piece of prose about themselves. TSR has a number of good resources to help you with your statement:

Where should I post?

Drafts/content from your personal statement

Any content from your statement, either single sentences or complete drafts should be posted in the private Personal Statement Help forum. Personal Statement Help is a private forum visible only to a selective group of PS Helpers who have all been to university and can review and offer advice on your Personal Statement. For more information on how the forum works please read the Personal Statement Help FAQ.

DO NOT post your drafts or PS content anywhere else on TSR outside of PS Help as there is a risk it may be plagiarised.
If you see anyone posting a full PS or even part of it, please report the post using the ! mark button in the top right corner of the post so that the moderators can remove it.


General questions about personal statements

General questions about personal statements, what they should include, style and character/line limits should be posted in this thread. However this first post will attempt to answer many of them so read this before posting.

Subject specific questions

If your query is specific to a particular course or university you are applying to, for example how important books are to a Law Personal Statement, this should go in the appropriate University and University Courses sub-forum. Regulars in these forums are more likely to be able to answer your specific questions.

Before posting your query or draft have a read of the following:

How long can my personal statement be?

The UCAS form you fill in using UCAS Apply has both a character and a line limit for the Personal Statement section, and your statement must conform to both:

  • Maximum of 4000 characters (including spaces). Generally you probably want to be aiming for 3000-3500 characters to allow room for line breaks and still be within the 47 line limit.
  • Maximum of 47 lines, as measured on the UCAS Apply form. The only way to check this is to try inputting your statement into the form and it will tell you how many lines you are using. In MS Word Times New Roman at 12 point, with 3.17cm left and right margins gives a reasonably close approximation for the line count on the UCAS form.

Generally speaking, the 47 line limit is more important and relevant than the 4000 characters and so it is important to check when writing your draft how many lines you are using in addition to how many characters. You don't want to perfect your statement only to find it doesn't fit!

If you enter/submit a statement which is too long then the remaining lines or characters will simply be chopped off the bottom of your statement, even if that is mid sentence or mid word.

Formatting in the UCAS Apply form

The Personal Statement section of the UCAS Apply form will convert any text you enter to a standard format (font size and style). You cannot get around the line limit by writing in a smaller font. You cannot use bold, italic or underline text to emphasise as this will not be retained in the final form.

The form also removes any excess spaces automatically, so if you use tabs or spaces to indent paragraphs this will not be retained in the final form. Similarly double spaces between sentences will become a single space. The only way to separate paragraphs is through a linebreak (pressing return twice) and this will be retained in the final form. Each linebreak is included in your line limit, but if space allows it is recommended that you do this as it makes your statement more readable. Remember an admissions tutor looks at hundreds of statements so you want to make their lives easy!

The formatting is unable to recognise non-conventional characters so you shouldn't use é, á and other accents in your statement. Style also dictates that you should avoid characters like & and numbers (1, 2, 3...) should be written in full (one, two, three...). Once you're happy with your statement and have pasted it into your form and previewed it, read it or print it out before you submit it to check that the formatting is as you expect!

So what's the point of a personal statement anyway?

The Personal Statement is your opportunity to talk directly to the admissions tutor and to tell them why you want to study the subject you are applying for and why you think you are well suited to studying it. Everything in your PS should therefore relate to:

  • Why you are interested in the subject, and why you want to study it further
  • What relevant experiences you have both academically and socially and how these experiences give you the necessary skills for study at degree level
  • Your diversity as an individual, demonstrating a wide range of interest and experiences.

In addition to this you hope to demonstrate that you have an appreciation of what is required of the course you are applying for, that you have the ability to write in coherent sentences and can form a compelling and focused argument.

Where do I start?

The first thing to do before you begin writing your statement is to think about what it is that the statement requires (see above) and to gain an appreciation of the style/format it should be written in. Many of the resources on the TSR wiki are useful at this early stage:


Once you have familiarised yourself with the general expectation and style of a PS then you can start to plan your statement. Instead of jumping in and trying to write a first draft, brainstorm your experiences and the skills that you gained from these. Having done this you can write a more structured plan to think about what paragraphs each experience belongs in.

What is the structure of a personal statement?

There is no set structure for a PS, but the most commonly used structure is something like this:

Recommended Structure

  • Introduction - This is a more general paragraph which should immediately explain and discuss why you want to study the course at university and why you are interested in the subject. You don't need to demonstrate skills or list experiences at this stage.
  • Section 1 - This should discuss your academic experiences. Discuss your relevant A-levels and how these have inspired you and what you find interesting about them. Try to give specific examples of things you have enjoyed studying. You don't need to discuss every A-level you do and you don't need to list your A-levels, since these are elsewhere in your application.
  • Section 2 - Continuing with academic interests you should discuss your interest in the subject outside of the classroom, so summer schools or open days you have attended, books you have read or relevant experience to your discipline. Again specific details of what you did and how this makes you a better/more motivated candidate are good. When discussing books try to avoid name dropping and instead discuss aspects of the book you have enjoyed reading or have been inspired by.
  • Section 3 - Discuss any work experiences, relevant or otherwise, with particular focus on how the experiences have enabled you to develop relevant skills for the course. This is an opportunity to show appreciation of what skills the course requires.
  • Section 4 - Include hobbies and extra-curricular activities in a paragraph again with focus on skills. Sport, music and voluntary work are all good examples and help to show that you are a diverse person outside of the classroom. Avoid more mundane hobbies like socialising with friends, watching tv, playing computer games or browsing the internet.
  • Conclusion - The conclusion should be brief (1-2 sentences) but should summarise and reiterate you interest in the subject and your aptitude and skill for it. This is also a good place to discuss any future career aspirations, but if you don't have any then you don't need to mention it.



This structure is only a guide and will be dependent both on the subject you are applying for and your own experiences. You may have lots of work experience or you may not and so the exact structure is unique to you.

Ensure that you fully check the PS requirements for every university as some have very strict requirements.

LSE PS Help: here
UCL PS guidelines: here. Take note of the guidelines for applicants who are studying a language at A level/Higher. If it is your 2nd/3rd/xth language you MUST say this in your PS.

Most universities give subject guidance for what they are looking for in the PS somewhere on their website. Ensure you take note and use it.

How much of my statement should be extra-curricular activities and how much academic?

The rule of thumb is that your statement should be approximately 2/3 academic and 1/3 extra-curricular. Your application is for an academic course and so should focus primarily on your academic abilities and experiences. Extra-curricular activities show diversity and provide a good opportunity to discuss the transferable skills you have developed. However, these should still be discussed with regard to how these pursuits make you well-suited to studying the course. These hobbies should not take up more than 1-2 short paragraphs in your statement.

Can I include quotes in my statement?

You can, but use them sparingly. Using a quotation doesn't make you intelligent and it's not personal to you. Universities are not interested in what Aristotle/Wittgenstein/Einstein/Luther King said about the world - they want to know what YOU think, so it is often best to use your own words. It's quite possible that many other applicants have used the same quotation and your 'unique' quote is far from it. As a general rule, quotes should only be used where they are used to show an interest in the subject and should actually be discussed in the PS. Don't just put a quote in because you like it or because it sounds intelligent. You might like to look at this thread, especially post #15, for more advice on this.

How important is work experience?

The importance of work experience depends on the course you are applying for. If you are applying to a course like medicine or another vocational subject then relevant work experience is very important and should be used to highlight the skills you have shown and developed which are important on the course (bedside manner for example in the case of medicine). For a more theoretical subject like mathematics it is very hard to get relevant work experience and it is not expected.

Can I mention my module marks in my statement?

There's nothing to stop you mentioning module marks if they are particularly good, but things like this are actually better going in your reference from your school which accompanies your application and you can ask them to mention it. Other things which are better in your reference:

  • Extenuating circumstances as to why you did badly in a particular module/GCSEs/AS levels
  • Reasons why you didn't take particular courses (for example because your school didn't offer it).
  • Background of your school - if your school wasn't the best and you were surrounded by troublesome classmates don't put it in your PS, get it mentioned in your reference.
  • Virtuous qualities - avoid saying things like "I am a dedicated and committed student who will be an asset to your university." or "I was the best student in my year". These just make you sound arrogant and presumptuous and should be discussed in your reference. When discussing personality traits in your statement show rather than state, giving examples of where you have demonstrated these qualities.

How do I write a statement for joint honours or multiple subjects?

It can be hard to write a statement if you are applying for multiple subjects because you need to show dedication to both. This is a lot easier if the two are closely related in which case you can focus on the aspects that they have in common. It's less of an issue for common joint honours disciplines, as other universities will be more forgiving if you have applied for PPE and then economics elsewhere.

If you are applying to very different subjects because you can't decide which you want to do then you may be better off narrowing down your options earlier rather than later. You will have to decide sooner or later and spreading yourself thinly across many disciplines can actually harm your application to each of them. For example if you apply to veterinary science and history, it will be no surprise if neither the vets or the historians are particularly impressed by your lack of commitment.

What about personal statements for foreign universities?

These may be different to the UK style of application. American Personal Statements in particular are written in a very different style and you should seek separate advice for these kinds of application. The PS help area of TSR is strictly for UCAS applications only - we can not help with any international applications.

Refining your personal statement

Having written your first draft, check it over thoroughly for spelling and grammatical errors. Get as many people to look over it as you can - parents, teachers, family, friends and remember you can also submit a draft to Personal Statement Help for a review by the PS helpers. Depending on your subject and the time of year it can take up to a week to get a review so ensure you post in plenty of time and keep your thread updated with new versions of your PS. You may end up going through many many drafts, but sometimes this is necessary. Sometimes it can also help to take some time away from writing it. You will come back afresh with a new perspective and maybe see things that you didn't before. You may receive lots of advice but at the end of the day it is down to you to decide what to change and what to put in because it is your personal statement.

How important is a personal statement anyway?

The personal statement is just one aspect of your application and will be considered along with your A-level results and predicted grades (or equivalent qualifications), your GCSEs, your reference and any interviews that you attend. You are unlikely to be offered a place solely on the basis of your personal statement but you can certainly lose a place if you write a bad one. In many ways you have more to lose than to gain from writing one and so the key is tick the boxes as best you can without trying to be revolutionary.

How does the UCAS plagiarism software work?

UCAS use a piece of software called Copycatch which scans your statement against a library of previously submitted statements and online resources, such as the TSR Wiki. If there is a greater than 10% similarity between your statement and another then it will be flagged for a member of UCAS staff to investigate. They will then decide whether they believe the statement has been plagiarised and if they think it has will notify both you and the university. If your statement is judged to have been plagiarised then your application will not automatically be voided, it will be up to the university to decide whether they still wish to consider your application. More details of how the software works can be found here.

The plagiarism software is not something to worry about. If you don't cheat then there is very little chance of your statement being flagged and even less chance that the member of staff will decide to progress it further. Please note that plagiarism and asking for help are not the same thing. UCAS expects and encourages you to seek advice from family, friends and online resources such as the PS Helper service, which is well known to both UCAS and the universities. The key point is that when writing it, it should be your own words.

I'm reapplying, can I use the same statement as last year?

In a word, yes you can. For the purposes of UCAS you cannot self-plagiarise. While it is very likely that in submitting the same PS it will be flagged as a match by the Copycatch anti-plagiarism software, it will be discounted by the investigating member of UCAS staff when they see that the two statements were written by the same individual. The universities will not be informed of the fact it matched and it will not affect your application. However, if you have placed your PS on an insecure internet site (NOT including the PS help forum on TSR - this is secure) such as a blog or in an open forum (ie: the main UCAS forum of TSR as opposed to the PS help secure area) then UCAS may pick you up for plagiarism, so in this case you can not use your PS again.

However, you may want to think about changing your statement for other reasons. Doubtless your circumstances have chances since you applied the first time and you may have more experiences worth mentioning in your statement. If you are applying to change courses/universities, remember the new universities are interested in knowing why you want to do THEIR course. They do not want an essay of excuses for why your old course is no longer suitable.

(2009-10 PS help thread: here
2010-11 PS help thread: here
)
26
prince_of_paupers
Badges: 1
Rep:
?
#2
Report 10 years ago
#2
Hi,

currently starting to draft my personal statement for UCAS and keep in line with the line and character limit etc. (at 4000 characters and 47 lines of 95 characters)...

However it has come to my attention that paragraphs aren't always distinct on the UCAS system. I have typed up my PS in word, pressing [enter] once to create a new paragraph. However this will look like just a line break on UCAS... Is it recommended that I press [enter] twice so as to have a line gap between my paragraphs, as to increase readability but lose out on potential lines?

what did most people do here?
0
SK-mar
Badges: 1
Rep:
?
#3
Report 10 years ago
#3
(Original post by prince_of_paupers)
Hi,

currently starting to draft my personal statement for UCAS and keep in line with the line and character limit etc. (at 4000 characters and 47 lines of 95 characters)...

However it has come to my attention that paragraphs aren't always distinct on the UCAS system. I have typed up my PS in word, pressing [enter] once to create a new paragraph. However this will look like just a line break on UCAS... Is it recommended that I press [enter] twice so as to have a line gap between my paragraphs, as to increase readability but lose out on potential lines?

what did most people do here?
No the way UCAS does it is to automatically compress it so that you have as much space as possible and so that when they compare it against other personal statements it all looks the same.
Dont worry its perfectly normal, just keep doing what you are with the single line so that when you are writing it on word it makes sense to you and when you paste it into UCAS it will be compressed.

good luck
0
username356927
Badges: 13
Rep:
?
#4
Report 10 years ago
#4
(Original post by prince_of_paupers)
Hi,

currently starting to draft my personal statement for UCAS and keep in line with the line and character limit etc. (at 4000 characters and 47 lines of 95 characters)...

However it has come to my attention that paragraphs aren't always distinct on the UCAS system. I have typed up my PS in word, pressing [enter] once to create a new paragraph. However this will look like just a line break on UCAS... Is it recommended that I press [enter] twice so as to have a line gap between my paragraphs, as to increase readability but lose out on potential lines?

what did most people do here?
I double entered it. i.e left a lines gap. It looks a lot nicer...and you shouldn't be that pushed for space
0
DarkWhite
Badges: 17
Rep:
?
#5
Report 10 years ago
#5
(Original post by TooSexyForMyStethoscope)
I double entered it. i.e left a lines gap. It looks a lot nicer...and you shouldn't be that pushed for space
This. I think I was 3 lines over in the end, so I just merged 2 semi-related paragraphs together.
0
AnonymousPenguin
Badges: 16
Rep:
?
#6
Report 10 years ago
#6
You can double-line break paragraphs and I would do that unless you really need the extra 2 lines. I needed all the lines so I just used single line-breaks and it was fine as well.
0
acquiesce
Badges: 0
Rep:
?
#7
Report 10 years ago
#7
Is it a disastrous idea to mention topics you found interesting whilst reading a book ... which you haven't actually read?

( i won't have any interviews)

because obviously, the topics of a book can be known without reading the details of it, and you've got loads of reviews etc to find out what these topics are
0
JIRAIYA-ERO-SENNIN
Badges: 19
Rep:
?
#8
Report 10 years ago
#8
dude im applying for oxford now to do history and politics and i have read about four books for the personal statement plus further reading to supplement my studies. this is the kind of **** you need to be doing, if you mention a book in your personal statement and you haven't read any of- you will get caught; they will ask follow-up questions and they will mention specific chapters in those books.
4
theciz
Badges: 1
Rep:
?
#9
Report 10 years ago
#9
Ironically enough, everyone always says that you'll get caught if you haven't read any of the books you mention in your personal statement. For my Oxford interview, there were some I had and hadn't read. It wouldn't actually have mattered that much, because my memory is so terrible if they referenced specific chapters I might not have know what they were talking about, even if I had read the book. Anyway, it didn't matter because they didn't ask me about it. At all. Instead, we talked about Wuthering Heights, which I had read, but nothing specific, it wasn't an English Lit exam (which is as well, because I don't do English Lit). I got the impression they hadn't read my personal statement at all, which kinda amused me.

For the second personal statement I wrote, I didn't mention books at all, and arguably it was for a more academic subject. Still got an offer no bother.

In summary, it's not the be all and end all, and if you have no interviews, go for it. They'll never know lol.
1
Craig_D
Badges: 17
Rep:
?
#10
Report 10 years ago
#10
Only expect mentioning a book to impress if you wrote it.
5
LGF92
Badges: 13
Rep:
?
#11
Report 10 years ago
#11
In my Cambridge SAQ and my PS I mentioned Crime and Punishment despite only having read the first ten-fifteen chapters, which was brought up in both my interviews - my French one I managed to cope with it, but my Russian one he got really into it and that's what brought my 'score' down. So I'd advise that if you're gonna talk about a book, you should know it quite well.
0
Krishna442
Badges: 10
Rep:
?
#12
Report 10 years ago
#12
(Original post by acquiesce)
Is it a disastrous idea to mention topics you found interesting whilst reading a book ... which you haven't actually read?

( i won't have any interviews)

because obviously, the topics of a book can be known without reading the details of it, and you've got loads of reviews etc to find out what these topics are

what do you think?
only bit thats relevant. do what you want.. it shouldn't matter. don't go overboard though..
0
Paul PTS
Badges: 13
Rep:
?
#13
Report 10 years ago
#13
(Original post by LGF92)
In my Cambridge SAQ and my PS I mentioned Crime and Punishment despite only having read the first ten-fifteen chapters, which was brought up in both my interviews - my French one I managed to cope with it, but my Russian one he got really into it and that's what brought my 'score' down. So I'd advise that if you're gonna talk about a book, you should know it quite well.
Dostoevshina. :boring: If everything in human nature was like he wrote, there won't be millions of murdered during the Civil War. Dostoyevskiy isn't so popular at Russia, like he is popular abroad.
I see much more sence in "The science to win" by Alexander Vasiliavich Suvorov.
"Afraid of goddealplace (hospital) ! German drugs stink from far away, they all useless and even dangerous for health. Russians can't use to them, better ask your friends to get you some good medical grasses... The hunger is the best drug... At the goddealplace, for the first day you'll get soft bad, for the second - French soup, for the theird one, her (bed's) brother-coffin will come for you" .
That's exactly what I think about Dostoevskiy.
Suvorov also had such a phrase: "Avoid doctors all the time - in such a way you'll be health" . If you'll read too much Dostoevskiy you may become freak and will start to play in his famous game "the granny and the axe. "
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BC682qfVvB4
0
Outlines
Badges: 0
#14
Report 9 years ago
#14
Okay I've got my personal statement in front of me, and on Microsoft Word, it says 3,986 characters and 46 lines. When I post it onto the section on UCAS for personal statement, I am 5 lines over the 47 limit!

Now I understand that obviously the length of lines on the website and on word is different, but how am I supposed to cut down 5 lines..? I was considering cutting out the lines which I left for a new paragraph but that just looks stupid.

What can I do?
0
Potally_Tissed
Badges: 18
Rep:
?
#15
Report 9 years ago
#15
You could post it in the PS help section of the forum, saying specifically that you need help shortening it by five lines, and whoever reviews it will be able to suggest what you can cut down.

http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/forumdisplay.php?f=134
0
?!master?!mini?!
Badges: 14
Rep:
?
#16
Report 9 years ago
#16
(Original post by Outlines)
Okay I've got my personal statement in front of me, and on Microsoft Word, it says 3,986 characters and 46 lines. When I post it onto the section on UCAS for personal statement, I am 5 lines over the 47 limit!

Now I understand that obviously the length of lines on the website and on word is different, but how am I supposed to cut down 5 lines..? I was considering cutting out the lines which I left for a new paragraph but that just looks stupid.

What can I do?
Not much really. Cut out words/sentences that are not needed, and simplify sentences into one sentence. Apart from this :dontknow:, unless you take out the lines which you left for new paragraphs?
1
lattywatty
Badges: 13
Rep:
?
#17
Report 9 years ago
#17
I sent mine without any lines between paragraphs. They don't count for anything, I'd much rather have 5 more lines selling myself :yep:
6
G550NDH
Badges: 11
Rep:
?
#18
Report 9 years ago
#18
(Original post by lattywatty)
I sent mine without any lines between paragraphs. They don't count for anything, I'd much rather have 5 more lines selling myself :yep:
I know an admission guy at a leeds university for med who said that the having spaces made reading the PS much more easier since it would not put strain on his eyes. He also said he was naturally more positive about PS with spaces then ones which looked like one long bit of text
0
Outlines
Badges: 0
#19
Report 9 years ago
#19
(Original post by lattywatty)
I sent mine without any lines between paragraphs. They don't count for anything, I'd much rather have 5 more lines selling myself :yep:

That is a good point, thanks! But doesn't it look slightly weird when there's no lines between paragraphs, surely they wouldn't be able to tell when paragraphs start and finish?
0
Potally_Tissed
Badges: 18
Rep:
?
#20
Report 9 years ago
#20
Spaces between paragraphs are important. Read Good Blokes profile to find out why.

http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/member.php?u=129948
0
X
new posts
Back
to top
Latest
My Feed

See more of what you like on
The Student Room

You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

Personalise

Are you confident you could find support for your mental health if you needed it in COVID-19?

Yes (20)
22.99%
No (67)
77.01%

Watched Threads

View All