Do universities actually look at our personal statements?

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Four things that unis think matter more than league tables 08-12-2016
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    Soo I'm ready to send off my personal statement at some point this week and I spoke to one of my teachers and he told me that they don't really look at our personal statements. What they really look at is the teacher references. Obviously this is no excuse for your personal statement to be bad but I just thought our personal statements were one of the most important things.. What do you guys think?
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    (Original post by alevelssuck_)
    Soo I'm ready to send off my personal statement at some point this week and I spoke to one of my teachers and he told me that they don't really look at our personal statements. What they really look at is the teacher references. Obviously this is no excuse for your personal statement to be bad but I just thought our personal statements were one of the most important things.. What do you guys think?

    I don't know for sure, but I imagine it'd depend on the uni, or maybe even the course and how competitive it was. For example, last year (and I think this year), Manchester gave offers to anyone meeting or exceeding the entry requirements in their predicted grades, so you'd imagine that they didn't really look at the personal statements because as long as you have those predicted grades you get an offer. Maybe if your predicted grades are lower, they might look at it.

    As you said, of course that doesn't mean you shouldn't write the best one possible.
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    (Original post by pamplemousse.)
    I don't know for sure, but I imagine it'd depend on the uni, or maybe even the course and how competitive it was. For example, last year (and I think this year), Manchester gave offers to anyone meeting or exceeding the entry requirements in their predicted grades, so you'd imagine that they didn't really look at the personal statements because as long as you have those predicted grades you get an offer. Maybe if your predicted grades are lower, they might look at it.

    As you said, of course that doesn't mean you shouldn't write the best one possible.
    Well it would be a shame if many of my hours of writing my personal statement went to waste if universities done that. Fingers crossed the universities I apply to don't do that
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    The Personal statement is not a cheat code to admissions if your predicted grades arewell off the mark, your personal statement is unlikely to make much difference ( unless backed up by external evidence of genuinely extenuating circumstances - i.e. real issues not what #generationsnowflake thinks are extenuating circumstances ... resists the temptation to turn this reply into a version of the 4 yorkshiremen sketch) ..For Some courses personal statements are looked at relatively closely generally because the course is one where predicted grades don't tell the full story ... the other time a personal statement might be key is if you end up in the fight for the last few offers /places or are teetering on the 'yes ' vs ' maybe' or 'maybe' vs 'no' piles at some point in the process.
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    (Original post by alevelssuck_)
    Soo I'm ready to send off my personal statement at some point this week and I spoke to one of my teachers and he told me that they don't really look at our personal statements. What they really look at is the teacher references. Obviously this is no excuse for your personal statement to be bad but I just thought our personal statements were one of the most important things.. What do you guys think?
    Depends on the course. For Maths it's not important, for Medicine it can be.
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    I was asked questions based on my personal statement at the interview. I studied filmmaking and screenwriting at UWS.
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    (Original post by alevelssuck_)
    Soo I'm ready to send off my personal statement at some point this week and I spoke to one of my teachers and he told me that they don't really look at our personal statements. What they really look at is the teacher references. Obviously this is no excuse for your personal statement to be bad but I just thought our personal statements were one of the most important things.. What do you guys think?
    There are some reports of unis not reading Personal Statements but by and large they will be read if they are considering your application. There are no short cuts I'm afraid. You are right to be proud of what you've written though, you've worked hard on everything.
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    (Original post by alevelssuck_)
    Soo I'm ready to send off my personal statement at some point this week and I spoke to one of my teachers and he told me that they don't really look at our personal statements. What they really look at is the teacher references. Obviously this is no excuse for your personal statement to be bad but I just thought our personal statements were one of the most important things.. What do you guys think?
    Very few universities/courses use the PS in deciding who to give offers to (LSE, med/dent/vet/healthcare/Teacher training/social work) - because most universities/courses make offers to the vast majority of applications (look on Which? university to find out the offer making rate on your choices). Courses that reject more than 1/4 of applicants are very rare and often decide based on interviews, other tests or other work rather than the PS. Those I've picked out will often interview too (except LSE) but use the PS (and the reference and the academic history) to filter out who gets shortlisted for interview.

    That doesn't mean the PS isn't used - just not in the way you imagine.

    Every PS will be read by someone to check that the applicant is applying for the right course (you'd be surprised how many applicants don't do the basic research and assume that a similar course title means similar course content), actually seems to show a small amount of enthusiasm for the subject and some understanding of any non-academic experience/skills required.

    If you're interviewed then your PS will be read again by your interviewer and will likely be used to direct the questioning.

    IF YOU MISS YOUR OFFER then your PS will be read AGAIN. THIS is where it has the potential to make a difference between a place or a rejection. That's the point where super-curriculars, enthusiasm and self motivation can make up for a missed grade or two. An applicant without the grades who ran through the motions in their PS isn't someone a university will take a risk on accepting only for them to fail later on.

    References ARE very important and will always be read....again usually at the three points I've mentioned: checking before making an offer/interview invite, before interview and in the case of missed grades.
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    Also for what it's worth - you're going to need to write about yourself in this way in future job applications....getting some good practice in when you've got support and people to help you is WELL worth the time and effort.
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    (Original post by sinfonietta)
    I was asked questions based on my personal statement at the interview. I studied filmmaking and screenwriting at UWS.
    and that is the kind of course where you expect the personal statement to be relevant... what IS your motivation Daaaalink?
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    PSs tend to be the same old bilge over and over again, following a generic format. I would imagine that these are swiftly disregarded by Admission's Tutors - just think how much they've got to read over a relatively short period. A PS could make a difference in the circumstances PQ mentions above, but even then I would have thought references carry a greater weight.
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    Outside the top 15 I highly doubt they care in anyway shape or form, get the grades and you'll get an offer.
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    (Original post by Reality Check)
    PSs tend to be the same old bilge over and over again, following a generic format. I would imagine that these are swiftly disregarded by Admission's Tutors - just think how much they've got to read over a relatively short period. A PS could make a difference in the circumstances PQ mentions above, but even then I would have thought references carry a greater weight.
    References are a funny one...some schools and referees are a LOT more clued up on how to write a good reference than others (same as PSs really which is why PSs are generally not used as a deciding factor on who gets a place - LSE are in a unique position because actually being able to write a short convincing essay on your motivations is the sort of skill that will be needed in their degrees).

    We get cases on TSR every year of applicants who see their reference and find spelling mistakes, massive grammar errors and worst of all talk about a completely different subject to the one the applicant is applying to.

    So yes references will *usually* have more weight they're also not relied upon as a deciding factor without other information. You can't penalise an applicant for applying from a crap school or from outside the UK where the UCAS reference isn't something their staff will have experienced.
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    depends how popular the course is tbh

    some may just issue offers to everyone who meets the reqs, but other more competitive ones will actually require you to show some enthusiasm :cute:
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    I believe it really depends on the university and the course you're going for.

    From personal experience: I'm pretty convinced that Warwick, who last year made an offer within about 3 hours of me submitting the application, just looked at my predicted grades and glanced at my PS to check I was applying for the right course. It was a uni and course that has such a high intake of students. My friends with offers from Warwick had a similar experience.

    But with somewhere like Durham, on the other hand, I get the impression that they spent more time assessing my PS. I was applying for a Liberal Arts course, meaning I had to condense my interest in 3 subjects within my statement, and as they didn't interview they were essentially going by my AS grades/A2 predicted and PS alone. The fact that the course was competitive, and Durham 'prides' itself on its students, probably meant that greater care was taken in reviewing my application. They were the last to get back to me.

    As zippyRN rightly points out, the PS can be the deciding factor between two candidates who have achieved the same grades.

    The point of the personal statement is to demonstrate to the reader that you're someone who is not only passionate about your subject, but someone that the professors are going to want to teach. If they can see that you haven't spent time poring over it they're going to question whether your lack of effort there reflects your future lack of effort to engage with the course.
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    It’s best to assume that admissions tutors will look at your application holistically. For some unis, this will be their policy across all courses and means your qualifications, personal statement, academic reference and estimated grades will all be factored into the decision. If it’s a course that requires an entry test, then your test scores would come into the equation too.
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    Depends on the uni: Oxbridge it's pretty key but it needs a strong subject focus. Also St Andrews has a heavy reliance on PS's but they're of a different style (they want you to seem well-rounded and interesting).

    Depends on the subject: anything where work experience is important you need to talk about it in your PS, maths probably the least important but it should still be about maths and why you like it.

    Depends if you have an interview: they'll be looking in your PS for interview questions so 1) you need to be abke to answer questions on it and 2) they'll be reading it quite closely so it should be good.

    I think you need a passable PS to get in anywhere (i.e. it talks about the subject your applying for and you can string a sentence together). In terms of the Manchester anecdote upthread I highly doubt anyone who was predicted the entry requirements wrote nothing or a load of rubbish.
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    (Original post by zippyRN)
    The Personal statement is not a cheat code to admissions if your predicted grades arewell off the Manchester rk, your personal statement is unlikely to make much difference ( unless backed up by external evidence of genuinely extenuating circumstances - i.e. real issues not what #generationsnowflake thinks are extenuating circumstances ... resists the temptation to turn this reply into a version of the 4 yorkshiremen sketch) ..For Some courses personal statements are looked at relatively closely generally because the course is one where predicted grades don't tell the full story ... the other time a personal statement might be key is if you end up in the fight for the last few offers /places or are teetering on the 'yes ' vs ' maybe' or 'maybe' vs 'no' piles at some point in the process.
    For nursing don't they look at Ps to give out interviews ?
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    (Original post by jneill)
    Depends on the course. For Maths it's not important, for Medicine it can be.
    Well I'm applying for Econ and Politics
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    (Original post by elen90)
    I believe it really depends on the university and the course you're going for.

    From personal experience: I'm pretty convinced that Warwick, who last year made an offer within about 3 hours of me submitting the application, just looked at my predicted grades and glanced at my PS to check I was applying for the right course. It was a uni and course that has such a high intake of students. My friends with offers from Warwick had a similar experience.

    But with somewhere like Durham, on the other hand, I get the impression that they spent more time assessing my PS. I was applying for a Liberal Arts course, meaning I had to condense my interest in 3 subjects within my statement, and as they didn't interview they were essentially going by my AS grades/A2 predicted and PS alone. The fact that the course was competitive, and Durham 'prides' itself on its students, probably meant that greater care was taken in reviewing my application. They were the last to get back to me.

    As zippyRN rightly points out, the PS can be the deciding factor between two candidates who have achieved the same grades.

    The point of the personal statement is to demonstrate to the reader that you're someone who is not only passionate about your subject, but someone that the professors are going to want to teach. If they can see that you haven't spent time poring over it they're going to question whether your lack of effort there reflects your future lack of effort to engage with the course.
    Yeah that makes sense. Thank you.
 
 
 
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