Tips for writing a personal statement
A good personal statement can mean the difference between receiving an offer and being unsuccessful. Your personal statement is where you show us that you have what it takes to study on one of our undergraduate courses.
Learn how to:
Your personal statement
A personal statement is a piece of writing that you submit as part of your UCAS application to universities. It is used by universities during the admissions process to decide whether you are suitable for the course you are applying for.
You only write one personal statement for the five courses and universities you apply for.
You may want to apply for a variety of different courses - if this is the case, write about common themes relevant to all courses.
Plan your personal statement
It is a good idea to plan out what you want to say before writing your personal statement.
We are looking for evidence of your interest in, enthusiasm for, and understanding of your chosen course.
- why you are interested in the subject
- your ambitions and how taking the course will help you achieve them
- why you are interested in progressing on to higher education.
You must tell us about:
- your reasons for choosing the course (this is the most important part of the statement)
- your skills (and their relevance to your chosen subject)
- wider reading you've undertaken
- work experience (especially where this is relevant to the subject)
- any achievements or prizes you have won during your study or work
- your wider interests and hobbies
- any careers plans you might have.
If you are a mature student you can use your personal statement to talk about your wider experience and the skills and knowledge you have gained; as well as why you are now thinking about returning to education.
Structure your personal statement:
Use a clear structure in your personal statement and make sure each paragraph logically follows on from the one before.
- include an eye-catching and interesting introduction, as well as an engaging middle section and conclusion
- write around 4,000 characters (47 lines). The UCAS application will only accept this number of characters as a maximum
- think carefully about how you end the statement - you want a positive, forward-looking final paragraph.
Write your personal statement:
- be honest and write in your own words - the best statements are always the most genuine
- use clear language and avoid extravagant claims
- show what makes you stand out as a candidate
- be analytical rather than just descriptive - don't just tell us what you've read or what you've done, we want to see what you gained from this, or how it changed your perception of your chosen subject
- reflect on your work experience, especially if you are applying to courses linked to a profession (such as Social Work). We want to see evidence that you've had relevant work experience and how this has given you an insight into that profession
- draw on your other experiences - for example, are you a member of a society, have you won any awards, scholarships or prizes?
- provide evidence of your key skills, including research, critical thinking, communication, organisation, planning and time-management
- highlight any career aspirations you might have and show how the course will help you achieve them
- use accurate grammar, punctuation and spelling
- proofread your statement and ask a friend or relative to read it.
Less is often more in a statement, so focus in detail on a few topics, rather than writing a statement that becomes a long list of things you’ve done.
Remember - what we really want to know is why you've applied for the course, so this should be at the heart of your statement.
Make sure you allow enough time to plan and structure your personal statement carefully, ensuring you include everything you want to say.
If you are invited to interview, go back to your statement so that you can familiarise yourself with the information you have given us.
For more advice, see the UCAS tips for writing a personal statement
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Every year, thousands of mature students go to university or college. It's a great chance to develop new skills and career options – at any age.
Who are mature students?
Mature students are anyone over the age of 21 who didn't go to university after school or college. Some might have taken gap years to volunteer and travel the world, while 40% of mature students are over 30 and have had work, mortgage, or family responsibilities.
Studying as a mature student
There are many ways you can experience higher education. Around a third of undergraduates are mature students – of all ages and backgrounds.
- Explore a subject you find interesting or rewarding.
- Progress your career by increasing your skills and knowledge.
- Change direction to take on a new challenge.
How to get into higher education
For full-time courses, you do all your research and apply for courses online through the UCAS website. For flexible and part-time courses, you would apply directly to the universities and colleges.
Don't worry about whether you are qualified to study at university – your original education or work experience may be enough, and if not, there are Access courses you can complete to gain entry. You also have the option of studying from home with organisations such as NEC (National Extension College).
- Get started on what to study, when to apply, and how to get a place. Open days give you the chance to ask questions and see what's available – find out when open days are taking place.
- Find a course by reading our advice on choosing a suitable course and university.
- Then start applying – submit your application before 15 January (18:00 UK time), or 15 October (18:00 UK time) the year before for Oxford, Cambridge or most medicine, veterinary medicine/science, and dentistry courses.
- Look into finance and support for advice on course fees, funding, and adjusting to university life.
Advice for mature applicants
You can download a step-by-step guide below, and we have specific tips for mature students throughout the website whenever there's anything extra you need to know.
Mature Students' Guide (this PDF contains videos and links – open the PDF in Adobe Reader to view/click on them).
All the mature student tips are listed together here too
They'll be displayed in links like this titled 'Mature students' throughout the website, and you can also read them by clicking below.
Mature student tips
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