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Advice on UCAS for parents and supporters: How to help your child write a personal statement

7 min read

The UCAS personal statement is an important part of your child’s university application — but it can be difficult to know where to start.

Below, you’ll find the tools to support your child through this process and help them create a compelling and impactful personal statement.

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What is a personal statement?

A UCAS personal statement is a written statement (one side of A4) that goes with your child's university application. It should reflect their aspirations, achievements, and passions — showing who they are and why they're a great fit for their chosen course and university.

Things to consider

Use this checklist to help your child show their chosen university why they’re the perfect candidate.

Why are they choosing the course?

Ensure your child is clear about the course they're applying for and why they're passionate about it.

What are their academic achievements?

Encourage them to mention their academic achievements, including any relevant coursework or extracurricular activities that demonstrate their passion for the subject.

What skills do they have?

Help your child highlight the skills that will help them to pursue their chosen subject. This could include transferable skills, like communication, leadership, and problem-solving. It may be helpful for your child to explore their chosen university's website to determine what specific qualities they are looking for. Considering Portsmouth? Discover our student charter.

What experiences do they have?

Encourage your child to highlight any work experience, volunteering, internships or other relevant hobbies that helped spark their interest towards their chosen subject.

How do their skills and experience relate to their course?

Your child may have plenty of skills and experiences to write about, but it’s important everything in their application is relevant. Help your child link their experiences to their skills by supporting each one with evidence of how they’ve used it and what they learned.

How does your child fit into university life?

Encourage them to reflect on how their skills and experiences have helped them develop as a person and prepare for university life. It’s important they tailor their statement to the specific university, so make sure they research their chosen universities before applying. To support your child,  consider booking a place at an open day to help them learn more.

When should my child start writing their personal statement?

It’s important to encourage your child to start writing their personal statement as early as possible, so they can complete it by the application deadline and submit it for feedback. You could also proofread it for them, checking for things like grammar and spelling, whilst ensuring it meets the word limit specified by UCAS (4,000 characters).

Four University of Portsmouth students talking

Examples from previous applicants

“I currently undertake work experience at my local nursing home, allowing me to communicate and empathise with the residents, especially those in difficult situations. This has given me a great base for practising my listening skills, which will help aid my career as a social worker.”

Want more inspiration? Access our personal statement hub to see more examples from our previous applicants.

Advice from our team

When reading a personal statement, we want to understand why your child has chosen a particular course or subject area. Encourage them to tell us what sparked their interest and what motivates them to continue to develop their interest during their studies and beyond. It is also worth including information on activities from outside their studies, such as work experience, volunteering or hobbies that are linked to their area of interest.

Michael, Personal Statement Helper

How to get started

Now you know how to offer UCAS personal statement support, here’s how to help your child get started.

What to do if they're finding it hard to get started

Writing a personal statement can be challenging, but your child is not alone. Encourage them to get support by talking to teachers, friends and family or student support services.

You can also help them get started by using mind-maps, bulleted lists, spider diagrams, or anything else that works for them.

Need more support? Explore our personal statement hub to help your child show a university why they're the perfect candidate.

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