Writing a great personal statement
Read our guide on what it is, what to include, how to start, length and what makes a good personal statement
Once you've decided which universities and courses to apply for, completing your application is pretty simple – until it comes to how to write your UCAS personal statement.
This guide covers everything you need to know about how to write a personal statement for university. We look at what it is and how you can start your personal statement. We've also got questions to guide you and a suggested personal statement structure you can use so you know what to put in it.
If you'd like even more resources, support and UCAS personal statement examples, you can sign up to access our personal statement hub.
What is the UCAS personal statement?
The personal statement is part of your UCAS application. It's how you show your chosen universities why you'll make a great student and why they should make you an offer.
Your personal statement also helps you think about your choice of course and your reasons for applying, so you know you’ve made the right decision.
UCAS personal statement word limit
Your personal statement length can be up to 4,000 characters long.
This may sound a lot, but it's a word limit of around 550–1000 words with spaces and only about 1 side of typed A4 paper.
You need to keep it concise and make sure it's clear and easy to read.
Applying for multiple courses
Although you can apply for up to 5 courses on your UCAS application, you can only submit 1 personal statement. So it needs to cover all your course choices.
How universities use your UCAS personal statement
Lots of students who apply to university have achieved the basic entry requirements and many more students apply than there are places available. Admissions teams can use your UCAS personal statement to get to know you and decide why you're more suitable than other applicants.
Some universities read every personal statement and score them. Then they use them alongside your qualifications and grades to decide whether to offer you a place or interview. Other universities put less emphasis on the personal statement and use it with students who have borderline entry requirements.
Universities might refer to your personal statement again on results day if you don't get the grades you need. So a good personal statement could clinch you a uni place even if your grades aren't what you hoped for.
How to start a UCAS personal statement
Starting your personal statement can seem scary when you're staring at a blank screen. But, things will seem less daunting once you start.
- Set aside some time in a place where you're comfortable and won't be disturbed. Grab a notepad or computer.
- Write down anything and everything that's influenced your decision to go to university and study your chosen subject. Jot down your skills and experience too.
- Use the questions below to guide you. Don't worry about the personal statement length at this point – you can cut things out later.
When to start your UCAS personal statement
Ideally, you want to leave yourself plenty of time – a few weeks or even months – to plan and write your personal statement.
Try not to leave it to the last minute, as tempting as this may seem when you've got so many other things to think about.
Questions to guide you
- Why do you want to study at university?
- Why do you want to study this subject?
- How did you become interested in this subject?
- What career do you have in mind after university?
- How have your current studies affected your choice?
- What do you enjoy about your current studies?
- What skills have you gained from your current studies?
- How can you demonstrate you have the skills and qualities needed for the course?
- What qualities and attributes would you bring to the course and university?
- What work experience (including part-time, charity and volunteer work) do you have and what have you learnt from it?
- What positions of responsibility have you held? (For example, prefect, captain of a team or member of a committee)
- What relevant hobbies or interests do you have and what skills have they helped you develop?
- What transferable skills do you have, such as self motivation, team working, public speaking, problem solving and analytical thinking?
- How do you keep up with current affairs or news in your chosen subject?
- What journals or publications relevant to your chosen subject do you read?
- Which people have influenced you, such as artists, authors, philosophers or scientists?
How to write a UCAS personal statement
Now it's time to write your personal statement using your notes. It's best to draft it on a computer, and remember to save it regularly.
You can copy and paste it into your UCAS application when you're happy with it.
Personal statement structure
While there's no set template for a personal statement, you may find it useful to follow this personal statement structure when you decide what to put in your statement.
What to include in a personal statement
- Reasons for choosing this subject(s)
- Current studies and how these relate to your chosen subject(s)
- Experiences and how these relate to your chosen subject(s)
- Interests and responsibilities and how these relate to your chosen subject(s)
- Your future after university
- Summary including why you'll make a great student
Further tips for a good UCAS personal statement
- Use information on university websites and the UCAS website. This often includes the skills and qualities universities are looking for in applicants
- Ask friends, family and teachers to remind you of activities you've participated in. They might remember your successes better than you do
- Don’t include lists in your application, like a list of all your hobbies. Focus on 1 or 2 points and talk about them in depth to show their relevance to your application
- Explain and evidence everything. It’s easy to say you have a skill, but it's better to demonstrate it with an example of when and how you’ve used it
- Avoid clichéd lines such as ‘I've always wanted to be a teacher’ as it says nothing about your motivations or experiences
- If you’re applying for a joint degree or different subjects, give equal time to each area and try to find common aspects that show their similarities
- Never lie or plagiarise another statement – you'll be caught and it could result in your application being automatically rejected
- Proofread your personal statement by reading it out loud and ask friends, family or a teacher to check it for you
Sign up to our personal statement hub
Watch videos, get top tips and download our help sheets – that's what our personal statement hub is for. It's for you to write your story, so you can show your strengths, ideas and passion to your chosen universities.
You'll also be able send us your draft, so you can get feedback and feel confident about what you've written.