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Reading International Office

Writing a Personal Statement for UCAS
A rough guide
Please note that this is advice only and requirements may vary from university to university. No guarantee is made of an offer by following the steps below but you may find it helps you think more flexibly about applying to a UK university. Qualifications used in this guide are UK A Levels – these can be substituted for relevant equivalent qualifications from your home country. To see if your qualifications are relevant contact your local British Council office who can advise: http://www.britishcouncil.org/new/articles/maps/ Understand this, if nothing else: The Personal Statement is one of the most important parts of your application. The first thing that all applicants need to be aware of is how a decision is made at UK universities. Whatever the programme and whatever the level there will be certain criteria that the admissions tutors will be looking for when assessing applications. These criteria are set and will be used for all the applications, for that year, for that programme. Understanding what the criteria are will give any applicant a great advantage in the process. The good news is that these criteria are not too hidden. You can find them on the websites, and if you can't you may request a copy to be sent to you. A number of universities publish their Admissions Statements on their websites (some may not), you will, for undergraduate courses, find an Entry Profile on the UCAS webpage (www.ucas.ac.uk) for each course…read these! For postgraduate courses there may not be a statement as the range of applicants will be very diverse, however, it is worth contacting the department to ask if there is one. Grades are not always the most important aspect of an application. The grades you have, or are predicted to get are an indication of what you can or have already achieved. It is always the Personal Statement (PS), which will make the difference, so writing a great one is paramount. There is no formula that you can use to write a great PS as they are PERSONAL! They can only reflect you, and you can't be summed up by a formula can you? To help, it is good to be able to break a PS into various sections and to consider if you can write about aspects of yourself with in that section. Planning The first step in ANY undertaking is to plan what you are going to do. To do this you need to know: "What needs to be achieved?" It is amazing that many people do not take this very simple yet crucial mental step and as such write a misdirected and unfocused PS. If you can get hold of the programme Admission Statement this will detail exactly what the admission tutor is going to be looking for in an application. Ensure firstly that you are likely to meet (or at least be close to) the minimum academic entry criteria, if you are not then even the best PS in the world will not get you a place on the programme. If the admissions statement is not enough (or not available) then there is usually an Entry Profile for the course on the UCAS website that can be helpful but

give a tangible example of a sacrifice or effort you have made to show you are committed.you may not always be able to do this. There is no right or wrong way to do this but I tend to use three colours: One to indicate the essential requirements. Step 3. Step 2. For each black statement try to write something else true about you to satisfy each statement . say what you like but also say what you found tough as this shows a good understanding that it is not all brilliant. How can you demonstrate your interest in the subject? Note: Detailing specific examples of you acting on your interests is always better than simply saying you like something. but your application should not rely on this qualification to gain entry. Step 4. Get a copy of the course content and identify using a highlighter. Well done! You now have the bare bones of a PS that should. with space to write around. Show you are an active enthusiast. Read through the statement listing the key criteria. if not all of the questions that may be posed by the Admissions Statement/Entry Profile I understand that this is not as simple as I have made it sound. Once you have read the Admissions Statement / Entry Profile then you need to undertake some mind-mapping. with space to write around. extra-curricular activities that are relevant are worth a great deal. What scores will you gain? Note: Be confident in your abilities but if the required grades are way out of your reach then it is not likely that you will be offered a place. . Speak to your own teachers if you need help with this. get the attention and approval of the admissions tutor for this programme. Can you prove your commitment to the subject? Note: Again simply saying you are committed to a subject may not be enough. Write down. One grade out may be fine. Step 8. Step 6. Have you ever taken part in work experience related to this subject? Note: If you have practical experience make the most of it. Preparing the PS The next step is to write a draft statement that answers most. in black ink. the key criteria. Step 1. another to indicate the desired requirements and then a third for my personal attributes or experiences. the desired criteria. Step 5. at university reading broadly is essential. in blue ink. the modules that most interest you. For each blue statement write something true about you to satisfy each statement. This allows you to picture what the course requires and most importantly what you have to offer. Are you studying relevant subjects to the right levels? Note: If there are any specific requirements then this would be listed in the prospectus or on the website. make sure you do have these. Do not allude to skills or knowledge gained from any such subject. Have you undertaken any relevant reading or research beyond A Level syllabus? Note: You do not have to stick to writing about your studies. For each black statement write something true about you to satisfy each statement. So I have devised some of the questions admissions staff will often seek to have answered in a personal statement and the wider application (you may need to create more questions in relation to your own research): Are you applying using a General studies qualification? Note: Just because a subject you have is not required it does not mean you can’t apply. Step 7.you may need to “read between the lines”. if carefully drafted and supported by good academic grades. Identify the Admissions Statement/Entry Profile for the programme. Demonstrating a willingness to read or study beyond a set syllabus is just what a tutor will look for. Write down.

. So here is my imaginary interview for one of my favourite subjects: Archaeology. AO: What scores will you gain? Me: I hope to get an A and 2 Bs in my subjects but may do better than that. and so I chose to follow them.. The best way I know of to deal with this is to write the transcript of an imaginary interview with the Admissions Officer using the mind map as a guide. The list of questions: Are you applying using a General studies qualification? Are you studying relevant subjects to the right levels? What scores will you gain? How can you demonstrate your interest in the subject? Can you prove your commitment to the subject? Have you ever taken part in work experience related to this subject? Have you undertaken any relevant reading or research beyond A Level syllabus? Are there any non-academic achievements or experience that you think may be relevant? How appropriate is the university’s’ programme in relation to your declared interests and aims? Can you show any recent excellent academic research and written presentation skills? Anything else you would like to tell the tutor? Some other questions that you may wish to consider: Any family connections to the subject? Are you changing direction? Why? Are you interested in a career in research? Do you have a specific scholarship to study this subject? Who awarded it and why did you get it? First Draft Having undertaken the previous step of mind mapping you will now be able to write the first draft. Subjects like Classical Civilisation. Anything else you would like to tell the tutor? Note: Listing any difficulties you may have overcome to succeed. presentation and communication are key to ALL courses at university. any awards that may be relevant or indeed anything positive that makes you special will help make your application stand out. self-study. but this could be for anything: AO: Are you applying using a General studies qualification? Me: No. Archaeology and Modern European Languages were just not available. Broadly a course in a subject area will develop key skills. AO: Do you have three grades. show that you understand what these are. although I did take GS I will not be using it for entry. but be careful as other universities may not offer that special aspect. Can you show any recent excellent academic research and written presentation skills? Note: Research. Do you write for a website/magazine? Are you a team member? What skills do the activities develop? How appropriate is the university’s’ programme in relation to your declared interests and aims? Note: Identifying something special about a course is helpful. useful in many scientific fields of endeavour. with two in Academic subjects? Me: My programme options were limited for those aiming for a programme like Archaeology. I feel. . but I was able to take History.Are there any non-academic achievements or experience that you think may be relevant? Note: Give tangible examples of additional skills. My other choices of Chemistry and Mathematics are. My friend's mother works for my local museum. Give some examples showing you possess these skills. AO: How can you demonstrate your interest in Archaeology? Me: I know an Archaeologist very well.

where I am a member of the "History Club". AO: Can you show any recent excellent academic research and written presentation skills? Me: As part of my current studies I enjoy researching a topic for my English. Whilst we are expected to study hard in school often we are encouraged to study subjects like business or economics. Subjects like Classical Civilisation. Archaeology and Modern European Languages were just not available. I have recently read an excellent book on Chariot Development by Williams and a similar although unconnected one by Croydon on Chariot development and am intrigued to consider if there is a link due to the similarities in design and development. This is quite unusual in my school where most people are interested in other subjects.historylink. My programme options were limited for those aiming for a programme like Archaeology. but I have never been very interested in them. I hope to get an A and 2 Bs in my subjects but may do better than that. but I really enjoy studying ancient history. on a number of occasions been able to join the local museum digs and assist in sifting spoil. I feel. I also love the more physical aspects of the field. but I have never been very interested in them. I realise that they can be long. Whilst we are expected to study hard in school often we are encouraged to study subjects like business or economics. (note this link does not work) AO: How appropriate is my university’s programme in relation to your declared interests and aims? Me: I have a particular interest in Ancient Technology and how Chinese heritage may be seen to influence early western development. Often I am fortunate enough to help out on the museum's digs in my local area. AO: Can you prove your commitment to Archaeology? Me: I have always studied history at school and even after. hard work but from time to time a find can certainly make it all worthwhile. My friend's mother works for my local museum. AO: Are there any non-academic achievements or experience that you think may be relevant? Me: I lead class walks for those interested to areas of historical interest and also helped to create a web resource at my school so that others could history information available in the school library. but I really enjoy studying ancient history. I have read many books on the topic with a wide ranging area of interest from Greek and European Archaeology to more unusual Chinese Cultural Heritage. I know an Archaeologist very well. although I have a GCSE grade C I am retaking this to get a higher grade. Even in the face of the disapproval of my peers I .where I am a member of the "History Club". The topic is normally historical and I love presenting it to my class and then answering questions about it. but I was able to take History. Even in the face of the disapproval of my parents I have committed to Historical studies. AO: Anything else you would like to tell me? Me: I understand communication is important and so. Having done the hard work of posing and answering the questions now you simply remove the questions: "No. and so I chose to follow them. Often I am fortunate enough to help out on the museum's digs in my local area. but I have. AO: Have you undertaken any relevant reading or research beyond A Level syllabus? Me: I have attended extra curricular courses at my local college. My other choices of Chemistry and Mathematics are. The web site is www. although I did take General Studies I will not be using it for entry. which cover heritage studies. I have always studied history at school and even after. Often I do not know the answer but I will always endeavour to find it out and let the questioner know the answer later on. I also love the more physical aspects of the field.com. This is quite unusual in my peer group. labelling artefacts and assisting diggers. useful in many scientific fields of endeavour. AO: Have you ever taken part in fieldwork? Me: Participating in digs is not easy as there is strict control over who can take part.

but I have never been very interested in them. and is not too long. I lead class walks for those interested to areas of historical interest and also helped to create a web resource at my school so that others could history information available in the school library. I have attended extra curricular courses at my local college which covered heritage studies. I realise that they can be long. Archaeology and Modern European Languages were not available at my college. The web site is www. The topic is normally historical and I love presenting it to my class and then answering questions about it." You will now need to run through this statement to make sure it makes sense. although unconnected. labelling artefacts and assisting diggers. My particular interest is in Ancient Technology and how Chinese Heritage may be seen to influence early western development. Chemistry and Mathematics. although I have a GCSE grade C already I am taking it again to improve my communication skills. I feel these are useful in many scientific fields of endeavour. I have a particular interest in Ancient Technology and how Chinese heritage may be seen to influence early western development. and assist in sifting spoil. If it is seen that you are copying then you WILL get rejected. Participating in digs is not easy as there is strict control over who can take part. I realise that they can be long. but I was able to take History. I have attended extra curricular courses at my local college which covers heritage studies where I led class walks to areas of historical interest and also helped to create a web resource at my local school so that others could find history information available in the library. The statement should not contain lots of sentences beginning with “I” and should be within any word limit constraints. hard work but from time to time a find can certainly make it all worthwhile." Obviously this step may need to be done a few times to get a statement that tells what needs to be told but sounds interesting in the telling. where I am a member of the "History Club".com. Recently I read "Chariot Development" by Williams and a similar although unconnected book by Croydon on Chinese Chariots and am intrigued to consider if there is a link in design and development. Do not be tempted to copy and paste parts of other people’s statements as UCAS and many universities now use sophisticated software to spot this. I understand communication is important and so. but I have.have committed to Historical studies. Participating in digs is not easy as there is strict control over who can take part.historylink. Items such as grades will appear elsewhere on the application form so they can come out. does not repeat itself. I have read many books on the topic with a wide ranging area of interest from Greek and European Archaeology to more unusual Chinese Cultural Heritage. this is an area I would like to explore in my studies. on a number of occasions been able to join the local museum digs and assist in sifting spoil. This question was answered above but also I have assisted in helping to catalogue items in my local museum where I am a member of the History Club. . one by Croydon on Chariot development and am intrigued to consider if there is a link due to the similarities in design and development. hard work but from time to time a find can certainly make it all worthwhile. "Subjects like Classical Civilisation. labelling artefacts and assisting diggers.historylink. (note this link does not work). The web site is www. Often I do not know the answer but I will always endeavour to find it out and let the questioner know the answer later on. been able to join the local museum digs. I have read many books on the topic with a wide ranging area of interest from Greek and European Archaeology to Chinese Cultural Heritage. but I have. The above statement answers most of the questions posed by the Admissions criteria and those not answered in the statement will be answered in other areas of the application. Whilst we are expected to study hard we are usually encouraged to study subjects like business or economics. As part of my studies I enjoy researching topics for my English. I have recently read an excellent book on Chariot Development by Williams and a similar. Hopefully this guide will help you write a personal statement that is unique to you. and so I chose to follow them. Communication is important and so I am retaking English as to improve my breadth of communication skills. Even in the face of the disapproval of my peers I have committed to Historical studies. on a number of occasions.com.