Personal Statement Format

A poorly written statement says a lot about you as an individual. Spelling mistakes show carelessness as admission tutors assume you have been instructed to spend a considerable amount of time perfecting your personal statement, so make sure you check spelling and grammar thoroughly.

The presentation of the personal statement is crucial because it demonstrates your ability to use the English language correctly and shows the admissions tutors that you are of a high enough standard to carry on education and gain acceptance into university. When writing your UCAS personal statement it is essential that your English is good. Nothing gives you away or lets you down so much in your personal statement as poor and inaccurate English expression. Most degree courses, of course, include some element of essay writing or reporting, so that the powers of English expression you show in your UCAS personal statement are an important indicator to the admissions tutor of how you will cope with the demands of the course.

This video from the University of Leicester gives a very good outline as to what the format and content of your personal statement should have:

Advice is invaluable, but, in any case, it is a good idea to let someone else have a look at your personal statement before you finalise it. If your reader finds difficulty in understanding what you are saying, then so will the admissions tutor of your chosen course. The spelling and grammar checkers in Word will pick up some errors, but it is not a good idea to depend totally on this, as the spell check will not highlight any words which are spelled correctly even if they are the wrong word (e.g. bear/bare confusions and the like) and some of the grammar questioning is rather odd.

Your UCAS personal statement is a sort of formal essay, and the style should be appropriate to this purpose. Avoid slang and make sure you are writing in the right register, or voice. Try to avoid the cliches which are so easily available to the personal statement writer, because they will bore the admissions tutor and he will ignore what you are trying to say. Avoidthe beginning which says “I have been fascinated by pathology since I was very young”, since it probably isn’t true and is quite uninformative. In fact, tell the truth about why you are interested in a subject. Perhaps the word “fascinated” is best avoided in describing your interest in a subject since it sound like a gross exaggeration. When describing your own qualities try to avoid the overworked notion of “good team player”. (In reality, many people are not good at working with others, and most of the great innovations in human culture have emerged from the individual brain and effort.) Say something like “I work efficiently with others, but I have the confidence in my own judgement to be equally happy working on my own”. Every UCAS personal statement your admissions tutor reads, probably, will include the claim that the candidate is a good team member, so do your best to avoid the obvious.

You have to remember too that you have quite a limited space to say what you want. The UCAS personal statement rule is that you must not exceed 4000 characters. This is the same as 47 lines of text. You do not have to use all the space provided but it is advisable to utilise as much as you can to demonstrate your attributes clearly. When you save text, the system willtell you your word count and how many characters you have used. You cannot use any formatting on the system when entering your personal statement and the UCAS site will automatically remove it.

4000 characters is the maximum amount of text you can squash into the space available on the form, but it is also a way of disciplining your writing in your UCAS personal statement so that you have to order and structure what you say and select only the most important information from your various experiences and lists of qualities which the admissions tutor needs to know. UCAS suggest that the best way to ensure you enter your personal statement correctly is to prepare your personal statement offline using a word-processing package and copy and paste it into the space allocated.