Updated: Jul 1
Applications to UK universities are made via a service called UCAS. UCAS application form includes personal details, universities an applicant has chosen to apply for, and, of course, a Personal Statement. Although some universities focus less on a Personal Statement (for example, Oxford and Cambridge place greater importance on interviews), it's still a necessary step and a great way to showcase one's passion for the subject, unique talents as well as experiences and interests outside of a school classroom.
Today we're going to give you several tips that might be helpful in writing a truly impressive Personal Statement:
What Universities are looking for in a Personal Statement
As explained by Lizzie Fry, ex-Access and Outreach Coordinator at Oxford University, a well-written Personal Statement should demonstrate an applicant's academic ability and potential as well as enthusiasm for the subject. It's also important to show that you are intellectually curious, questioning, can think critically and independently, and have a genuine commitment to the pursuit of knowledge.
Academic content should outweigh extracurricular activities
A good Personal Statement should focus primarily on subject-related activities rather than traditional extracurriculars like music lessons. Oxford and Cambridge even coined a special term for that: a supercurricular. It means any activities that are connected to the subject and go a little bit beyond what's usually taught in the classroom/the regular school curriculum. For example, a history enthusiast can immerse herself further in a particular historical period that is only briefly studied at school by reading articles in special magazines, listening to podcasts, watching documentaries, going to exhibitions and attending lectures. You are in no way obliged to use only resources recommended by universities themselves: pursuing one's individual academic passions matters much more.
Describe your learning journey
In your Personal Statement, it's advisable to be as detailed as possible. For example, it isn't enough to just enumerate what you read, watched, or listened to - tell the whole story, from when a particular topic initially piqued your interest to where it eventually led you. You could start with a magazine article, listen to a podcast and then go on to attend a conference or simply read a book that isn't on a typical reading list. Or it could be a deep, thoughtful exploration of a singular topic. In other words, an activity showing your genuine curiosity and persistence. And, of course, don't forget to add what you learnt from any of these experiences, and what are your main impressions and reflections on them.
Don't worry too much about the beginning
A Personal Statement is evaluated as a whole, based on a number of different criteria, so there's no need to try to come up with a perfect opening line.
Additional tips that might help
Make a plan and stick to it; write about the most recent activities; proof read before sending; make sure that your work is original (other sources can be taken only as an inspiration!); try to be as honest and genuine as possible.
You can also watch a great video from a YouTuber PaigeY, telling about her Personal Statement and giving examples of what to include and avoid.
Want to know more about what it's like to study in the UK and how to get into the best universities in the country? LEO International Online School offers a diverse and intensive two–year A-Level programme designed to prepare students for university entry in the United Kingdom. Learn more about this programme and our other courses here, and don't hesitate to contact us at email@example.com.