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The first part of your UCAS personal statement: Your choice of subject.

Your choice of subject

Why are you making this application?

The opening of your personal statement should provide some reasoning for your choice of subject. It will usually make up around 30-50% of the total.

You should avoid using clichéd and commonplace introductory sentences that any other applicant might have written. Don’t begin with a bland variation of one of the following statements.

  • Red Cross‘I really enjoy helping people…’
  • Red Cross‘I have always wanted to study Law…’
  • Red Cross‘I’m am making this application because I am deeply interested in…’
  • Red Cross‘Geography is a fascinating subject…’
  • Red Cross‘I find sociology very interesting…’
  • Red Cross‘The environment is very important…’
  • Red Cross‘Since being a child I have been fascinated by computers…’
  • Red Cross‘I believe studying Law at university is the right choice for me…’

All of these opening phrases are very hackneyed, lack depth and are no where near specific enough.

To persuade an admissions tutor that your interest is genuine requires real-world, concrete, evidence.

Here are some good examples:

  • Green tickCourse content of the subject you are applying for.
  • Green tickSubject (s) you have studied at school or college.
  • Green tickThe academic skills you have developed. E.g. Critical analysis, essay writing, problem solving,       mathematical proficiency, physical dexterity, independent learning.
  • Green tickA personal project or hobby. E.g. building computers, conserving species of butterflies.
  • Green tickA journal or book you have read beyond the syllabus that you found engrossing.
  • Green tickA film or TV programme that influenced you.
  • Green tickA theoretical position that has captured your imagination.
  • Green tickA lecture you attended on your own initiative you found motivating.
  • Green tickPositive experience whilst on a relevant work placement.
  • Green tickA theorist you have been inspired by.
  • Green tickA public figure or major event.
  • Green tickA personal experience or someone close to you who has engendered your interest.

Getting started

Ideally you should be able to write about at least three or four substantive examples in which you explain how and why they influenced your choice. This type of critical analysis is of course a prerequisite of most undergraduate study. Bringing this to bear in your personal statement is therefore highly advantageous to your chances of a receiving an offer.

It will require some deep thought, research and a series of redrafts. Consider talking to people who know you well, such as tutors, family and friends for help and ideas.

To get started consider making a bullet-point list of the reasons that you are applying for the course. Add everything you can think of, even if it may seem inappropriate. Be creative and let your imagination go.

Put aside your list for a day or two, then go back to it. You may well find that you have thought of some really excellent reasons you can add.

From here you can select the best examples, and write a few simple paragraphs. Don’t worry if the wording doesn’t sound quite right as you will be able to fix that in your next draft.

After a couple more re-drafts you should have at least 30-50% of the personal statement, written to a high standard.

Work experience

If you have work experience that is highly relevant to your course, you should mention it in this section of the personal statement. Many subjects such as Law, Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing and midwifery, Physiotherapy, Veterinary science and Teaching will expect it.

If at all possible obtain as much work experience or shadowing as possible, that is relevant to your choice of subject. It can only make your application stronger. It says to admissions tutors that you have initiative and are dedicated to this specific course.

Work experience that is not relevant to your subject can be included in the, ‘Extracurricular interests and achievements’ section.


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