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The second part of your UCAS personal statement: your academic experience, subject knowledge and abilities

Your choice of subject

The subsequent portion of the statement should concentrate upon your academic experience.

Avoid simply listing the subjects you have studied. That information will already apparent from the rest of your application.

Instead say which areas you have found most enjoyable, explaining why with well thought out reasoning. Give strong precedence here, to your subjects that are directly relevant to the course you are applying for.

Your subjects may be relevant in two ways.

Firstly and most obviously, in terms of content. For example you may be applying to read economics and have studied the subject at A-Level. Similarly if you are applying to read business and have studied business at A-Level you will be expected to write about that subject in particular.

Secondly, in terms of the academic skills you have acquired.

For many university courses it is not possible or necessary to have formally studied the subject at college. For students in this position they will be expected to emphasise how the skills you have developed complement your choice of course.

For example, if you wish to read law at university, an A-level in law is not a requirement.

You will however be expected to stress how your studies have allowed you to develop the relevant academic skills for this choice of course.

Admissions tutors are likely to favour applicants who have developed skills in critical thinking, attention to detail, historical analysis, oral and written communication. Here there are many A-level subjects that may have allowed students to develop these skills. Biology, Chemistry, Maths, Economics, English, Geography, Sociology, Philosophy, History and Politics to name a few.

In a similar vein, if you wish to study nursing at university, again a subject specific A-level is not required. (although health and science related course are likely to be looked upon favourably)

Here admissions tutors are likely to favour applicants who have developed strong inter-personal skills, the ability to work effectively within a team, numerical competency, effective written communication, a high level of personal organisation and time management, familiarity with information technology and ideally leadership potential.

Research

To recap, it is important that your previous education and academic profile is relevant to the university subject you are applying to. Here you should seek guidance from tutors, careers advisors, UCAS and university websites, prospectus’ and admissions tutors.

Many courses also insist that applicants have achieved a minimum grade in particular subjects, whilst discounting and/or placing less value upon others. So doing adequate research is always vital.

You should give precedence to subjects that you have studied whose content is directly relevant to your choice of course.

You should emphasise the academic skills you have developed at college that most complement your choice of course.

Below is a list of some the academic skills and personal qualities that admissions tutors look for.

  • A high level of numeracy
  • Attention to detail
  • Commitment
  • Critical analysis skills
  • Effective team working
  • Enthusiasm for your subject
  • Personal organisation
  • Problem solving
  • Strong oral communication skills
  • The ability to learn independently
  • The ability to write persuasively
  • The ability to take on a leadership role
  • Time management

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