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Your UCAS Personal Statement: The 70 Essential Questions

  1. Where do I begin?
  2. Have I carefully read, and understood the advice on the official UCAS website (www.ucas.ac.uk) with regard to completing the application form and writing the personal statement?
  3. What is the deadline for handing in my UCAS application?
  4. Do I appreciate that writing a first-rate personal statement may take at least four to five weeks?
  5. Do I know how to access support from tutors, careers services and other organisations and individuals?
  6. Why am I making this application?
  7. What subject do I want to study?
  8. Why do I want to study this subject?
  9. Why do I want to go to university?
  10. Where do I want to study?
  11. Does my personal statement give the impression that I am enthusiastic and committed to study my chosen subject at undergraduate level?
  12. What evidence do I have that my enthusiasm and commitment to the subject is real and long standing?
  13. Have I obtained any work placements relevant to my application?
  14. Have I participated in any other relevant activities?
  15. Do I provide evidence of wide reading within the subject?
  16. What evidence of wider reading or experience beyond the syllabus can I produce, especially within the subjects that are directly relevant to my chosen subject?
  17. Have I named events, publications and academic debates that I have found fascinating? Have I explained why I found them fascinating?
  18. Have I carried out enough research, before writing my personal statement?
  19. Have I carefully read the course prospectus and official online information of the universities that I am applying for?
  20. Have I stated the specific aspects of the course that I am interested in?
  21. What is the background to this interest?
  22. For how long have I had this interest?
  23. Have I communicated effectively that my interest stems, not solely upon having studied the subject at A-Level? Again have I backed up my claims with reference to specific activities and experiences I have obtained?
  24. Have I mentioned any relevant work experience, summer employment or voluntary work that supports my application?
  25. What do I hope to achieve from university study? Apart from a degree, how do I hope to develop personally, what do I hope to learn, what skills would I like to acquire, what experiences am I looking forward to and what kinds of people would I like to meet? Have I written about this?
  26. You are an admissions officer reading your personal statement. What are you thinking? Do you want this person at your university?
  27. What relevant personal qualities do I possess?
  28. What personal qualities do I possess that the admissions panel will be looking for within my chosen discipline? Are these qualities emphasised with reference to real experiences and achievements in my personal statement?
  29. Have I mentioned any relevant work experience or voluntary work I have completed that is directly relevant to the subject or has stimulated my personal development?
  30. Do I have the confidence and ability to study independently? Have I provided examples of where I have done this?
  31. Do I have the time management skills that are a prerequisite of undergraduate study? Is this reflected in my personal statement? Can I give specific examples?
  32. Do I possess the necessary inter-personal skills to enjoy and be successful as a university student? Is this reflected in my personal statement?
  33. Do I work well with others? Is this reflected in my personal statement? Can I give specific examples?
  34. Does my personal statement consist of a logical sequence if information? Does it include the following key elements? Reasons for making the application, evidence that supports your reasoning behind making the application, support for your choice of subject, relevant personal qualities, academic experiences and interests, extra-curricular activities and future career aspirations.
  35. Have I mentioned any of my personal interests?
  36. Have I mentioned those personal interests that will create the best impression of myself to admissions tutors as an individual and potential undergraduate?
  37. Have I explained what my personal interests involve (e.g. problem solving, team working, time management, organisation, interpersonal skills, commitment, creativity) in a way that strengthens and personalises my application.
  38. Have I reacted very successfully to a difficult situation in my everyday life or during academic study? In consultation with my tutor to make sure that it’s appropriate have I utilised it as a very individual manner of highlighting my resourcefulness, vision and persistence?
  39. Have I mentioned any other personal successes or achievements that are notable?
  40. Might any of these personal interests or achievements contribute toward successfully adapting to university life and academic study?
  41. Have I explained what my future career, academic or personal development goals are?
  42. Which subjects am I currently studying?
  43. How have your academic experiences engendered your choice of course?
  44. What interests you particularly about your present subjects? Explain why.
  45. Have I given particular attention to the subject or subjects that I am studying where they are directly relevant to my choice of course?
  46. What relevant skills have I developed as a result of my previous academic study?
  47. What have you learnt from your studies so far? How have your studies engendered your interest in making this application?
  48. Is my personal statement well written and free from any errors?
  49. Have I utilised the maximum amount of space available for my personal statement of 4000 characters (including spaces) or 47 lines of text (including blank lines)? (Usually equating to a little over 500 words)
  50. Have I carefully read, understood and followed the advice on the official UCAS website (www.ucas.ac.uk) with regard to completing the application form and writing the personal statement?
  51. What is the deadline for handing in my UCAS application?
  52. Does my personal statement contain any unnecessary and clumsy repetition of certain words? (E.g. do I use the word ‘I’ or ‘also’ too much)
  53. Have I used a thesaurus to find appropriate or superior substitutes for particular words and phrases?
  54. Have I used a dictionary to confirm the spelling and meaning of words that I’m unfamiliar with.
  55. Have I written at least 3 drafts of my personal statement in which it has been refined and polished?
  56. After each draft have I put it aside then worked on it with a fresh mind a few days later?
  57. Am I rushing the writing process? An outstanding personal statement may take 4-5 weeks to write.
  58. Have I checked for spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and correct punctuation?
  59. Have I had someone else read my personal statement? Is it well written and free from spelling mistakes and grammatical errors?
  60. Have I rechecked for spelling and grammatical errors?
  61. Have I had a second person read my personal statement?
  62. Have I had a third person read my personal statement?
  63. Have I read my personal statement out aloud to myself and to someone else?
  64. Have I chosen people to proofread my personal statement who possess an excellent command of formal written English?
  65. Did I ask them to proofread the rest of the application in its entirety?
  66. Have I worked as hard as possible to ensure that the spelling, grammar and punctuation within my application and personal statement are perfect?
  67. You are an admissions officer reading your personal statement. What are you thinking? Would you accept this person into your university? Do they possess the knowledge, ability and desire to achieve academic success at undergraduate level?
  68. Is your personal statement engaging and persuasive.
  69. Does it emphasise your strengths and minimise your weaknesses?
  70. Have you sold yourself effectively?

These are some of the questions to be addressed as you write your personal statement. They are presented as a supplementary resource to empower students to think creatively and deeply about their application.

They should of course not replace careful reading of the the official UCAS website and / or guidance from schools or colleges.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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