For those of you used to writing 280-character tweets, a 4,000-character UCAS personal statement might seem like your idea of hell.

The UCAS personal statement word count is 47 lines or 4000 characters – and trust us, you’ll want more.

Starring at a blank page can be really difficult so just start by writing anything – for example, why you want to study this subject and your best attributes – then you just need to structure it.

Your UCAS personal statement should be broken up into three main sections.

  1. Why you are excited about the course you are applying for

And how did you become interested in the subject – did you read an article or go to a lecture on the topic?

Make sure you have a punchy first sentence to engage the reader.

In this section you also need to show that you really understand the course.

  1. Evidence to prove your interest in the course

This can be shown through work experience and outside reading.

Here, you should also mention the skills you have that make you right for the course.

  1. What makes you unique?

Now you can write about your interests and hobbies, try and talk about something that you do that is unique.

Personal statements are very subjective but we’ve compiled a list of dos and don’ts to keep you on the right path.


  • DON’T reference a specific university

The same personal statement will be sent to every course and university you apply for so avoid being too specific.

  • DON’T be negative

You shouldn’t put down the course you are applying for eg ‘I am applying to be a nurse because it takes less time than training to be a doctor.’

  • DON’T waffle

Now is not the time for verbal diarrhoea – you only have 47 lines so you need to be concise.

  • DON’T be arrogant

It’s good to show off your skills and experience but be careful not to cross the line into arrogance.

  • DON’T use clichés

Admissions tutors read A LOT of personal statements so avoid clichés such as ‘I have wanted to become a journalist for as long as I can remember.’

  • DON’T exaggerate

Be prepared to back up everything you say in your personal statement in an interview.

  • DON’T try and be funny

Admissions tutors might not have the same sense of humour as you.

  • DON’T leave it until the last minute

Writing a whole page about yourself is harder than you think.

  • DON’T copy anyone else’s

Universities use software to check for plagiarism.


  • DO show you’ve gone the extra mile

Talk about the extracurricular activities you do outside of school – for example volunteering or clubs you belong to.

  • DO proofread your personal statement

Get a parent or a friend to read it too, a fresh eye is always good.

  • DO save as you are going along

UCAS times out after 35 minutes of inactivity.

Unfortunately there is no definitive formula to writing your UCAS personal statement but stick to our guidelines and you can’t go too wrong.

Whether you’re currently in the process of writing your personal statement or have already gone through the pain, share your advice below.

If you need help with the rest of the form, take a look at our filling in your UCAS application blog.

Featured image courtesy of Francisco Osorio via Flickr, with thanks