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How to write a UCAS personal statement
Writing a great personal statement
Read our guide on what it is, what to include, how to start, length and what makes a good personal statement , once you've decided which universities and courses to apply for, completing your application is pretty simple – until it comes to how to write your ucas personal statement..
This guide covers everything you need to know about how to write a personal statement for university. We look at what it is and how you can start your personal statement. We've also got questions to guide you and a suggested personal statement structure you can use so you know what to put in it.
If you'd like even more resources, support and UCAS personal statement examples, you can sign up to access our personal statement hub .
What is the UCAS personal statement?
How universities use your ucas personal statement, how to start a ucas personal statement.
- Get feedback on your UCAS personal statement
The personal statement is part of your UCAS application. It's how you show your chosen universities why you'll make a great student and why they should make you an offer.
Your personal statement also helps you think about your choice of course and your reasons for applying, so you know you’ve made the right decision.
Get feedback on your personal statement
Sign up to our personal statement hub to get feedback on your draft. You'll also get access to videos, help sheets and more tips.
Sign up now
UCAS personal statement word limit
Your personal statement length can be up to 4,000 characters long.
This may sound a lot, but it's a word limit of around 550–1000 words with spaces and only about 1 side of typed A4 paper.
You need to keep it concise and make sure it's clear and easy to read.
Applying for multiple courses
Although you can apply for up to 5 courses on your UCAS application, you can only submit 1 personal statement. So it needs to cover all your course choices.
Lots of students who apply to university have achieved the basic entry requirements and many more students apply than there are places available. Admissions teams can use your UCAS personal statement to get to know you and decide why you're more suitable than other applicants.
Some universities read every personal statement and score them. Then they use them alongside your qualifications and grades to decide whether to offer you a place or interview. Other universities put less emphasis on the personal statement and use it with students who have borderline entry requirements.
Universities might refer to your personal statement again on results day if you don't get the grades you need. So a good personal statement could clinch you a uni place even if your grades aren't what you hoped for.
Starting your personal statement can seem scary when you're staring at a blank screen. But, things will seem less daunting once you start.
- Set aside some time in a place where you're comfortable and won't be disturbed. Grab a notepad or computer.
- Write down anything and everything that's influenced your decision to go to university and study your chosen subject. Jot down your skills and experience too.
- Use the questions below to guide you. Don't worry about the personal statement length at this point – you can cut things out later.
When to start your UCAS personal statement
Ideally, you want to leave yourself plenty of time – a few weeks or even months – to plan and write your personal statement.
Try not to leave it to the last minute, as tempting as this may seem when you've got so many other things to think about.
Questions to guide you
- Why do you want to study at university?
- Why do you want to study this subject?
- How did you become interested in this subject?
- What career do you have in mind after university?
Academic ability and potential
- How have your current studies affected your choice?
- What do you enjoy about your current studies?
- What skills have you gained from your current studies?
- How can you demonstrate you have the skills and qualities needed for the course?
- What qualities and attributes would you bring to the course and university?
- What work experience (including part-time, charity and volunteer work) do you have and what have you learnt from it?
- What positions of responsibility have you held? (For example, prefect, captain of a team or member of a committee)
- What relevant hobbies or interests do you have and what skills have they helped you develop?
- What transferable skills do you have, such as self motivation, team working, public speaking, problem solving and analytical thinking?
Research and reading
- How do you keep up with current affairs or news in your chosen subject?
- What journals or publications relevant to your chosen subject do you read?
- Which people have influenced you, such as artists, authors, philosophers or scientists?
Now it's time to write your personal statement using your notes. It's best to draft it on a computer, and remember to save it regularly.
You can copy and paste it into your UCAS application when you're happy with it.
Personal statement structure
While there's no set template for a personal statement, you may find it useful to follow this personal statement structure when you decide what to put in your statement.
What to include in a personal statement
- Reasons for choosing this subject(s)
- Current studies and how these relate to your chosen subject(s)
- Experiences and how these relate to your chosen subject(s)
- Interests and responsibilities and how these relate to your chosen subject(s)
- Your future after university
- Summary including why you'll make a great student
Further tips for a good UCAS personal statement
- Use information on university websites and the UCAS website. This often includes the skills and qualities universities are looking for in applicants
- Ask friends, family and teachers to remind you of activities you've participated in. They might remember your successes better than you do
- Don’t include lists in your application, like a list of all your hobbies. Focus on 1 or 2 points and talk about them in depth to show their relevance to your application
- Explain and evidence everything. It’s easy to say you have a skill, but it's better to demonstrate it with an example of when and how you’ve used it
- Avoid clichéd lines such as ‘I've always wanted to be a teacher’ as it says nothing about your motivations or experiences
- If you’re applying for a joint degree or different subjects, give equal time to each area and try to find common aspects that show their similarities
- Never lie or plagiarise another statement – you'll be caught and it could result in your application being automatically rejected
- Proofread your personal statement by reading it out loud and ask friends, family or a teacher to check it for you
Sign up to our personal statement hub
Watch videos, get top tips and download our help sheets – that's what our personal statement hub is for. It's for you to write your story, so you can show your strengths, ideas and passion to your chosen universities.
You'll also be able send us your draft, so you can get feedback and feel confident about what you've written.
UCAS Personal Statement Length Checker
Please note: The line count may differ than the number of lines in the textbox above but when copy and pasted will match the line count on the UCAS application.
UCAS Personal Statement Requirements
- No longer than 4000 characters.
- No longer than 47 lines.
- Each line can be no longer than 94 characters. (Our character counter above already has a max line length of 94 characters unless otherwise noted.)
- Characters include spaces, carriage returns, and punctuation.
To see additional features including word count, paragraph count, space count and more use the character counter on our home page.
How to write your UCAS personal statement
The UCAS personal statement scares most high school students. Writing a perfect personal statement is a strenuous and unavoidable process. With roughly about 6 million university applications each year, officials need a method for filtering stronger applicants from everyone else.
As challenging as this task may appear, it is also your only chance to share your personality and eligibility for the degree program you have chosen. Follow our practices given, and you can absolutely make your personal statement up to the mark.
Start with a plan
Each year thousands of applications are received for the best degrees in the world and are best focused on the goal of making their application stand out from the rest.
Thus, planning out what you want to say prior to writing your UCAS statement makes it easy to write a convincing personal statement. Start off by making a rough draft, answering some questions like
- What subjects do you want to study?
- Why have you particularly chosen this path for yourself?
- What makes you think that you are best suited to study this degree program at the college?
Some of these points will form the backbone of your personal statement, so write them in a manner that makes sense to you.
Sometimes you want to create simple bullet points or use mind maps. No matter what you decide; your goal is the same. You want to clarify why the university should provide you with a spot.
Bigger Picture of the Degree
Talk about the course that you have applied to. How did you learn about it in the first place? What means did you use to deepen your interest and knowledge in this area?
It would be a huge plus to list the books you read and the meetings you have attended regarding the subject.
Please elaborate on your academic attitude towards the degree. What are your goals after graduating? What role will it play in helping you achieve your greatest ambitions? What sort of vocation plans do you have after graduation?
Write about your work experience and achievements
Your previous achievements are an essential part of your personal statement. Think about all the accolades you have received and the contests you have participated in. These can be in-school, national or international. Both academic and sports awards can greatly help emphasize your commitment.
Write about the important skills and experiences acquired elsewhere (such as hobbies) that can be chained to the degree of your choice.
Remember, you are searching for experience that shows why you need to study the subject that you have chosen. You are not just writing an essay about what you are doing in your high school syllabus.
Your extracurriculars ought to likewise be included in the personal statement. Whether it be a MUN or a cross country race, they pass on the message that you love participating in different events.
Likewise, it is really smart to discuss any expertise you have acquired through extracurriculars.
Discuss any leadership roles you could have held, as they improve your capacity to appreciate people on a profound level and put you across as a pioneer.
Community service is a plus in the UCAS statement as it shows a promise to a reason bigger than oneself.
You can link all these activities to your selected course in the best case. Be careful not to elaborate too much on extracurricular activities.
UCAS Character Count
There are some specific instructions for your personal statement that you can never ignore.
First, it must not exceed 4,000 characters or 47 lines of text (including blank lines), whichever comes first. If you do exceed this, the university will not get your entire statement.
So make sure your personal statement has a solid and decisive ending. It will look bad if you cut it off in the middle of a sentence after realizing that you have exceeded the text limit.
Instead, give each section proper attention, time, and character to plan your essay thoroughly.
However, while you are getting everything rolling, you ought to overlook these restrictions.
Tips for reducing the character count
From the get-go, you simply need to jot down all that you feel is significant. You will probably wind up with something very lengthy, but that is okay.
This is where you get to do some polishing and trimming. Maintain the focal point of your piece on the course you are applying for, why you want to do it and for what reason you are impeccably fit for it.
Glance through what you have composed until now - do you have the right balance? Cut off whatever continues a little to far, as you want to keep each point crisp and concise.
It is a difficult process to try to keep as much content as possible while keeping the character count low, so here are some simple ways to make it easier for you.
Read your personal statement and eliminate platitudes if there are any - for instance, 'I've wanted to study psychology since I was young'…The same goes for the quotations: except if they increase the value of your statement (which they don't most of the time!), it is really the best practice to remove them.
Make sure everything is concise
For each sentence in your piece, use the "so what?" rule. Does this sentence appear to be more reasonable for the course? If not, cutting it is best. This frequently happens when individuals write too much about their extracurriculars in a frantic endeavour to fit everything in.
Colleges, notwithstanding, need to see a reflection and what you have extracted from your encounters; this implies it is normally better to simply discuss a few extracurriculars than to list many things that the reader is likely to skim.
Also, note that you don't have to use hospital or volunteer location names. This further allows you to remove the last few characters from the count.
Use colour coding
An easy way to see where you are losing most of your characters is to highlight the sections of your statement with different colours.
Check your language
We frequently invest a great deal of energy looking up big words with the expectation that it will make our work impressive. However, this isn't generally the best practice. It is, in many cases, best to cut these words for fundamental and engaging sentences.
I hope the process will now be transparent, and it will be more exciting for you as you embark on your writing.
How to use our UCAS personal statement checker
To use our tool simply copy and paste your personal statement into the text-box above.
At the top, you will see two metrics displayed. The first metric on the left is the total characters you've typed out of the limit of 4,000 characters.
The second metric on the right is the number of lines your text contains out of the max of 47 lines. The UCAS allows a maximum of 94 characters per line, which our line count feature already takes into consideration.
To make it easier you can click the green "copy text" button to copy the text in the text box. You can also click the red "clear text" button to delete all the text in the text-box.
Why use an online UCAS personal statement checker?
Reason number one: The character count feature in Microsoft Word will not give you an accurate reading. The reason is that Word does not count the carriage return (also known as the enter key) as a character while UCAS does count it as a character.
The problem is that this will cause Word to underestimate the character count. This could cause your essay not to be able to submit when you try to upload it. If anything it would be better to overestimate the word count on Word that way it will fit.
Our personal statement checker however will give you the same character count as UCAS unlike the Microsoft Word character count.
It can be helpful to see the character count in real-time as you are typing your personal statement. This way you are constantly reminded of how long your essay is.
If you are not paying attention it can be easy to lose track of how long your essay is and go over the limit.
Our tool makes it easier to be aware of the length and easy to cut back if necessary.
How many characters in a personal statement?
UCAS requires 4,000 characters in their personal statement. Use our personal statement checker above to see if your essay meets the requirements.
How many words in a UCAS personal statement
UCAS has a character limit of 4,000 characters. This equates to about 615 to 800 words.
How many words is 4000 characters?
4,000 characters is about 615 to 800 words. For more Characters to Words conversions, check out our Characters To Words Converter .
Does the personal statement character limit include spaces?
Yes, it does include spaces as well as carriage returns. Check your statement with our personal statement checker above.
Thanks for using our UCAS personal statement checker!
We appreciate you taking the time to check your personal statement using our webpage. As you know, this is a very important college application essay to get into British universities. UCAS stands for Universities and Colleges Admissions Service and is what the UK uses for the college application process. Good luck on your personal statement!
How to Nail the Personal Statement of the British Universities and Colleges Admissions Service
The ucas essay prompts, and how to ace them (2020-2021)..
The British UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) personal statement is used for all undergraduate university admissions in the United Kingdom. This personal statement has a more academic focus than most of the other undergraduate admissions essays you’ll write.
Want help with your UCAS essay? Whether you’re looking for feedback on a draft you’ve already written or whether you haven’t even started, Prompt is here to help you with every stage of the writing process.
The UCAS Personal Statement
- Unlike most undergrad personal statements, there’s no short-and-sweet prompt for this essay. Rather, the UCAS statement generally asks students to summarize their planned course(s) of study—i.e. their intended major(s)—and why they are qualified to pursue that study at the university level.
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service has offered a series of pointers to show applicants what to include in this essay.
- If you’ve chosen similar subjects (majors), talk about the subject in general, and try not to mention course titles. If you’ve chosen a variety of subjects, just write about common themes, like problem solving or creativity.
- Look at course (major) descriptions and identify the qualities, skills, and experiences that your course requires – you can use these to help you decide what to write about.
- Tell the reader why you’re applying – include your ambitions, as well as what interests you about the subject, the course provider, and higher education.
- Think about what makes you a good candidate for your course(s) – this could be relevant experience, skills, or achievements.
- Discuss any relevant clubs, societies, extracurriculars, or volunteer efforts that you’ve participated in.
- Mention any relevant work experience, summer courses, and similar opportunities.
How should you approach your UCAS personal statement?
We’ve put together a detailed article laying out the steps you should take to write this essay. We also have a few additional tips to suggest:
- Instead of a word limit, the UCAS essay gives students a maximum of 47 lines or 4000 characters to work with. (This tends to be about 500 words.) Luckily, there are online length checkers you can use to make sure your essay stays within the line/character count.
- The exact same UCAS essay will be sent to all the UK schools you apply to, so you should avoid referring to any specific university or course by name.
- The UCAS essay has more in common with a grad school statement of purpose than it does with a typical undergrad personal statement. Don’t begin with a vivid opening scene or try to get too creative in your approach.
- The UCAS essay also has a very specific structure. Use our article to guide you in organizing your draft the correct way.
- If you’re applying from outside the UK, there are some specific questions that you’ll have to answer as an international student. Don’t worry—these questions can be found on the main UCAS website .