It’s that time of year for Year 13 students. While many will have already submitted their UCAS application and started to receive offers from universities, others are still in the throes of perfecting their personal statement. The competition for places on courses at UK universities is fiercely intense so a compelling personal statement that stands out is key. Don’t let this put you off, we are here to help you succeed.

Firstly, the basics. Personal statements for the UK’s UCAS application have a maximum of 4,000 characters and 47 lines. Secondly, if you are an international student wanting to study in the UK, explain why the UK is the best place for the next step in your journey. In addition to that, research the type of candidate each UK university course you’re applying to is looking for, so you can filter relevant detail into your statement. Thirdly, don’t just thrash it out in one go. Develop it over time and, crucially, get someone to proofread it. Particularly important if English isn’t your first language. It’s your chance to demonstrate your level of English proficiency along with providing results of approved English tests and qualifications.

We’ve been in touch with Leading Education, who help students achieve places at world-leading universities. This year they’ve helped over 250 students create, prepare and hone their personal statements. As they say, the personal statement is the first important step in your university application and is the first chance to make an impression and introduce yourself to admissions officers.

Leading Education’s Personal Statement top tips

The personal statement is a vital part of your application and should show who you are, what you are interested in and why. There are thousands of good personal statements submitted every year but how do you make yours great? We have compiled a list of top tips to get you started from structure to content. We hope you find it helpful!

1. Focus on topics in your personal statement that are unique, interesting, and above A-level
In order to stand out you need to show your passion for your subject area and that the passion you have has extended to beyond your school curriculum.

2. Avoid books from the Oxbridge reading list
Lots of students will talk about these and although they are good to read to help give you more knowledge in your subject, try not to mention them in your personal statement. Read books, articles and research; listen to podcasts; find competing arguments to form your opinion and share it.

3. Make good use of the limited space by avoiding the repetition of information found elsewhere in the application
Application tutors will be reviewing your entire application, they will be able to find your school grades and other information you have inputted. Personal Statements have a limited word count – use each one to maximum effect and focus on new information.

4. Write clearly and concisely
There’s no need for excessively long and complex sentence structures or floral language. It’s self-indulgent and can make the process of reading large numbers of personal statements somewhat tiring.

5. Consider the flow of the personal statement carefully
It should read as a single cohesive essay rather than a list of discrete points written sequentially from a list. Try to make your personal statement sound natural rather than stilted.

6. Ensure that all spelling and grammar is immaculate
Any errors in accuracy will not be viewed in a positive light by the admissions tutors.

7. Avoid using clichés
By this we mean phrases and sentiments which admissions tutors are likely to see regularly, these will make the application boring. For example, everyone who wants to study medicine wants to help people, you do not need to waste characters telling them this.

8. Make sure everything you say in your personal statement is true
This may sound obvious but it could prove embarrassing if this is exposed in an interview e.g., if you come undone in an interview because the admissions tutor starts asking about a book in the personal statement that you’ve never actually read!

9. Don’t plagiarise
UCAS has advanced anti-plagiarism software used to check all submissions, and suspicious applications run the risk of being cancelled. The best Personal Statements are exactly that – personal – use the opportunity to show your unique values, experience and interests.

10. Don’t offer statements without anything to support them
Justify the value of everything you’ve decided to talk about (if you can’t, perhaps it’s not especially helpful to include at all).

About Leading Education

Leading Education has supported over 2,500 students with their G5 university applications (Oxford, Cambridge, UCL, LSE, Imperial) in its 5 year history. Leading Education was created by brothers Kieran and Liam Hammond who both attended Cambridge University and now has a pool of more than 400 specialised tutors covering all university subjects.

Through the full time academic team Leading Education has developed insights and patterns for all stages of the university application process and has a success rate of more than double the national average for Oxbridge applications.

If you would like to find out more about Leading Education and their services please follow the links below.

For a free 30 minute consultation with Leading Education on your university application Click Here