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Guide to your UCAS application

Get honest application advice from our students

Applying to uni through UCAS is simpler than it looks. Just make sure you take things step-by-step and take advice from students who have done it themselves.

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Do's and don'ts for writing your personal statement

Read Natalie's tips for making your personal statement stand out.

"I'm Natalie, I recently started my first year studying English at Middlesex University. I remember how daunting I found the process of writing my personal statement. Here’s some advice from someone who’s done it on how to turn this process from terrifyingly scary to terrifically easy." - Natalie Rose, BA English Literature

1. Do clearly show your passions and interests

There can be tough competition for uni places so your personal statement is a chance for you to set yourself apart from every other student applying for your course. The very best way to do this is to clearly describe how passionate you are about the subject.

In my personal statement, I was very clear about my love for literature. I dedicated an entire paragraph to my passion for reading and writing my own stories that helped me to secure a spot on the English course I wanted at Middlesex.

Don’t be afraid to come on too strong – there’s no such thing! The admissions board at the University you’re applying to will be delighted to see that your passion can’t be controlled. They’re looking for students who would love to be there, and so make sure that’s you!

2. Do get lots of people to proof read it

When I’ve written something, it can be almost impossible for me to re-read it properly. My eyes glaze over, I skim over words and spelling and grammatical errors get missed. But I’ve found that there’s a sure-fire way to ensure that these mistakes don’t make it into your final draft – get people to proofread it!

Send it to your teacher or tutor. Ask a parent and a friend to read it over too. After I’d written my personal statement, I sent it to three family members, four friends and two academic professionals to check over it, and I still wasn’t sure that was enough!

Different perspectives can spot different things.

Don’t be afraid to take criticism and use this feedback to improve your personal statement. Be prepared to scrap full paragraphs or re-write sentences. If you think you’ve sent it to enough people, then send it to more! Let everyone you can think of read it first.

3. Don't list things without explaining them


If your personal statement is more of a list of achievements than anything else, then you probably need to edit it down. Your qualifications in music or sports are more impressive if you can explain what you personally learnt from them.

My first draft of my personal statement contained a full list of all the music qualifications I’d achieved over the years, but my final draft only mentioned one, because that was all I needed to mention in order to show the skills I’d acquired from this.

Always remember, it’s quality over quantity. Spend time focusing on what has taught you useful skills. Did you learn dedication? Patience? What is it about that achievement makes it worth mentioning?

4. Don't make it all academic

Remember that this is a personal statement so it needs to be about you! Don’t spend forever talking about your academic life. Your grades and course details are submitted in your UCAS application anyway. This is a time for you to talk about what makes you shine.

To make your personal statement even more appealing to the University, a top tip is to check out the website of the University and see what activities they offer their students. When I was applying to Middlesex University, I browsed through the societies and extra-curricular activities. Then I was able to include several hobbies which I felt Middlesex would help me explore, like my interest in dancing and debate.

There’s always something you can tell people so they can get to know you. Do you like to read? Do you enjoy watching films? Do you sing or play music? Even playing computer games can be something you can write about. Let your dream uni get to know your personality, and what you, as a student, could bring to them as a studentI

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