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11 tips for writing your UCAS personal statement like a pro

If you are thinking about applying to university after leaving Hugh Baird College, you’ll need to write an engaging personal statement as part of your application to show off your skills and unique personality to admissions tutors.

Universities are looking for what makes YOU stand out from the other applicants and in this short blog, we are going to go over some dos and don’ts when it comes to writing your personal statement.

1. Don’t make jokes

This one is pretty self-explanatory but humour is very subjective so even if you are the funniest person in the world to you, it may go against you in your application if your sense of humour isn’t shared by the person reading your personal statement.

2. Don’t tailor your personal statement to one university

There is no guarantee you will get an offer from your preferred choice of university and other universities will not be impressed if you make it clear they are not your favourite!

3. Do keep to the point

Keep your personal statement clear and concise. However interesting, admission tutors will not want to read an essay about how your cat inspired you to become a chartered accountant, making sure what you are writing is relevant to the courses you’re applying for is key.

4. Do talk about your extra-curricular experiences

Been a part of a sports team, club or weekly commitment outside of your studies? These activities can not only be a great way to show off your teamworking, leadership and/or interpersonal skills but also shows that you have committed to something and this starts to build a positive image in the admission tutor’s mind.

5. Do avoid cliches and quotes

From the day I was born, I have wanted to be a occupational therapist is not believable and won’t fully represent who you are. Similarly, using quotes is not advised as a personal statement is about you and so admission tutors want to learn about why you are a good fit, not Albert Einstein!

6. Do make a plan

It is very rare that anyone will write the perfect personal statement on the first try. Write drafts and take regular breaks between writing so you can come back to it with a fresh pair of eyes.

7. Don't leave it to the last minute

We all know how tempting It can be to put off doing things we don’t want to do but leaving your personal statement to the last minute is never a good idea and only makes it harder for you further down the line.

A good way to avoid procrastination is to find a quiet and distraction free environment and to put your phone and other electronic devices in a different room. If you are writing your personal statement on a device that can connect to the internet, turning this device to airplane mode can help to limit distractions.

8. Don’t over-exaggerate

Over-exaggerating can mean that if any of the claims you make are followed up, you could end up in hot water. Some universities hold interviews and will tailor these to your personal statement so it’s always better to just be honest.

9. Don’t make excuses or focus on the negative

Life events out of our control can often get in our way but talking positively about what you have done is always better than making excuses for the things you haven’t.

10. Don’t plagiarise

Don’t be tempted to plagiarise or pay someone to write your personal statement for you, there are a lot of checks in place and if you are caught, your applications will not be accepted and you may be banned from applying to university for a few years.

11. Do be yourself

A personal statement is what is says on the tin, it's personal to you. It’s your chance to prove why you deserve to study at your favourite university and so making sure you are being personal and talking about why you deserve that spot over someone else is very important – just make sure you don’t come across as arrogant!

For more support, Hugh Baird College students can visit Student Support (The POD) for UCAS and careers support.

Click here to visit the Student Support webpage

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