Post Qualification Applications Ucas Personal Statement

You've spent what seems like a lifetime working on your UCAS application. You've checked it all over, your parents and friends have checked it over, your tutors have checked it over then you've checked it once more to be sure. Finally, your application gets sent and THEN you notice a mistake. Depending on the mistake, you'll either look at it as a mild inconvenience or you'll be wishing the ground would swallow you up!

In reality, most mistakes would fall into the 'mild inconvenience' category and can be quickly remedied. Others may require a bit more work and an understanding university admissions tutor. Either way, I've laid out some of the common requests we've been seeing recently and given a bit of advice on what you can do.

Are you applying through a school/college/centre?
If so, don't forget that when you hit 'pay/send' on your application, it'll be sent to them first. They need to add your reference, check your application and send it on to UCAS. As long as they haven't sent it to UCAS, you can ask them to send it back to you. You'd then be able to correct any mistakes and send it back to them. Simple! If they've already sent it to UCAS or you've sent it and you're applying independently then read on...

Changing qualifications in the Education section
If you've missed some qualifications off your form or need to amend existing details then you should email with the details of what needs to be changed. You should also include your name and personal ID number so your records can be located. As well as letting us know, you'll also need to contact your university and college choices so they know too. Contact details for the universities can be found here.

NB If you've stated pending qualifications on your application, we can't update it to show your results. We receive exam results for some qualifications which we send on to your university choices. Information on the exam results we handle can be found here

Changing name or date of birth
If you want to change your name or date of birth, you need to email with the information plus scanned proof of your name or date of birth (e.g. birth certificate, passport, marriage certificate etc). You also need to state your name as it currently appears on the application and your personal ID number. As before, you should get in touch with your university choices to let them know.

Changing your choices

i) Changing university
You have 7 days from the date of your Welcome letter in which you can substitute a university choice for another one. You can find the option to substitute a choice in the Choices section of Track. If you're outside the 7 days then you won't be able to substitute.

If your course has been discontinued, you'll be able to substitute the choice outside of the 7 days. The university who discontinued the course should provide guidance on how to change this to either another course with them or a different university altogether.

ii) Changing course, campus code, start date or point of entry
If you want to change any of these but want to remain with the same university, you'd speak to them directly about changing this for you.

Changing postal or email address
You can change these in the Personal Details section of Track.

Changing the personal statement
This can't be amended once your application has been sent. If there any changes you want to make, you need to get in touch with your university choices to ask if they'd be willing to accept a new draft sent to them directly. 

Used by universities to compare different applicants, your UCAS personal statement showcases how your skills, experience and aspirations are well-suited to the course

What is a university personal statement?

A key part of the online application, this is your opportunity to tell course tutors in your own words why you feel that you'd be an asset to their university. However, you'll have to adhere to the UCAS guidelines as you endeavour to meet the course entry requirements.

How long should it be?

There's no maximum word count, but you'll need to remain within the 4,000 character limit (including spaces and punctuation) allowed in UCAS Apply, as well as keeping the statement to a total of 47 lines.

UCAS recommend that you write your personal statement in Microsoft Word before copying and pasting it into the online application form. This is because the application page times out after being inactive for 35 minutes. You'll need to account for how individual characters are counted differently between Microsoft Word and the online form.

What do I write about?

When considering what to include in your personal statement, take time to think about the reasons you're applying to university and what makes you a suitable candidate.

To make this work for different courses and different universities, you'll need to find some common ground by providing examples of why you'll be a success - demonstrating enthusiasm for the choices you've made and how it fits in with your career ambitions.

This can be achieved by talking about the relevant skills, experience and achievements you've gained through extra-curricular activities, work experience, placements and volunteering (as well as education), detailing what you've learned from each.

It's never too late to show you're actively preparing for higher education. Get involved with an extra-curricular club, secure a part-time job or get volunteering. You could even complete a free online course with an organisation such as FutureLearn or the Digital Business Academy.

If you're an international student, you could discuss why the UK's your preferred study destination, not forgetting to mention the English tests, courses and qualifications you've taken.

How do I write a personal statement?

By planning your personal statement, breaking it down into sections, you can ensure you've covered the most relevant points and adopted a sound plan.

Course-relevant skills and credentials should be given prominence in the overall structure. However, as you only have the one personal statement for all your choices, if you've selected a variety of subjects that aren't that similar you'll need to focus on the transferable skills and common qualities typically valued by all universities.

Adopt a simple, concise and natural style for writing your statement, while still showing enthusiasm. Allow your personality to shine through.

It can often take a number of redrafts until the statement is ready, so get used to reading your statement aloud and asking for feedback from family, teachers and advisers before redrafting to make sure your writing flows well. You'll also need to check for correct punctuation, spelling and grammar.

Keep an up-to-date copy of your statement saved somewhere so that you can refer back to it during the interview process.

How do I start a personal statement?

The best thing to do at this point is to get thinking about why you're applying for the course you're applying for, and how you became interested in it in the first place. Was it through work experience or studying the subject at A-level?

Once you've noted down your reasons for choosing the course, you can move on to your skills and what makes you stand out positively from other applicants, providing evidence of where each specific attribute has been utilised.

After you've taken time to get all this written down, condense it so it's less wordy. You can then attempt to write a punchy opening paragraph showcasing your genuine excitement at the prospect of going to university, and understanding of what you're getting yourself into.

What should I avoid?

  • As you'll only have the one statement, it's important not to mention universities by name - unless you plan on applying to just a single institution.
  • Remember that admissions staff may not share your sense of humour, so steer clear of anything that might get misinterpreted by admissions tutors. Refrain also from using clichés or making arrogant statements.
  • Resist any temptation to use somebody else's work as your own. The UCAS Similarity Detection Service utilises the Copycatch system, which will compare your statement against those stored within a comprehensive library of statements - those sent to UCAS and elsewhere (including paper publications) - searching for any similarities.
  • Be careful not to ramble. Structuring your work so you know how much space you have for each section will make sticking to your main points much easier.

Find out more

Written by Daniel Higginbotham, Editor

Prospects · July 2017

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