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How to write a UCAS personal statement

A student writing a personal statement on a laptop

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.

If you really want to show your commitment to applying for different courses, we will accept a second personal statement from you to reflect your application e.g. if you are applying for Law elsewhere, but Criminology and Criminal Justice with us.

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

Your motivation.

  • 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?

Your experience

  • 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.

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Personal Statement FAQs

Our personal statement FAQs will help ease the pain of writing a personal statement for your UCAS form . More advice can also be found on our blog .

What can I find in this article?

1. When should I start writing my personal statement?

It's never too early to start thinking about it! Unfortunately, UCAS deadlines have a tendency to creep up on most students, especially if you are applying to Oxbridge where the deadline is much earlier than other universities ( 15th October ).

However, you probably want a good idea of what course you're going to apply for before you launch in to actually writing the thing .

Check out Choosing A Degree if you're still deciding what subject to take.

On the other hand, don't leave it too late - you'll probably need a few weeks to write it and a week or so to get a reference written.

As a general guide we would say start writing it when you come back to school or college after the summer, though it might be worth jotting down a few ideas during the holidays.

We know some people are extremely organised and get at least their first draft done by the end of the summer!

2. How long can the personal statement be?

There is no actual word limit - instead, you have a maximum of 47 lines or 4000 characters to work with.

This is all the space UCAS give you on their online system, Apply . You can check that your statement will fit in the area provided by using our handy Personal Statement Length Checker .

3. How do I start writing my personal statement?

Most people won't be able to just start writing their personal statement off the top of their head - so it's a good idea to jot down a few notes first.

The main things to think about are:

  • why do you want to study your chosen course?
  • how do your skills, experiences and interests prove you are passionate about and committed to taking this course?

These are the two main things to start with, and if this still doesn't help you can look at a few more detailed starting points .

Many people have trouble writing about themselves and their personal qualities.

So if you're having trouble pop down to a library or bookstore and get a book on writing CVs that will go into this process in much more depth.

4. What are admissions tutors looking for?

Usually the sort of things you've written about for the part above!

Obviously the things admissions tutors are looking for will differ but in general: "Do we want this student on this course?" And "Do we want this student at this university?".

The idea of your personal statement is to show this - so once you've written it, have a read through and see if it answers these questions.

Individual universities and departments often publish information on applying and writing personal statements, so surfing the admissions scetion of their website should turn up more specific information on exactly what they're looking for.

Our blog post, 8 Things Not To Put In Your Personal Statement , will help you avoid making any obvious errors. Then check out What You Should Include In Your Personal Statement to make sure you don't miss anything important.

Read through our Personal Statement Writing Tips and How To Write A Personal Statement Guide for more comprehensive information and advice.

5. What's the most important part of the personal statement?

From our days of GCSE English, we would say either the beginning or the end.

A good first sentence will get the reader interested and ensure they actually read your statement rather than skim it.

A good ending will ensure the reader remembers your personal statement, though it also helps to have a good middle section as well.

The first line is probably the most important thing to work on. Most people put their reasons for studying the subject at the top, and this is generally regarded to be the most crucial part of the statement, as you need to hook the reader and make them want to read more.

However, the rest of your statement should make you shine as a candidate too, so there isn't really a definite answer to this question!

Just try to make your personal statement as interesting and polished as you can.

6. How do I write a statement for two different courses?

There's no easy way to write a personal statement for two totally unrelated courses.

If the courses are similar (i.e. Business Studies and Economics ) you may find you can write a personal statement that is relevant to both subjects without mentioning either subject by name.

If the courses are totally unrelated it may be impossible to write for both subjects without your personal statement sounding vague and unfocused.

Instead, you will need to concentrate on just one subject and just ignore the other, although you may want to question whether it's a good idea to apply for such different course, and re-think your subject choice .

7. Should I talk about what I want to do after university?

You could, but only if you have a good idea of what you want to do.

If you sound sure about what you want to do after university , it gives the impression that you've thought carefully about your course and what you want to do with it.

It is also a nice way to round off your personal statement , rather than just finishing on less important stuff like extra curricular activities.

If you don't have any future plans then leave it out - you don't want to be asked about them at interviews .

8. How should I structure my personal statement?

Most people write their personal statement in an essay style, usually starting off with the course and why they want to do it, then talking about their relevant work experience and skills, and finishing off with extra curricular activities.

However, you can use any style that you feel works best for you.

As a guide, spend around 50% of the space talking about your course and how you're suited to it and 50% on your work experience and other activities.

Exactly how you write your personal statement depends on your subject - generally people write more about work experience for vocational subjects like Medicine and Law than they would for Maths or English , where work experience is less important.

9. Is it worth doing loads of extra-curricular stuff to make my statement sound good?

There's no point doing extra things just to try and make yourself look good to universities - you won't enjoy it and it probably won't help much either.

From what we've seen, an interest and aptitude for the course is more important to admissions tutors than lots of extra curricular activities.

If you do want to do something to boost your application, read relevant books or do work experience related to the subject instead.

10. Should I talk about my qualifications?

No. There's already a section on the UCAS form for this, so don't waste space talking about them on your personal statement.

If you have something important that doesn't go in the qualifications section, ask your referee to put it down in your reference - it will sound better if it comes from them than from you.

11. Where can I see some example personal statements?

We have loads of free personal statement samples that you can browse through, broken down into subject categories so you can hopefully find what you are looking for quite easily!

Looking at what other students have written and submitted on their application is a useful way of seeing what makes a great personal statement (and what doesn't!).

Just make sure you don't copy sentences or whole chunks of these examples though, as UCAS has plagiarism detection software and your application will be rejected if it's found you've cheated!

12. What should I do after I've written my statement?

Ask for opinions on it!

Show it to your friends, parents, teachers, career advisors, etc and note down their comments.

The most useful comments are likely to come from your teachers in the subject and the people at your school or college who handle UCAS applications.

If you have enough time, leave your personal statement for a couple of weeks or a month and come back to it - if you're not still happy with what you wrote, it's time to start redrafting.

13. Should I post my personal statement online?

It's generally not a good idea to post it on an internet forum or discussion board before you've started university.

Anyone can steal information off a website and pass it off as their own, and with something as important as a personal statement, you don't want that to happen.

You should be OK sending it to people you trust by email - see the next question for a better way of getting people to look at it.

14. Where can I ask for feedback on my personal statement?

To get people to look at your personal statement without the risk of plagiarism visit the personal statement review section.

You can also get your personal statement professionally edited and reviewed here at Studential, through one of our very popular personal statement editing and critique packages.

We offer a range of services covering a variety of prices, so there's bound to be a package suited to you.

15. I'm still stuck with my personal statement - where can I find more in-depth advice?

Some people say writing a personal statement is easy – maybe it is, but it’s difficult to write a personal statement well. As this is such a big topic to cover, we suggest taking a look at our personal statement examples to help give you some inspiration for what to write, and then read through our  personal statement writing guide  when you’re ready to put pen to paper. Browse through the  other information and advice  we have in our personal statements section, and if you still feel you need a little extra help, you can always get your personal statement  professionally edited and reviewed  by one of our editors. We offer a range of UCAS personal statement editing and critique services , so there’s bound to be one suited to your needs. Don’t forget to ask your family, friends, teachers and careers adviser to look through your personal statement drafts, and incorporate any feedback they give you until you are 100% happy with it. Remember - it doesn’t matter how many times you have to redraft your personal statement – the most important thing is you get it right so you give yourself the best possible chance of being offered places by your chosen universities/colleges.

IMPORTANT:  When writing your personal statement, it’s vital you remember  not to copy from anyone else’s personal statement  (not even just a sentence!). Not only is it wrong and unfair, but any plagiarism will be detected by the Copycatch Similarity Detection Software. If UCAS discover you have plagiarised your personal statement, whether you have copied someone else’s entirely or parts of it, they will cancel your application.

You can also try looking through our personal statement guide for extra guidance.

This takes you through how to write a personal statement step-by-step, and goes into far more detail than this FAQ does.

If you feel you need more help, check out our personal statement editing and critique services  where our professional editors will review your statement to make it a success.

16. How do I write a personal statement if I'm a mature student?

Don't worry if you're a mature student applying to university - your qualifications, skills and extra experience will count as an advantage! Universities want to take on students from all walks of life, and this includes mature ones with more life experience.

Focus on what you can bring to the university if they offered you a place on the course, and how your degree fits into your future plans.

Read through some of our Mature Student Personal Statement Examples for inspiration.

17. How do I write a personal statement if I'm an international student?

As mentioned previously, universities want students from a range of backgrounds, and this includes those who want to study at their institution from abroad.

Again, try to convey how your experiences in your own country will benefit you on your course, and how they make you a valuable asset to the university.

To give you an idea of what other international students have written in the past, read through some of our International Student Personal Statement Examples for inspiration (but please remember not to copy them, or your application will be penalised!).

A few last tips

What have you done, relevant to your subject, that is unique and no one else is likely to put down?

Many people have the same old boring interests and work experience - you need something to separate you from the crowd, and while it's a gamble to make an individual personal statement, anything individual you do related to your chosen field can only look good.

Have a think - what makes you so special? If you can't think of anything then you can't complain if you get rejected! Finally, remember it's your personal statement, and you can write whatever you want in it.

If everything in this guide conflicts with what you've got already but you think you still have a killer personal statement, then use that.

A personal statement is about you, and you shouldn't let anyone tell you what to put in it - sticking blindly to the formula mentioned here will just stop your true personality showing through.

Further information

For more tips and advice on writing your personal statement, please see:

  • The 15th January UCAS Deadline: 4 Ways To Avoid Missing It
  • Analysis Of A Personal Statement
  • Personal Statement Editing Services
  • Top 10 Personal Statement Writing Tips
  • Personal Statement Advice From A Teacher
  • Personal Statement Writing Guide
  • What To Do If You Miss The 15th January UCAS Deadline .

Best of luck with your personal statement!

Has lots of valuable

Mon, 19/09/2011 - 05:17

Has lots of valuable information

Thu, 06/10/2011 - 20:30

very good site!! Helped a lot!!!!

Wed, 12/10/2011 - 17:21

Great info, i appreciate it.

Fri, 14/10/2011 - 14:35

i wana apply for a science

Tue, 25/10/2011 - 10:22

i wana apply for a science faculty but what i did in the past were only related to English (eg:joining competitions in sos verse speaking,public speaking;volunteered to teach english;being chairman of english society at school./) and seems almost nth for science.... so should i write those experience also?but how can i link them to the content.... thanks

Wed, 26/10/2011 - 22:56

Excellent website, I have searched high and low for a website like this. Very impressed.

wow this has just simply

Fri, 28/10/2011 - 21:15

wow this has just simply saved my life:)

Sun, 30/10/2011 - 11:11

Thank you for the guidance, its very simple and straight forward

Disabilities

Fri, 04/11/2011 - 06:38

I have Aspergers should I include this in my PS because it has affected my involvement in extra curricular activities

like to point out that it is

Wed, 09/11/2011 - 15:13

like to point out that it is 47 lines and not 37 :) that aside, very helpful - thanks!

The best site I have found to

Fri, 02/12/2011 - 22:29

The best site I have found to help with personal statements, got so much useful infomation and straight to the point, will definately recommend to others in my class who are in the middle of their personal statments!

I have read that you should

Tue, 06/12/2011 - 14:57

I have read that you should write about why you wish to study at university and what inspires you to, and i want to but the real reason i want to study at uni is because of a very personal reason and im not sure wether to mention it as i feel i may come across as an attention seeker? the real reason i want to go is because of a very abusive relationship with an ex boyfriend that made me realise i should make the most of my life and do exactly what i want and never let anyone bring me down... do u think it would be too much if i said this - I was very unsure whether to write about the real reason I want to pursue what I’m passionate about, because its very personal. The truth is that is wasn’t a good experience. A traumatising abusive relationship with an ex boyfriend woke me up and made me see I should make the most out of my life.

Tue, 06/12/2011 - 15:03

Tue, 06/12/2011 - 15:08

Amazing Stuff

Mon, 13/02/2012 - 13:06

I'm so glad I found this site

Thu, 01/03/2012 - 15:46

I'm so glad I found this site. It's helped alot.

I'm so glad I found this site. It's helped alot. :)

Thu, 01/03/2012 - 15:47

Lying on your personal statement

Tue, 10/07/2012 - 20:27

I was very disappointed to see this included in your FAQs. Even more to see it answered in the way it was. If someone can lie and "get away with it" does that not suggest we could potentially have a generation of useless, brainless, incompetent potential lawyers, doctors, politicians heading our way? Oh, wait...how long have you been giving this advice out?

do we have to write about our

Tue, 31/07/2012 - 19:13

do we have to write about our interests and hobbies???

if yes what if we dont have enough space and gone over max line limit??

thx a lot for the post..lots

Thu, 13/09/2012 - 23:21

thx a lot for the post..lots of info :)

you get 47 lines not 37 as it

Thu, 20/09/2012 - 11:35

you get 47 lines not 37 as it says

Wed, 17/04/2013 - 11:16

Some of the universities I'm applying to offer different courses to other unis I'm also applying to. Is it possible to send two different personal statements depending on which uni? For Edinburgh and Manchester, I want to apply for English Literature, but for Aberystwyth, East Anglia and Manchester Metropolitian they offer English Lit and Creative Writing.

Any advice would be great, thanks!

Wed, 24/07/2013 - 03:11

Say, you got a nice article.Much thanks again. Awesome.

Wrong information

Thu, 25/07/2013 - 16:15

The maximum on UCAS for personal statements is 47 lines and 4000 characters, not 37 lines as stated on this page.

This is really helpful and

Fri, 27/09/2013 - 14:15

This is really helpful and informative but I'm fairly sure the number of lines allowed is 47, not 37 as written here.

Retaking year 12

Sun, 29/09/2013 - 12:22

I have recently retook year 12 and I am now in the process of writing my personal statement. Having gathered differing opinions on this matter i was wondering for your input on whether or not its worth putting it down on my personal statement.I have changed subjects, left one out for a year and returned to it and retaken a subject. This now leaves me with 5 As levels.

Mon, 30/09/2013 - 20:06

"Have a think - what makes you so special? If you can't think of anything then you can't complain if you get rejected!"

As if we're not under enough stress already!

Previous Work

Tue, 29/10/2013 - 20:33

can I put links in to websites I have professionally made

wow very good much

Fri, 15/11/2013 - 09:25

wow very good much informative

Very informative. I really

Wed, 15/01/2014 - 14:57

Very informative. I really appreciate your site.

Not required

Mon, 30/06/2014 - 14:27

Comment Content

BridgeU Logo

Writing a Personal Statement for UCAS: The 10 Big Mistakes Students Should Avoid

is there a word limit for ucas personal statement

Thea Pillay

  • Writing a UCAS Personal Statement for a subject that isn’t the right fit
  • Spelling & grammar mistakes
  • Avoid pointless cliches
  • Endlessly listing extracurriculars
  • Over-using quotes or taking them out of context
  • Telling the reader something they already know 
  • Ignoring word limits
  • Unnecessary origin stories
  • Making things up
  • Controversy

Join 10,000 fellow counsellors and get exclusive insights delivered straight to your inbox.

Writing a UCAS Personal Statement requires a student to convey a lot of information in a short space of time. Mistakes are easy to make. Read our run down of the most common ones and how to avoid them

Writing a Personal Statement for UCAS is, in many ways, like asking a student to tell the story of their life in 4,000 characters or less. 

And if that sounds hard, it’s because it is. 

The UCAS Personal Statement is the  cornerstone of a UK university application . Students need to write a genuine, authoritative and compelling account of who they are and what they want from a UK university degree. They need to quickly grab the attention of the university admissions officer reading their Personal Statement, and they need to make sure they stand out from the hundreds of other applications that will be crossing that admission officer’s desk. 

In order to do this, the Personal Statement will require a student to master form, structure and content in such a way that makes their writing stand out. 

Understandably, students might feel an inordinate amount of pressure to get their Personal Statement right first time. 

Indeed, more often than not, it’s not a case of students being lazy when writing their UCAS Personal Statements. The problem is often that students will have a lot to say and will have put a lot of thought into their Statement, but may make some simple stylistic mistakes that could cost them when they finally submit their application. 

But if these mistakes are easy to make, they’re also easy to avoid. 

So we’re going to take you through the 10 most common (and potentially costly) mistakes that a student might make in their UCAS Personal Statement, and give you some tips on how to help your students avoid them. 

Bonus Resource –  To help your students avoid any major mistakes before they begin, our Personal Statement worksheet helps them to plan and write a truly compelling account of themselves.  Click here to download

1. Writing a UCAS Personal Statement for a subject that isn’t the right fit 

If students have done their research carefully and considerately, then this shouldn’t be a problem. Ideally, in the year leading up to the submission of the Personal Statement, your students will have shortlisted their university and course preferences to the point where they’re applying for a subject area they’re truly passionate about. 

But this first, major mistake is the natural conclusion of a student being pressured into a subject or career path by family, parents or even school peers. Hopefully this won’t happen – but if a student is writing their UCAS Personal Statement for a subject they’re not truly passionate about, then this should set off alarm bells. It will ultimately affect the quality of the Personal Statement. 

And, most importantly, admissions staff will easily spot a Personal Statement where the student’s heart isn’t in it. 

Top tip:  We at BridgeU are big fans of students finding their best-fit universities and courses (after all, it’s why we built our platform!). Students need to put a lot of time into making sure the UK course they are applying for is right for them. Starting a Personal Statement without having thoroughly researched university and course options is one of the most fundamental mistakes a student could make. 

2. Spelling & Grammar Mistakes 

This may seem like a rather obvious mistake, and one your students hopefully shouldn’t be making. 

But the tight time frames associated with a UCAS Personal Statement will make spelling and grammar mistakes more likely, especially if your students aren’t taking the time to proof-read their personal statement before submitting it. 

Spelling and grammar mistakes can really count against students, and can make their writing appear sloppy or poorly thought through. It’s an especially bad look if your students are applying for humanities or social sciences courses, or indeed any degree that requires a lot of extended writing! 

Top tip:  Encourage your students to print out their Personal Statement. Whilst we know that a lot of students do more things digitally these days (and BridgeU is an online platform after all!), reading a UCAS Personal Statement back as a living, printed document can really help students hone their eye for detail! 

3. Avoid exuberant language and pointless cliches 

“My love of Physics began when I used to look up at the night sky as a child, and found it simultaneously breath-taking and awe-inspiring.” 

“I’ve been passionate about the works of William Shakespeare since seeing my first production on stage. I’m fascinated by how Shakespeare remains relevant for today.” 

Can you see what’s wrong with these two examples? 

Whilst they are very positive and well-worded statements about why a student might want to study astrophysics, or Shakespearian literature, both these Personal Statement examples tip very quickly into cliche and generalisation. 

We’re not suggesting you shouldn’t encourage your students to use positive language when writing a UCAS Personal Statement, but this positive language needs to be backed up with clear, specific examples and rigorous analysis. 

Remember – the key to an excellent Personal Statement is showing, not telling. 

So why is Shakespeare still relevant to today? What specific examples could a student writing about a 16th century author use to demonstrate their relevance to the 21st century? 

Likewise, proclaiming a love for the wonders of the night sky is all well and good, but why did it make our example student want to study Physics? 

Top tip:  Encourage students to set a limit on the number of adjectives or descriptive phrases they use in their writing. It’s important to remember a Personal Statement has to accomplish a lot in a relatively short number of words. If students over-use words like ‘passionate’, ‘breathtaking’ and ‘awe-inspiring’ they’re just going to end up repeating themselves. 

4. Endlessly listing extracurricular activities

Extracurricular activities are a vital part of any Personal Statement. If used in the right way, they can help a student to stand out, and seem like a more well-rounded person. Extracurriculars can also help to showcase valuable soft skills that universities value in their students. 

But there’s no point using extracurriculars like a grocery list. Students endlessly describing their extracurriculars will mean nothing if they don’t link them back to the overall narrative of the Personal Statement. 

Again, it’s about showing, not telling. Saying ‘I have captained my school football team for three years’ means nothing if the writer doesn’t explain this activity within the context of the Personal Statement. 

Top tip:  When planning their Personal Statement, students need to think about the extracurricular activities that can demonstrate soft skills. What did they learn from doing this particular extracurricular activity? Do they think it will set them apart in their overall application? If the answer is no, then it’s best not putting it in. 

5. Over-using quotes or taking them out of context

Remember what we said about exuberant language and cliches? 

It’s the same with the use of quotes. 

Quotes can be a powerful tool to back up any argument, be it in a UCAS Personal Statement or any other kind of essay. 

But quotes used clumsily can often have the opposite effect, and make the writer of a Personal Statement seem pretentious or just quoting for the sake of it. 

Many students may feel tempted to open their Personal Statement with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi, or Martin Luther King. A student who is submitting an application for psychology may feel it necessary to begin their Personal Statement with a quote from Sigmund Freud. 

The trouble is that many UK university admissions tutors have probably seen the same quotes again and again. Again, if quotes aren’t used in context, or don’t serve the overall narrative of the Personal Statement, then it may be worth not putting them in. 

It’s also important to remember that universities want to hear from the student, not Sigmund Freud! If in doubt, a student writing a Personal Statement should use their own thoughts and insights, not someone else’s. 

Top tip:  Encourage students to use less well-known quotes in their Personal Statement. Quotes from less well-known, specialist thinkers within a subject discipline are more likely to show that a student is widely read and has a deep and rich knowledge of the subject they’re applying for. 

6. Telling the reader something they already know 

Demonstrating subject knowledge and background reading is vital for a UCAS Personal Statement. But this must fit in with the student’s overall story of  why  they want to study that particular degree. 

What students shouldn’t do is explain academic or scientific theories at length, or regurgitate existing arguments that have already been made by other writers in their chosen field of study. 

Students writing a UCAS Personal Statement need to operate from the assumption that the person reading it is probably an expert in their field. It’s only worth students talking about their wider reading, or their take on another piece of academic writing, if they can demonstrate its relevance to them. 

Top tip:  Students should avoid going into depth about other academic or scientific theories unless they have a bearing on the student’s own worldview, and can tell the reader something about why they want to study for that particular course. 

Video: Tips from UCAS on starting a Personal Statement

7. not paying attention to word/character limits .

It’s pretty hard to literally ignore the word/character limit for the UCAS Personal Statement, as there will come a point where students will simply run out of space. 

But some students can fail to pay attention to word/character limits to the extent that they don’t plan the form and structure of their UCAS Personal Statement properly. 

Planning the overall structure and flow of the Personal Statement before writing it is absolutely essential if students are to make the most of the space that UCAS allocates. Half finished thoughts and hastily written conclusions will do more harm than good when someone reads the Personal Statement. 

Top tip:  Run one class/workshop with students where they brainstorm and plan the overall structure of their UCAS Personal Statement. Break the components of a good personal statement down into chunks, and get students thinking about the optimal structure for making their Personal Statements as good as they can be! 

8. Unnecessary origin stories 

Everyone loves an origin story (why else would film studios keep remaking Spiderman?). But origin stories in UCAS Personal Statements can sometimes be a waste of time (this is in sharp contrast to an application like the Common App in the USA), where they love to hear a student’s origin story)

Remember our physics student from Tip no.3 who loved to gaze at the night sky? Childhood anecdotes are great, and can certainly add character to a student’s application. But they’re not always necessary to showcase a student’s devotion to their chosen subject. 

In fact, it’s fair to say that admissions tutors at UK universities are more interested in an applicant’s more recent contributions or achievements in their chosen field of study than snippets of their biography. 

Yet it remains the case that students sometimes feel the need to profess their lifelong devotion to a subject they’re hoping to study at university. It’s really not necessary. 

In fact UCAS themselves once published a list of the  most commonly used opening lines in a Personal Statement . Three of the most frequent openings were 

“I have always been interested in…” (used 927 times)

“For as long as I can remember I have…” (used 1,451 times) 

“From a young age I have always been interested in/fascinated by…” (used 1,779 times) 

Not only does drawing on childhood memories risk losing sight of more relevant information, it’s also something that lots of universities have seen before. 

9. Making things up 

We hope that none of your students would ever lie in their Personal Statement. But if someone feels the pressure to stand out from the crowd and really impress a university, then it could happen. 

Even small, believable exaggerations could come back to haunt a student if they were hypothetically invited to an interview further down the road. It could be as small as pretending to have read a particular book, or quoting/discussing a piece of research in their chosen subject field and not having fully engaged with it. 

Top tip:  When it comes to putting anything untruthful in a Personal Statement, we can only offer you one piece of advice to give to your students. 

Don’t do it! It’s not worth it, students will probably get found out and there’s likely plenty of achievements and skills that students can talk about in their Personal Statement. They just need to think long and hard about what it is! 

10. Being controversial or contrarian for the sake of it 

Being controversial or argumentative can seem like a good way to sit up and get the reader’s attention – but it’s not worth a student doing it unless they’ve really got the evidence and the argument to back it up. 

For example, arguing against a famous essay or piece of research in a student’s chosen subject might seem like a good way to score some brownie points. But why does a student take issue with this particular piece of research? And is it really wise to try and tackle it in the space of a 4,000 character Personal Statement. 

Top tip:  Students should definitely be independent and analytical when discussing their degree subject in their Personal Statement – after all, it’s the most surefire way to stand out. But taking a contrarian position, or trying to make an explosive new contribution to academic discourse in the course of one Personal Statement probably isn’t a good idea. 

Writing a Personal Statement for UCAS – final tips to avoid mistakes

What do these mistakes all have in common? 

The answer is they are the natural consequence of students forgetting some of the core principles of UCAS Personal Statement writing. 

  • Students need to ensure their Personal Statements are well-structured and well-planned – so as to avoid spelling mistakes and/or falling foul of the character limit. 
  • Students need to keep their Personal Statements as unique to them as possible – this means staying truthful to their own ambitions and worldview, and avoiding generalisations or cliches. 
  • A good Personal Statement needs to be rooted in strong analysis and writing that makes good use of evidence and specific examples to back up an argument. 
  • A standout Personal Statement needs to be compelling account of a student’s suitability for a course with a good story at the heart of it – it needs to show, not tell. 

Our Personal Statement template is a great resource if you want to help your students plan and write a truly individual Personal Statement, and avoid some of the mistakes we’ve listed here. Download it below! 

Bonus Resource!

How to write a Personal Statement Worksheet & Template

is there a word limit for ucas personal statement

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Always write in a way that's true to yourself, but remember there’s someone on the other side of the paper reading what you’ve got to say.

is there a word limit for ucas personal statement

Jane Marshall, Director – Optimising Futures

What can I start doing now?

Organise your choices in the UCAS Hub.

is there a word limit for ucas personal statement

Don't fret.

Here are some key points to keep in mind:

Be you — you’re great.

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is there a word limit for ucas personal statement

Writing a personal statement takes practice. You’re putting yourself out there in a way that you’ve probably not had to do before. It’s both an art and a science, and the topic is YOU. With a bit of planning, it’s not just doable but a really good experience in learning about yourself.

So, how do you begin to sell yourself to someone you’ve never even met?

The short answer: With confidence and a bit of structure.

The longer answer: An admissions officer or hiring manager is looking to see what kind of person you are and why you want to do something. It’s not just what you say, but how you say it, why you think it’s important, and what you’ve done to show it. Don’t be afraid to share those ambitions and interests. Let them out!

My advice is to always think carefully about the course you want to study and if it’s something you find interesting.

is there a word limit for ucas personal statement

Start with who you are as a person, your skills and interests, and why a subject or apprenticeship matches you. End it with how you hope this will influence the future, small or big, it’s the beginning step of something great.

Be authentic

No one knows you better than you know yourself, so show your interests, achievements, goals and personality.

Don’t get stuck in cliches like “I’ve always wanted to…” It’s not about the goal — your ambition is real and important. Tell them the why and why it matters to you.

is there a word limit for ucas personal statement

Talk about your experiences and what they’ve meant to you. No two people have lived the same life and that makes your perspective unique.

You’ve 4,000 characters, which seems like a lot until it’s not enough. Before you start, set out the points you want to make, and work out what you need to say in order to land your point.

There’s no way like just starting, and once you get into it, the less awkward it is.

Your first draft won’t be your final draft, so don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t immediately come together.

“You are you.

Now, isn’t that pleasant?”

is there a word limit for ucas personal statement

If you’re stuck, talk to someone. Friends, parents, teachers — they all see you in a different light.

Speaking to them can help you get an idea of some of your best qualities and how much you’ve grown.

It’s easier to write about yourself when you’re talking about things you’re passionate about.

If you love reading, building things, understanding why things are — then let it show.

is there a word limit for ucas personal statement

Give yourself time

Explain the why

Don’t be shy

Talk about the future

Walk away from your computer for a day or two. Come back and ask yourself, “Can I say this in a more direct way?” If you can, then change it.

Do you love reading? Interested in sustainability? Ask yourself why you’re drawn to something and share it.

In or out of school. Climbed mountains? Part of a local climate change group? Chief recycler in the house? Think about including these — they say a lot about who you are.

Even if you’re still figuring things out, how you want to be contributing to the world or what you want from it is great to share.

Oh, and remember: you won’t be able to submit your personal statement if it’s over the word limit — the system literally won’t let you. Happy writing.

is there a word limit for ucas personal statement

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Personal statement preview

2020 Undergraduate Application

Make sure your personal statement is your own work

We'll carry out checks to verify your personal statement is your own work.

Provided it is your own work, you can use your personal statement from your application last year. If it appears to have been copied from another source, we'll inform the universities and colleges to which you have applied. They will then take the action they consider appropriate. We'll also contact you by email to tell you this has happened.

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Preview of personal statement

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How Long Should Your UCAS Personal Statement Be?

"The ideal length for a UCAS personal statement is dependent on the quality and relevance of the information included, rather than the number of words." UCAS recommends a maximum of 4,000 characters or 47 lines of text.

Writing a UCAS personal statement can be a daunting task. It’s your chance to showcase your skills, experiences and motivations to universities, and convince them that you’re the right fit for their course. However, when it comes to the length of your personal statement, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. In this blog post, we’ll explore some tips and guidelines to help you determine the ideal length for your UCAS personal statement.

First and foremost, it’s important to note that there’s no official word count limit for a UCAS personal statement. However, UCAS recommends a maximum of 4,000 characters or 47 lines of text (including spaces and blank lines) for your personal statement. While this may seem like a lot of space, it’s important to use it wisely.

When it comes to length, quality should always be prioritized over quantity. Admissions tutors are looking for evidence of your passion and potential for their course, not a long list of achievements or experiences. In fact, including irrelevant or unnecessary information can actually be detrimental to your application.

It’s important to structure your personal statement in a way that flows logically and is easy to follow. A good rule of thumb is to divide your statement into three parts: an introduction, a main body, and a conclusion. In your introduction, you should grab the reader’s attention and explain why you’re interested in the course. In the main body, you should expand on your experiences, skills and achievements, and explain how they relate to the course. Finally, in your conclusion, you should summarize your main points and explain why you’d be a great fit for the course.

When it comes to the length of each section, the introduction and conclusion should be relatively brief, while the main body should make up the bulk of your statement. As a general guideline, aim to spend around 70% of your personal statement discussing your skills, experiences and achievements, and around 15% on your introduction and conclusion respectively.

It’s also important to tailor your personal statement to each individual course you’re applying to. Make sure to do your research and understand what each course is looking for in a candidate. This will help you to emphasize the most relevant skills and experiences in your personal statement.

In summary, the ideal length for a UCAS personal statement is dependent on the quality and relevance of the information included, rather than the number of words. Aim to use the space available wisely, and focus on showcasing your passion and potential for the course. By following these guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to crafting a compelling and effective UCAS personal statement.

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is there a word limit for ucas personal statement

Feb 09, 2018

Written By Billy Sexton, Editor, AllAboutLaw.co.uk

UCAS Personal Statement Word Limit

Applying to universities to study law is difficult enough without taking into account the UCAS personal statement word limit.

“Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?! There is a word limit for the UCAS personal statement?”

Technically it’s a character limit, but yes, in short there is a limit to the length your UCAS personal statement can be. But it’s nothing to worry about. In fact wouldn’t you rather have a limit than be constantly worried that you’ve rambled far too much and focussed on non-important matters?

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Access now and make a flying start on your law personal statement.

Dealing with the personal statement character limit

Regardless, the ‘word’ limit is 47 lines of text, or 4000 characters. This equates to (roughly) 500 words. UCAS recommend that you write out your personal statement in a word processor before copying and pasting it into the online application. This is because some word processors get different values if they don’t include spaces in their character count.

So, 4000 characters to sell yourself and earn your place on a competitive law course . Easy, right?

What to include in a law personal statement

In short, you should address two broad points in your personal statement – why you are applying for law and what makes you suitable.

When writing your personal statement remember that you need to address up to five universities. Generally, prospective university students tend to apply for the same course, or similar courses, so checking prospectuses and course profiles for the qualities universities look for in candidates.

For example, to study law at the University of Nottingham, students must “wish to study law as an academic discipline”. Therefore, you must outline in your personal statement what interests and motivates you to study law at university. The university also outline how you can “specialise in areas of law according to your own interests and future career plans”, prompting you to explain what areas of law you find most interesting, and where you see your career heading after you’ve finished your degree (*cough* vacation scheme and training contract *cough*). This covers the ‘why you are applying’ point.

As for what makes you suitable, as well as talking about your academic record and work ethic, you should also spend a bit of time speaking about your extracurricular activities. Universities want to take on students who have a personality, not just A* machines. Link your activities with valuable legal skills such as leadership, timekeeping (for all those 9am lectures) and the ability to work as part of a team.

Using your words wisely

“But how can I communicate all of my achievements and ambitions in just 500 words?” Being succinct is a skill. You will have word limits throughout your university studies, so see this limit as your first test. It also tests you to cut out information that isn’t wholly relevant.

UCAS personal statements are a toughie, but drafting and redrafting is part of the process, and you won’t get it absolutely spot on first time. Remember to stick to the limits and don’t forget to proofread! 

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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.

Extracurricular Activities

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.

Avoid quotes

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. For extra analysis, feel free to use our sentence counter to calculate the average length of your sentences.

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!

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UCAS personal statement word limit

ucas personal statement word limit

03 Nov UCAS personal statement word limit

I had a meeting with a student on my 20 week portfolio preparation for art college course last night and something we discussed was her UCAS art personal statement.

Now you all know the UCAS personal statement word limit, line space, etc. so every word counts. Particularly if you’re in the lucky position of having lots to say.

If you’re struggling for things to say then first of all download our eBook ‘Writing your personal statement’ !

So, you’ve written a cracking UCAS personal statement but it’s way too long.

UCAS Personal Statement Word Count

For 2020 the UCAS personal statement word limit is 4,000 characters or 47 lines of text (including spaces and blank lines).

It’s common that creative people get all flowery when writing and find it hard to write concise, factual information.

I certainly do and have to do a check on myself quite often.

art personal statement

Many students ask “Does anyone actually reads the personal statement?”

From the experience of interviewing students at Edinburgh College of Art, I know that they do, maybe a skimming but if you’ve written concisely a skimming will get the message across if you’re a strong candidate.

Also, the colleges might be looking at 2 students that are almost identical in terms of exams, portfolios, and interviews.

Making a decision can be very difficult and anything that gives one student an edge over the other counts.

This edge could be your personal statement.

Last year I visited Queen Margaret University to find out more about their Costume Design and Construction course .

They use the UCAS personal statement to make the first round of their selection .

Your application may not get any further than this.

If they read your application, it’s weak they may decide not to see your portfolio at all – this is critical!

2 great sites below that go into the nitty-gritty of how you can cut down the words but say exactly the same thing.

This enables you to include more of the good stuff in your statement.

Take this example: Example: Because a great many of the words in this sentence are basically unnecessary, it would really be a very good idea to edit somewhat for conciseness. Revision: Because many of the words in this sentence are unnecessary, we should edit it.

There are many more examples on these pages and on reading them I had many ‘ah-ha!’ moments.

Don’t fill your UCAS personal statement word limit with waffle, be concise, edit.

Concise writing no. 1

Concise writing no. 2

If you’ve any top tips on writing your personal statement please feel free to post them in the comments below. GOOD LUCK!!

Get more help with your art college portfolio and UCAS application with a full and focused plan on my 20 week portfolio preparation for art college course .

“Thanks a (good deal) to Portfolio Oomph my daughter has portfolio drops/interviews at all 5 colleges she applied for including Kingston and Central St. Martins. She has also been offered a place at Ravensbourne College.

The ‘Writing your personal statement’ eBook was absolutely well worth the money. I only wish I known about it sooner. I will certainly recommend your website to friends in the future.” Linda Hill, parent and customer.

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How to Keep Your UCAS Personal Statement Within the Character Limit

The perfect law personal statement will by its very nature include all the skills, experience and knowledge to highlight a true passion for the subject. However, the problem with such an in-depth statement is that it almost always goes over the UCAS character count.

It can be frustrating that your statement can only be 4,000 characters when you feel like you have so much more to say. Being concise is key. You can still include all the most valuable content without surpassing this limit. Let me show you how.

Have Someone Else Read it

After your own personal first proofread to cut out anything unnecessary, you should ask someone else to have a look over it. If you can get more than one person to look at it, that’s even better. The benefit of this lies in objectiveness. Your mum, dad, sister, aunt, history teacher or best friend will be able to pick out must faster than you can if you are repeating the same ideas, explaining something badly or in too many words or being cliché.

It is completely natural to look at any piece of work you have completed and struggle to know what the less important parts are but an objective third party will not be as tied to the work. This step is especially helpful if you have gone over the word count substantially.

Make Sure it’s Relevant

Half of the reason why your personal statement can end up so long as it’s very easy to waffle as you try to order your points coherently. However, in general, most “waffle” is not relevant.

The best way to highlight what is relevant is to ask the “so what?” question. That is, as you are reading each sentence of your personal statement, ask yourself “so what?” Does the information I have provided help the admissions tutors at my chosen universities conclude that I am suitable for this course, and have I shown why it makes me a good candidate? If the answers are no, then the point is probably irrelevant and should be removed.

Moreover, this is a brilliant strategy to use once you know your points have value to ensure that you have properly reflected on and explained why this particular extra-curricular or experience makes you suitable for the course.

Separate Your Sections

The risk when it comes to cutting down your personal statement is that you will cut down too much in one section and keep too much of another. Often, personal statements are set out to include your experience of the subject you are applying for, your school experience and relevant extracurriculars and wider reading of the area.

It’s a good idea to begin writing your personal statement in sections – even taking a new word document for each one at the beginning. Then when it comes to editing and removing characters to get yourself down to the word limit, you will be able to see which section is using up most of your precious characters. Then if there is no good reason why one section is much longer than the rest, that is the right section to begin cutting down.

Throw Out the Flowery Language

You are going to be a university student, so that means you must start using “adult” academic words right? Wrong! try to keep your language simple and concise. Although many aspects of a law degree will introduce you to long words, Latin, and complex concepts, you do not have to start now. In fact, it will be most preferred by admissions tutors if you skip the flowery language and keep your points clear, simple and concise. It will be much more impressive if your personal statement demonstrates your interest in the subject without over-complicated language.

However, if you have got the odd long or incredibly intellectual sounding word in a sentence and you want to keep it in as it helps make your point, please do not feel that you have to go and delete it now. The number one rule is to make sure every word you use, you understand.

Assess Your Use of Commas, Adverbs and Conjunctions

Finally, you are getting there! You are no longer leaps and bounds over the character limit and now just have to find a way to cut those last 50-100 characters. So here is what to do next. Start with removing ands, buts and in some places commas where you can. Conjunctions and heavy comma use tend to elongate sentences and removing them in favour of a full stop will turn the one sentence into two crisper sentences. Alternatively, shortening the sentence altogether will not only make your writing clearer but remove extra pesky characters.

Another tip I admittedly only learned a few months into my university course is that you don’t need adverbs and adjectives as much as you think you do. These descriptive words often merely fill up sentences and fail to add value to the purpose of the point. When you are only a few characters away from a perfect statement, it is helpful to go through and pinpoint whether the adverb or adjective is helpful or just using up words. More often than not I found the sentence stood alone just as well without using them.

Words: Alicia Gibson

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The differences between a UK personal statement and a US admissions essay

What is the Ucas personal statement to apply for a UK university? How does it differ from the US application essay? What should students emphasise? Augusto Neto provides the answers

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For high-school counsellors guiding students through the UK university application process, supporting applicants in crafting effective personal statements is paramount. The UK takes a unique approach, emphasising academic achievement and a clear connection to the chosen courses.

This guide outlines essential steps to help your students write compelling and successful personal statements.

The intricacies of applying to UK universities

Applications to UK universities are submitted through Ucas, the University and Colleges Admissions Service . While it is possible to apply to universities directly, the advice is that anyone applying to more than one course in the UK must do so through Ucas.

Students can apply for up to five courses in one year. The limit is four for medicine, which is why most students looking to study medicine apply to four medicine courses and one biomedical sciences course.

Notice that the limit is five courses , meaning that it is entirely possible to apply to more than one course at the same university. For  those interested in Oxbridge – the universities of Oxford and Cambridge – it is always a case of either one or the other. It is not possible to apply to a course at both universities. Careful thought and consideration when making choices is essential. 

What to consider when choosing a course

Course relevance: Ensure that the selected courses align closely with the student’s academic and career aspirations.

Diversity of choice: While focusing on a specific field of study, students should consider diversifying course choices to increase the likelihood of receiving offers.

Research each choice: Students should thoroughly research each university and course before making any selection to ensure that they match academic preferences and expectations.

Entry requirements:  Take note of the entry requirements for each course and university to gauge each student’s eligibility.

Personal statement:  Students should craft a personalised and tailored personal statement to highlight their specific interests and suitability for their chosen courses.

Remember that the Ucas application process is highly competitive and making well-informed choices is essential for a successful application experience. If there are any changes or updates to the application process, it’s recommended to refer to the most recent Ucas guidelines for the latest information.

US university-application essays versus Ucas personal statements

There are notable differences between essays written for university applications in the US and those written for the UK. Here are key distinctions:

1. Academic emphasis

UK: The personal statement for UK applications places a strong emphasis on academics. Admissions tutors are primarily interested in an applicant’s academic achievements, subject-specific knowledge and a clear demonstration of interest in the chosen course.

US: While academic achievements are important in US college-application essays, there is often more flexibility to explore extracurricular activities, personal experiences and how these contribute to the student’s overall character.

2. Specialisation

UK: The personal statement should demonstrate a clear and genuine interest in the chosen field of study. Extracurricular activities are relevant only if they directly contribute to the applicant’s academic profile.

US: US college essays often allow for a more holistic portrayal of the student. While the student’s intended major is considered, there’s room to explore a range of interests and experiences.

3. Extracurricular relevance

UK: Extracurricular activities should be directly relevant to the chosen course. For example, volunteering at a dog shelter is valuable for a veterinary science application, but the essay should focus on learning and skills gained from the experience.

US: US college essays often encourage a broader exploration of personal growth, leadership and community engagement. Extracurriculars are viewed as part of a holistic assessment of the student’s character.

4. Structure and length

UK: The UK personal statement is typically limited to a specific word count (often around 4,000 characters or 47 lines), requiring concise and focused writing. Each word should contribute to showcasing the applicant’s academic suitability.

US: US college essays vary in length and format. Common application essays, for example, have a word limit, but supplemental essays might have different requirements. There’s often more room for creativity and storytelling.

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COMMENTS

  1. How To Write Your Undergraduate Personal Statement

    Just start by showing your enthusiasm for the subject, showcasing your knowledge and understanding, and sharing your ambitions of what you want to achieve. Avoid cliches! Remember, this opening part is simply about introducing yourself, so let the admissions tutor reading your personal statement get to know you. Keep it relevant and simple.

  2. How to write a UCAS personal statement

    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.

  3. How to Write a UCAS Personal Statement [With Examples]

    The character limit which UCAS sets for the personal statement is very strict - up to 4,000 characters of text. This means that students have to express themselves in a clear and concise way; it's also important that they don't feel the need to fill the available space needlessly. Planning and redrafting of a personal statement is essential.

  4. Personal Statement FAQs

    2. How long can the personal statement be? There is no actual word limit - instead, you have a maximum of 47 lines or 4000 characters to work with. This is all the space UCAS give you on their online system, Apply. You can check that your statement will fit in the area provided by using our handy Personal Statement Length Checker. 3.

  5. Writing a Personal Statement for UCAS: The 10 Big Mistakes ...

    It's pretty hard to literally ignore the word/character limit for the UCAS Personal Statement, as there will come a point where students will simply run out of space. But some students can fail to pay attention to word/character limits to the extent that they don't plan the form and structure of their UCAS Personal Statement properly.

  6. Ultimate Guides

    Writing a personal statement takes practice. You're putting yourself out there in a way that you've probably not had to do before. It's both an art and a science, and the topic is YOU. ... Oh, and remember: you won't be able to submit your personal statement if it's over the word limit — the system literally won't let you. Happy ...

  7. Choose & Send

    Contact details. Your personal statement is too long to be saved. Click 'save' within 19 minutes so that your work is not lost. Your statement is 1 line (s) over the 47 limit, based on the preview. Your completed statement must be between 1,000 and 4,000 characters (maximum 47 lines) including spaces.

  8. Personal statement FAQs

    If testing out your personal statement draft on your Ucas form still feels too risky, you can get a good indication of where you're at by using the Courier New font, size 10, with the default margins, to get a reasonable estimate how many lines your personal statement will be. ... There's no easy way to write a personal statement for two ...

  9. How to Write a UCAS Personal Statement

    There are specific requirements for your personal statement which you absolutely cannot ignore. You cannot exceed 4,000 characters, or 47 lines of text (including blank lines) - whichever is reached first. If you do, universities won't receive your entire statement. Because of this, make sure your personal statement has a strong, definitive ...

  10. How Long Should Your UCAS Personal Statement Be?

    However, when it comes to the length of your personal statement, there's no one-size-fits-all answer. In this blog post, we'll explore some tips and guidelines to help you determine the ideal length for your UCAS personal statement. First and foremost, it's important to note that there's no official word count limit for a UCAS personal ...

  11. Personal statement dos and don'ts

    Do be enthusiastic - if you show you're interested in the course, it may help you get a place. Do make it relevant. Connect what you're saying with the course and with your experiences. Do outline your ideas clearly. Do avoid the negatives - highlight the positives about you, and show you know your strengths. Do expect to produce ...

  12. UCAS Personal Statement: Structure, Sample & Guidelines

    The UCAS system provides the opportunity to select more than one course and requires you to write a personal statement as a mandatory requirement. UCAS also lets you apply to multiple universities in UK with just one personal statement. It's worth noting that UCAS personal statement word limit should not exceed 4,000 characters, approximately ...

  13. The Dos And Don'ts Of Writing Your UCAS Personal Statement

    Use active voice and concise language to convey your ideas clearly and effectively. Avoid clichés, generic statements, and informal language. Show your passion and enthusiasm for the subject matter. Make sure to proofread and edit your statement thoroughly. Get feedback from teachers, mentors, or peers.

  14. UCAS Personal Statement Word Limit

    Dealing with the personal statement character limit. Regardless, the 'word' limit is 47 lines of text, or 4000 characters. This equates to (roughly) 500 words. UCAS recommend that you write out your personal statement in a word processor before copying and pasting it into the online application. This is because some word processors get ...

  15. UCAS Personal Statement Length Checker

    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 ...

  16. UCAS Personal Statement Word Limit

    UCAS Personal Statement Word Count. For 2020 the UCAS personal statement word limit is 4,000 characters or 47 lines of text (including spaces and blank lines). It's common that creative people get all flowery when writing and find it hard to write concise, factual information. I certainly do and have to do a check on myself quite often.

  17. What to include in a personal statement

    Kate McBurnie, First Year student in French, Italian and Theatre. "I think it's really important to not only include why you'd like to study the course you're applying for, but also the things that set you apart from other applicants, i.e., your hobbies, interests, skills, volunteering etc.".

  18. Personal Statement: Keeping Within the Word Count

    The perfect law personal statement will by its very nature include all the skills, experience and knowledge to highlight a true passion for the subject. However, the problem with such an in-depth statement is that it almost always goes over the UCAS character count. It can be frustrating that your statement can only be 4,000 characters when you ...

  19. The differences between a UK personal statement and a US admissions

    Structure and length. UK: The UK personal statement is typically limited to a specific word count (often around 4,000 characters or 47 lines), requiring concise and focused writing. Each word should contribute to showcasing the applicant's academic suitability. US: US college essays vary in length and format.

  20. Personal statement advice: English

    English personal statement pitfalls to avoid. A boring opening - avoid 'I have always loved literature/reading' or 'I have always had a passion for literature…'. Irrelevant context - talking about the Beatrix Potter book you were given when you were six probably won't impress. Overblown language - English applicants need a strong ...

  21. Personal statements will not be changing for 2024 entry

    The Future of Undergraduate Admissions report highlights UCAS' continued engagement and ongoing progress with admission reform, including: references. personal statements. grades on entry. personalisation. widening access and participation. Read the report here (3.38 MB). If you have any questions, comments or thoughts regarding potential ...