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Ella Gauci


Applying for University


My name is Ella Gauci. I am leaving school and applying for University, but I've learned that the application process involves much more than gaining good examination grades.

In this article I focus on the task of producing a Personal Statement which will travel alongside my application to inform my prospect University about my ambitions and explain to them why they should offer me a place on my chosen course!

I hope this article will be of help to others as they approach their own end of A-Levels: to alert them to prepare in good time for this often unanticipated but important part of the University application process.

Writing a Personal Statement

Where do you begin? Is it easy?

When the University application period looms ever-closer, all Year 13s across the country are faced with the prospect of having to condense the reasons why any given University should pick them for their chosen course expressed within a maximum of 4,000 characters. But where to start? And what to include?

Preparing your Personal Statement for University
Image with thanks to

Gather ideas throughout your final year

Look inside and outside of school

A good personal statement is one that has been planned, so take some time before you begin typing to think about what you are going to say.

Split your ideas into three categories: how your A Level work has helped you engage with the subject you are applying for, how your own outside work has helped you grow even more passionate about your subject, and extracurriculars that you have done which have helped you become a better student.

I’ve found that making one big Word document with all this information on was really helpful when I actually came to write my personal statement because my ideas had been collected and jotted down over time and were all together in one place.

Look at the online prospectuses for the courses you are applying for and see if there are any overlapping themes across the Universities. If there is, make a point to include why you are interested in this particular part of the subject in your personal statement as this shows that you understand what you are applying for.

Make a skeleton plan about what your paragraphs are going to be about before you start writing as this will help you when it comes to actually writing your personal statement. One way you could structure your personal statement is starting with the reasons why you’re interested in the subject you’re applying for and what you have done outside school to feed your passion. Then moving on to how your other school subjects have linked to the subject you are applying to. Finally, in the last paragraph, you can discuss how your extracurriculars have linked usefully to your studies in the subject you want to take at University.

When talking about your extracurriculars and hobbies make sure you link them to what you are applying for. For example, instead of just saying that you play football, link it to ideas of promoting teamwork skills and motivation.

Only a game of football?
Or evidence of teamwork skills, personal committment, and motivation?
Image with thanks to

Be sure to know your dates for submission

Know your deadline dates!

Don't be afraid to produce multiple drafts of your personal statement. Continually refine it. The more you do this, the better your personal statement will be because you will have made sure that it’s exactly the way you want it to be. To achieve this, you need to start writing early on and for some courses like going for Oxbridge or Medicine/Veterinary, remember your UCAS application may need to be submitted earlier than for other courses.

Always read over your personal statement two or three times before you submit it. I would advise writing it on a program like Word or software like Google docs so you have access to spell check. Spelling errors don’t look good to the people reading your personal statements, and it’s an easy thing to check spelling so don’t let one spelling or grammar error mess up your personal statement!

Get a trusted friend or teacher to read over your personal statement before you send it off. Ask for their honest opinion about the way you come across in your writing and if there is anything you should change. This may feel embarrassing at the time but it allows you to have an objective reader before you submit it.

Hopefully with these steps you will be able to write the best personal statement you can. The main thing to remember is to be yourself. They are looking to see what you as an individual can offer the University, your subject, and your future career — so go show them!


Here's some great further advice with a video about Writing Your Personal Statement directly from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service UCAS.

Find out more about the
Universities and Colleges Admissions Service UCAS

Ella Gauci

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