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How to write your UCAS personal statement

Here's our expert guidance on how to create your UCAS personal statement to help you stand out and make and impact.

How to write your UCAS personal statement
UCAS personal statement support

‘Sell yourself’


‘Make yourself stand out’


What do these phrases actually mean?

Well, these statements actually mean the following:

1. Why you want to follow this path - SHOW DESIRE AND PASSION.

2. An awareness of the skills and qualities required to succeed on this path.

3. Evidence that you possess these skills and qualities.

4. Evidence that you have sought the opportunities to develop these skills and qualities.

5. Evidence that you possess the skills and qualities to handle life in further education.


How do I structure my statement once I have made notes on these five points?


There is no exact way to structure this. Different courses have different requirements and things such as work experience are easier for some courses and some individuals than they are for others.


For example, I have read wonderful statements for Law, Dentistry, Medicine, Teaching, Nursing where the whole statement, apart from a short opening paragraph regarding the genesis of their passion for the subject and a brief paragraph driving this home, is about work experience and placements. Conversely, I have read successful statements where everything mentioned is purely school-based.


What is important is that the 5 points are addressed successfully.


However, there is a go-to structure I would suggest if an individual is stuck:


Paragraph 1: establish the origin of your desire to pursue this course and your passion for it.


Paragraph 2: say that this informed subject choices and link the required skills and qualities for the course to the ones developed in the subjects.


Paragraph 3: what have you done in school to develop the required skills and qualities for the course and how have these endeavours done so?


Paragraph 4: what have you done outside of school (independently or with the help of the school) to develop the skills and qualities for the course and how have these endeavours done so? This will also show independence and a real desire to pursue this course/ career.


Paragraph 5: what have you done in school to develop the personal skills and qualities that will allow you to succeed in life within further education and life in general and how have these endeavours done so? This will include things such as captaincy, mentoring, subject ambassador, pupil parliament etc.


Paragraph 6: what have you done outside of school that shows your ability to manage different aspects of your life at the same time/ maintain a work/life balance/ develop the skills/ qualities needed to succeed in life in general and how have these endeavours done so?


Paragraph 7: drive home your desire to pursue this course/ career.


 

Paragraph 1:

I wasn’t long into my first year of secondary school when I attended a trip to the Youth Court as a part of my Modern Studies course. From that moment forth, my fascination with law was born and has only grown and developed since. I was captivated by the adroitness and intricacies of the debate, and I began to think about the way the result would then affect the rest of these young stranger’s lives forever. This, I knew, was something I wanted to be a part of.


Paragraph 2:

To further develop these skills and prepare me for my chosen career, I have also taken part in the Mock Trials in my school which involves cross-examining witnesses, analysing statements and a lot of preparation for the final competition in the High Court. Furthermore, I was chosen to debate in the Scottish Parliament. Many people would have found this very intimidating especially at the age of 13 but I emerged victorious. The debate taught me how to voice my opinion in a tactical, polite and respectful way which I believe would be suitable to study the Law LLB.


Paragraph 3:

To further develop these skills and prepare me for my chosen career, I have also taken part in the Mock Trials in my school which involves cross examining witnesses, analysing statements and a lot of preparation for the final competition in the High Court. Furthermore, I was chosen to debate in the Scottish Parliament. Many people would have found this very intimidating especially at the age of 13 but I emerged victorious. The debate taught me how to voice my opinion in a tactical, polite and respectful way which I believe would be suitable to study the Law LLB.


Paragraph 4:

Outside of school, I did a week’s work experience in Aberdein Considine law firm who specialise in Commercial Law, yet also deal with other laws including Family Law and even Equine Law. The work experience involved listening to court cases in Edinburgh’s Sherriff Court, drafting letters to clients and also preparing documents to be lodged in court. I undertook another week’s work experience in Harper Macleod’s law firm which specialises in Corporate Law. These experiences gave me a huge insight into what a career in law would really be like, which cemented my desire to pursue this career path with vigour. Indeed, following my enquiries, Beltrami & Company solicitors replied and assured me that they would offer me a placement once I had completed my first year of University.


Paragraph 5:

In school, I am currently completing the Saltire Volunteering Award. I volunteer in a second-year English class, giving me the responsibility of helping them improve their skills. I take pride in both being elected House Captain and carrying out the duties that this position entails. I also take pride in being a Buddy, helping the new first years deal with the difficult transition from primary to secondary school. Being a buddy has allowed me to gain extra responsibility and has also improved my problem-solving skills by listening to others' problems and helping them to find appropriate solutions.


Paragraph 6:

Despite my current workload and commitments within school, I am currently employed by Tesco as a Customer Assistant and have worked with the public since I was 15. I have learned how to appropriately deal with all different types of personalities whilst also changing my tone of voice whenever necessary. Moreover, the ability to balance work and education shows the maturity and organisation needed to succeed at University.


Paragraph 7:

My dream is to become an advocate for a successful law firm. This is not a decision made under the pressure imposed by leaving school and having to decide on a career. This is a decision that was made six years ago and I have done everything possible in terms of education and extra-curricular endeavours to make this dream a reality.


Remember though…

• This is not a definitive, immutable structure that you cannot deviate from.

• As long as you have a catchy introduction, a concluding paragraph and 3-5 paragraphs in the middle that deal with the five points made earlier there is no reason for you not to consider your statement a worthy/ potentially successful one.

Example 2:


Paragraph 1:

catchy paragraph and the origins of/ reasons for wanting to pursue this course.

I perceive dentistry as a craft, a skill, a talent; a combination of science and art that shapes lives and provides patient satisfaction. My decision to study dentistry, was cemented when I witnessed my friends experience dental treatments as they moved into their early teens. I witnessed a newfound confidence radiate from them as they emerged from various dental procedures, watching their tight-lipped smiles disappear in photos and wide toothy grins appear in their place. This allowed me to witness first-hand the impact of dental care on patients' lives and subsequently ignited a spark within me which has driven me to pursue my passion.


Paragraph 2:

an example of growing an understanding of the profession/ independent endeavours

Recently my fascination has grown towards the history of dentistry and Richard Barnett’s “The Smile Stealers” takes a unique angle when portraying the advancements in dentistry, further enriching my understanding of the career. This familiarisation with the profession has allowed me to embrace what it takes to become a dentist.


Paragraph 3:

independence/ passion/ skills and qualities highlighted and demonstrated

To gain some first-hand experience, I arranged to shadow a dentist. During one session I was exposed to the intricacies of the field as I observed a patient undergoing a root canal treatment, which not only showed me just how skilful the professionals were but the importance of forming a strong, trusting bond between a patient and their dentist. I admired the measures taken by the dentist to reassure the patient when going forward with the treatment and create a comfortable environment. Additionally, my involvement with the mental health charity Lifelink has allowed me to undertake a similar role which has underscored this importance of establishing trust, understanding concerns and having an empathetic approach towards a role. Through being connected with the customer service side of Lifelink, I have been able to experience customer care first-hand and show skills which are vital to ensuring effective patient care.


Paragraph 4:

general/ specific personal skills and qualities gained in school and needed to succeed on course/ in further education.

My work experience has highlighted the importance of leadership within the role. In school I have developed this through becoming a senior prefect and having an S1 buddy, a role which has allowed me to take great responsibility. Out with school, I help lead a local brownie group where I am able present my caring nature; a quality essential in providing effective patient care.


Paragraph 5:

skilful link between outside interests and the course and smooth transition to further work experience outside of school

From a young age I have partaken in dance classes and although dance and dentistry might seem like disparate fields, the qualities expressed through dance are paramount within dentistry too. Dance has taught me discipline, precision and control which are all qualities mirrored in my approach to dentistry. Furthermore, the teamwork inherent in dance mirrors the collaborative nature of dentistry; something which I am familiar with through my work experience as it was highlighted that every member of the team was essential in providing effective patient care. I was able to express these qualities when participating in the Reach programme with the University of Glasgow. This allowed me to complete a university-level piece of work and gain greater insight into student life.


Paragraph 6:

independence, work ethic and skills/ qualities needed to succeed in further education.

Beyond these commitments, I am also employed as a waitress at La Vita Spuntini and I have been in this role since I was 15. Through this I have gained experience of interacting with the public and it has taught me how to deal with challenging interactions in an appropriate manner. It has allowed me to achieve a healthy balance between my education and work which is vital in succeeding at university. Playing the keyboard is a great stress-reliever and has allowed me to maintain this balance as well as requiring precision and a high level of manual dexterity; skills which are heavily required within dentistry.


Paragraph 7:

drive home dedication.

Through gaining many transferable skills from my work experience, education and extra-curricular endeavours, my suitability to the profession has become clear. This realisation has driven me and from this, I have done everything possible to allow me to pursue my passion.



Takeaways

Ask yourself…

• Why do I want to do this? Money isn’t a suitable answer.

• How have I shown that I want to do this?

• What are the skills and qualities required for this course?

• How and where have I demonstrated these skills and qualities?

• What are the skills required to succeed in further education IN GENERAL?

• How and where have I demonstrated these skills and qualities?



Saturday School Ltd is an SQA Approved Centre and Scotland's Premier Tutoring School, offering tuition, revision, qualifications, awards and scholarships.




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