Start off by making a list of everything you might include under three main headings:
• reasons for choosing the course
• worthwhile personal achievements and experience
• description of your spare-time interests.
Don’t worry about order, length, expression: those will come later.
You need to explain why you have chosen the course you are applying for. Even if it follows directly from one of your A levels you should explain why you want to spend three more years on that subject. If it’s an area you haven’t studied before you definitely need to show you know what’s involved. The university course details and the course entry profiles you’ll find on the UCAS website will give you an idea of the qualities admissions tutors are looking for.
Here are some ideas:
1. Reasons related to your A levels. Are there aspects of the A-level subjects you are taking (content or/and approach to learning) which you particularly like and which are relevant to the degree you want to study? If so, write about them in your Statement. NB It is not enough to say ‘I like Economics, therefore I’m applying for an Economics degree’. You need to say why you like Economics.
2. Career plans: Need mentioning, even if you are still undecided. If you have a career in mind you should describe why you are attracted to that career. This is really important for ‘professional’ careers (Law, Medicine, etc.)
3. Experience: Include any relevant experience via family and friends, work experience or shadowing, etc. This is essential for medicine-related courses and valuable for any other career- oriented course. Have you any other experiences (such as part-time job) which help reinforce your commitment to your chosen degree?
If you are applying for more than one subject area you have two choices. One is to emphasise the subject which is most competitive, while at the same time making the point that you have a real interest in the safety-net subject too. The second is to find reasons which are applicable to both courses (but beware of vague generalities). Advice on what to say may be more than usually useful here.
Experience, achievements and interests:
Work through the checklist below to write down a list of things you might include. Don’t worry about the order at this stage:
• Responsibilities: In school, as a member of a club, in the community
• Voluntary work: For example, with children, old people, the disabled
• Sport: Sport you play in or out of college. Any special achievements such as college/club/county, etc teams
• Awards: For example, music, Duke of Edinburgh, sport, drama
• Work: Spare-time jobs, work experience, etc
• Hobbies, etc: The things you get up to in your spare time, activities in or out of school etc
• Other interests: For example, reading, listening to / making music
• Travel: Holidays, field-trips, exchanges, education abroad.
Show the list to friends, teachers, parents, etc. and ask for suggestions. They may well remind you of things you had forgotten or thought unimportant. You are not expected to be expert in everything you include here, so don’t shy away from mentioning minor interests. On the other hand, the UCAS Personal Statement is a major source of discussion at interview, and your referee will read it before finalising your reference, so don’t invent.
Next: Step 2. Coming soon…