Writing a UCAS personal statement can be quite daunting, as you’ll need to relay a great deal of information about yourself in a short piece of writing. In order to make your personal statement a success, we’ve listed a few common mistakes to avoid.
Clichés and exuberant language
“I’ve been passionate about Biology since I first watched David Attenborough’s ‘Life’ documentary and became overwhelmed by the beauty of our planet.”
While the above statement is a positive and grammatically correct reason why a student might want to study Biology, it is quite vague, cliché and slightly melodramatic. While positive language works well when you’re explaining why you want to study a certain subject, it’s important to back it up with specific, clear examples and meticulous analysis. The aim of a personal statement is to show, not to tell.
Overusing quotations out of context
Quotations can be an extremely useful tool to strengthen any argument, in an essay or a UCAS personal statement, but only if they are used sparingly. Quotations that are added clumsily to a piece of writing can have the opposite effect than the one you’re trying to achieve and can make your statement seem pretentious and disingenuous. For example, if you choose to quote Freud in your Psychology application, university admissions tutors have likely read the same quotation a hundred times from other students, so if your quotation isn’t essential in the context of your statement, it’s best not to include it at all.
Telling the reader something they already know
Demonstrating background reading and subject knowledge is an essential element of a UCAS personal statement, but it needs to be relevant to your argument about why you are choosing to study a particular subject. Explaining scientific or academic theories at length or repeating well-known arguments by other writers is not recommended. The admissions tutor reading your statement wants to read about your own thoughts, not the ideas of someone else and it’s a good idea to assume that the person reading your statement is an expert in your subject area.
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