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UCAS Personal Statements

How should I structure my personal statement?

Good question. What are admissions tutors and interviewers MOST interested in? Well, we want to see proof of your academic ability, your commitment and your potential.

For Cambridge applications, the most important part of your personal statement is the subject-focused content. Top university tutors agree you should use at least two-thirds of the space to demonstrate interest in your chosen subject.

  • Tell us how you’ve explored this interest – within your school/college studies and beyond, particularly in wider academic reading beyond the school syllabus.
  • Plan to take a gap year? Include a brief outline of your plans. (But first check your subject entry details – deferred entry may not be advised for some courses.)

What to include: DOs and DON'Ts

The most important thing to do is... be yourself!

DO show your enthusiasm by explaining why you’re so committed to your chosen course.

DO give examples of what you enjoy and what interests you, and explain why. It’s a good idea to go into detail about a couple of examples, displaying your insight and personal interest, rather than providing a long list.

DO write about things you like talking about. When it comes to interview, the material from your personal statement sometimes serves as a springboard for discussion.

DON’T mention things already included elsewhere on your UCAS form. Space is limited, so don’t waste any.

DON’T be too vague, talking about what you ‘might’ do before or after your course.

DON’T use words you wouldn’t normally use. We want to hear you being YOU.

Should I mention extra-curricular activities?

If you pursue activities that are relevant to the course you hope to pursue, yes. Please tell us what you’ve learned and what you’ve found interesting.

If you do them outside school hours, explain what skills you’ve gained from them (such as self-motivation or good time management) and how these will help you perform well as a student.

However, we don’t take into account less course-relevant activities (such as sport) when considering your application.

And if you don’t go into detail about your activities, you’re not at a disadvantage. Just remember, some universities are very interested in the wider contribution you can make to their institution. All of your choices see the same personal statement, so it’s a good idea to make sure yours will appeal to each of them.

A personal statement is exactly that: personal.

There is no winning formula or template. Just follow the above guidelines to include the kind of information a Cambridge admissions tutor would hope to see. That way, you’ll give yourself the best possible chance.