An important part of your UCAS application is the personal statement. The purpose of a personal statement is to show a university why you want to study a subject at the Higher Education level, how you will handle the demands of a university degree and to tell them a little about yourself. It is effectively trying to answer the question “why should we pick you to study at our university?” The personal statement will be looked at by admissions tutors so it is important to get it right and showcase the best side of you. A personal statement will be unique to you but there are some things that you will want to include (and other things to avoid).                  

What to include in your personal statement

One of the key points to get across in your personal statement is why you have chosen to study biochemistry. Addressing this point will form a large part of your personal statement. Admission tutors want to see a genuine interest in the subject and evidence of how you try to expand your knowledge in the subject. You can show this through relevant work experience or through further reading. Furthermore, if you have carried out a project through schemes such as the British Science Association Crest Award, or a more formal Extended Project Qualification (AQAEdexcelOCR, be sure to mention this as it shows you have actively pursued to increase your knowledge of the area. The key is to be specific and give relevant examples.

In addition, the personal statement should address how you will manage the demands of a degree. A biochemistry degree requires independent working, analytical thinking and working to deadlines, to name a few key skills. It is likely that you have gained skills through your studies, and perhaps through working, that you can transfer to successfully completing a degree. Even if a job is not relevant to your degree of choice, you will still be acquiring skills such as working in a team, doing work unaided, communication skills and successfully finishing tasks. Expand on these skills with specific examples and how they are relevant to completing a degree.

Aside from using the personal statement to secure a place to study on a course, it is a way to show admission tutors who you are. Provide some information about how you intend to use your degree in the future (such as a career path) and also what you hope to gain from the degree in addition to the specialist knowledge. You can also mention your hobbies and what you enjoy about them. 

What to not put in your personal statement

Admission tutors will see hundreds of applications for limited spaces so it is important that yours stands out for all of the right reasons. A simple step is to proof read your statement (and get others to read it too) and ensure you haven’t made any spelling or grammar errors. In addition to spelling and grammar, the structure of your personal statement is important. It should have a good flow and the information should follow a logical order, which will make it far easier to read. 

The style of writing and the language you use is vital for making the right impression. The personal statement should be written in a formal style, but still allow your personal voice to come through. Although you want to stand out, be wary if you are trying to write a funny statement. It is always harder to convey comedy through writing, and if done poorly it will be off putting to the admission tutors. Similarly, it can be tempting to use vocabulary and phrases that you don’t normally use to try and impress the admissions tutors. Be sure to understand any new vocabulary that you use but also understand that being clear and concise, is more important than sounding like a thesaurus.

With the limited space given to write your personal statement (see UCAS for details) it is important to be clear and concise. Avoid adding irrelevant information that does not answer why you should be given a place to study. Although you may like a particular anecdote, it has to make a clear point relating to your application. Finally, don’t copy someone else’s statement as universities can detect when work has been replicated, and it can severely affect your chance of securing a place.

Useful Links

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UCAS

Personal Statement Guide