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How to ace your personal statement

The all-too-real UCAS undergraduate application deadlines – Monday 16th October 2023 for Oxford, Cambridge and most medicine, dentistry, and veterinary courses or Wednesday 31st January 2024 for everything else – are approaching, which means it’s time to make a start on your personal statement. 

A personal statement is a vital part of the application process as it allows students to get noticed for their unique passions and experiences outside of school. Admissions staff will read a lot of these, so here are three things to consider if you want to stand out from the crowd.

1. Do your research

University open days typically offer one-on-one time with lecturers, tutors and admissions staff, which provides a brilliant opportunity to find out exactly what they’re looking for in both applicants and a personal statement. 

You can also head to industry careers fairs and events linked to the subject you’re applying to study. Gresham College has a huge online archive of lectures covering everything from AI and cybercrime to climate change and fake news – you’re bound to find a talking point here.

2. Pick up new skills

Have you thought about what skills would make you a stronger applicant? If you're interested in an art course, why not join Buckinghamshire New University’s free Saturday Art Club. You’ll get to experiment with a wide range of different techniques and materials and be taught how to visually communicate your ideas confidently.

If film is more your bag, the BFI Film Academy is coming back to Pinewood Studios. Led by industry experts, the six-day course covers every aspect of the filmmaking process, so you’ll leave with a NCF qualification. Result!

You’ll find more skill-building opportunities on our Resources page.

3. Show some initiative

Gaining relevant work experience is a simple, yet effective way to demonstrate why you want to study your chosen subject. For in-person placements, look no further than our own Work Experience site. Current opportunities include Social Media Marketing, Canine Hydrotherapy, Dance Coaching, Events Co-ordination and Coding.

Spring Pod, InvestIN and Pathway CTM are also on a mission to help young people make informed decisions about their next steps, by hosting virtual programmes and taster days across every industry you can think of.

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