Academic Personal Statement

I study in the UK and university application prcoess( will come into being very soon, and I want to share some of my knowledge in writing a personal statement for academic purposes.
Firstly the total amount of space you are given is roughly a half of an A4 paper(in the UK), and therefore you have got to focus on quality rather than quantity of your self-description. My friends and I have worked out a set of rules which worked well for many of our fellows through the process.
Everyone is applying for a subject, and nearly 90% of reasons applying for it are more or less the same, eg 'because I’ve been fascinated by European hitory’and ‘since I was 8 I couldn’t live without computers’ so forth and so on. If you come up with same sort of sentences, fine, it only means your reason has been the same as anyone else’s which means you won’t impress the admission tutor at this stage.
Secondly when it comes to off-school hobbies, you should try to give the tutor an impression that you have a braod set of interests in everything, eg. put down you love certain sports and technology wise stuff if you are applying for Phylosophy and put down you love reading ‘The republic’ (a famous phylosophy book) if you are applying for Physics and so on. If you have not got such ‘irrelevent hobbies’ make sure you have them now (At least 2 months before the possible interview)! The worst thing you can do is, for example, you say I love to programme in C in spare time while you are applying for computer science. Another important element on your hobbies is to write down some stuff that are distinctive, in that I mean, write down all the certificates or rewards that you have received even though they sound too minor to count. (because they will differenciate you from the majority-you are not only doing it for fun but also you are good at it)
Last but not the at least, do not lie! I’ve heard so many cases of people get embarrased at interviews. Make sure you welll know everything you put down, at least in theory. There was this girl stating she likes gardening (try to give an impression she has broad knowledge) and when Cambridge interviewd her, they put a plant on the table and asked her what name it was…

Anyway I’ve not got enough to time to make a complete thread about the UK univesity process, but if you do need help or advice or just really interested to know, do let me know I will post it up when I get some time.


Hi Clark,

thank you for the detailed description. It’s always helpful to have some insider’s information on things happening in a foreign (at least to me) country.

I am just curious about the whole unversity system in Britain. Do you apply at each university? Or is there a central let’s call it agency that accepts the applications and than “distributes” the applicants to universities that match the personal wishes? We have such a system in Germany, because some universities have a numerus clausus (a restrictive clause which allows only students having a certain number of points on their final school exam to study those universities).

I am just curious, because I was playing with the thought of studying at a British university and I was wondering whether it is possible just to apply to that uni I want to go to !?

Okay, I hope that was not too confusing. By the way, what are you studying?

Bye from Berlin

Hi MistariX,
The British university system works like this-you firstly study in a college or a high school,we call it a levels, and that is a two-year long course. After you finish the first year’s exams, like I have done, you put the results along with the personal statement and a teacher’s reference on a form called UCAS form, and at this point you can apply for six universities. Now the UCAS form gets sent off from your college or high school before the deadline which is usually in December. The universities that you have applied for will overview your grades, personal statment and teacher’s reference and then decide whether to give you an offer or not. You sit on your hands in January waiting for the response from the universities, at this point, you can get rejected from all or get accepted from all or get accepted by one or two, but you get the picture. When you do receive an offer you will be asked to achieve certain grades in the following year and that’s the so-called conditional offer. Finally you have got to choose two universities out of the ones given you the offers, one is called firm and another is insurance. The firm is usually offered at higher grades than the insurance, and thus in the following year you wait for your grades to come out and you then will know whether you will be going to the firm uni or the insurance uni or you may not go anywhere because your grades are even lower than the insurance. Then you will go through a process called pooling, there will be a list of unwanted subjects in a number of universities and you can pick one of them. But you can always phone the universities you applied for and beg them to accept you, that always works if they really like you.
As for a foreign student, I am not sure how it’s gonna work out but I bet it’s more or less the same if you are at high school level.
I am studying computer science, and yourself? :stuck_out_tongue: