Having completed your introduction you are ready to move on to what is arguably the most important part of your university personal statement – the academic section. This is where you prove your suitability and qualification to study the subject you have chosen at university level.
To plan this section, you might want to start with a brainstorm to help you think of all the possible ideas you could include. Really think back over your past year of studying – what have you enjoyed the most, found frustrating, felt passionate about?
For each of your main A level subjects, jot down on your brainstorm what you have most enjoyed about it, listing any specific topics or texts that really caught your imagination. In a second column put any ideas about how this subject has contributed to your interest in the course you are applying for at university. Finally write down any skills you can think of that this subject might have provided you with which would be useful when you make the move to higher education.
What to include
Write a few sentences on each of your main A level subjects, picking out the best ideas from your brainstorm. For each subject explain what it was that interested you about it, how it has led you to a deeper commitment to studying your chosen course at university, and mention any skills it has furnished you with which you want to highlight to the person reading your personal statement.
Personal statement example:
Taking French A level has been a wonderful contrast, as reading novels by such writers as Victor Hugo has really made me realise the diversity of development of literature and the ways in which different schools of thought have impacted on the medium. These experiences have meant that I am particularly keen to study literature of different periods…
It is important to mention specific texts and topics in this section, to illustrate the areas you most enjoyed and engaged with and retain the sense of individuality of your statement. Perhaps even more importantly, this is your chance to influence any interviews you might have, as interviewers are very likely to bring up and discuss details from your statement. It is therefore crucial to reference the topics you feel most confident about, or the texts you genuinely read and enjoyed, in preparation for a strong performance at interview. Avoid at all costs the mistake of the student who mentioned Nelson Mandela’s autobiography in his statement, forgot to read it and was unable to answer a single question on it at interview!
To try to make this section flow easily and coherently it may be helpful to use connecting statements to move from one subject to the next.
Personal statement example:
My English literature A level has allowed me to explore my fascination with humanity and its manifestation of our relationships through a whole range of different genres, from novels and memoirs to poetry and plays. In fact, it was my particular interest in satirical playwrights that drew me to discover a love of Camus, who I studied as part of my French course. Studying French at A level helped me to understand the rich and intriguing transformations of language across different cultures and countries….
Finally you might want to end this section with some reference to areas you have not yet had the chance to cover, which may lead you on to mention aspects of the university course you are particularly looking forward to. This allows you to emphasise how the aspects of your A levels you have most enjoyed lead into your passion for the subject you hope to study further. It also gives you the opportunity to pre-empt any interview questions about a large gap in your knowledge base. If, for example, you have completed an English course that contained very little poetry, instead of trying to hide it and hoping not to be caught out at interview, it is much better openly to admit that you haven’t yet had the chance to study much poetry but are really looking forward to getting to grips with it.
Academic section complete, it is time to progress to the final stage of completing the perfect UCAS personal statement for university application success. Read the third part of this UCAS Personal Statement blog t0 complete your knowledge on how to write a personal statement for the best possible results.