When should you write a UCAS personal statement?

Timing when you write and submit your UCAS personal statement well can make a huge difference to the levels of stress and success you experience in year 13. In this article, I'm going to explain when you should write your UCAS personal statement and why.

When should you write a UCAS personal statement?

My very strong suggestion is that you should write your UCAS personal statement through the summer of year 12. Ideally, you will start writing before you break-up for the summer holidays. By the time you get back to school in September, you should have a very high-quality draft that is very close to the character limit to show you your teachers.

You can then spend a couple of weeks refining your personal statement before sending it off in September.

Why should you aim to submit your personal statement in September?

I've worked with countless year 13 students as an academic coach, supporting them through the challenges of their final year at school.

When I tell you that year 13 is the hardest year you'll experience in your school life, I'm not exaggerating.

It's tough for several reasons:

  1. The level at which you're expected to work is higher than anything you've ever experienced before. The work is going to challenge your brain cells in very profound ways.
  2. The quantity of work you're expected to do. Let's just say, if you thought you'd worked hard before, you ain't seen nothing yet.
  3. Balancing university entrance tests and interviews with the work. This is concentrated in the autumn term of year 13 making this term the hardest term of your school life. You're desperately trying to keep up with the level and quantity of the work, but you might also be preparing for and taking university entrance tests and attending interviews.

The students who struggle the most in year 13 have usually left choosing their university courses until the autumn and just let writing their personal statement drag on and on. This nearly always compromises their grades because they're:

  • Not entirely sure what they're aiming for and therefore aren't as motivated in their studies
  • Their attention is divided between deciding about their future and actually getting the grades

How to make sure you're ready to write your personal statement in the summer of year 12

In this post I wrote about when to start a UCAS application.

You'll see that I advise people to start thinking about this as early as year 10 or 11. Some students are really sure about what they want to do from a really young age so it's not a problem for them to get relevant work experience and other super-curricular experiences over a period of two or three years.

However, for most students the most realistic thing to do is to start researching their courses, organising super-curricular activities and doing reading from the summer after their GCSEs in year 11. This means that by the time they come to write their personal statement in the summer of year 12 it's a fairly easy task.

The students who I've worked with who've managed their year 13 stress levels most effectively are the ones who've been working towards their personal statements since year 11 so that it was relatively straight-forward to write it down in the summer of year 12.

Do you need help with your personal statement?

If you've read this and you're in a sudden panic because you haven't really started your personal statement yet, let along finalised your university choices, don't worry – I can help.

My Personal Statement Masterclass guides you through the process of:

  1. Choosing the right subject, courses and universities for you;
  2. Preparing to write your personal statement through researching your courses, boosting your experiences and gathering everything you've done that's relevant to your personal statement together
  3. Writing your personal statement, including how to structure it, how to write a compelling opening sentence and closing paragraph and the writing style you should use to convey your passion and intellectual ability without sounding like a show-off

One parent said this about the materials inside the Personal Statement Masterclass:

“The personal statement masterclass was a triumph! It helped lead to immediate offers from all the universities my daughter applied to. We are lucky enough to have a friend who works on the admissions team for a university, so once Esme had worked through the masterclass, had edited and re-edited until she had her final statement and then we cheekily asked him if he could read it to see what he thought (I hasten to add, she wasn't applying to the university where he works). He said it was fantastic and that he wouldn't change a thing. Lucy, without you she wouldn't have known where to start, so a belated thank you.”

Click here to find out more about it and sign-up.




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