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Fondant Garden Bad Personal Statements

Not so Grate

"Having been head of my form and captain of the debating club, I have grate communication skills."

Well, Duh...

"What is physics? I don’t know; that’s why I want to take it at university."

Eighty Per Cent

"'Eighty per cent of success is showing up.' I feel this attitude correctly demonstrates my passion for Literature where, indeed, you only have to 'turn up' and read the books and to fully understand the topic. I was form captain in Year 7, indicating my sense of responsibility. I enjoyed the challenge of my duties, which included fetching the register and making people sign up for sports days. Also, this year I was voted head girl because I made the most hilarious speech ever. This demonstrates my skill at creative and persuasive writing."

Shaun the Sheep

"Ever since I watched 'Shaun the Sheep' on CBBC, i have been passionate about becoming a farmer. For me, nothing in life would be as good as a farmer's life."

Mr Helpful

"I want to be a doctor because I am interested in science and I enjoy helping people. I know this because I am always trying to look for ways to help others, whether it is in the supermarket or the airport. I think medicine is a very challenging career, but the hard work pays off, literally!"

Head Bog

"I am well-respected by my classmates. At school, I hold the position of head bog and it is a post I am performing well."

Here or Hear?

"Thanks for considering my application and I hope I will here from you soon."

[Insert Name Here]

"I am hoping to pass my driving test so I can drive to -insert uni name here- everyday!"

Repeat Repeat Repeat

"Economics is a diverse subject, as economics can be related to anything, especially during economic crisis, which forces to think economically, whereas maths has been long one of my favourite subjects, as mathematics can be applied everywhere, moreover, mathematics is useful in everyday life."

A Great Man

"I believe I will be a great man in future. Why? I enjoy reading. I’ve read nearly 50 percent of books in the library. I like writing too. There are more than 15 pieces of writings from me in newspapers. I have found that it’s a good way to earn some extra pocket money.... I don’t think that one can be a genius without any efforts so I am always making efforts to improve myself. Because of this, I think I will be a great man in future."

Marital Arts

"I have a black belt in karate and enjoy marital arts."

(Sources: thestudentroom.co.uk; ucasonline.blogspot.co.uk; studential.com; '40 Successful Personal Statements: For UCAS Application' by Guy Nobes)

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For more information and to submit your personal statement (error-free), visit ucas.com

School students applying to university may be disadvantaged because their teachers’ views on what to write in a Ucas personal statement can be “a world apart” from what admission tutors want, according to the Sutton Trust.

Research, conducted by the trust, found that the views of Russell Group admissions tutors on what makes a good personal statement differed from what teachers believed would impress them. The trust places the blame for this on universities, warning they must provide more information about what they are looking for from students.

Dr Steven Jones, author of the research, says: “The advice and guidance that some young people receive at school when composing their personal statement may not reflect the content and style expected by admissions tutors at the UK’s most selective universities. Applicants need to be given a structured programme of advice that emphasises academic suitability.”

When asked to mark the same 44 personal statements, the teachers, who worked in state schools, gave just 10 of the statements the same grade as admissions tutors. While 20 statements were marked as one grade different, 13 were given marks two grades apart and one statement was marked differently by three grades.

Commenting on the same extract from one student’s personal statement, a teacher thought it “showed clear enthusiasm for law”, while an admissions tutor felt it was “empty” and that the “weak attempt to definite law wasted space and provided no useful information about the applicant”.

In another example, which included lots of medical information, the teacher thought that it was “too much” and “too long and impersonal”. In contrast, the admissions tutor felt that it was an “excellent analysis”.

Truthful university applications: our favourites so far

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust and of the Education Endowment Foundation, says: “Today’s research shows how important it is that students get good advice about their personal statements, which are a key part of the application process to universities. The views of teachers and admissions tutors can be a world apart, so it is vital we ensure that teachers, students and parents are all well informed about what universities want in the statements.”

The Sutton Trust recommends that universities be more transparent about the way they evaluate personal statements, to ensure that students of all backgrounds have access to the advice they need.

Dr Wendy Piatt, director-general of the Russell Group, says: “Our universities make it clear on their websites and in other materials that personal statements are primarily an opportunity for applicants to show their academic interests and reasons for wanting to study a particular subject.

“We agree with the Sutton Trust that it’s very important students receive high-quality information, advice and guidance, including on writing personal statements. Our universities give lots of help and advice to teachers, especially those working in deprived areas.”

The research follows statistics released by the Department for Education (DfE), which showed that the gap between the proportion of rich and poor teenagers going to a top university is widening. It also showed that those from a black ethnic background were less likely to go to a leading university than other ethnic groups.

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