My UCAS Personal Statement

Hi! I’m a senior from the U.S. and am in the process of applying to schools in the U.K. under an international relations major. I have some questions about my personal statement and where my stats put me in terms of competitive schools in the U.K… Sadly, all of my ACT’s were canceled due to COVID, I’m using my SAT from this fall that I had to take as a graduation requirement. My stats are 1370 on the SAT, a 5 on AP U.S. history, a 5 on AP U.S. government and politics, and a 4 on AP Literature. I’ve lived abroad for 4 years and attended an IB school from ages 10-14. I’m taking AP Spanish, AP World History, AP environmental science, and AP language this year, and my teachers predicted 5’s on all of them. I’m not sure where these stats place me as U.K schools are vastly different than American Universities. I’m also struggling with my personal statement; I understand that it is focused on what qualifies me for my major. Do I include why I want to study in the U.K. or anything else for that matter?

You sound pretty well placed - the APs are really more important than the SAT. Yes, I would mention why the UK, but quite briefly.

There is no mystery on UK admissions for US students: they put their requirements on their websites. A US student with a decent PS & LoR who meets the stated requirements is likely to get an offer from most UK unis (the main exceptions are Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, LSE, and to a slightly lesser extent UCL and St Andrews).

Frame the ‘why’ question in academic terms, and show more of an academic, thoughtful response than ‘I want to do all IR / no GenEds’.

And, the PS is more than what "qualifies’ you! Start using “subject” not “major”: the two are not synonymous and the difference is important. In the US, your major is 1/3-1/2 of what you study in college. In the UK you are your subject. So your PS shows why you are a good candidate, not just because you are qualified to start it, but that you are a good fit for it, and that your idea of where you are going aligns reasonably well with what the course sets out to do, In that context the ‘why UK’ answer can knit in pretty seamlessly.

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Thank you! This clarifies things a lot. Just want to make sure I’m understanding it all correctly. When you said the PS is about why I’m a promising candidate for a subject, do you mean academically speaking, or what experiences qualify me? I’m imagining it’s a combination. I know in American schools, they look for the perfect “well rounded” student, who balances school, extracurriculars, and jobs, is that true of UCAS as well?

ooph. No.

First, UCAS is like Common App- it’s just a portal through which you submit your app. They don’t do any evaluating or selecting. Admissions at each university is done by profs in the subject you are applying to study (not a general admission committee, as in the US), and they want students who love their subject they way that they do. That means first as an academic subject and then the application of it.

In the UK, you are your subject: you are a historian, you are a chemist. You are meant to have a decent idea of why you want to be an historian or chemist. Iirc, you are looking at IR: what does that mean to you? are you looking to go into politics? public service? policy analysis? is it a reflex b/c you have lived internationally and you want to keep some part of ‘international’ in your life? it doesn’t matter what the answer is- it matters that you have thought about it in some meaningful way. Have you done reading in your subject beyond the classroom? Here is a list of suggestions for summer reading for IR students starting at Edi this past September:

and a recommended reading list for prospective IR students interested in KCL:

Have you read any of them? do any of them look interesting to you?

Have you looked at the differences in the courses? Be aware that you will have few (if any) course options in the first year or two- and your options will be from a very narrow list (notably more flexibility at the Scottish unis > English unis, as you have an extra year).

I’ve done my interview with Oxford and received a few offers from elite institutions already. I have also applied ED so Ik what you r talking about, ask me if you have any Qs!

@AliciaSmith, the posts above were for @fionamiller2021 re: writing a PS

yes??I am saying those to show I know what I am doing in terms of writing PS or else wise I won’t get those offers/interviews; I also said that I applied ED because I know the American application so I can demystify what’s the difference in writing those two types of statements?

Sorry, @AliciaSmith- I mis-read your post