Applying to universities to study law is difficult enough without taking into account the UCAS personal statement word limit.
“Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?! There is a word limit for the UCAS personal statement?”
Technically it’s a character limit, but yes, in short there is a limit to the length your UCAS personal statement can be. But it’s nothing to worry about. In fact wouldn’t you rather have a limit than be constantly worried that you’ve rambled far too much and focussed on non-important matters?
Dealing with the personal statement character limit
Regardless, the ‘word’ limit is 47 lines of text, or 4000 characters. This equates to (roughly) 500 words. UCAS recommend that you write out your personal statement in a word processor before copying and pasting it into the online application. This is because some word processors get different values if they don’t include spaces in their character count.
So, 4000 characters to sell yourself and earn your place on a competitive law course. Easy, right?
What to include in a law personal statement
In short, you should address two broad points in your personal statement – why you are applying for law and what makes you suitable.
When writing your personal statement remember that you need to address up to five universities. Generally, prospective university students tend to apply for the same course, or similar courses, so checking prospectuses and course profiles for the qualities universities look for in candidates.
For example, to study law at the University of Nottingham, students must “wish to study law as an academic discipline”. Therefore, you must outline in your personal statement what interests and motivates you to study law at university. The university also outline how you can “specialise in areas of law according to your own interests and future career plans”, prompting you to explain what areas of law you find most interesting, and where you see your career heading after you’ve finished your degree (*cough* vacation scheme and training contract *cough*). This covers the ‘why you are applying’ point.
As for what makes you suitable, as well as talking about your academic record and work ethic, you should also spend a bit of time speaking about your extracurricular activities. Universities want to take on students who have a personality, not just A* machines. Link your activities with valuable legal skills such as leadership, timekeeping (for all those 9am lectures) and the ability to work as part of a team.
Using your words wisely
“But how can I communicate all of my achievements and ambitions in just 500 words?” Being succinct is a skill. You will have word limits throughout your university studies, so see this limit as your first test. It also tests you to cut out information that isn’t wholly relevant.
UCAS personal statements are a toughie, but drafting and redrafting is part of the process, and you won’t get it absolutely spot on first time. Remember to stick to the limits and don’t forget to proofread!
I've done a search and I see that this is quite a popular question. However, I haven't found a clear, definite answer, so I thought I'd best check with you guys.
From looking at the UCAS web site, I finally found this in the FAQ:
So this implies that the maximum size is 72x53 = 3816 characters.
I'm just writing my first draft ready for my 2005 entry (I want to get it done before the Summer... even if I do anything more in the Summer, I won't be able to fit it on - I've had to chop off loads already ). I have my brother's old personal statement here and he's written his in Times New Roman - this is on an official form returned by UCAS. This is my first point of confusion - is it okay to write it in Times New Roman rather than Courier New? I would guess it is.
Second point of confusion: do they limit the length by number of lines or number of characters? At the moment, mine is written in Times New Roman, size 12, with 3811 characters (after much tweaking!) and 46 lines long. Some people have said that 45 lines is the limit... but this contradicts what UCAS are saying.
If it's dependant on whether you hand-write your UCAS application or whether you send it electronically: everyone at our school has to use the electronic entry form.
So as it stands: is my personal statement okay at this length, or do I need to hack it down a bit more (I hope not! )?12. How much text will fit into the personal statement and reference sections?
Each of these areas will allow the input of 53 lines of text, 72 characters per line, using Courier New font at 12pt.
3811 characers is far, far too long. Even if you included spaces in you figure, I'd estimate 3811 is well over 600 words. The point of a personal statement is NOT to cram as much information about yourself as possible. Surely you can argue cogently why you want your subject in under 600 words?
Also, I'd guess you were writing it too early. It's 8 months before the regular deadline, 5 months before the Oxbridge/Medicine deadline. Surely you will develop as a person during that time?(Original post by Aeroxyn)
At the moment, mine is written in Times New Roman, size 12, with 3811 characters (after much tweaking!) and 46 lines long.
631 words (that character count was including spaces).
Thanks for the advice about leaving it to account for development though. Maybe - I don't want to -submit- it before the Summer, I'd just like to get it ready so I don't have to worry about it as much as someone who hasn't done anything at all about it.
At the end of the Summer break, I will probably end up looking over it and modifying it if I need to. Maybe I will do something majorly significant, but all of the stuff in my PS at the moment is focussed towards reasoning for wanting to do the course.
I've currently covered:
- Personal interest in the subject (Computer Science)
- My background as far as the interest goes
- Various relative work experience - how this has benefitted me as a person (development of skills)
- Future aims
- Current activities related to the subject (coding, writing tutorials, web design, etc.)
- Personal achievements (awards for presentations, ...)
- Out-of-school activities (fairly brief; reading, cycling, etc. the usual cop-out )
- One paragraph dedicated to how I will be able to cope with the course and my personal qualities. Enjoy helping others as well.
This is the groundwork. I can add to it later on in the year, perhaps.
Any opinions on this? Am I missing something? Or maybe I can do without something?