Umass Advice
UCAS and personal statements

UCAS application process

Once you’ve decided what you want to apply for, and where you want to apply, then you are ready to start the UCAS application process. All applications for full time undergraduate courses must be done through UCAS.

You will get lots of support from your school or college with your UCAS form, and they will begin by registering you on UCAS Apply; the online application website. If you are applying independently (not through a school or college) you can register on this website as an independent learner.

Once you’ve got your username and password for UCAS Apply, then you can log in and out of your application form as many times as you want to, saving your form as you go.

Some important things to remember about your UCAS application.

  • Universities don’t know where else you have applied; the form that each university receives only includes information about the course/s you have applied for at that institution. If you have applied for two courses at the same university then they will know which two courses, but they won’t know where else you have applied.
  • You will have 5 choices on your UCAS form. If you are applying for Medicine, Dentistry or Veterinary Sciences, you can only use four of your choices for those courses, and you are recommended to use your fifth choice as a back up to these competitive courses. These courses also have an early application deadline of 15 October.
  • If you are applying to Oxford or Cambridge, these two universities also have the same early application deadline; 15 October.
  • You can apply from the September before you start university, so for most of you from September of Year 13. The official deadline for applications is 15th January, but schools and colleges can set internal deadlines, which are usually mid October to ensure they can get your reference and predicted grades completed in good time. Remember, you only have to write one Personal Statement, but most Personal Tutors will have around twenty references to write!
  • If you are thinking of taking a gap year, you have two options. The first is to defer your entry on your UCAS application form, which tells the university to consider your application for the following year. Alternatively you can wait until you have your results and apply the following year. Your school or college will normally be happy to write you a reference the next year. Remember though if you are planning to travel during your gap year you might be away during the key application time.

Personal statements

Your UCAS Application Form is one of the most important pieces of writing you will do in your sixth form at school/college. Your personal statement is one of the most important elements of your UCAS from. It is crucial that your statement reflects your personality, as well as showing your motivation and commitment to your chosen course.

Watch our guide on how Manchester considers your application


What should I write?

Your Course: show you’ve researched your chosen course. Why are you interested? What sparked your interest? What specific topics do you enjoy? If you’re applying for more than one course try to identify common factors.

Career Path: if you have an idea of the career path you would like to follow, explain how the course fits.

Academic/personal abilities needed to succeed: include any academic or personal achievements and what they demonstrate.

Work Experience: both related and unrelated to your chosen course choice. Be specific about what you learned. Refer to transferable skills gained, for example, communication, planning, time management and problem-solving. Skills mentioned should be relevant to the academic course you’re applying for.

Extra-Curricular activities: you should include activities that support your chosen course. Describe any visits you have made; for example, visits to art galleries for art courses or hospitals for nursing. Even if your interests aren’t directly related to your subject area it’s important to provide evidence of your transferable skills, so mention any hobbies or extra curricular activities and reflect on the skills you have demonstrated through these activities.


  • Write in a positive style that you feel comfortable with, using simple words and clear sentence structures. A Personal Statement is not the place for negativity.
  • Don’t try to be funny as others may not share your sense of humour.
  • Be honest! You may be asked questions on your personal statement at interviews.
  • Finish with a strong conclusion; sum up your strengths, skills and reasons for choosing the course.

Resources: Writing an effective personal statement

The University of Manchester has developed further guidance and activities to help you with writing your personal statement. You can download this PDF file resource here: Writing an effective personal statement worksheet.

In addition, we provide regular advice on writing personal statements on the UMASS blog: UMASS blog personal statement posts.

Using UMASS in your personal statement

If you have completed UMASS activities throughout the year, it is a good idea to include these in your personal statement.  Attending events at a university, shows a real commitment to Higher Education study.  Remember, anything you include needs to be relevant to your chosen course; you need to tell the Admissions Tutor what you did, what you learnt from it, and how that will help you at university. Just writing a long list of events you’ve attended isn’t enough!

Some of the things you may have experienced via UMASS that you could include in your personal statement are:

Different approaches to learning

You may have attended a lecture, or taken part in group work activities. You might have experienced Enquiry Based Learning (EBL) or even a practical session. Having experience of the way you will study and learn at university will be a great asset to you as a student, as you will know what to expect and be prepared for the change in learning you will experience when you start at university.

Ideas and new material in your subject area

Perhaps it was attending a Discover Day or a lecture which convinced you of your course choice; did you cover something in one of these events which you hadn’t come across before, that you found really interesting? Admissions Tutors are looking for students who have a passion for their chosen subject, who have interests outside the constraints of their current study and who are excited about learning even more about their subject area at university.

Meeting new people, including students and academic staff

Many UMASS activities give you the opportunity to meet current students. Talking to current students means you understand what university life is really like, and what it is like to study at undergraduate level. Some of you will have attended events where academic members of staff gave a lecture or a presentation, or even answered your specific questions. This is a great experience, which not all applicants will have had, so make sure you make the most of it in your personal statement.  Also at many UMASS events you get the opportunity to meet new people, from other schools and colleges across Greater Manchester and from even further afield. This is great preparation for starting out life as an undergraduate student; lots of people say you meet more people in your first week of university than you will in any other week of your life!

Facilities and study resources

Think about any of the university facilities you’ve experienced during UMASS activities. Have you visited the library, or seen some of our study rooms in the Alan Gilbert Learning Commons? You’ve seen first hand the facilities that are available to students at university and different ways in which these are used by undergraduate students.

University jargon buster

Academic – a university teacher, may be a professor, doctor, lecturer or postgraduate researcher/student

Admissions Tutors – a member of the university staff (often an Academic member of staff) who is responsible for deciding who is offered a place at the university.

Alumni – people who have graduated (i.e. completed a course and gained a qualification) from a university are described as alumni. Being an alumnus can give past students ongoing access to Careers Services. Most universities have active alumni associations that enable past students to keep in touch with each other and the university.

BA, BAEd, BEng, BSc – these refer to Bachelor Honours degrees in various areas: Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Education (BAEd), Bachelor of Engineering (BEng) and Bachelor of Science (BSc).

Blackboard – is the electronic system used at Manchester. It provides information to students regarding their degree programme, such as lecture notes, notices about exams and timetables.

Bursary -a non-repayable grant of money awarded to a student on application who fulfils specific criteria. Bursaries are often paid directly from the University.

Clearing – this is the system operated by UCAS to enable students to find places on courses that still have vacancies after the publication of exam results. Although it is often for those who have not made the grades required by their chosen universities, it can also allow last minute applications to new institutions for those who obtain better results than they had expected. For further information on the process visit

Conditional Offer -this is an offer made by the university which is dependent on students reaching certain grades.

Confirmation – an admissions process of confirming a university place once all results are received by the university.

Deferred entry – a student can apply for a university place but request that they start it the following year, thus deferring entry. Students who wish to take a GAP year do this to ensure they have a place at university for when they complete their year out.

Entry Requirements – grade levels set by the university for entry onto a course.

Faculty/Academic School – similar subjects at universities or colleges are often grouped together under one Faculty or Academic School. At Manchester we have four Faculties; the Faculty of Life Sciences, Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, Faculty of Humanities and Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences; within each Faculty are Academic Schools.

Graduate – a graduate is a person who has been awarded a degree from a university or college. Whilst students are studying for a degree they will be known as an undergraduate. After the award of a degree they become a graduate. If they undertake further study after their degree (e.g. Master’s degree or PhD) they will be known as a postgraduate student.

Grant – a non-repayable payment made to students when they meet certain conditions.

Halls of Residence – is student accommodation provided by the university.

Maintenance Loan – repayable money intended to support living costs.

Offers – offers are made to students who apply for a place at university. They are made by the admissions team and are often dependent on students achieving certain grades in their exams.

Postgraduate – a degree taken after an entry level, undergraduate degree.

Scholarship – scholarships are grants (non-repayable) of money made to a student. They are a little like a bursary, but scholarships are usually based on academic merit and excellence as opposed to financial need. Many more universities are offering scholarships as well as bursaries.

Semester – some universities divide the student year into 3 terms, some divide it into 2 semesters. A semester is half a study year.

Student Loans – these are loans from the government to help students pay their living and study costs whilst they are at university.

Students Union – each university will have a Students’ Union (which will probably be part of the National Union of Students). The Union will represent the interests of students and works in their interest about a whole range of issues. The Union can also provide the focal point of student activities. All students are entitled to an NUS card which provides many discounts for students.

Tuition Fees – tuition fees cover the cost of your study and may vary depending on what and where you study. Students can apply for a “tuition fee loan” to cover the amount they will be charged. This is then paid directly to the university. The “tuition fee loan” is paid back after the student has graduated and is earning over a certain amount.

UCAS – pronounced Yew-Cass. The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service for the UK. Students apply for full-time undergraduate courses through UCAS.

UCAS Extra – if a student uses all their five choices on their UCAS application and they don’t manage to secure an offer, they have a second chance to apply for a place, using UCAS Extra. The service starts mid-March and runs until the end of June. UCAS writes to let student know if they are eligible to use Extra.

Unconditional Offer – this is an offer made by the university which is not dependent on students reaching certain targets. This is often used when a student has already taken their exams and achieved the required grades.

Undergraduate– someone studying either full or part time for a first degree including Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BSc), LLB (Law) etc.

Welcome Week – the first week of the academic year and usually includes an induction programme from the university and social activities from the Students’ Union (formerly known as fresher’s week).