Business and management studies degrees are among the most oversubscribed subjects at university. The highest ranking universities demand three As at A-level to be considered for a place. For these programmes, the personal statement is your chance to show admission tutors your potential beyond your grades.
In your personal statement you should talk about what you have learnt through your A-level studies. Courses with a specialist focus on accountancy or finance will ask for maths A-level, so if you studied maths do mention the skills you gained.
Peter Corvi, associate dean at the University of Warwicks' business school, says: "We're looking for strong quantitative skills."
Critically reflective essay writing skills are also important for a business studies student, says Corvi, so if you studied an essay based subject like English, history or economics, do mention your knowledge in this area.
The University of Warwick wants to see that students are able to formulate a rational argument and write it to length. Corvi says: "Some of our strong applicants are missing this skill."
So make sure that your personal statement is fluent, articulate and well structured.
Corvi says that each year he has more qualified applicants than he has places. One way for candidates to distinguish themselves is through their extra curricular work. But Corvi says he doesn't want to see descriptions of these skills without examples – make sure you explain why your extra curriculur activities are relevant, and give concrete examples of what you did and how this makes you a suitable candidate.
This sentiment is echoed at the University of Bath's school of management. Nick Kinnie, associate dean of undergraduate taught studies, advises students not to underestimate the importance of activities such as Young Enterprise, Duke of Edinburgh and sporting positions, but to explain why you undertook them.
Kinnie says: "We want to see why they did it, what they learned and why it's relevant."
Intellectual curiosity and a strong work ethic are the core skills the London School of Economics (LSE) are looking for on their management programme. Will Breare-Hall, student recruitment and study abroad manager, says the LSE is looking for "the abilities to think and work independently, follow complex lines of reasoning, demonstrate logical thought processes, solve problems and communicate accurately and succinctly".
At Bath, the business programmes are concerned with linking theory to practice, so candidates need to demonstrate their ability to reflect on their experiences and explain how the skills they learned are applicable to higher education.
Once the admissions tutors have looked at grades to determine if an applicant meets its minimum requirements they turn their attention to the personal statement.
It's important to try and stand out, but extravagant stories won't impress an admissions team.
"It's an extreme example, but one year I had an application from someone who said that their mother knew when she was carrying the child that they were going to be an accountant," says Corvi.
Corvi recommends applicants have their statements read back to them, so they can hear how they sound to others reading it.
He says: "Describe yourself in a positive light without going overboard."
Bath's programmes, like many other institutions offering similar courses, have a strong emphasis on the global nature of business and management. Kinnie says he wants to see applicants not only express an interest in working in multinational environments, but also an awareness that they will be working with students from various cultures and backgrounds.
Although it's advisable for students to seek advice from their school when writing their statements, admission tutors want to hear the students' voice in their application.
Kinnie says: "The clue is in the title. The personal statement should read in an authentic and real way and in their own language.
"This is the first step in university life: taking responsibility for your own learning and development."
How to Write a Personal Statement
Ok, take a deep breath, find a quiet place and expect to devote several hours to writing your personal statement. This is...
Personal Statement Examples
Here’s an example of a personal statement from a student wanting to study a joint honours degree in English and Spanish....
UCAS Personal Statement
Some simple steps for success… Compiling a ‘winning’ UCAS personal statement is one of the most time consuming aspects...
Personal Statement Opening Sentence
Fine tuning the opening sentence of your personal statement is a task most students dread, particularly because so much...
Personal Statement for your CV
You might think that a personal statement is just for that special 47 line or 4000 character UCAS box and something that...
6 Tips to Refine Your Personal Statement
You're done. You've written your personal statement. You've followed our advice, given it a few quick checks, and you...
More careers advice