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It’s little wonder that it’s the part of the UCAS form that every student dreads: the personal statement is your chance to explain – in a precious few hundred words – why a university should make you an offer.
Don’t fall into the trap of stating your enthusiasm for studying a particular module if it’s not provided at all your university choices, because it will look odd to the universities who don’t cover it (and may be enough to lose you a potential offer).
Avoid specifically naming any course in particular, as this is another dead giveaway to admissions tutors that another university may be your first choice.
Approaching it this way has the advantage of allowing you to talk in more depth about the main subject; if you’re trying to talk about two subjects in a very limited amount of space, you may not be able to say everything you want to say.
On the other hand, if you can show how keen you are on both subjects, and even talk about why you think it makes sense to study both, then your personal statement may come across stronger than that of a student who only talks about one subject, with no explanation as to why they have applied for the joint honours course rather than that one subject on its own.
The key here is to look for overlaps in the course content and talk about those.
You’ll need to scrutinise the course content closely for each university and draw up a list of the topics that are covered by all of them.
Nevertheless, easy or not, it’s definitely worth acknowledging it in your personal statement, because the admissions tutor will have noticed – so it’s no use pretending it’s not the case and hoping they won’t notice.
Let’s look at some of the possible reasons for low grades and consider each in turn.
Unless you’re applying for a joint honours course, you’re not going to be able to choose two wildly different subjects, because your personal statement simply won’t work if you try to appeal to admissions tutors from different courses or departments.
However, you can choose closely related subjects, and of course some courses are called different things at different universities and cover some different topics.