UCAS Personal Statement Changes 2025

The UCAS personal statement has been a stumbling block for university applicants for decades. However, UCAS (University and Colleges Admissions Service) is shortly to introduce an entirely new process which will instead adopt a structure incorporating six questions applicants will have to answer instead.

Why is UCAS changing the personal statement?

University entrants are changing. Applicants who wouldn’t have considered university education as being a possibility for them even a decade ago are now graduating with top degrees.

However, the personal statement – with a bias towards those who are lucky enough to have a rich social and extracurricular experience to back up their academic prowess – wasn’t adequately reflecting (or indeed supporting) the students who might have needs or circumstances that precluded wider experiences.

Current findings from UCAS show that 79% of students found the personal statement “too difficult” to write without additional and appropriate support. That’s almost 4/5 of applicants, so unquestionably shows the need for change. 83% of students also find it stressful, so by restructuring the statement into a series of sections, UCAS aim to clarify what supporting information is truly impactful.

This change is designed to make it easier for applicants to express themselves and boost their confidence that they have included all necessary details.

These findings don't mean, however, that students don’t see and acknowledge the value of the personal statement. The revamped, structured statement should allow all university applicants to show their worth on an equal basis.

To find out more, read the following report on the Future of Undergraduate Admissions from UCAS.

Is the personal statement being removed completely?

No, the personal statement is not being eliminated but rather reformed. It remains a crucial tool for students to use their own voice, advocate for their chosen course, and showcase their potential beyond academic achievements.

By framing the statement with a series of free-text questions,  UCAS aims to create a more supportive framework that guides students through their responses, which takes out much of the guesswork.

What are the new themes and why have they been chosen?

Through consultations with providers and advisers, three key themes have been identified to be included in the reformed personal statement. These themes help admissions teams assess an applicant's suitability for a course and compare them to other candidates:

1.    Motivation for Course: Why do you want to study these courses?

This question helps students reflect on their career ambitions or passion for the subject. It ensures they choose courses that align with their goals, whether it's accreditation, a pathway to a profession, or a deep dive into a fascinating subject. Admissions teams look for evidence that students understand the unique aspects of the course they are applying for.

2.    Preparedness for Course: How has your learning so far helped you to be ready to succeed on these courses?

Here, students can highlight what they've gained from formal education, such as an A-level curriculum that sparked further interest in a subject. This section should demonstrate the student's understanding of what will help them succeed in their chosen course.

3.    Preparation Through Other Experiences: What else have you done to help you prepare, and why are these experiences useful?

This theme allows students to discuss extracurricular activities, work experience, or other personal projects. The key is to reflect on what they learned from these experiences, how they developed relevant skills, and why these activities will help them succeed in their course.

What happened to the other themes?

After consultation, it was clear that two of the proposed themes might lead to generic answers due to varying teaching and assessment styles across universities. These themes have been withdrawn:

  • Preparedness for Study: What have you done to prepare yourself for student life?
  • Preferred Learning Styles: Which learning and assessment styles best suit you – how do your course choices match that?

Additionally, the extenuating circumstances theme has been recognized as valuable but better suited in its own section. This allows students to contextualize their application without compromising the space needed to articulate their skills and suitability for the courses.

How will UCAS decide on the final set of questions?

The user experience team at UCAS will carefully word the questions to ensure clarity for all students. They will then ask for feedback from stakeholders through their email bulletins to providers, teachers, and advisers, encouraging input to help shape the final questions.

We will continue to update this page as UCAS releases more information about changes to the personal statement.

When will the changes to the personal statement take effect?

If you’re applying next year for 2026 entry, the bad news is that you will still have to write a personal statement (although, of course, there’s nothing to stop you using the prototype questions to help you structure this and make the process easier!).

These changes will come into effect for students looking to enter a programme of higher education from 2026 onwards.

What will help you, however, if you’re planning to go to university in 2024, is the personalised tool.

This will allow you to see the kind of profiles that have been accepted onto courses similar to those you are interested in over the past five years. So really don’t despair if you’re in the “last of the personal statements” intake!