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Writing your Personal Statement during the COVID-19 Lockdown – impossible? Of course not!

You should always start thinking about your Personal Statement in Year 12 – right now! In fact, with all this extra time on your hands, aside from watching boxsets, now is the perfect time to think about what you want to study, what makes it interesting and start collecting evidence to prove your interest in your chosen course

To get started, why not read articles from newspapers, relevant magazines and online, for example:

Keep a log of what you’ve read and, if you can be bothered to do some research into any topic, you can mention the ones you find particularly interesting as evidence in your Personal Statement. For example, if you want to be topical - does COVID-19 affect your subject area? If so, how?

University reading lists, suggested reading or preliminary reading. Are they included in the application information just for fun? If you answered anything except ‘No’ to that question, please imagine me banging my head on my desk in despair! If a university has been helpful enough to suggest books, podcasts or research you might find interesting, my advice would be to take a look and read at least one book, if not more. For example:

At the moment, you can’t physically visit museums, art galleries and interesting buildings but many offer an online experience and this can count as evidence if it is relevant to your chosen course – there are amazing online gallery tours, live plays being streamed and the fabulous RIBA website for any architects out there!

You will need work experience for certain courses. It’s an entry requirement for all healthcare courses, veterinary medicine, education and social work. It will not be possible to find any right now but when things get back to normal, why not offer to make cups of tea at a GP practice? Volunteer to read to the elderly in a care home or hospital ward? Ask if you can help to feed the animals or shadow the nurse at your local vets? You may not get the chance to watch a surgery at a top UK hospital but it will enable you to observe the healthcare team, interact with patients and reflect on what you have seen. In the meantime, why not try a course on the NHS or social issues?

If they are still going ahead, sign up for university taster courses, demonstration lectures, master classes and Summer Schools now! But even if things still aren’t back to normal by the summer, you can watch online talks - TEDtalks - and find YouTube lectures or even university courses in your subject area

If you want to do STEM subjects visit websites like NRICH for extra maths problems to practice.... this counts as evidence! You might also like to look at the exciting research your chosen universities are doing at the moment: Imperial, Manchester, Sheffield……

Aside from the purely academic evidence, you should also think about useful skills you have and what you’ve done to enhance them - teamwork, leadership, communication, public speaking, essay writing, problem solving, using your initiative, evaluating data, organisation, time management etc

What are your outside interests – what do you do for fun? It is so important to have something non-academic which you enjoy to get rid of any stress and take your mind off things for a while

Start building your academic evidence now to create that excellent personal statement – it could be bullet points, the odd word or phrase to remind you what you have done, it does not have to be perfect paragraphs just yet. Everything can be expanded, edited and refined later on nearer the application deadlines with the help of your school. However, if you need additional advice and guidance, I can help. Please see my website for details.

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