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Monday, 25 September 2017


Trinity College, Oxford

Staying within the UCAS-set word limit is one of the most challenging tasks ever encountered by many students. Here are key rules that will help:

              1. Don't repeat  yourself. Once you’ve said that you found working with that food bank team really inspiring,  you don’t need to add that you acquired valuable team-working skill and like working with people.

              2.  Don’t list everything you have done. Just mentioning six different extra-curricular activities is pointless. Instead, show that you are organised enough to do a couple of challenging things alongside your studies. Then say which useful (but not blindingly obvious) insights or skills you’ve gained.  

              3. Avoid space-filling generalisations such as “biology is a truly fascinating subject”. You want to focus on what fascinates you personally. The application chapters of OXBRIDGE ENTRANCE: THE REAL RULES have lots of detailed suggestions on how to do this. 

              4. Write in clear, not overly long sentences, using correct subject terms. Florid, convoluted phrases will just make the reader wonder if an adult wrote this for you. As strong writing skills are prized by most  admissions tutors, you may want to mention a well received essay or research report you did in the space gained.  

              5. Don’t try to solve your space problem by copying a UCAS statement found online: Admissions tutors now have the software to identify plagiarism.

              6. Re-read, and re-read again, and not just for spelling errors.  Have you said more about the course or the profession you are aiming  for than about the skills or aptitudes you bring to these? Are your extra-curriculars  taking up more space than your academic interests? Since what university students do most is read, did you remember to list the course-related book(s) or article(s) you've read? If you leave final checks to the last moment, the result could be not just typos but a muddled narrative or fatal omissions.

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