As a current law student, and therefore someone who has faced the dreaded UCAS applications, I will shed some light on a few tips that should help you to succeed in this process. After staring at a blank computer screen for many hours struggling to positively describe myself, I decided to thoroughly research what was required to impress those looking at my application.
Tip One: Your opening paragraph needs to stand out in order to capture the attention of the reader. Why should they give you a place over someone else? Why do you want to do law? It is important to remember that your selected universities receive potentially thousands of applications for the same course, thus yours needs to stand out. You need to show why you want this degree, and make that apparent throughout your statement. For example, you can mention what aspect of law you wish to pursue a career in or, if you don’t know exactly, mention what aspects of law interest you. You can do this by stating what books you have read or by mentioning any articles or documentaries that you have watched.
You should look also at the individual university courses and aim to tailor your application around them. However, when doing this, it is vital to note that you shouldn’t specify your application to one university in particular as the others to whom you apply will be reading the same statement. Instead, look for common traits between universities – such as their teaching methods or their most important modules – and try to present examples that go hand in hand with these in your application.
Tip Two: If you have no legal work experience at all, I would suggest going to your local courts and sitting in on some cases. This will give you first-hand experience of the legal profession and it will also demonstrate that you have an evident interest in law. If you are fortunate enough to have legal work experience, then ensure that you talk about this in detail and explain what you have learnt from this process and how it has shaped your interest in studying law.
Tip Three: If you have work experience outside of the legal sector, it is vital that you still mention it. Not all high school students will have the fortunate opportunity to get work experience in the legal world prior to university, so do not panic, as many universities are aware of this. Working in a restaurant or retail will still display many factors of your personality that will make you a great candidate.
Tip Four: Universities want conscientious, dedicated and driven students, all aspects that can be mentioned through explaining your involvement in societies or extra-curricular activities, so make sure to include these in your statement.
Tip Five: Avoid repetition at all costs. It is important to reinforce your interest in law, but don’t repeat the same thing as it is a waste of your precious word count. The person reading your application wants highly organised personal statements, so make sure you can present that you have this ability.
Tip Six: It can be an incredibly hard process, but please do not try and copy others’ applications. This will come back to haunt you; it all needs to be your own words. The UCAS application process will track your similarities to other statements so you will not get away with it. The severity of copying another will result in you not being considered for a place, and potentially subject to further punishment. Take inspiration from others, but never steal their words.
Tip Seven: Try to avoid cliché statements such as quotes and rhetorical questions. The likelihood is many other applications will use this, thus its vital that you be original.
Tip Eight: Try to break your statement down into sections. So firstly, for example, an introduction that covers why you want to pursue a career in the legal profession, then a discussion of your grades and their relevance to why you should study law. Next, mention your interest in law, e.g a discussion of why you were first drawn to law. Following this, mention how your work and legal experiences – as well as your extra curricular activities of other responsibilities – would make you a great student.
In conclusion, if you ensure that you have a detailed plan of what you are going to include, then you should have nothing to panic about. UCAS applications are perfect practice for applying to vacation schemes and training contracts in the future, so try to enjoy the process and take the most out of it that you can. Good luck!
Editor’s note: At Law Student Help, we are more than happy to proofread your UCAS statements free of charge (for a limited period). For more information, head over to our contact section and drop us an email.