How to make your application stand out

It’s a good idea to start thinking about your application to university well in advance. Particularly if you’re applying for a competitive course, you’ll need to start thinking early about how you can demonstrate your interest in the subject and make your application stand out from the crowd.

A first step is to make sure you will be able to meet the entry requirements for the course you’re interested in. University offers will be made based on predicted grades from Year 12, and some particularly competitive courses and universities will select based on your GCSE results, too.

For courses here at Birmingham, you can use our Offer Calculator tool to check your predicted grades meet the requirements for your chosen course.

The personal statement is an important part of the admissions process and is your opportunity to tell admissions tutors why they should offer you a place. Particular skills and attributes that universities are looking for will vary, but all will want to be persuaded that you have a genuine academic interest in the subject and that you have the motivation and enthusiasm to succeed.

A really good personal statement should provide strong evidence of your interest in the subject. This might be through wider reading, attendance at university summer schools or lectures, volunteering or perhaps you are undertaking the Extended Project Qualification in a related subject.

Work experience might also be a useful way of demonstrating your interest, motivation and transferable skills as well as providing you with a useful insight into potential future careers. For some vocational courses work experience might form part of the entry requirements, so check them carefully. In your personal statement, remember to talk about what you gained from the experience, the skills that you developed and how it has affected you, not just what you did.

Keep up any extra-curricular activities such as music, drama, sport, volunteering and also part-time work, as these may help you to develop relevant skills for your chosen course. When you write your personal statement, remember that the Admissions Tutor is looking for you to demonstrate your interest in the subject and ability to do well on the course. Make sure you draw out the relevant skills and attributes these activities have helped you to develop, not just list everything you do outside of school or college.