Writing a UCAS reference to supplement a student’s application is challenging. This is particularly so when they are applying for competitive courses like Law.
You will obviously be keen to do the best by your students and this is where The Lawyer Portal comes in! Using our extensive knowledge and insight, we have prepared this teachers’ guide to writing a UCAS reference to help you get ahead and support your students in the best possible way.
Like personal statements, a teacher UCAS reference can be up to 4,000 characters and 47 lines long. A UCAS reference should ultimately offer a professional and thoughtful appraisal of a student’s ability and suitability to study Law.
The UCAS website states: ‘as a referee, you’re aiming to give universities and colleges an informed and academic assessment of an applicant’s suitability for further study.’
Your teacher UCAS reference needs to complement and reinforce the student’s law personal statement as opposed to duplicating it. In fact, UCAS warns teachers to ‘avoid repeating any of the information they [the student] has given in their application, unless you want to comment on it, and avoid mentioning any particular university or college.’
As such, there is a fine balance to strike between the student’s personal statement and your UCAS reference.
You should ask yourself: ‘what can I say to reinforce this student’s application that they might not be able or feel comfortable to say themselves?’
See below a list of suggestions of things to include:
UCAS highlights the following key components of a UCAS reference. For each one, we highlight a list of key considerations that the teacher needs to take into account.
Post-16 academic performance and their potential for success in higher education
Why they’re suited to their chosen subject and career path, plus their attitude, motivation and commitment
Achievements, work experience, and extracurricular activities that relate to their chosen course(s)
Skills and qualities like aptitude and enthusiasm, plus current or past achievements that will help with their chosen subject area
In a word – yes! We recommend this highly.
Explain to students that if they want a great UCAS reference, it is their responsibility to keep you up to date with academic and extracurricular activities that demonstrate the key qualities.
Ideally, these should be submitted to you in writing, along with a list of things the student thinks would benefit their application but which they could not fit on the law personal statement.
Here are the top five tips for teachers writing UCAS references for Law:
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