While the UCAS university application deadline is still months away, January 15 will arrive before you know it and getting started now will mean you won’t be scrambling around in the weeks after Christmas.

To start with, it’s a good idea to get your head around the various aspects of the application that you will need to complete before you can click send.

First, you will have to register with UCAS and enter your personal details. You will then be able to apply for up to five courses. Make sure you cross-reference the course requirements with your predicted grades and A-level choices.

You’ll then be asked to detail your education and qualifications to date and to give details of any jobs you’ve had. It’s also a good idea to nail down who will be providing your academic reference as soon as possible so they have enough time.

Finally, before you submit your application, you will be asked to include your personal statement. For those daunted about the prospect of putting 4,000 characters together, you’re not alone.

To start, jot down reasons why you want to study your chosen course. Secondly, think about what you can say you have done to demonstrate why you are passionate about this particular subject.

The key is balance. Contrary to what Oxbridge demand, most universities will look for candidates to split their statements between their academic achievements and their extra-curricular pursuits – if these are relevant to your chosen degree, all the better.

Stock phrases should be avoided at all costs, and students should also be careful not to exaggerate. Applicants should also avoid copying anyone else’s statement or taking inspiration from the Internet. UCAS uses a program called Copycatch to identify similarities in statements.

Students should also make sure to review their statements for spelling and grammar and to apply in good time.

It’s important to remember that your personal statement could also be used at the end of the application cycle if you miss the grade requirements.  With this in mind, it’s worth putting in the extra effort now to give yourself every chance of success.