Skip to content

10 Top Tips for Writing a Standout Oxbridge Personal Statement

  • by

You’ve sat the exams of yours, chosen your top five Universities to apply to, you have registered with UCAS. The next thing? Oh sure, you’ve got to write a personal declaration – 4000 heroes to encapsulate why You are suitable for your course.

You recognize the standard pitfalls, you know you will not stay in the 1779 candidates every year on UCAS who start their statement with’ From a new age I have always been…’, you realize not to begin with a motivational quote or to include too many’ I love’s or’ passions’. You also realize that the personal statement is just not the be all and end all of your application – yes, admissions will look at it, and certainly it makes a difference for some topics and Universities much more than others, but at the end of the morning your exam results and employment interview, in case you have one particular, will talk louder than 4000 characters can.

Nevertheless, you may as well get it right – been selling well, your off-work statement can present what drives your study of your given subject immediately and offer an insight into your academic capability, which will only boost the program of yours. We have curated 10 top tips for Oxbridge personal statement help, based on the recommendations of Oxbridge alumni in more than 20 subjects, to help you overcome green living often daunting task. Stay tuned for our subject-specific personal statement series to arrive – we’ll be covering top tips for individual statements in subjects including law, physics, natural sciences, english, history, medicine and more!
1) Less is more

Attempt to be certain and DON’T waffle. Tutors hate it whenever you attempt to seem over the top of usage overly-complicated words. One of the most regular pitfalls admissions tutors see are pupils trying to fit pretty much as possible into their statement. LESS IS MORE. Don’t write about every book you have ever read, but pick one or two to illustrate the enthusiasm of yours for the subject.

Key Stylistic Points:

Write in simple, straightforward, everyday English.

Express yourself as succinctly as possible using short sentences.

Do not get weighed down in jargon or complicated terminology – and if you do use some, be sure that you make use of it properly.

Two) Don’t try and tell a grand narrative

In the subject paragraphs, don’t attempt to share it with any style of grand narrative about possibly you or the subject e.g. “the first second I realised I needed to study Philosophy was” or even even “Philosophy is the most important subject because”; these seem pompous and insincere. Likewise, admissions tutors don’t wish to understand that from the precious time you were a new boy, you enjoyed playing with lego, that resulted in a love of engineering, they want to know what motivates you in the course of yours of interest NOW. It is far better to simply write about the ideas, concepts and theories that have grabbed your interest through your projects at college and the way in which you’ve investigated them in your own personal reading or maybe some other tasks.

Individual Statement Introduction Example Structure:
‘My interest/curiosity in materials science originally emerged following XYZ. This led me to pursue additional research, reading, etc., which includes going for a biomedical engineering course at […]. These experience have only improved my enthusiasm for the subject matter, plus I am today sharp to engage with it more deeply by studying for a MEng (or whatever the course might be…) in Materials Science at the University of XYZ’
3) Think outside the school curriculum

Tutors are going to be most impressed if you show the interest of yours for a subject with proof of reading or work experience other than the school curriculum. At times it might be appropriate, but the majority of the time, the best candidates show a wealth of knowledge they have gathered in the own time of theirs. Demonstrate your resourcefulness (go to a variety of sources of info: podcasts, lectures, books, crucial articles, a visit to a museum, an essay competitors you entered).

Prize essays are a great thing to speak about on a personal statement. Develop a shortlist of essay prizes you can enter (e.g. the Keble College Essay Prize), choose 2 that you are interested in and have a go at them. These prize essays are often around 1500-2000 words and can require you to do a little reading/research on ones own. This will reveal the tutor that you’re determined and self-motivated.
4) Think about structure

Consider each of your points to turn into a mini argument. It is not good saying’ I’m serious about X’, without giving evidence or perhaps relating X to Y and saying what you learnt from it. Each point must link to another in some shape or perhaps form. A clear structure will be 3 4 main paragraphs and 1 short paragraph on extracurriculars at the conclusion. The paragraphs should cover 2 3 key subject aspects of interest, with links between each area.
Five) Check and double check claims of knowledge

Check some promises of knowledge or understanding as 1) if they are incorrect, this will be a fast red flag for admissions tutors and two) they might be tested at interview.
Six) Work/ research experience

Know when your work experience is relevant. An English tutor is going to be interested in your work as research assistant for a professor. They’ll be much less fascinated by your summer internship at Goldman. For many topics, work experience is more vital than others, namely the sciences and of course, medicine. Do not just state it, explain what you learnt and the way it has helped you. Students with an interest in exploration fare well in Oxbridge candidate as classes are research heavy – you will be writing 1-2 essay weekly for Humanities subjects, as well science subjects require extensive independent research prior to tutorials.

If you’d like aid seeking research knowledge to have in the personal statement of yours, check out our Minds Underground division’s Research & Work Experience webpage!
7) Subject-Specific Research/ Exploration

Showing the knowledge of yours of study in your subject is more relevant to some subjects than others. But, often than not it will be beneficial to read about current and past research papers – use Google Scholar or JSTOR to stay up to date on theories, critical discussions and key moves in the subject of yours. If relevant, you can reference these in your declaration. Looking forward to application, it’s very important to make sure breadth, depth and independence in your reading through – you should read closely and widely, pursuing your own passions within your subject.
8) Stay relevant

No one desires to know about your passion for the subject of yours from before you could walk. Anything you incorporate ought to be directly connected to your suitability and interest of the course, and at minimum connected somehow. They wish to know what is encouraging the study of yours of it NOW.

We recommend keeping up-to-date on current advancements in the subject of yours by subscribing to academic journals, reading articles associated with your subject matter on online websites such as the Conversation (includes areas on Medicine and Health, politics & Society, and Science & Technology to name a few), enjoying educational podcasts on present discussions and things. in case you’re applying for law, mention current legal issues or maybe improvements, if you are applying for a STEM topic, explore scientific breakthroughs of the past 20/ 50/ hundred ages – what excites you the majority? Tell the admissions tutors about it and just how it spurred you to examine the topic further at degree level.
9) Ensure you are able to expand…

It truly depends on the interviewer where discussion of individual statement at interview is involved. Some tutors utilize it to be a reference point to trigger further discussion. Some won’t mention it at all. It is well worth being 100 % sound on the books/ topics you have referenced and are thinking about ways you are able to grow on them/ how they link to various other things. Similarly, ensure you offer the own opinion of yours on the things you have read. In case you don’t agree with a critic or perhaps author and then say really, but remember: the tutor might have spent his/her entire career learning that particular critic/ author and may believe she’s the greatest point since sliced bread so support your disagreement rationally and be ready to justify in more detail at interview.
10) Extra-curriculars

You’ll be hard-pressed to find an Oxbridge tutor that cares about your budding sports career. Keep extra curriculars to 1 2 lines at the end of your declaration unless they are extremely subject relevant. The performance of the extracurricular part is to show that you are a real person with interests outside academia. It’s not a component in their assessment of you as a prospective applicant. Work with it as an opportunity to bring colour for you as a person, rather than to brag about attaining sports colours or being a prefect; make it quirky, unique and interesting. For other UK universities, more of a focus may be placed on extra curricular where relevant.