10 Top Tips For Oxbridge Personal Statement

3 min read

Stephen Walker

Any admissions tutor will tell you that a great Oxbridge Personal Statement is an important step for university acceptance. But if you want to go to the best university, yours will need to be among the best Oxbridge Personal Statements. Here are our top 10 tips for an Oxbridge Personal Statement from a successful candidate.

1. Oxbridge Personal Statement: Make it personal

University admissions tutors go through hundreds of Personal Statements every year; especially at Oxbridge, where there are usually over 10 applicants per place! Applications, from the university’s perspective, are a long process involving thousands of applicants so you must use your Oxbridge Personal Statement to stand out. They will likely decide on whether you will be considered for admission long before they’ve finished reading. Therefore, you need to make sure to capture their attention quickly.

Have you done any relevant work experience, or perhaps a research project? Put that near the top of your Oxbridge Personal Statement to stand out immediately. Look online for example Oxbridge Personal Statements to get ideas, but make sure to refrain from plagiarising! The university checks all UCAS Personal Statements for plagiarism against all other Personal Statements.

2. Don’t talk about your A levels

Further to the last point, don’t spend a lot of time talking about your A levels. Almost everyone has done them, and you want to give Oxbridge a reason to choose YOU and not someone else. You have a limited number of characters, so use that space to talk about things unique to you. Keep reading for ideas about what you should put instead.

3. Read around your subject

Books you’ve read are a great way to show your subject interest and stand out from everyone else on your personal statement. Remember that if you go to Oxbridge, you might even meet the person who wrote the book you read. Make sure to discuss an idea from the book you found interesting or surprising, and why the book was important to you to show that you’ve really learnt from it.

4. Oxbridge Personal Statement: Ask for feedback

A great way to improve your Oxbridge Personal Statement is to ask for feedback from your teachers and friends. It’s easy to miss spelling and grammar mistakes, and it can be very useful to get a second opinion about vocabulary and sentence structure. Your Oxbridge Personal Statement will likely have sentences phrased awkwardly and you may not notice as it’s something you’ve written. Therefore asking someone else is an important tool. Make sure to ask someone with experience in your subject to make sure all the specifics are correct.

5. But not from too many people

Although the last point still stands, you don’t want to ask too many people for advice. How can this be? They will all have their own ideas, and although most of them will be good, hearing a lot of conflicting suggestions will confuse you and make you doubt yourself. The truth is that there is no perfect Oxbridge Personal Statement, but there are a lot of great ones. Whilst external opinions are valuable, ensure that they don’t take away from what is YOUR piece of work. Ultimately, your Oxbridge Personal Statement should capture who you are and not anyone else!

6. It will take more than one draft

It may seem like you could get your Oxbridge Personal Statement done in one night. After all, it’s only 4000 characters, or about 600-800 words. However, if you think this then you’re in for a rude awakening! Take it from us, first you’ll feel like you’ve got nothing to write, then it will start pouring out and very soon you’ll have far too much and you’ll have to get rid of whole sections.

After that comes vocabulary. “If I can just rephrase this, I can make it 5 characters shorter”, you’ll think to yourself. Trust me, I’ve been there. Then you’ll show it to your teacher and she’ll tell you to include another point in there. It can feel like it never ends, but you have to finish it at some point – again you need to find a balance. Don’t rush it – you have until October for Oxbridge/medicine applications and until January for other applications. This gives you plenty of time to make the best Personal Statement you can. If you’re really stuck for something to improve, come back the next day with a fresh set of eyes, or ask a  friend or teacher to read it.

7. Show, don’t tell

Imagine someone told you that they are the best mathematician ever. You wouldn’t believe them at first; you might ask them some maths questions, what qualifications they have etc. In the same way, universities won’t believe you if you just say how good a candidate you are; you need to show them.

For example, don’t say that you’re passionate about your subject. Instead, tell them what books you’ve read about or online courses or extracurricular projects you’ve done. Don’t just say that you’re organised, tell them about some work experience you’ve done and show them how you used your organisational skills to do it. Never say anything you can’t back up. If you don’t think you’ve got anything like this to say, it’s not too late to start. Go and do some work experience or read a book before you have to submit your Oxbridge Personal Statement. Self-reflection is key so learn how to do it effectively and efficiently. 

8. Make it relevant to your chosen course

For everything you say about yourself, try to show why it will make you a good candidate for the course you are applying to. Obviously, don’t go too far with this. There are some skills, such as intelligence, that are just generally good and you don’t have to say why they’re good for a specific course. However, if you apply to something with a high workload like medicine it may be good to show how you’re good at time management, and if you apply to something with a lot of problem solving like STEM then it may be good to show that you have problem solving ability.

This is also a good way to plug up any gaps left by your A levels. If, for example, you are applying for a course with a creative element and your A levels don’t include a lot of creativity then talk about a hobby you do and how you use creativity to do it.

9. Get it done early

The Oxbridge Personal Statement is the first step in your application, and it will require your best work. As such, it’s vital to give yourself plenty of time to come up with all the best things about yourself to write and to make improvements. Start it with plenty of time to spare so you don’t have to rush, and don’t let it take up all your time when you have important studying to do.

10. Oxbridge Personal Statement: Submit it and move on

When you’ve dotted every i and crossed every t, checked all your spelling and vocabulary, asked your friends, your teachers, the postman and his dog to read your Oxbridge Personal Statement, you still may feel like there’s more you can improve. You have to ignore this feeling. If you’ve done all you can and followed all the tips in this article then your time will be better spent studying to ace your admissions test, and make sure you keep up with your A levels!

Getting your Oxbridge Personal Statement in nice and early also shows the university that you’re well prepared. We will admit, the waiting for a response can be the hardest part, but it’s a marathon not a sprint, and the Personal Statement is only the first hurdle.

Still got a question? Leave a comment
Post as “Anonymous”
Just Start Typing...