Top Tips for a Cambridge Natural Sciences Personal Statement

3 min read

Starting a personal statement can seem really intimidating, especially if you have no idea where to begin. Add on the extra pressure of applying to the course which had the highest number of applications last year and it can all get a bit much! Don’t let that get into your head though, natural sciences has, on average, a success rate (that is, applications converted into acceptances of an offer post-results) of more than 20% so those aren’t terrible odds!

There is a lot of advice available online about how to write a Natural Sciences Cambridge personal statement and, while I’m sure it’s great (I can’t say I’ve read all of it!), it often isn’t appropriate for those applying to very academic universities, especially Oxbridge, or for a course so broad as natural sciences. Luckily for you, I’ve compiled all of the very best advice that I received during my application process or gained during my time at Cambridge to make writing your Cambridge Natural Sciences Personal Statement much simpler! Read on to find out more…

natural science personal statement cambridge

Make sure to explain your interests in all of your subjects and why that makes you a good applicant for a broad degree such as natural sciences:

If (and when!) you get to Cambridge for your first year, you will be studying three science subjects and maths. This means you are expected to have a passion for more than one part of science! For example, I chose to study natural sciences because I really enjoyed both my chemistry and physics A-Levels, therefore wanted to study them both before specialising – this is a great reason to choose a course such as natural sciences! This means you should talk about both/all of your A-Level sciences (hopefully you are studying at least two) and why you are (ideally equally) passionate about all of them. 

If you don’t think that you are passionate about all of your A-Levels or are only really interested in one, then it’s possible natural sciences might not be the course for you. In this case, a single subject degree (e.g. straight chemistry) might be better for you. Read the course description on the university website – do your interests align with the course?

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Justify all your subject interests with examples of how you explored these via an academic extracurricular or reading:

Don’t just say ‘I like biology because plants are cool’ – although hopefully, you wouldn’t put that anyway… Give more information! Talk about which areas of your A-Level subjects are your favourite and why, maybe you did a really fun practical in school or watched an interesting video in class. Then discuss how you acted on this interest, perhaps by watching some online open-source university lectures on the topic to expand your knowledge, going to a talk or even by reading a book.

I wrote a significant part of my Cambridge personal statement about two academic summer schools that I had attended, the Salters’ Chemistry Camp in year 10 and the Eton College Universities Summer School (aimed at introducing state school students to university-level topics) in year 12. Experiences like these tell an admissions tutor that you are really interested in pushing yourself academically and finding out as much as possible about your subject.

Don’t include too much information about your non-academic hobbies 

While these are great to include for other universities on your Natural Sciences personal statement, Cambridge will not be as interested. That’s not to say don’t include them though! Cambridge is looking for well-rounded individuals who have acquired skills such as time management, resilience and perseverance, often developed through sports, music and qualifications such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. As well as this, you submit the same personal statement to all the universities you apply to, so it must be applicable to all.

You should have at least 80-90% of your Cambridge personal statement dedicated to academics, and the rest can be hobbies and extracurriculars (I’m someone who did a LOT of hobbies: music, sports, dance, DofE – you name it, I did it! And even I managed to limit my discussion on hobbies to about 10-15% of my character limit, so if I can do it, you can too!)

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Start early!

This is not a particularly long piece of writing, but there are lots of things to include! Ideally, everything you include in your Natural Science Cambridge personal statement you will have been doing anyway because it’s something you are doing because you’re passionate about your subjects, but it doesn’t always work out that way…Sometimes you will have to read an extra book or two to demonstrate the points you are making (and I would urge you to ACTUALLY DO everything you mention in your Cambridge Natural Sciences personal statement – you could be asked about it in the interview!). This means you need ample time to do all of the things you’ve said and then to write about them. I did about 6 or 7 drafts of my Cambridge personal statement so you definitely need to be thinking about it before you get to year 13, ideally by the summer of year 12.

Have mentors you trust look over your Cambridge Natural Sciences personal statement for you

Getting an outsider’s perspective on your Cambridge personal statement is a must. Ideally, this will be the opinion of people who have helped Cambridge candidates before, but if not, an adult familiar with the university application process (and better still, a scientist) e.g. one of your teachers will do.

Be sure to thank them for their help!

natural science cambridge personal statement

Finally, keep in mind the character limit:

You only have 4000 characters available to you, including spaces! When I said earlier that this is not a long piece of writing, I meant it. My Cambridge personal statement was JUST under the character limit and only 611 words! You will need to be as concise as possible, i.e. no waffling that isn’t directly relevant to the point you are making, and no long fancy vocabulary as it is character count that matters, not words.

UCAS has a personal statement builder on their website which you can use to check your Cambridge personal statement, as some word processors will count spacing and paragraph spaces differently. Yes, that’s right, you need to think about the number of paragraphs that you use carefully as making new paragraphs wastes precious characters, but one big block of text isn’t very appealing to the reader! Try to strike a balance here.

That’s all the advice I have for you! Take it all into consideration, but remember that you don’t need to eat, sleep and breathe your subject to the point where it’s unhealthy in order to get into university. That’s not what Cambridge is about and you are allowed to (and should – especially at school) have hobbies. Don’t forget that university is about becoming a well-rounded adult ready to tackle the world of work! I hope you find all of this advice helpful when writing your Cambridge Natural Sciences personal statement.

For other information about applying to Cambridge, see the blog on the Natural Sciences Admissions Assessment.


→ What should I include in my Natural Science Cambridge personal statement?

In your Cambridge Natural Sciences personal statement, you should aim to demonstrate your passion for science, your academic achievements, and your research interests. You should also highlight any relevant work experience or extracurricular activities that demonstrate your skills and commitment.

→ What are the top tips for writing a strong Cambridge Natural Sciences personal statement?

Some top tips for writing a strong Cambridge Natural Sciences personal statement include: demonstrating your passion for science, showcasing your academic achievements and research interests, highlighting any relevant work experience or extracurricular activities, writing in a clear and concise style, and proofreading your work carefully for spelling and grammar errors.

→ How long should my Cambridge Natural Sciences personal statement be?

Your Cambridge Natural Sciences personal statement should be no longer than 4,000 characters or 47 lines, whichever comes first. This includes spaces and punctuation.

→ What kind of extracurricular activities should I include in my Cambridge Natural Sciences personal statement?

You should include any extracurricular activities that demonstrate your skills and commitment, particularly those that are relevant to science or research. This might include volunteering or work experience in a science-related field, participation in science clubs or competitions, or any other relevant activities that demonstrate your passion for the subject.

→ How can I tailor my Cambridge Natural Sciences personal statement to the Cambridge course?

To tailor your Cambridge Natural Sciences personal statement to the Cambridge course, you should research the course requirements and structure and ensure that you address these in your statement. You should also highlight any specific research interests or areas of study that are particularly relevant to the course.

→ How important is the Cambridge Natural Sciences personal statement in the admissions process?

The Cambridge Natural Sciences personal statement is an important part of the admissions process, as it provides the admissions committee with insights into your academic achievements, research interests, and passion for the subject. A strong personal statement can help to differentiate you from other applicants with similar academic records.

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