Oxford Chemistry Personal Statement Top Tips

3 min read

If you have absolutely no idea where to begin, starting to write a personal statement can seem really overwhelming. Add on the extra pressure of applying to Oxford and it can all get a bit much! Don’t let that get into your head though, chemistry at Oxford had, on average, a success rate (that is, applications converted into acceptances of an offer post-results) of 29% so those are pretty good odds!

chemistry Oxford personal statement

I can’t claim to have read all of the advice available online about how to write a Oxford Chemistry personal statement but, while I’m sure it’s great, it often isn’t appropriate for those applying to very academic universities, especially Oxbridge. Luckily for those of you applying to study chemistry at Oxford, I’ve compiled all of the very best advice that I received during my application process to make writing your Oxford personal statement much simpler! Read on to find out more…

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The first point to consider is: why do you want to study chemistry? 

Now, this may seem really obvious but it’s the answer to this exact question that will form the basis of your Chemistry Oxford personal statement since, at its core, your Oxford personal statement is your opportunity to tell the admissions tutors not only why you wish to study chemistry, but also convince them that you want to study chemistry more than anyone else! What is it about chemistry that particularly interests you? What are your favourite areas? How will studying chemistry help you to achieve your goals post-university?

Think about if you are a suitable candidate for the course too. If you have consulted the University of Oxford website (which hopefully you have), you will have noted that both chemistry and maths A Levels are considered ‘essential’ for admission to this course. This means you will need to be at A* standard in both of these subjects to apply, so ensure that your maths is up to scratch.

Also, consider if you want to only study a single science subject. If you find that you really enjoy all of your A-Level sciences to the point of wanting to continue to study them all, you might want to think about Cambridge Natural Sciences instead.

Oxford chemistry personal statement

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

Don’t just say ‘I like chemistry because atoms are cool’ – although hopefully, you wouldn’t put that anyway… Give more information! Talk about why a particular area of chemistry is your favourite or is interesting to you, 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.

Think about other, more unusual topics you can write about that will make your Chemistry Oxford personal statement stand out from the crowd. An example of this is that I wrote a significant part of my Oxford 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. Including experiences such as these tell an admissions tutor that you are really interested in pushing yourself academically and exploring chemistry at a higher level of understanding.

Don’t write too much about your non-academic hobbies

Even though hobbies are a good thing to talk about for other universities, on your Chemistry personal statement, Oxford will be looking at your application almost purely from an academic perspective. That’s not to say don’t include them though! Remember, your Oxford Chemistry personal statement must be applicable to all the universities you apply to, as you submit the same personal statement to each one.

As well as this, Oxford will be 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 a rough rule of thumb, you should be looking to dedicate at least 80-90% of your Chemistry Oxford personal statement to academics, and the rest can be hobbies and extracurriculars.

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Start prepping and writing early!

Your Oxford Chemistry personal statement is not a particularly long piece of writing, but there is a lot to include! Even though ideally you will have been doing everything you include in your Oxford Chemistry personal statement anyway because it’s something you are doing because you’re passionate about your subjects, it doesn’t always work out that way. If you have to read an extra book or two to demonstrate the points you are making, that’s okay, but I would urge you to ACTUALLY DO everything you mention in your Chemistry personal statement – Oxford admissions tutors may ask you about it in the interview!. You definitely need to be thinking about it before you get to year 13, ideally by the summer of year 12, for example, I did around 6 or 7 drafts of my Oxford personal statement before I was ready to submit it!

Have mentors you trust look over your Oxford Chemistry personal statement for you

Getting someone else’s perspective on your Chemistry personal statement is essential. Ideally, this should be someone who has helped Oxford 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. Make sure to thank them for their help!

Finally, keep the character limit in mind

There is a 4000 character limit on your personal statement, and that limit includes spaces!

I said earlier that this is not a long piece of writing, and I meant it. My Chemistry Oxford personal statement was JUST under the character limit (as yours will end up being too) and those characters come out to only 611 words! This means your writing should be as concise as possible, with no waffling, nothing 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. There is a personal statement builder on the UCAS website which you can use to check your character count, as some word processors will count spacing and paragraph spaces differently. Try to strike a balance in terms of the number of paragraphs you use, as making new paragraphs wastes precious characters, but one big block of text isn’t very appealing to the reader!

And that’s it on my advice! 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 Oxford is about (no matter what the internet might tell you) 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 Oxford Chemistry Personal Statement.

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