Top Tips for an Oxford PPE Personal Statement

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Oxford Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Personal Statement – Top 10 Tips : Dos and Don’ts

The Oxford Personal Statement is a crucial component of your PPE Oxford university application. It presents a unique opportunity for you to differentiate yourself from other applicants. You would be able to articulate your story and explain your interests beyond that of numbers on an admissions test. Furthermore, it gives the interviewer a chance to understand who you are. It also provides a platform to bounce off questions during your interview. 

Some of the Oxford interview PPE questions will be tailored to your personal statement and include personality and interests. Questions will also ask about your commitment to who you are as a person and your amalgamation of experiences before you. Our Oxbridge application experts have compiled a list of top 10 Oxford Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Personal Statement tips. These include dos and don’ts for your Oxford Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Personal Statement

General Advice for your Oxford PPE Personal Statement

Self-explanatory in its title, Philosophy, Politics, and Economics is a course that comprises three main branches.

Philosophy shapes and demands critical thinkers. The study of it involves a high amount of logical rigour, leading one to be extremely analytical.

The study of politics leads one to have a strong knowledge base on the political systems worldwide. It also delves into their impact on communities and societies at large. It allows you to not only understand but also evaluate and form an opinion on the priorities and choices of political parties. You will also learn how to explain the ideas and values that help to make such decisions and analyses.

Economics studies how three main stakeholders in our society (governments, consumers, and firms), make decisions in determining the allocation of scarce resources. 

These three branches complement each other well. The knowledge and skills picked up in each branch being transferable to the other. For example, the critical thinking skills that philosophy hones are extremely relevant and useful when studying politics and economics. The knowledge and skills from all three branches have great applications that help students understand the world around them.

PPE personal statements can be difficult to write. In your Oxford PPE personal statement, you must explain your interest and skills in each branch but in a limited word count. Furthermore, when planning your Oxford PPE personal statement, research Oxford’s achievements in PPE. Use it as a guide to illustrate your interest in the course. 

Top 5 Tips for your Oxford Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Personal Statement

Display in your Oxford PPE personal statement that you can think critically and have good analytic skills

A key quality that Oxford admissions tutors are looking out for in a PPE student is having critical thinking skills. You can illustrate this in your Oxford PPE personal statement by mentioning and reflecting on experiences that involve analysing data or formulating arguments.

It is equally valuable for you to reflect on other types of achievements and experiences that you have. For example, if you have adopted a particular passion for a specific economic policy or theory, you can talk about why you started being interested in it. Is this linked to a personal interest in a greater societal problem such as that of reducing inequality or poverty? It is also advised to talk about what you have done to cultivate and grow this passion.

Focusing your Oxford personal statement on your interest in PPE and how you have the relevant skills for the course

The main purpose of your PPE personal statement and the top thing that Oxford admissions tutors are looking out for when reading your statement is to determine if you are going to be a good Philosophy, Politics, and Economics student. Being a good PPE student can be demonstrated in two main ways. If you are able to show that you are interested and passionate about the course. And, if you have the relevant skills that would make a good PPE student.

You can show that you are interested and passionate about the course by talking about self-reading that you have taken the initiative to do. You can list specific details and aspects about the course that enthrals you. Equally, you can mention and reflect on experiences that you have undertaken to cultivate further your interest in philosophy, politics, or economics.

You can demonstrate that you have the relevant skills that would make a good PPE student by talking about the experiences that you have done in the past. Reflect on how they have shaped you as a person. Try and extract a personal quality or trait from each of the experiences you mentioned. Then talk about how it would be relevant for PPE.

Being well-read in philosophy, politics, or economics

Oxford definitely does not require you to be an expert in your field of study. After all, you are applying to study PPE. So it does not make sense for you to be a specialist in it even before you have started. However, it would definitely be useful both to you as a future student as well as an applicant to have done preparatory reading. This would signal to your Oxford admissions tutor that you are passionate about the field of study. If you are interested in something, you would take the initiative to learn more about it on your own even without being pressured to! It would also signal to them that you are able to get through large volumes of text, a skill useful in any humanities course.

If you do not know where to start, you can simply google Oxford PPE reading lists, you access one put together by one of the Oxford colleges here: Oxford PPE.

It is also good to keep in mind that you do not necessarily have to pick up a book. Reading can be in the form of magazine columns, news articles. Or even in alternative medium forms such as podcasts, Youtube videos, or documentaries. Some news sites that you can check out include Vox, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Economist, The Guardian, and many more.

Don’t burden yourself with reading textbooks. If you are truly interested in the course, there would definitely be a book or video out there that you will find enjoyable reading. Furthermore, reading news articles instead of scrolling on Tiktok, or listening to podcasts on your way to school instead of your usual playlist would be a great way to incorporate content into your everyday life that is not burdensome.

Only bring up experiences if you are able to draw the relevance to Philosophy, Politics, or Economics

There is little value in bringing up an impressive experience unless you are able to draw how it is relevant to Philosophy, Politics, or Economics. If you are bent on talking about an experience but find it difficult to draw the link to PPE, you can think about how it has inspired you to be interested in any of the three fields.

For example, being heavily involved in mission trips and being a committed volunteer might not have a direct link to PPE. However, you can talk about how witnessing poverty and inequality has led you to be curious about learning more about the economical theories and policies that political systems use to reduce such destitution. You can then elaborate that this motivation has then led you to read up more on politics or economics or participate in related competitions.

Another way of linking a seemingly irrelevant skill is to talk about relevant skills or qualities that you picked up during your experience that are transferable and applicable as a PPE student. For example, if you were involved in a scientific research project, you could mention how this has led you to be comfortable and efficient in reading large volumes of information or research journals. This is a useful skill as a PPE student. Otherwise, you could also say that it has led you to recognise that there are always limitations and no theoretical model applies perfectly in real life. This is similar to economic or political policies.

Have multiple drafts before submitting a finalised version

Do keep in mind that your first draft would never be your best draft, so you should always buffer sufficient time that allows you to make multiple drafts. You can also seek feedback from seniors of the same course, friends. Or even school career guidance counsellors, and use their feedback to further refine your Oxford PPE personal statement. Even if they are not familiar with the subject, they could also provide valuable feedback on the readability and the clarity of your Oxford PPE personal statement. However, do take care when sharing your Oxford PPE personal statement with anyone, as you want to avoid plagiarism issues!

Top 5 things to AVOID for your Oxford Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Personal Statement

Only mentioning one or two branches of PPE, instead of all three

The course that you are enrolling on consists of three different fields of study, each important in its own right. Hence, your Oxford personal statement should reflect this. It should signal to the Oxford admissions tutor that you have a strong understanding of the course that you are applying to. It should also show that you are a good fit for it.

You can ensure that you do not miss out on any points that you would have liked to mention. You should also ensure that you can communicate all your points and relevant achievements within the limited 4000-character word count. To do this, you can frame your Oxford PPE personal statement with a good structure. For example, you could have 3 body paragraphs, each explaining your interest or relevant skill in each field.

Simply listing achievements and experiences without reflecting on them

Many applicants mistake the application process and think that Oxford is looking out for the most decorated student with the highest number of achievements. This is not the case. Instead, Oxford is looking out for the student who is the best fit for the course. This does not necessarily refer to the student who has the highest number of achievements. But rather the student who has the most relevant achievements explained and reflected in a way that shows that you are a good match for the course.

Instead of simply listing or name-dropping an achievement, you should reflect on it and talk about how it has led you to develop certain relevant skills. For example, merely mentioning how you won your school’s debate tournament is not enough. You should talk about how it developed your ability to form coherent arguments and communicate them to a general audience. Oxford admissions tutors would not care if you started a non-profit and cured children from cancer. They want to know why you did the things that you did and what you have learnt from them. Also, how these skills would help you become a good PPE student.

Wasting precious word count on achievements that would otherwise be available on other aspects of your application

Do not waste your precious words on achievements or experiences that your Oxford admissions tutor would already know about you by reading it off other aspects of your application. For example, if you have achieved impressive grades at your GCSEs or your A levels, do not feel the need to go in-depth about it in your application. This is because this information would already be made available to your Oxford admissions tutor. They would already have considered it alongside your Oxford PPE personal statement.

You can choose to talk about information that they would not otherwise have known about. For example, the societies that you were a part of or competitions that you have participated in or won. It could also be events that you have organised, or books that you have read.

Not starting early

If you are just starting out on your Oxford PPE personal statement and find it difficult to overcome writer’s block, you can start out by listing all your achievements. In a separate column, you can create a list of all the desirable qualities of being a PPE student. You can then list details and aspects of the course that interest you. Next, you can match up your achievements and experiences with the qualities and course details. Use each match as a backbone or inspiration when fleshing out your main body paragraphs.

Using vocabulary that you are not familiar with

You might feel that using difficult terms and fancy vocabulary is necessary. However, it is much better to use words that you are more familiar with in order to communicate your ideas more clearly to the Oxford admissions tutor. Furthermore, if you embellish your essay with too much unconventional terminology, it could make your essay wordy and hard to read. You want to get your thoughts across, so always prioritise clarity and readability before anything else!

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