Top Tips for Oxford Experimental Psychology Personal Statement

3 min read

Your Oxford personal statement is a chance to show off your interests in Psychology and convince admissions tutors to consider you as a potential Experimental Psychology student at Oxford. It’s important to get it right.

However, the Oxford Psychology personal statement can feel a bit overwhelming to start with. Here are our top tips on how to write a great personal statement for Experimental Psychology for Oxford.

1. Start preparing early!

A great Oxford Psychology personal statement will include lots of super-curricular activities (this means things you’ve done related to Psychology above and beyond what you’ve done as part of your school curriculum). You want to give yourself plenty of time to read things you’re interested in and perhaps even discover some new areas of interest, so start preparing for this early.

2. Figure out what areas of Psychology interest you

Psychology is a broad topic, and you would never be able to talk about all of it in the Oxford Psychology personal statement. Instead you need to focus on what areas interest you the most. If you’re studying Psychology already, think about which aspects of your course you enjoy the most and try and seek out some wider reading that goes beyond what you’ve been taught. If you’ve never studied it before, there must be a reason you want to study it at degree level so focus on what got you into Psychology as a starting point.

3. Be reflective about your super-curricular activities

Your Oxford Psychology personal statement shouldn’t just read like a big list of all the things you’ve read/seen/done that relate to Psychology. Try taking a more reflective and critical approach – what did you learn from what you did? You can also try making links between different things you’ve done, and how one piece of reading might have led you to another idea and a different activity. This helps to show you are engaging with the subject, which is what Oxford tutors like to see.

4. Don’t worry if you don’t have relevant work experience

It might feel like everyone has Psychology-related work experience except you, but in reality it’s pretty difficult to get in a lot of cases, and depends quite a bit upon the connections you already have. So if you don’t have any relevant work experience, it will make absolutely no difference to your application, as Oxford understands it isn’t accessible to everyone. If you do have relevant work experience, don’t assume that mentioning it will instantly make you seem more impressive. Like every super-curricular activity, it’s more important to reflect on what you learned from it and what it inspired you to look into next.

5. Use a variety of sources to explore Psychology

The bulk of your Oxford Psychology personal statement will be about your super-curricular activities, and this is a really broad category. Basically anything you can relate to Psychology counts, whether that’s some volunteering you did, a book or article you read, a documentary you watched, a MOOC you completed or anything else you can think of! Plenty of these resources will be free too.

6. Structure your Oxford Psychology personal statement appropriately

Admissions tutors will be reading loads of statements, so you need to make yours clear and easy to read – if it’s structured confusingly and full of unnecessarily complicated language they may not have the extra time to make sense of what you’re trying to say. Separate your ideas into paragraphs, and have a short introduction and conclusion to bring it all together. Also be aware of the Oxford Psychology personal statement word limit – you only have 4000 characters (47 lines of text). Therefore it’s important to be concise in the language you use. Use formal language, but make sure it’s natural for you to use – if you use flowery and complex language you wouldn’t normally use to try and impress the reader, it’s not going to work. All that really shows is you know how to use a thesaurus!

7. Your Oxford Psychology personal statement should be personal

Asking others for advice, whether that’s teachers, friends, parents etc. can be useful but remember it is YOUR Oxford Psychology personal statement, not theirs! Don’t change anything you don’t want to change just because someone else says you should. And don’t let anyone else write it for you – it is really obvious when students haven’t used their own words in a statement and have let someone else have too much control. Everyone will have their opinions on how an Oxford personal statement should sound – your opinion on how your Oxford Psychology personal statement should sound is the only one that matters.

8. Give yourself plenty of time to write it

The UCAS deadline for applying to Oxford is always in mid-October, which is much earlier than for applicants to other universities. This deadline is also inflexible – you won’t be able to apply late. Therefore it’s important you start writing well in advance of the deadline to have enough time to carefully consider what to write, get feedback from others, and refine your Oxford Psychology personal statement. It’s worth thinking about starting it towards the end of the summer before you apply. You can’t write the best Oxford Psychology personal statement possible if you’re rushing it the night before the deadline!

9. Make sure you know the content of your statement well, and don’t lie about what you’ve done

If you get an interview, it’s likely they’ll ask questions about your Oxford Psychology personal statement, so you want to be prepared for this. Make sure you’ve fully finished any material you put on your personal statement, as you won’t get away with it in the interview if you haven’t actually read something. Oxford is also full of leading researchers in Psychology so there’s a chance you might be interviewed by someone who is an expert in the field of one of the books you read, or perhaps even wrote the book themselves! It’s really important that you’re comfortable discussing everything you refer to in your Oxford Psychology personal statement.

10. Try to avoid cliches

Admissions tutors will be reading loads of Oxford Psychology personal statements so you want yours to seem original. Avoid cliched phrases like ‘I have always been interested in…’ ‘For as long as I can remember…’ ‘From a young age…’ (this is by no means an exhaustive list!). Opening with a quote is also rather overdone and doesn’t add much to your statement. Don’t just say vague things about how ‘passionate’ or ‘fascinated’ you are about Psychology – you’re applying to study it at Oxford so passion for the subject is a given! Your Oxford statement should demonstrate your fascination for Psychology without you needing to use the cliche of saying that directly.

11. Proofread

Don’t neglect the proofreading! The last thing you want is to submit a Oxford Psychology personal statement that is full of typos – it doesn’t look very professional. Experimental Psychology at Oxford is primarily an essay based subject, and while the Oxford personal statement isn’t the main way they assess your writing ability, it can’t hurt to make sure your Oxford Psychology personal statement is well-written.

12. Don’t worry too much about extra-curriculars

You might want to add some extra-curricular activities that don’t relate to Psychology to your statement, particularly if you are also applying to other universities too that might value them, but keep it brief. Oxford do not care about what you have done outside of your subject, however impressive it might be. It’s alright to put this sort of thing in, but keep it to a couple of sentences as it’s not really relevant for your Oxford application.

13. Avoid mentioning Oxford by name (or any other university you’re applying to).

Chances are Oxford isn’t the only university you’re applying to, and all universities you apply to through UCAS will see identical versions of your Oxford Psychology personal statement. It’s not a good idea to mention any university by name or be too specific in any way, as it may put off other universities from giving you an offer. Oxford are also more interested in how passionate you are about your subject rather than any specific features of the university itself so don’t mention anything like that – keep your statement applicable to all of the universities you are applying to.


→What is Experimental Psychology?

Experimental Psychology is a branch of psychology that uses scientific methods to study the mind and behavior. It focuses on testing hypotheses and theories through controlled experiments and systematic observation.

→What are the admission requirements for Oxford Experimental Psychology?

Admission requirements for Oxford Experimental Psychology vary depending on the specific program and level of study. Generally, you will need to have a strong academic record, including excellent grades in relevant subjects such as psychology, biology, or neuroscience. You may also be required to provide a personal statement, references, and take an entrance exam such as the GRE or the BMAT.

→What should I include in my Oxford Experimental Psychology personal statement?

Your personal statement should demonstrate your interest and passion for Experimental Psychology, as well as your academic and personal achievements. You should also highlight any relevant work experience, extracurricular activities, or research projects that demonstrate your skills and knowledge in the field.

→How can I stand out in my Oxford Experimental Psychology personal statement?

To stand out in your personal statement, focus on your unique experiences, skills, and perspectives. Be specific about what interests you in Experimental Psychology and how you plan to contribute to the field. Avoid generic or clichéd statements, and instead provide concrete examples of your achievements and aspirations.

→What are some common mistakes to avoid in my Oxford Experimental Psychology personal statement?

Some common mistakes to avoid in your personal statement include being too vague or generic, exaggerating your achievements or experiences, and copying or using templates from other sources. You should also avoid making negative comments about previous experiences or institutions, as this can reflect poorly on your character and attitude.

→How important is research experience in my Oxford Experimental Psychology personal statement?

Research experience is highly valued in Experimental Psychology, as it demonstrates your ability to apply scientific methods to real-world problems. If you have conducted research in the field, be sure to highlight this in your personal statement, including any publications or presentations you have contributed to.

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