Now we’ve entered August I know a lot of year 12s will be thinking about the university application process and wondering how to make their personal statement stand out, especially to the top universities. So, I thought it might be helpful to talk about the personal statement I did for Biomedical Sciences, although it will hopefully be helpful for other subjects too!
What a personal statement has to convey is how interested you are in the subject, it doesn’t have to make you look like an expert of course - that’s what university is for! As long as you show that you’re interested in your subject beyond what you learn as part of your A-levels you’re on the right track.
In my personal statement, I showed my interest by talking mostly about the EPQ I was doing (which was about gestational diabetes) and a few articles I had read for it. If you haven’t done an EPQ, other things you can talk about are books you’ve read, podcasts you’ve listened to or documentaries you’ve watched, if it inspired an interest in a topic relating to Biomed then it's relevant. If you’re stuck for ideas look at the books under ‘preparatory reading’ here:https://www.ox.ac.uk/sites/files/oxford/media_wysiwyg/Introductory_Reading_for_Biomedical_Sciences1.pdf. You’ll see a lot of these actually read like novels,so are great for introducing you to a topic you might never have looked at before like neuroscience!
It’s also important you don’t just list things you’ve read/seen/listened to: you need to talk about what you took away from it and, if you can, try to offer some critical analysis. When doing this, make sure to justify any opinions you put forward to strengthen your statement. It's probably better to only mention a few of these ‘supra-curricular’ activities so you can better develop them.
You’ll also need to talk about your A-levels, and while it may be helpful to mention a topic or two from Biology that you’re hoping to expand on at university, the main thing I spoke about in relation to my A-levels was the transferrable skills they’d developed that would help me to thrive at university. This is particularly important if one of your A-levels isn’t as relevant to your subject - for example, I did English Literature at A-level, so in my personal statement one thing I mentioned was how I’d had to work in groups and so had grown more confident and developed teamwork skills.
The most important thing, though, is to not stress too much and overthink it - if you are truly interested in your subject it will definitely shine through. Also, it’s a personal statement, so don’t try to write as someone else! This is a chance for tutors/admissions teams to get an insight into you as a person - so definitely make sure it's all your own work! Don’t stress - as long as you write truthfully (and remember to spellcheck!) your personal statement will be more than fine!