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Personal Statement Prep

By Tilly Rose

Ok, so you have made your mind up you're going to take the leap and apply to Oxford. Now it's time to write up a killer personal statement to wow the tutors.

The key here lies in the prep.

Your personal statement is your opportunity to SHOW your passion for your subject and persuade them you are the best candidate to study it.

You need to be able to reflect ways in which you have gone above and beyond to delve into your subject and no, this can't solely revolve around what you've learnt at school.

Most applicants have gone to class, been attentive in lessons, done their homework, achieved good grades; you need something to make you stand out.

What can you do to prep for your personal statement?

  • Think of your light bulb moment - when did you realise you had a passion for the course you want to apply for? Mine was in my year 10 English class when I read the poem 'Porphyria's Lover' - the poem and the linguistic tools captured me. It was the first time poetry had affected me in this way. I used this example to open my personal statement.

  • Make connections - use your light bulb moment to guide you. I really loved this poem by Robert Browning, so I then went onto read more of his work. I then looked into his wife's poetry collections. I found that she had a dog called 'Flush' which had inspired a Virginia Woolf novel. Having already read some of Woolf's works, I then began making connections between the authors and became really interested in feminist literature.

  • Quality not quantity - there is no point in spending the summer reading the entire works of Shakespeare, if you then can't remember any of them. Pick a few areas, chapters, books, concepts and really delve into them, question them, analyse them. These will be far more interesting to discuss in an interview than a surface level overview.

  • Write down your opinions - keep a log over the summer, relating to concepts, ideas and thoughts. Always ask yourself WHY you have reached a particular conclusion.

  • Justify everything - when starting to write up your personal statement, be aware of 'empty statement'. 'I love Biology' - that is BORING. Tell us WHY you love it.


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