How to write a killer personal statement (part I)
25th June 2018
Over the next few days, I am going to teach you how to write a personal statement that will secure you an interview at Oxford, Cambridge or any other top university.
The advice will be short but to the point. The techniques that I will provide are incredibly effective. You may need to read through them several times but you can be confident that you will have an outstanding personal statement by the end of the process.
PLEASE NOTE: this is not general advice on applying to university, but solely about the personal statement.
Why am I the best person to teach this?
Because the strength of my own personal statement secured interviews at Oxford, University College London and Surrey. I have also spent more than 10 years consulting with individuals to get them into their top university choice. So far, I have helped close to 200 candidates from all over the world and I have a perfect track record.
100% of the students I helped got into the university of their choice.
A perfect track record is incredibly rare. Clearly, I have been blessed with the opportunity to mentor intelligent and ambitious students who’ve had a fighting chance at getting into their university. But I like to think that what I taught them gave them that extra “edge”.
The students I have mentored have been admitted to Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Berkeley, Imperial College, King’s College London, University College London, London School of Economics, Warwick, Bristol, Nottingham, St George’s Medical School, and many more.
It goes without saying that you need to have your grades in order. I’m going to take it as a given that you are already getting good grades or are expected to have top marks in your A-levels (UK students). But don’t underestimate the power of a persuasive and compelling personal statement.
Many universities are ready to admit you based on the strength of your personal statement.
If well-written, no matter what subject you want to read, it can be enough to push you through or at least put you at or near the top of the pile.
Oxford and Cambridge both place a lot of emphasis on the interview process. If your grades are good and you pass the various entry tests (for example, the Physics Admissions Test at Oxford), they usually decide to offer a place depending on your performance at interview. But how do you get the interview invitation in the first place? By having a personal statement that stands out from the rest.
Why do universities set so much store by the personal statement? Because it has the power to tell them so much more about who you are than any test result or work experience ever will.
You have 47 lines and 4000 characters into which you must impart your soul (your statement should typically be a little under 800 words).
You have total control over what to include, but realising that you are responsible for what happens next in your life can be both exciting and daunting. In other words: fear and paralysis – even for the best of us. How do I begin? What do I include? What do ‘they’ want to know? These are all valid questions and I’ve seen far too many students break down under the pressure of it all.
Fear not. I am here to help you through.
P.S. If your grades are not quite there yet or even if you’ve struggled throughout your Lower Sixth year, don’t panic. You have the entire summer – starting from now – to go through, in fine detail, all of your course notes and prepare well for the challenges that await you from September onwards. In all, you have another 11 months to make it count. Never, ever write yourself off!
P.P.S. If you are lazy and unmotivated then WAKE UP!! There’s only a finite number of places at top universities out there, so go and get yours. Remember this: Hell on Earth is meeting the person you could have become.
P.P.P.S. If you think it’s too early to start thinking about your personal statement, then think again! Look at it this way – would you rather spend quality time on it over the summer, away from the pressures of school? Or would you rather leave it until after September whilst simultaneously grappling with challenging Upper Sixth material and your Form Tutor/Head of Sixth Form breathing down your neck, demanding yet another draft of your personal statement? Choose wisely.