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Your personal statement is an important part of your application to Oxford. It allows you to tell us about your interests, achievements and ambitions in your own words. Although we do not formally score your statement we read it carefully and use the information it contains as part of our short-listing exercise. If you are invited for interview, the statement is likely to provide a focus for the questions that you are asked. It is therefore essential that your statement is an accurate, unembellished account of your activities. We may check the claims that you make on your statement: discovery of fabricated or exaggerated material – during the admissions exercise, or even later on during your time as a student – may bring into question your suitability to study on the course.
Present yourself in the best light: the same basic facts about yourself (in terms of education, interests, experience), when presented differently, can quite dramatically convey positive or negative messages about you to tutors.
For Biomedical Sciences, whilst your academic record and BMAT performance data will come into play when candidates are being short-listed for interview, time spent in drafting an effective personal statement should also help your overall chances of success. Every detail becomes even more important once you have reached the interviews and are being considered for a place.
DO NOT BE SHY IN DECLARING ANY MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCES
These may help us to put your achievements or personality within a finer context. We actively look for reasons why you may have under-performed in examinations, or performed well against the odds. These may be factors associated with your schooling, health or domestic circumstances. If you are returning to study after a break, or switching vocation, it is even more important to highlight your reasons for choosing a course at Oxford, and for you to demonstrate your determination, resilience, ability and commitment.
DO NOT SIMPLY RECOUNT EVERYTHING YOU HAVE DONE
We’re looking for quality, not quantity! Remember that large numbers of candidates apply for our courses. Tell us in what ways you will stand out from the crowd. In choosing to talk about an activity, describe what you have drawn from the experience: has it changed you as a person? Did it surprise you?
WE WANT TO LEARN ABOUT YOU AS A PERSON, NOT JUST ABOUT YOUR ACADEMIC QUALIFICATIONS
If you have undertaken extra-curricular activities, or hold positions of responsibility at school, tell us why you sought these, and why they are important to you. You will not impress us by simply recounting that you took up a placement in Thailand, but we might be more appreciative if you tell us what you personally learnt from the experience, about your interaction with local people, and about shadowing the medical team working within your village.
Example: I have become involved with a city music and drama group, and work especially with the younger members. I find this exciting and more than occasionally challenging. Coaching for the group has given me experience in organising others, as well as teaching them. Watching group members learn and progress is thrilling, especially in the case of one of them who has ADHD. At first he was incapable of remaining still, silent or attentive for even a few minutes, but eventually became far more focused and calmer, making excellent progress in many areas.
DIRECTLY ADDRESS OUR SELECTION CRITERIA
- Motivation and capacity for sustained and intense work.
Example: My interest has always been in how the body works in the way it does, and why. This was triggered early on by my mother's cancer, and I felt compelled to find out all about this condition, and what could be done to help treat it. I am thirsty for new knowledge, and am fascinated by the interrelatedness of systems in the human body.
- A strong track record of academic achievement, and particular ability and potential in science and/or mathematics. An excellent record at GCSE (or equivalent).
- Intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm and readiness to cope with the academic demands of the course.
Example: I read beyond the syllabus topics covered at A-level extensively, and decided to research and write an extended essay discussing ethics and science, with particular emphasis on 'living wills'. I enjoyed the challenge and discipline of studying independently, and follow recent developments and debate in this area.
- Reasoning and problem solving ability: use of a logical and critical approach, and strong powers of analysis.
- Communication: Good command of the English language. Ability to express ideas clearly and effectively. Ability to listen.
Example 1: I have worked as a hotel waitress during the summer conference season, which allowed me to develop teamwork skills, and work under various time pressures. It also allowed me to interact with many different members of the public.
Example 2: I took part in my school's open day, and demonstrated experiments in the Chemistry lab. During the last year I have also participated in a reading scheme, helping younger pupils with learning difficulties.
- Ability to generate own ideas and proposals. Originality and creativity of thought, lateral thinking and hypothesis-generation.
YOU WILL NOT BE ALONE IN TRYING TO OPEN WITH AN ATTENTION-GRABBING INTRODUCTION...
If you try this, make sure it helps tutors to learn something about what motivates and enthuses you.
Example: My vast collection of books and videos on "How the Body Works" when I was 7 years old first triggered my interest in the functions of the body. Watching the little personified, cartoon blobs that represented red blood cells run around an animated yet functioning body fascinated me and I longed to find out more. As a result, when a friend received a letter explaining their little girl had just been diagnosed with X at just 14 months old, I was intrigued to find out what this was.
THE STATEMENT IS CALLED PERSONAL FOR A REASON
It should be written by you, not by your parents, siblings, or teachers. Do not plagiarise material that you find on the web as there is a great chance that such deception will be discovered.
DO NOT FEEL THAT THERE IS A PRECISE TEMPLATE TO FOLLOW THAT WILL SCORE YOU POINTS
We look for bright and independent thinkers, so try to be original!
Sample Biomedical Science Personal Statement
I have been keen on chemistry and biology throughout my time at secondary school. I have always been amazed by human anatomy and physiology. I am particularly interested in understanding methods for diagnosing, analysing and treating disease. Ihope to study biomedical sciences because I wish to pursue a degree which will enable me to explore the world of science in much greater depth and widen my understanding of the role of science in the modern world. I feel that a degree in biomedical sciences will broaden my perspectives and enable me to use my scientific skills in full. I enjoy reading widely on a range of scientific subjects, and look forward to the opportunity that a biomedical science degree will give me to pursue these interests further.
I also wish to study biomedical science because I believe it will give me a solid foundation in the knowledge and skills required for a career in health care. Part of my motivation to follow this career path is personal. I suffer from epilepsy. My experiences as a suffer have motivated me both to study biomedical science and to then work in the healthcare sector, as I would one day like to be able to make a contribution to combating this condition and thus prevent others from experiencing the problems and suffering that I underwent whilst growing up. I have seen the miracles and wonders that advances in medicine have achieved, but I am also aware that there are still many diseases out there that the scientific community does not fully understand.
As well as being in full time education, I have been working since the age of 16. I have had many part-time jobs, which have included warehouse stacking, shelving and various sales roles. Although working and studying simultaneously has at times been demanding, I believe that it has also given me a greater appreciation of the doors that a good education can offer, which in turn has strengthened my motivation to succeed at university. At the same time, my work experience has also helped develop my personal skills; through the jobs that I have done I have learnt how to work as part of a team, developed the ability to manage a heavy workload, and become adept at working under pressure.
Coming from another country has given me an opportunity to understand and experience different lifestyle and cultures. I can speak five different languages which include English, Pashto, Dari, Urdu and Arabic. Indeed, I regard overcoming the challenge of studying in a foreign language is one of my greatest personal achievements.
Outside of the classroom, I am a very active person. I am passionate about sports, and in particular football, cricket and tennis,all of which I have enjoyed playing at either school or club level. Whilst playing for Wayfarers Cricket Club I won the player of the year award, as well as winning the league trophy with my club team. Playing for the club has increased my confidence in working with others,and has also improved my leadership skills.
However, most of my time is devoted to my younger son. Becoming a father has changed me a lot; it has inspired me to fulfil my personal potential, and has also helped me to become a much more responsible and focused person with a well-defined sense of my priorities. As a parent I now have much more responsibility; consequently part of my motivation for earning a degree is to create a better future for my son. At the same time, I believe a career in the health sector, which a degree in biomedical sciences would help me pursue, would also help me to serve the community as a whole.
I strongly believe that university will offer me the opportunity to further my learning in a more challenging environment,and in the process help me to develop and in-depth understanding of biomedical science. I believe I have the determination, attitude and desire to be successful at university, before moving on to a career in the health sector.
We hope this sample Biomedical Science personal statement provides help with relevant content and structure for writing your personal statement.