Oxford University Personal Statement

Oxford University Personal Statement

As one of the best universities in the country, students all across the world tend to spend hours on their personal statement, trying to maximise their chances of being offered a place. Here is some general advice and insights from the Team:

They matter FAR less than you think:

Oxford considers their admissions process to be holistic, meaning they look at every piece of information they have available to build up an understanding of the candidates and then make decisions. The personal statement is one of these pieces of information. But, out of everything students provide them (e.g. written work, predicted grades, GCSEs, entrance tests, reference etc) this is likely the least important. A lot of people get exetsnive assistance with their statements, many people also attend schools which  give them really bad advice.

In addition to this, many of the students who are applying are quite wealthy, so they have access to more experiences that the average candidate does not. So using a personal statement (which tends to have students cram in as many experiences as possible) as the metric for what makes a good candidate can be quite unfair.

This does not mean they don’t look through statements for red flags. They do use it to get some understanding of you, but it is not the key focal point on which your whole application hangs.

It isn’t likely they will be the basis for a potential interview:

Based on what I have said above , it will hardly come as a surprise that they also don’t tend to ask you questions based on your personal statement in the interview (if you make it to that stage). You might get a few small talk questions at the beginning of the interview, but in general all candidates are asked identical starting questions. This is for the sake of fairness. If every student gets asked a different series of questions its quite hard to compare their ability.

Spending time on them is important, but you have a lot of other things you need to prepare for.

The result of these facts means that whilst students need to spend a long amount of time ensuring they write a strong statement, the real thing that will make a difference is their grades, entrance exam, reference and interview. So students need to strike a good balance between these things. If you are at the point where you constantly tweaking a few words, it is time to move on.

These are just a few additional things Oxford students need to take into account when thinking about personal statements. For those who want more general advice about how to write an offer-winning statement, please click here.

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