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Personal Statement Advice: Abby

Personal statements should be indelibly linked to you as an individual and an academic and, well, personal. We have therefore compiled personal statement advice from the Elite IB office team, who studied a range of course from Engineering to Politics, via Law, Business, and Natural Sciences, and suggest you read through the below before applying the relevant advice to your own personal statement.

If you only take in one piece of advice, however, begin your personal statement in good time to allow for multiple edits- it can be excruciating writing about your achievements and how great you are, so be sure to allow for lots of time to get used to writing in this way and to edit out the inevitable parts which later make you put your hands over your eyes in embarrassment!

After completing the International Baccalaureate DP in Leicester, Abby studied Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, followed by an MSc here in the History and Philosophy of Science.

Alongside her studies she has tutored a number of IB subjects over the past four years, including Biology, Chemistry, English, Psychology and ToK. Abby hopes to draw on this extensive experience of tutoring to help deliver a high-quality experience for tutors, students and families alike.

The personal statement is your chance to ‘sell yourself’ academically, explaining your interest in your chosen course or subject area, what you hope to bring to your studies, and where your degree might take you in the future. You therefore have 4000 characters in which to show why you would be an excellent candidate for your courses of choice – this can seem quite a daunting prospect, but remember that the best personal statements are simply an honest reflection of you and your academic ambitions.

Avoid clichés and grand statements of the ‘Ever since I was six years old…’ variety – it is much more effective to write in a concise and sincere manner about what really interests you in the courses you have chosen. Draw from relevant subjects you are currently studying, as well as wider reading beyond your syllabi, and any pertinent work experience you have taken (though this is most applicable for more vocational subjects such as Medicine). There is no sense in referencing academic books simply to sound impressive if you have not read them – admissions officers read enough personal statements to see through these sorts of claims, and you could even be called out on them if you are interviewed as part of your application!

While you may have your heart set on a particular university, remember that you have five choices on UCAS, and the same personal statement will be sent to each. It is therefore inadvisable to include any details that are specific to one particular course e.g. a module that is not offered at your other university choices. You need to ensure that you do not alienate any individual university, so focus on the commonalities between your chosen courses to maximise your chances of gaining an offer from each.