Are you applying to read joint schools (two subjects in one)? If so, here are some tips for writing your personal statement:
Writing a personal statement is a daunting task: you have to demonstrate a passion for your subject, convince your reader that you can work hard, and that you will be a great addition to the student body. The imposed limit of 4,000 characters makes this even more difficult; it may sound like a lot, but so far in this blog I have already used 358 characters.
For joint schools candidates the challenge is then increased further. You must fulfill the criteria above for two subjects, rather than one. If you are applying for an unusual combination of subjects, you may not be able to find examples of personal statements from previous applicants. As someone who applied for History and German, I found the process very difficult. Here are some of my main pieces of advice when writing your joint schools personal statement:
Make sure that you talk about both your subjects – this may sound obvious, but a lot of people will run out of characters whilst saying why they want to study one of their subjects, and then just stick a few sentences in at the end about the second one. Make sure you allocate an equal number of characters to both.
Mention things you have read or watched – if you are applying to Oxbridge, one of the main things you should be doing is extra research around your subject. Pick a few books or articles you really enjoyed and mention them. It will make you stand out, and also give your interviewer something to ask you about at the next stage of the application process. Just make sure you have read them – don’t exaggerate or lie!
Connect your two subjects – why have you chosen to do the subject combination you have applied for? What are the connections between the two? How do they complement each other? Joint school courses at Oxbridge are not designed at random. They are designed because the chosen subjects fit together well. Show the person reading your personal statement that you recognise the connections, and how each subject will be useful to the other.
Ask your teachers to read over your personal statement – try and make sure that a teacher in both subjects you apply for has read your personal statement. They will be able to spot any inaccuracies in the books you mention, and when reading it will quickly see if it looks like you prefer one subject or the other. If you cannot find a teacher, at least ask a parent or friend to check the grammar and spelling.
Hopefully these tips will help. If you still don’t know where to start, try thinking about the first time you became interested in your subjects – an anecdote is a great way to start a personal statement. Good luck!