Welcome to our popular Personal Statement series where we present a successful Personal Statement, and our Oxbridge Tutors provide their feedback on it.
Today, we are looking through a Physics applicant’s Personal Statement that helped secure a place at Oxford University. The Physics Course at Oxford is concerned with the study of the universe from the smallest to the largest scale.
Read on to see how this strong Personal Statement covers such a broad range of intricate topics.
Here’s a breakdown of the Personal Statement (the applicant uses most of the 4,000 characters available):
The universities this candidate applied to were the following:
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Physics Personal Statement
An incessant curiosity about the laws of the cosmos has always attracted me to the study of physics. I am especially intrigued by theoretical physics and how its concepts are the foundations of all visible reactions one witnesses daily. My fascination with physics has led me to pursue my subject beyond the school curriculum and I have had a range of experiences which have confirmed my desire to study physics at university.
This summer I was selected for the Senior Physics Challenge at Cambridge University which enabled me to experience the level and pace of undergraduate classical mechanics, quantum mechanics and lab-work. In preparation for the course, I studied a quantum mechanics primer and familiarised myself with previously untaught mathematics. During the week, we tackled the Schrodinger equation, square well potential problems, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle and learnt new aspects of mathematics such as eigenstates and SHM. The course was demanding thus highly engaging, and this encounter with higher-level physics has made me eager to extend my knowledge of quantum mechanics.
Selected to visit CERN with school on the basis of an essay competition on dark matter and dark energy, I attended lectures on particle physics and saw the LHCb experiment. The highlight of the trip being the coding activity organised by Liverpool University where, using real LHC data of a decaying kaon, we chose cuts to make in the data to improve the efficiency and purity of the signal. Gaining an insight into aspects of the research work undertaken by particle physicists was inspiring. Likewise, at a “Particle Physics Day” at Birmingham University, I had the opportunity to use computer software to identify different particles and collisions in detectors. Last summer, I attended the “Physics Experience Week” organised by Birmingham University that combined lectures, lab-work and a rocket-building session. I was fascinated by an experiment where, collaborating in a team with pupils from different schools, we counted cosmic ray muons using a scintillation detector and took down readings together.
Having chosen to study GCSE Astronomy independently, I learnt to use the Faulkes Telescopes to take photographs of Messier objects in order to determine the ages of 3 planetary nebulae. My interest in space has been enhanced by a 2-week trip to NASA with ‘Space Education Adventures’, visiting the Johnson and Kennedy Space Centres. I was astounded by the immensity of the space projects and their contribution to science and history. A work experience placement in a hospital Medical Physics department demonstrated to me the application of physics in medical diagnostic imaging and the importance of physics research for advances in medicine. The Engineering Education Scheme (year 12) enabled me to work with 3 other girls to design a hypothetical football training academy with engineer mentors from ARUP. We researched and presented a business case and technical plan to a panel of engineers from other companies, gaining the Gold Crest Award in Engineering as well as valuable presentation skills.
In complete contrast, this summer I attended the Joint Association of Classical Teachers’ Greek Summer School. In addition to intensive lessons, we performed Aeschylus’ Agamemnon in the original text; I was cast as Cassandra. This term I am giving a talk on Ancient Greek mathematics at my school’s Classical Society, having researched the topic over the summer. I enjoy performing arts: I belong to the Birmingham Young REP Theatre and I have performed in the Symphony Orchestra, a chamber music group and the Choral Society at school. Balancing academic work with other activities requires organisation and discipline. Physics is a demanding and highly rewarding field. The prospect of an unsolved problem which may not have an immediate answer is captivating. My wish to understand nature and the academic challenge this poses is the reason I aspire to study physics.
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Good Points Of The Personal Statement
This is a very well written, structured and excellent statement. The student has a clear motivation for physics and has achieved many things through extra hard work. The statement is easy to read, and the student describes their achievements yet does not brag. All points and experiences are expanded on and clearly explained. The final paragraph adds individuality to the statement, and all non-physics related interests are kept within this paragraph which is very good.
Bad Points Of The Personal Statement
The student uses the word ‘I’ a lot. Whilst it is important to emphasise personal achievements, using the same words over and over again makes the statement sound repetitive. The student mentions learning mathematics beyond the A-level syllabus prior to the Senior Physics Challenge at Cambridge University, however, does not expand on what this involved. The student has missed an opportunity to describe how they gained mathematical skills independently. The student does this again by failing to describe what they learned through writing their essay on dark matter. A sentence on each of these points would have added yet more value to this excellent statement.
UniAdmissions Overall Score:
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This is an excellent statement. It is easy to read, well-structured and the student comes across as a very likeable individual.
This Personal Statement for Physics is a great example of a well written and effectively-structured Statement. The candidate’s interest and achievements are clearly shown which is vital to Admissions Tutors.
Remember, at Oxford, these Admissions Tutors are often the people who will be teaching you for the next few years, so you need to appeal directly to them.
There are plenty more successful personal statements and expert guides on our Free Personal Statement Resources page.
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