A bite-size breakdown of what should be included in your History personal statement.
The personal statement is the first part of any application that is seen by the admissions tutors. As a result, it is important to be certain about the course and university you are applying to. To get more information about studying history, or other subjects at Oxford and Cambridge, arrange a free consultation with our expert admission consultants:HERE
There’s a lot of info flying around about what exactly to include in a personal statement. Unfortunately the reality is by your final draft you will have cut out a LOT of your initial thoughts.
So, to streamline the process, here’s a short breakdown of what should be in there, and what you can feasibly cut out when the time comes:
Paragraph 1: Motivations for studying History
– Pick the reasons which are most convincing and authentic to you, but be wary of clichés or generic answers. How will you best grab their attention early on?
Paragraph 2: Your Studies
– Be selective, choosing the course/period/authors/books you would be most comfortable discussing at interview and making sure to state why and how they have impacted/inspired/developed/challenged you as a historian.
Paragraph 3 – 6
– Pursuit of History outside of the classroom/syllabus: i.e. your own personal reading, essay competitions, History societies/clubs. Anywhere you have taken it upon yourself to undertake historical investigation/ taken your learning into your own hands.
– RELEVANT work or life experience: travelling/holidays which inspired your love of History, work experience/jobs, volunteering, any gap year plans.
– RELEVANT extra curriculars at school e.g. debating society, feminist society, film society. Anything that has developed your skills as a historian.
– Other subjects you study which have developed you as a historian and examples of how and why e.g. ancient Greek and exposure to primary sources/the origins of historical writing, English literature and critical appreciation of texts and their contexts.
NB: You do not need to include all of the above four points in paragraphs 3-6, but do consider all of these areas before choosing which material would be best to include. Be selective.
E.g. if you have more to say on relevant work/life experience, you may choose not to speak about extra curriculars at all or vice versa. Top priority in the word count should be given to motivations for study + books you have read/periods you have studied + opinions on them, and then time for extra pursuits towards the end if space allows.
Ideally 2, maximum 3, closing sentences to give a punchy and memorable end to the statement – usually a statement of intent, reiteration of your passion, or nod to your future as a historian. Space for originality and personality to make them remember you.
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