Episode 9: Maths Personal Statement For Oxford, UCL and King’s
This Personal Statement was used to apply to five universities, including the University Of Oxford.
Unlike the rest of the series, this Personal Statement was rejected from Oxford and a couple of other universities. Have a read through the statement yourself before reading our feedback, and have a think about whether you think it is a strong UCAS statement.
As always, let us begin with the basic details of the statement.
The universities this candidate applied to were the following;
THE PERSONAL STATEMENT
Mathematics is a closed communication system; a way of approaching life, the backbone of all sciences and the greatest discovery of humankind. How and why I fell in love with Mathematics are currently beyond my knowledge. On the one hand the pureness of Mathematics, which is completely free from any subjective views intrigues me. On the other hand, one’s ability to interpret and approach Mathematics inspires me to become an active participant in the problem solving process. The satisfaction of solving a Mathematics problem is like realising where we are after rambling in an unknown part of a city, a feeling which makes me smile when I suddenly see the trick of a new puzzle. I feel like Mathematics is the subject which engages my attention fully and the one and only subject which I will enjoy at university level.
My interest in Mathematics has expanded over the past years and I am keen to read around different topics. During my AS year a seminar on Fibonacci numbers and the golden ratio inspired me to read, Erno Lendvai’s work (in the original format) on the relation of ‘Fibonacci-cells’ and music. The author proved how classical music is built of ‘Fibonacci-cells’ and how the tempo tends to change when the music approaches its golden section. I discovered how Fibonacci numbers correlate with a significant number of masterpieces, despite the location or time of composition. His work made me wonder whether it is possible to compose and model ‘perfect’ music by determining the right frequency, length and number of ‘Fibonacci-cells’ in a piece. Understanding an application of number theory on music theory has propelled my interest towards other disciplines of number theory, such as the application of Prime numbers in nature.
Last year, I had the privilege of attending a set of seminars at King’s College London, called King’s Factor. With the guidance of PhD students and a professor we focused on more advanced Mathematic problems. We practiced STEP, AEA and MAT questions. These sessions consolidated my A-level knowledge and guided me to approach problems in different ways. This summer I attended the Best in School Mathematics Masterclass at the Royal Institute, which has further justified my course choice. Two books I exceptionally liked were ‘The Man who knew infinity’ and ‘From Here to Innity’ have introduced me to disciplines of Mathematics which I had scarcely covered and also to the life of a brilliant Mathematician. Fractals and Chaos theory were among my favourite topics; the visualisation of different dimensions and the idea of something being deterministic but unpredictable are not among the simplest topics and I am looking forward to learning more about them.
I spent two years as an exchange student and am aware of the difficulties of language barriers, as I spoke English for the first time, when I was 15. I voluntarily translate for TED and Amnesty International Hungary, and before starting my AS year, I spent two years in London focusing on English while continuing my Hungarian studies. This was difficult as communication and the application of my knowledge had to be conveyed in a language that was not my own. Adapting to a new environment, while managing my studies at home, I became more committed to achieve my goals. I became more independent and a whole new world of opportunities opened up for me.
By funding and running the Rubik’s Cubing Club (RCC) at my sixth form and tutoring younger students I am required to be responsible, precise, accurate and reliable. This teaching experience enables me to innovate simple algorithms to introduce more students to Rubik’s Cubing and to other logic games. Attending debating club each week has developed my presentational skills and the organisation of a freshman camp, Sport days and being part of the student council have improved my leadership skills.
I believe my keen interest and past experiences makes me suitable for reading Mathematics at university.
GOOD POINTS OF THE PERSONAL STATEMENT
The student is very clearly motivated by mathematics, which is an important factor to universities like Oxford who hold passion for the subject in high regard.
It is clear that the student has had to overcome adversity in their life and has managed to learn English for the first time two years prior to writing this statement.
The student also has several experiences of mathematics beyond the A-level syllabus and these are explained well.
PERSONAL STATEMENT BAD POINTS
Whilst the statement is good overall, it lacks an ‘X-factor’, and as a result was rejected by the Universities of Oxford, King’s College London and UCL.
The student relies on interests sparked from A-level studies to justify their reasons to want to pursue mathematics. If the student had engaged in activities completely outside of the A-level curriculum, this would demonstrate their desire to study mathematics and improve their ability to a far greater extent.
The student only describes how ‘the author proved (things) to’ them, and seems to not make any judgements or critical evaluations of their own. Whilst it is, of course, a good idea to describe well-known work or subject-relevant literature, real value is only added if the student forms their own judgements or critical evaluations of such material.
In this statement, the student unfortuntaly failed to do this.
UNIADMISSIONS OVERALL SCORE: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Whilst the statement is well-written, the student is let down by their lack of individuality in assessing the work of the others.
They do make comments about further thought which stems from their reading, but they don’t show a great deal of action or reflection on what they have learnt.
We feel this statement is a reasonably good example, and surprisingly only got two offers. However, it is important not to look at the statement in a vacuum, since admissions tutors also take GCSE and A-level grades intro consideration when making offers, which aren’t displayed here.
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