Writing an Oxbridge Personal Statement

How much should you read in your personal statement for university? It's never too early to start your Oxbridge personal statement. With an Oxbridge Personal Statement, students aim to show their knowledge and ability to study their subject at a top university. It is essential to include evidence of reading material that can demonstrate your initiative and academic interest.

Author: Zayra Morales

You are here:

Table of Contents

How much reading should you put on your personal statement for University?

It’s never too early to start your Oxbridge Personal Statement. It could be argued that it’s always Personal Statement writing season. With the Oxbridge deadline quickly approaching, we’re now well into writing season!


With an Oxbridge Personal Statement, students will be aiming to display their knowledge and ability to study their subject at a top university. Therefore it is essential to include evidence of reading material that might demonstrate initiative and your academic interest.

How much reading is the right amount for a Personal Statement?

Rather than giving you a set number of books, the best answer to this question is to first think about the points set out below.


Together with a realistic understanding of the deadline for submitting your Oxbridge Personal Statement, you should be able to work out what sort of reading to do and write about in your Oxbridge Personal Statement. If you are struggling to start wider reading or looking for further advice, we have an article that is right for you here

personal statement Structure

Your Oxbridge Personal Statement should read like a best-selling novel (we have critiqued a Cambridge Medicine Personal Statement here). That is to say it should have a coherent structure and clearly explain why you want to study your subject.


One approach is to therefore divide up your paragraphs so that they target different themes relating to your course.


Perhaps you could focus on your particular topic-interest areas. Or, you could divide the course up into the different disciplines which you will need to study and dedicate a section of your personal statement to the main ones. Your reading will, therefore, help to follow this structure.

For example, someone who is hoping to study Chinese Studies may first write a paragraph in their Oxbridge Personal Statement about their interest in learning a language:

Whilst this is an example, there is no harm in thinking about how your reading material can complement your Personal Statement structure and demonstrate your own skills and interests.

Aside from your Personal Statement, wider reading will help you develop key skills for university work, such as critical thinking, academic research and independent study. Our Enrichment Supervisions, delivered by expert tutors, provide you with valuable topics to mention in your Personal Statement and interviews. These sessions ensure you gain a wider understanding of your subject and an interesting look into the field. Read more about our Premium Programmes

What do I do with my wider reading?

The difference between a good candidate and a great candidate can be demonstrated by actually doing something with the reading and research you do.


That is, you can browse as many sources as you like, but in your Oxbridge Personal Statement, you should really be able to demonstrate that you have opinions and can evaluate your arguments.


Therefore, as well as thinking about how much to read, you should leave space in your Personal Statement to write about how your reading affected you.


Here is some food for thought:

This is important, so make sure you are not just name-dropping but giving a real review of what you think!


An Oxbridge Personal Statement, after all, unlike many other Personal Statements will be put to the test at an interview. They may want to explore some of your ideas there so you need to be ready.


You can put your Personal Statement to the test and submit your statement to UniAdmissions (once you’re enrolled on a Premium Programme) to see if it meets the expectations of Oxbridge Universities.

Be creative

“Reading” is a very loose term, and you can definitely demonstrate your interest and initiative with different types of material and sources, especially if as mentioned above, you can show that you have done something with it afterwards.


Here are some other kinds of sources you could try and find!


Don’t forget you may rely on these sorts of materials in your university studies so you should show that you can use and understand them in the same way as you would any other academic source. 


We also suggested reading outside of your subject to avoid running out of steam or getting too narrow. This includes personal development books to improve your organisation and time management skills. At university, you will need good organisation skills to plan your time effectively around lectures, labs and leisure.

Your Personal Statement is one of three major parts of your Oxbridge application.

The other two are your Admissions Test and Interview. UniAdmissions Oxbridge Programmes are designed with the sole focus of getting your offer by optimising your application in these areas. Students enrolled on our Programmes have triple the chances of success.

Triple your chances today.

Book An Expert Application Consultation