You’re faced with a blank sheet of paper, or a Word document with the cursor blinking over a blank page. How on earth do you write a personal statement? How can you communicate to the admissions tutors how much you want to do this degree?
You want to show on your Chemistry personal statement your love for the subject, and your desire to expand your understanding through self study. Concrete examples of things you have done, above and beyond your curriculum, or whatever you may have been assigned, are the best way to do this. Try these ideas:
Reading books about Chemistry
By reading around the subject you will show your interest in it, and any of the books from our Chemistry reading list would be good to include in you personal statement. Make sure you don’t lie, and only include books you have read – you don’t want to be caught out in interview!
Furthermore, it is good to include a bit of analysis of the book. Maybe mention the most interesting thing you learnt from it, or something you researched more as a result of reading the book. You can also read journals or blogs, or listen to podcasts to increase your awareness of the subject.
Engaging in chemistry beyond the syllabus is great material for your personal statement. For example, if you have competed in a school chemistry team, or in the UK Chemistry Olympiad, this is brilliant material for your personal statement. If you have not had the opportunity to do any of these things through school, you can find the UK Chemistry Olympiad papers online, and looking through the problems and solving them yourself is equally respectable.
The Chemistry Olympiad papers are also extremely useful, as they lead you to study more areas of Chemistry than those restricted to the A-level syllabus. You can then link out to further areas in your personal statement. For example:
When preparing for the Chemistry Olympiad, I found the microscopic study of electrons extremely interesting, so I investigated this further. I read an article about the movement of electrons, and attended an interesting lecture on Mechanistic Organic Chemistry over the summer.
If you have completed or are studying for a project to do with chemistry, this is a great example of self study. You can also talk about it in depth on your personal statement, demonstrating to the admissions tutors what you’ve learnt about that particular stratum of chemistry. This does not necessarily have done through school: it could be a project you choose to undertake yourself one summer, to understand something that interests you.
Furthermore, if you have had the opportunity to complete any practical projects, whether that be through work experience in a lab or in school, this is great to included. Practical lab work is a large part of studying chemistry at university level, so this will win you kudos with the admissions tutors.
Lectures and online courses
A great way to show your engagement is by attending lectures, or watching them online: the internet is a plentiful resource. Online courses are also very useful, as you can answer your own questions, and this is a more involved form of self study than just watching lectures.
Of course, you don’t have to do all of these. You don’t even have to mention everything you’ve ever done related to Chemistry, no matter how minor. Instead, pick the most important examples, and explain in a clear and succinct fashion how the experience impacted you, and how it affected your understanding of Chemistry. Then you should be well on your way to a compelling personal statement!
If you’re looking for more inspiration, take a look at our example Chemistry personal statements.