Sample Biology Personal Statement
I have always been fascinated by human biology. Finding out the seemingly infinite and amazing things that our bodies can do, and equally the ways in which our physiology can let us down, paints a picture of a complex and inspiring organism requiring methodical research in order that it may be fully understood. Having also been brought up surrounded by the processes of laboratory exploration, thanks to my uncle’s occupation as a Physicist, I have also always been inspired by the possibilities of this scientific research to shape and influence our world and our lives. Combining these interests at undergraduate level will give me the best chance of achieving my goal of having a similar influence over all of our futures.
I have always pursued my interests in biology throughout my schooling, scoring good marks in the subject in my final year studies. My broader interests in science are also reflected in my strong performances in Chemistry and Maths, both of which have given me the logical, methodical approach to problem solving that characterises good research.
To expand on this knowledge I also attended Junior Biochemist School, which was incredibly competitive as it only admitted 50 students a year. The two year course covered a wide range of subjects, from the biochemical structure of cells to genome research, and certificates were awarded for those participants who completed the associated exams and coursework. For my final assessment I undertook a research project on the effects of chocolate on the human body, exploring well-known facts and potential myths, such as its impact on headaches and spots.
Moving to the UK to study presented its own challenges and, unfortunately, required a turn away from my primary area of interest. That said; I have more than proven my ability to undertake a high level of study in the UK, and in the English language, by completing a Level 2 ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) course and undertaking a Level 2 NVQ diploma in Beauty Therapy. While, at first glance, this might seem unrelated to human biology, the course actually requires a good understanding of the way in which beauty treatments can affect the client. In the future, I would be keen to explore research within the beauty industry as one potential avenue through which I can combine these multiple interests.
In order to support myself throughout my continuing studies, I have also been required to work in waitressing and barmaid jobs, including recent supervisory experience. These roles have not only allowed me to hone my knowledge of the English language but have also helped me to gain teamwork, communication and organisation skills, both within the jobs themselves and through the requirements of balancing employment with study.
In my spare time, I enjoy reading and exploring my interests as well as being a very sociable person. I have formed good friendships, as well as working relationships, with my colleagues and coursemates and enjoy practising beauty techniques with them outside of class. I am also a keen fan of sports; enjoying cycling, jogging, swimming and basketball, which I have played competitively from the age of 13.
I have shown myself to be a dedicated and capable student, whatever the subject or educational context. By returning to my primary interests, in the form of human biology, I am sure that I can continue applying these qualities throughout future study and research so that I might play a valuable role in continuing to explore the possibilities of the human body in a challenging, inspiring and intellectually-nurturing environment.
We hope you have found this sample of a biology personal statement to be of some use in writing your own personal statement.
Selling yourself in under 4,000 characters to an academic you've never met is pretty daunting even for the most confident sixth-form student. So we've put together some dos and don'ts to make sure you show yourself in the best possible light.
Here are eight don'ts
• Don't spend ages trying to come up with a perfect, snappy first line – write anything and return to it later.
• Don't use cliches. According to the Ucas Guide to Getting into University and College, the most overused opening sentences this year were variations of "from a young age I have always been interested in…" This looks formulaic and is a waste of characters.
• Famous quotes should be avoided, as these will be found in countless other applications. For instance, this line by Coco Chanel was found in 189 applications for fashion courses this year: "Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only."
• Don't list your interests, demonstrate them. Professor Alan Gange, head of the department of biological sciences at Royal Holloway, University of London, says: "Actually doing something, for example joining a national society or volunteering for a conservation organisation, tells me that students have a passion."
• Style matters. Don't be chatty and use slang, but on the other hand, don't be pretentious. Cathy Gilbert, director of customer strategy at Ucas, says: "If you try too hard to impress with long words that you are not confident using, the focus of your writing may be lost."
• Don't ask too many people for advice. Input from teachers is helpful, but it is important that the student's personality comes across.
Nicole Frith, 19, who has just started a BSc in Geography at the University of Durham, asked two teachers for advice on content. "I would seriously advise against asking teacher after teacher," she said. "There is no such thing as a perfect personal statement, and everyone has different opinions." Most admissions offices are happy to give general advice, and the Ucas website has video guides on how to plan and write your statement.
• Don't be tempted to let someone else write your personal statement for you. A recent news report says sixth-formers are paying up to £350 on the internet for personal statements written by university students. Ucas, which uses fraud detection software to identify cheating, warns of "serious consequences".
• Dont' skimp on paragraphs, despite their negative impact on line count. You want your statement to be readable.
And eight dos
• Organisation is the key. Caroline Apsey, 19, who started a medical degree at the University of Leeds this term, says: "Before I started writing, I made bullet points of everything I wanted to include, and ordered them from most important to least."
• Leave yourself plenty of time for editing. "Start writing early, so that you have lots of time to re-read it with fresh eyes," Caroline says. Then edit and edit and edit again.
• Be specific. Lee Hennessy, deputy head of admissions and recruitment at the University of Bath, says: "Don't just say, you're interested in a subject because it's interesting. Ask yourself, what it is, specifically, about the subject that interests you?"
Lee Marsden, associate dean of admissions for the faculty of arts and humanities at the University of East Anglia, agrees: "We want to know what excites the student: perhaps a book they have read or a play they have seen. There needs to be a hook."
• Show you are up to date with developments in your subject: perhaps you could analyse a recent journal article or news event.
"You need to tune in to what's current in your subject," says Louise Booth, assistant director of sixth form at Fulford school in York. "For example, if you're a politics candidate: have you been to see the prime minister or your local MP speak?"
• Around 80% of your statement should be dedicated to your studies and work experience, and 20% to extra-curricular activities. Hobbies are valuable, but must be used to reveal something relevant about the applicant.
"A simple 'I have done' list is not useful," says Helen Diffenthal, assistant principal for advice and guidance at the Sixth Form College, Farnborough. "Saying that you were captain of the cricket team doesn't make any difference unless you use it to show that you can manage your time effectively."
• Be original but treat humour with caution – jokes can fall flat.
"Original is excellent," says Gange. "I once saw a statement written in the style of a tabloid journalism article. It was factual and entertaining; the student gained a place here and got a first."
"We let through quirky statements if the student is quirky," says Booth. "Don't try to be funny if that's not you – it won't work."
• Correct spelling and grammar is vital, so use the spell-check on your computer and get other people, such as teachers, to proofread your statement.
• In the end, honesty is the best policy. Tell the admissions tutor, in your own words, why you deserve a place. "Just be yourself," says Nicole. "That worked for me."