Chemistry at Oxford
UCAS Personal Statement
To me, chemistry is the means of explaining everything we see. Chemistry allows for the understanding of every process, material and reaction at the most detailed level and this is what inspires me to study it. Organic chemistry interests me the most and I have particularly enjoyed understanding mechanisms above all else. I enjoy the level of detail mechanisms provide and I am intrigued by the interactions behind each step. I have furthered my knowledge in this area by studying sections of Skyes’ ‘Mechanism in Organic Chemistry’ which has developed my understanding of structure and reactivity.
Another highlight of the A level chemistry course so far has been completing an independent research project on the synthesis of aspirin. From this I gained insight into pharmaceutical processes and found that this area of chemistry strongly appeals to me. Similarly whilst completing the ‘Exploring Everyday Chemistry’ Future Learn course, I most enjoyed the section on antibiotics – especially the mode of action of penicillin as I developed an understanding of the importance of individual functional groups within the molecule. I was amazed by the precision that goes into the creation of medicines and realised that it is the depth of knowledge and ability available to a chemist that makes me love the subject so much. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to research Louis Pasteur for my IRP as part of my French A level. Learning about the methods he used to solve some of the greatest scientific problems of his time, from his work on optical isomers to vaccinations, has been fascinating and inspiring. My interest has led me to seek out work experience at DuPont and GSK from which I hope to further my experience of chemistry in other settings.
Aside from organic chemistry, I find both practical and analytical chemistry particularly enjoyable. Having taken further maths at A level, I find using maths to analyse and validate my own experimental data extremely rewarding. During Y12 I have been fortunate enough to be selected to compete in the RSC schools’ analyst competition. During the competition I had the chance to work independently preparing solutions of known concentration, using a UV spectrometer and preforming calculations to find unknown concentrations of a compound. I particularly enjoyed the experience as I spent a full afternoon in university labs figuring out methods and using new equipment. My passion for maths has proved helpful in understanding physical chemistry and the logic behind the equations that I have encountered. It has also allowed me to develop my critical thinking and problem-solving skills which will be necessary for chemistry at a high level. Tutoring several students in both maths and chemistry over the last two years has taught me the importance of sharing my knowledge in a clear and accessible way which I am able to translate into my own work whilst making sense of complex ideas.
Outside of school, I have competed in canoe slalom. Having been selected by a GB talent pathway scheme, I was training on average five nights a week and reached the national women’s first division for kayak, the northern ‘super regional squad’ and my ranking peaked in summer 2018 at 62nd female in Great Britain. To achieve this I have had to be dedicated and persevere through icy winters and difficult races. Similarly, by completing my DofE silver award I have been able to merge these skills with communication and team work. I have played the saxophone for the last seven years, been in the school big band and will take my grade 8 this year. These experiences of hard work, overcoming challenges and time management will enable me to succeed in my university studies. At school I was awarded the position of prefect and the head teachers award demonstrating my strong work ethic and attitude towards learning.
Through this degree, I am excited to advance my knowledge and with my love for the subject, academic skills and drive to succeed I look forward to a future in chemistry.
Behind the Statement
How did you make start on your personal statement or begin planning?
I read through all of the chemistry personal statements available on the student room and found a style and way of presenting the information that suited me best. Then I assigned each thing I wanted to talk about to a paragraph and strung it together in basic sentences as a starting point.
How did you decide what experiences to include in your personal statement? What did you cut out?
I originally included everything that I’d done eg. work experience and chemistry competitions and mentioned the books I felt I could say the most about. Once it was roughly written up I chose to cut out the things that I felt that I could say the least about or that was repetitive.
How did you get these experiences in the first place?
I was entered into a chemistry competition with a team from my school. I got a day of work experience by asking around and eventually found a friend of the family who worked at DuPont. I bought the books off ebay.
How did you structure your personal statement?
P1- what I like about chemistry and why. P2- what I did to further those interests (mostly reading and a research project I did) - this was all linked to a similar part of chemistry so it flowed better. P3- Talking about work experience and competition I had done- linking with a different area of chemistry- and why my maths and further maths alevel would help P4- quick mention of extracurricular things and the skills they helped me to develop which will relate to chemistry/ studying/uni life. Quick conclusion
How did you decide on an introduction for your personal statement?
I read a couple of examples and opened it with what my subject is to me.
How did you decide on a conclusion for your personal statement?
By reading examples then thinking of broad positive qualities that will help me during the degree.
What do you think are the strengths of your personal statement?
How focused it is on chemistry and how everything that is mentioned is either related to what I had learnt from the experience or skill I had gained that would help me to do the degree.
Is there anything you wish you knew beforehand/advice?
Don’t get to attached to the first copy/ a particular way of phrasing something because if it’s swapped out for other important information that’s better than a long elegant sentence.