English Literature Personal Statement for Cambridge and Oxford

Writing a personal statement for English literature can be one of the most challenging parts of the application process. Below we have given an example personal statement from a real candidate. They received an offer from Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.

Oxbridge Example English personal statement

Literature is more than a form of escapism. I believe the written word is an insightful representation of the human condition; it is essentially empathy manifested, and subsequently presents the same fundamental ethical issues and questions that arise naturally from human understanding. My enjoyment of English is centred on this infallible ability to force observers to challenge themselves, and how this plays a crucial role in the formation of opinions and interpretation of ideas. As my knowledge of literature has broadened, I have found myself increasingly fascinated by different portrayals of morality. Within my ‘A’ Level studies I have encountered the infamous and questionable protagonists of Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’, and was completely captivated by the concept of virtuous intention being opposed by immoral action. Written during the Enlightenment Era with a contradictory attitude towards the advancement of science, the perspective of both monster and creator cause the reader to question to what extent they condone the events, and critically decide who deserves the sympathy of the spectator. I have discovered this challenge of beliefs to be as present in reality as in fiction, and attended a lecture by Professor A.C. Grayling on The Ethics of War, where I first encountered the ‘just war theory’; I consequently applied this to my analysis of literature, in particular Nabokov’s Lolita. I found the novel challenged the inherently human notions of protection of the innocent, and upholding traditional values, but approached this in a manner that still enabled me to empathise with Humbert’s persona: to me this proved the power and potential of literature to persuade and manipulate the changeable emotions of the reader. Intrigued by his ability to influence his readers, and the juxtaposition between form and subject, I read Nabokov’s ‘Lectures on Literature’. Another aspect of literature that I anticipate enjoying at degree level is its evolution over time. As I attended a Master Class Lecture on ‘The Essay as Literary Form’ I discovered an interest in the Practical Criticism of the structure and use of the written word, and was inspired to read ‘Essayists on the Essay’. This presented me with the previously unconsidered concept of the dichotomy between the didactic and expressive purposes of the essay. My enjoyment of this book was based on the variety of arguments presented for each case, and it caused me to consider the function of subsequent texts I encountered. I found this analytical approach useful when working collaboratively to present on Seamus Heaney’s ‘Sonnet 3’ during a University Experience Course, as a previous seminar on sonnet structure enabled me to attribute the nostalgic and reflective tone of the work to its format as a Petrarchan sonnet. I also thought that the difference in layout of individual lines and rhyme scheme could change the meaning and questions presented by a work of poetry, as the evolution of the sonnet is comparable to that of the essay in regard to its development of style to convey intention. My further reading allowed me to comprehend the place of literature in communication and academia. In contrast to this; the work experience placement I completed at HarperCollins Publishers gave me an insight into the role of literature in the corporate world. As well as gaining an understanding of the process of bringing books into existence, I found it fascinating to observe how the role of a publisher involves a series of compromises between author and reader: the books must be tailored to the changeable interests of their audiences without this being detrimental to the integrity and authenticity of the author’s original intentions. I am incredibly motivated to challenge myself further in the criticism of literature, and broaden my knowledge of texts, as well as gaining innovative research skills to allow me to develop my ability to manipulate the English language.

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Using Literary Quotations

Use the guidelines below to learn how to use literary quotations.

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When you’re asked to write a paper analyzing a work of literature, your instructor probably expects you to incorporate quotations from that literary text into your analysis. But how do you do this well? What kind of quotations do you use? How do you seamlessly weave together your ideas with someone else’s words?

On this page we clarify the purpose of using literary quotations in literary analysis papers by exploring why quotations are important to use in your writing and then explaining how to do this. We provide general guidelines and specific suggestions about blending your prose and quoted material as well as information about formatting logistics and various rules for handling outside text.

Although this material is focused on integrating your ideas with quotations from novels, poems, and plays into literary analysis papers, in some genres this advice is equally applicable to incorporating quotations from scholarly essays, reports, or even original research into your work.

For further information, check out our Quoting and Paraphrasing resource, or you may wish to see when the Writing Center is offering its next introductory workshop about the genre of literary analysis. Additionally, our Short Guide to Close Reading for Literary Analysis offers wonderful insight into how you can read a piece of literature in order to analyze it.

Why should I use literary quotations?

Within a literary analysis, your purpose is to develop an argument about what the author of the text is doing—how the text “works.” You use quotations to support this argument. This involves selecting, presenting, and discussing material from the text in order to “prove” your point—to make your case—in much the same way a lawyer brings evidence before a jury.

Quoting for any other purpose is counterproductive. Don’t quote to “tell the story” or otherwise convey basic information about the text; most of the time within this genre you can assume your reader knows the text. And don’t quote just for the sake of quoting or to fill up space.

How do I use literary quotations?

General guidelines.

The following paragraph is from a student’s analysis of the relationship between two characters in Woolf’s To the Lighthouse . Notice how statements expressing the writer’s ideas and observations are verified with evidence from the novel in both summarized and quoted form.

We learn about Mrs. Ramsey’s personality by observing her feelings about other characters. For example, Mrs. Ramsey has mixed feelings toward Mr. Tansley, but her feelings seem to grow more positive over time as she comes to know him better. At first Mrs. Ramsey finds Mr. Tansley annoying, as shown especially when he mentions that no one is going to the lighthouse (7). But rather than hating him, she feels pity: “she pitied men always as if they lacked something . . .” (85). Then later, during the gathering, pity turns to empathy as she realizes that Mr. Tansley must feel inferior. He must know, Mrs. Ramsey thinks, that “no woman would look at him with Paul Rayley in the room” (104). Finally, by the end of the dinner scene, she feels some attraction to Mr. Tansley and also a new respect: “She liked his laugh . . . She liked his awkwardness. There was a lot in that man after all” (110). In observing this evolution in her attitude, we learn more about Mrs. Ramsey than we do about Mr. Tansley. The change in Mrs. Ramsey’s attitude is not used by Woolf to show that Mrs. Ramsey is fickle or confused; rather it is used to show her capacity for understanding both the frailty and complexity of human beings. This is a central characteristic of Mrs. Ramsey’s personality.

Your ideas + textual evidence + discussion

Notice that this paragraph includes three basic kinds of materials: (a) statements expressing the student’s own ideas about the relationship Woolf is creating; (b) data or evidence from the text in summarized, paraphrased, and quoted form; and (c) discussion of how the data support the writer’s interpretation. All the quotations are used in accordance with the writer’s purpose, i.e., to show how the development of Mrs. Ramsey’s feelings indicates something about her personality.

Textual evidence options

Quoting is only one of several ways to present textual material as evidence. You can also refer to textual data, summarize, and paraphrase. You will often want merely to refer or point to passages (as in the third sentence in the above example paragraph) that contribute to your argument. In other cases, you will want to paraphrase, i.e., “translate” the original into your own words, again instead of quoting. Summarize or paraphrase when it is not so much the language of the text that justifies your position, but the substance or content.

Quoting selectively

Similarly, after you have decided that you want to quote material, quote only the portions of the text specifically relevant to your point . Think of the text in terms of units—words, phrases, sentences, and groups of sentences (paragraphs, stanzas)—and use only the units you need. If it is particular words or phrases that “prove” your point, you do not need to quote the full sentences they appear in; rather, incorporate the words and phrases into your own sentences that focus on your own ideas.

Blending your prose and quoted material

It is permissible to quote an entire sentence (between two sentences of your own), but in general you should avoid this method of bringing textual material into your discussion. Instead, use one of the following patterns:

An introducing phrase or orienter plus the quotation:

An assertion of your own and a colon plus the quotation:

An assertion of your own with quoted material worked in:

Maintaining clarity and readability

Introduce a quotation either by indicating what it is intended to show, by naming its source, or by doing both. For non-narrative poetry, it’s customary to attribute quotations to “the speaker”; for a story with a narrator, to “the narrator.” For plays, novels, and other works with characters, identify characters as you quote them.

Do not use two quotations in a row without intervening text of your own. You should always be contextualizing all of your outside material with your own ideas, and if you let quotes build up without a break, readers will lose track of your argument.

Using the correct verb tense is a tricky issue. It’s customary in literary analysis to use the present tense; this is because it is at the present time that you (and your reader) are looking at the text. But events in a narrative or drama take place in a time sequence. You will often need to use a past tense to refer to events that took place before the moment you are presently discussing. Consider this example:

When he hears Cordelia’s answer, King Lear seems surprised, but not dumbfounded. He advises her to “mend [her] speech a little.” He had expected her to praise him the most; but compared to her sisters’, her remarks seem almost insulting (1.1.95).

Formatting logistics and guidelines

If for the sake of brevity you wish to omit material from a quoted passage, use ellipsis points (three spaced periods) to indicate the omission. Notice how in the paragraph about To the Lighthouse , above, the writer quoted only those portions of the original sentences that related to the point of the analysis.

When quoting, you may alter grammatical forms such as the tense of a verb or the person of a pronoun so that the quotation conforms grammatically to your own prose; indicate these alterations by placing square brackets around the changed form. In the quotation about King Lear at the end of the previous section, “her” replaces the “your” of the original so that the quote fits the point of view of the paper (third person).

Reproduce the spelling, capitalization, and internal punctuation of the original exactly. Of the following sentences presenting D. H. Lawrence’s maxim, “Books are not life,” the first is not acceptable in some style systems.


You may alter the closing punctuation of a quotation in order to incorporate it into a sentence of your own. For example:

Commas and periods go inside the closing quotation marks; the other punctuation marks go outside. For example:

When quoting lines of poetry up to three lines long (which are not indented), separate one line of poetry from another with a slash mark with a space on either side (see examples from Blake’s “The Tyger” and Shakespeare’s Othello above).


Prose or verse quotations less than four lines long are not indented. For quotations of this length, use the patterns described above.

“Longer” quotations should be formatted according to the expectations of a block quote. This unit of text should be positioned one half inch from the left margin, and opening and closing quotation marks are not used. The MLA Handbook , 8 th edition (2016) recommends that indented quotations be double-spaced, but many instructors prefer them single-spaced. The meaning of “longer” varies slightly from one style system to another, but a general rule is to indent quotations that are more than two (or three) lines of verse or four lines of prose.

If you’re quoting a series of dialogue dialogue between characters in a play, indent these lines and place the speaker’s name before the speech quoted. For example:


Follow your course instructor’s guidelines for documenting sources. If your instructor hasn’t told you which system to use to document sources, ask.

The documentation style used in this handout is that presented in the MLA Handbook , 8 th edition (2016), the most common citation style for literary analysis papers. The Writing Center has information about the rules of documentation within the most common systems .

Works Cited

Achebe, Chinau. Things Fall Apart . 1959. Anchor Books, 1994.

Blake, William. “The Tyger.” Poets.org , American Academy of Poets, https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/tyger. Accessed 1 July 2018.

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby . 1925. The Scribner Library, 1953.

Lahiri, Jhumpa. “A Temporary Matter.” Interpreter of Maladies , Mariner Books, 1999, pp. 1-22.

Lawrence, David Herbert. “Why the Novel Matters.” Study of Thomas Hardy and Other Essays , edited by Bruce Steele, Cambridge University Press, 1985, pp. 191-8.

Milton, John. Paradise Lost . Printed for John Bumpus, 1821. Google Books , https://books.google.com/books?id=pO4MAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false. Accessed 1 July 2018.

Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye . 1970. Plume, 1993.

Shakespeare, William. Julius Caesar. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Wordsworth Editions, pp. 582-610.

–. King Lear. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare . Wordsworth Editions, pp. 885-923.

–. Othello, the Moor of Venice. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare . Wordsworth Editions, pp. 818-57.

Woolf, Virginia. To the Lighthouse . 1927. Harcourt, 1981.

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Literature Personal Statements Samples For Students

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University Studies Personal Statement Examples

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Free Personal Statement About My Book Report On Where The Red Fern Grows

Example of the richness of the elective courses at university of illinois at urbana-champaign personal statement, macbeth as a tragedy personal statement examples, macbeth as a tragedy, example of northeast ohio medical university personal statement, personal statement, example of stereotypes in push personal statement.

The novel “Push” by Sapphire chronicles the life of a young African American teenage lost in a world fraught with desperation and abuse. The main character Claireece (better known as Precious) symbolizes a very stereotypical portrayal of life in the ghetto. Some feel that these stereotypes are too prevalent and are offensive to African American culture. However I feel that by analyzing these stereotypes we also gain a better perspective of issues that may face today’s inner city youth.

Instance of Stereotypes

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Life is filled with uncertainty, because at times we think we are trailing one path then all of a sudden we encounter someone or something that will change the course of our life for good. Life’s unpredictability showed me that I am still a project in the making. I believe that the choices I made in life are the compilation of my everyday encounters that molded my decision to pursuing this monumental career decision.

A Tale of Two Cities Personal Statement Example

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English Literature and Philosophy Personal Statement Example

As an English student I revel in the aesthetic beauty of literature while enjoying how the big ideas underpinning a work adds meaning. As a Philosophy student my inquisitive mind constantly pushes me to ask questions and engage in debate.

I attended a Philosophy and Religious Ethics Conference at the Bloomsbury Baptist Church. Here, a debate was held concerning morality and God. I relished taking part in the debate which further motivated my interest in studying philosophy.

At the conference I listened to an excellent lecture by Professor Keith Ward questioning ‘Is God Evil?’ It illuminated one of the aspects of philosophy that I love: philosophy challenges the most common assumptions and logically dismantle them.

Another problem that intrigues me and dismantles assumptions is Hempel’s paradox; the examination of inductive reasoning and the mutability of the argument from Hempel to Maher is something that I would like to explore further.

One of the philosophers I admire most is Simone de Beauvoir, I read about her Existential Feminist Ethics in Dialogue. What I found particularly fascinating is her idea of the ‘feminine’ as a passive and patriarchal myth. I have been aware of gender inequality as a long standing issue but it was reading Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman that originally inspired me to involve myself in feminism, leading me to co-found and chair The Feminist Society at my sixth form.

One of my proudest accomplishments with the society is my involvement with Plan UK, helping to invest in the education of girls.

Feminism has influenced my interest in Charlotte Perkins Gilman, a feminist utopian writer. Herland depicts a society comprised only of women. Men intrude upon their society and quickly find that their assumptions of women are incorrect; this reminded me of Simone de Beauvoir’s idea of the ‘feminine’ as patriarchal myth.

Female writers have a unique voice that is hugely influential on style. For instance in Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen portrays many witty, intelligent women who believe in marrying for love.

The fiction I enjoy reading raises as many questions as it answers. Great literature doesn’t just sound beautiful, it says something original and startles you into thinking. One poem that makes me feel this way is ‘The Wasteland’ by T.S. Eliot. The poem has to have one of the most stunning openings in poetic history with a unique take on spring that immediately engaged my imagination.

Another poem that leaves me in awe is Stevie Smith’s ‘Not Waving but Drowning’. Unlike the Wasteland, it is the ending of this comparatively short poem that amazes me. With a few words Smith is able to radically change the perspective of the poem. She turns the lens from a tragic pinpointed moment towards existence as a whole; giving ‘Not Waving but Drowning’ universal significance.

I am interested in debating global issues and politics and intend to continue this at university. I founded a debating society for lower school students, developing my ability to critically analyse arguments, and led a Geography Society, where we participated in Earth Day and corresponded with students from China.

My concern for social issues also led me to procure work experience at SPEAR, a homeless charity. This gave me an opportunity to think independently and be responsible.

Moreover my empathetic nature helped me when spending time with residents in SPEAR’s hostels. The work has inspired me towards charity work in my future and I would be looking for a chance to develop this at university, particularly due my interest in ethics and morality.

English and philosophy both allow me to explore possible answers to universal questions.

Through studying them together I can consider these questions in a logical, systematic way and debate with people who are interested in looking at philosophical issues through the lens of literature. English and Philosophy make me think, this is why I would like the opportunity to study joint honours.

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Author's Comments

I found it really difficult to write my personal statement, but this website was very useful is aiding me to write it so I thought I would also post my ps on here. Besides I got offers from all the Unis i applied for so I hope it is a good example x

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english literature quotes personal statement

Writing a personal statement is never an easy thing to do, but some students fall so spectacularly short of the mark that their efforts can be a lesson to us all.

You should also read…

Sometimes the easiest way to figure out how to write a personal statement is to look at someone else’s efforts and see how not to write one. In this article, we present to you a superbly bad (fictional) personal statement and show you just how many ways in which it misses the mark. We’ll also explain what our hapless fictional student should have done in order to write a personal statement that stands out for the right reasons, not the wrong ones.

The personal statement:

So what was wrong with it.

Let us count the ways!

1. The pretentious quote

Image shows a design for Cassandra Clare's 'Clockwork Angel' novel.

The personal statement opens with a pretentious-sounding quote, which, let’s face it, the student probably found from Googling “quotes about English literature”. It doesn’t even come from a great work of literature – it’s from a novel for young adults, which is unlikely to command the respect of the admissions tutors. The student then proceeds to say that this quote reflects their own “thirst for knowledge” (though they mistyped it as “thrist”) – but this doesn’t really relate to the quote at all. What’s more, starting with a quote is a bad idea anyway; it’s pompous, and the admissions tutors want to know what you have to say, not what someone else says.

2. The clichés, the controversial analogy and the Hungry Caterpillar

Image shows the eponymous caterpillar from The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

“Thirst for knowledge”. “From an early age”. The opening of this personal statement is littered with clichés that far too many students use and that admissions tutors have seen countless times before. This student goes a step further down the “loved reading from an early age” route by citing The Very Hungry Caterpillar as an early literary enjoyment. They probably think it sounds cute, but when said children’s book is a picture book with virtually no words, it’s hardly worth taking up valuable characters on a personal statement with. Later in the statement we hear clichés such as “one-trick pony”, “steely determination”, and even a rather embarrassing comparison between their determination to achieve the best grades in an essay and the determination of a hunter to slay an impressive beast. This singularly fails to impress in the way the student clearly wants it to. What’s more, you never know what the beliefs are of the person reading your statement, and it might turn out that they’re passionately against hunting – in which case this comparison with a hunter is going to go down especially badly.

3. Questionable motives

Image shows Marilyn Monroe reading Ulysses.

The student’s mention of James Joyce’s Ulysses reveals a rather questionable motive for wanting to read it: to “show off one’s superior intelligence” in front of other people. This sounds major alarm bells. It’s hardly going to tell the admissions tutor that the student wants to study the subject because they have a deep interest in it; they’ll pick up from this that they want to study English for the wrong reasons .

4. Mentioning texts and writers with no comment on them

The student has name-dropped a few novels and poets, but offers no insight into why they are interested in them or what they’ve got out of reading them. The mention of Ulysses seems calculated to make them appear clever for reading such an advanced text, but the fact that they offer no commentary on it has the opposite effect. The same goes for later in the personal statement with the list of poets – a random jumble of poets, modern and older, with no explanation as to why they appeal (and they misspelt Seamus Heaney’s name!). It comes across as a list of poets whose names the student happened to be able to rattle off, without any thought put into it. As for the novels mentioned, these are three incredibly famous novels that virtually everyone has read and loved. Leaving aside the fact that they haven’t said why they like these novels, it doesn’t show much depth or academic pursuit of knowledge to name-drop three very famous novels rather than demonstrating interest in or knowledge of less well-known literature.

5. Naming the course and university

Image shows King's College, Cambridge, at sunset.

The student has committed a huge faux pas in naming the course and university for which they are applying. This reveals that the only university they’re interested in is Oxford. They’re unlikely to be applying for just this university, but they’ve immediately alienated admissions tutors from all the other universities they’ve almost certainly put on their UCAS form.

6. Jokes and slang

The student jokes that they are partly applying for Oxford because of G&D’s ice cream, a famous ice cream parlour in Oxford. Quite apart from the fact that they shouldn’t have mentioned Oxford in the first place, the use of humour in this way does the student no favours. To make matters worse, they then add “Jokes” in brackets. Slang is a big no-no in a personal statement, and when combined with an attempt at humour, it’s frankly disastrous.

7. Hollywood inspiration

The admissions tutors are not going to be impressed that the reason you decided to study English at university because your friends commented on your similarity to a character in a film.

8. Unnamed awards

The student attempts to indicate their talent for poetry, stating that they have “won quite a few awards” for their own poems. However, this claim is too vague to be impressive. Which awards were they? “Everyone says how good” the student’s poems are, but how many people have actually read them, and was it just the student’s parents and grandparents who were impressed by them? These statements would have more weight if the student named the exact awards they’ve won and who has deemed their poetry to be good.

9. Downton Abbey and history

Image shows graves from the First World War.

The student goes on to talk about their other academic interest: history. The only problem is, it seems a bit out of place in a personal statement for English, making one wonder whether they might also be applying for an English and History course elsewhere. To make matters worse, they talk about Downton Abbey as the inspiration for their love of history, and in particular their interest in the First World War, commenting on the fact that it’s the centenary of the start of the First World War. The latter is hardly an insightful comment, while the mere mention of Downton Abbey is enough to discredit the student’s supposed interest in history. What’s more, they go on to say how much they love history, that it’s their joint favourite subject with English, and that they’d love to study it at university. This is inevitably going to make English Literature admissions tutors question the student’s commitment to their subject. What if the student changes their mind and wants to switch to history? It’s a big warning sign against this student.

10. Bragging

Nobody likes people who brag. The student claims to be “best in their class” and someone who’d “fit right in at Oxford” (that name again!) – though, judging by the poor quality of their personal statement, one wonders whether this could possibly be true. Later, they casually drop in “when I’m not winning poetry competitions”, a flippant remark that smacks of arrogance.

11. Negativity about one of their grades

Image shows a woman walking down a street reading a book.

The student attempts to explain a less-than-perfect grade by laughing it off with a comment about reading and writing too much poetry. One can see what they were aiming for here: they wanted to show that they’re so enthusiastic about English Literature that they get carried away and can’t stop reading and writing. However, it’s not going to look good to an admissions tutor, who’ll see someone who is unable to juggle their workload or apply themselves to succeed in all their subjects. What’s more, the student doesn’t attempt to explain what they’re doing about the bad grade – for instance, they could be taking on extra history lessons to bring the grade up, but there’s no such reassurance in their statement.

12. Boring interests

The student gives their interests as “socialising with their mates and going to the cinema”, interests that are so universal and boring that they are not worth mentioning at all. The point of mentioning interests in a personal statement is to demonstrate that there’s more to you than your academic interests. Proper hobbies and so on show you to be a well-rounded person with a range of interests, and those interests help develop skills that you can’t learn in the classroom, and that make you a good person to have around.

13. An unexplained gap year

Image shows a boat on a sea.

The student ends on a rather dull note by stating that they are taking a gap year. However, there’s no explanation of what activities they have planned for this. This would have been a good place to highlight course-related activities planned for the year out, which would have made them more suitable for the course (such as embarking on a writing workshop). This was also a lacklustre way to end the statement; a couple of sentences summarising why they want to study the course and why they’re so suitable for it would have been a good closing remark.

14. The smiley face

They’ve tried to look friendly by putting a smiley face at the end. There’s only one word for this: don’t!

15. General shortfallings

Image shows a book with its pages forming the shape of a heart.

In addition to the specific faults outlined above, there were a few general shortfallings worth highlighting.

Overall, it felt that very little effort had gone into writing this personal statement, leaving one questioning the student’s commitment to the course. Now that you’ve seen a disastrous personal statement first-hand, you’ll have a better idea of how not to write yours. Good luck!

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The Ultimate UCAS Personal Statement Guide

Author: Rob Needleman

Table of Contents

When it comes to completing your UCAS application, the Personal Statement is one of the most important parts to consider.

While your grades show your academic ability and Admissions Tests assess your knowledge and capabilities, a Personal Statement is all about you. Tutors want to see the person behind the application and understand why you’re a suitable candidate for your chosen course. 

Although each university will have its own unique way of shortlisting applicants, your Personal Statement is your opportunity to demonstrate your strengths and let your personality shine through.

However, over 20,000 students apply for Oxbridge every year which is a lot to compete with. As such, you need to stand out from the crowd and really get across your reasons for wanting to study your topic, which can make the prospect of writing one and including all the right things pressurising. To help you, we have written this ultimate Personal Statement guide. Let’s get started.

How to write a Personal Statement

Your Personal Statement isn’t a long monologue of your life so far, nor a gigantic list of all your achievements. Think of yourself as a storyteller. Start at the beginning with how you developed an interest for your chosen subject and end with where you see yourself after university.

Before You Start

How to get started.

Before you sit down to write your UCAS Personal Statement, the first thing we recommend is to research the courses you want to apply for. This will help you prepare your statement as courses vary from university to university, and your content should reflect these. Bear in mind, you are only able to send one Personal Statement to all your chosen universities, so you can’t overly cater to one. Look at all of the details, including the structure, modules and examination methods, as well as what they’re looking for from a student. This will support your first draft, though bear in mind you’ll redraft a few times before it’s perfect.

For example, Oxford lists the personal characteristics that they look for in applicants to their Medicine degree:

How many words should a Personal Statement be?

Personal Statements can be up to 4,000 characters long (615-800), and no more. This might sound like a lot, but it’s just one side of A4 paper. There’s plenty of information to include, so make sure it’s concise, clear and easy to read.

When to start writing it

It’s never too early to start thinking about your Personal Statement and what you’re going to write about. But there is a deadline : October 15th for all Oxbridge courses including Medicine and Dentistry, and January 25th for other undergraduate subjects. We suggest you begin preparing at the start of the year, as this gives you plenty of time to plan, draft and rewrite until it’s perfect for submission.

Your Personal Statement is the first thing Oxbridge Admissions Tutors will see about you. It’s imperative you get it right.

Our Oxbridge Premium Programmes help you write a successful Personal Statment that ticks all the Admission Tutor’s boxes. Our proven support is implemented through various mediums including Personal Statment Intensive Courses, Personal Statment Marking and Personalised Reading Lists.

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What To Include

Your Personal Statement is a glimpse into your passion, how keen you are to learn and what you already know about your chosen subject. Express your interest by commenting on the areas that fascinate you most. For example, is it helping people that draws you into Medicine, or is it the fascinating human anatomy? 

Another great way to show your enthusiasm is through your previous experience in the subject. Demonstrate why you’re suitable for the course by providing evidence of any relevant skills and qualities that relate to this. What are you good at? What have you done that proves it? 

Mention any additional projects, work experience or extra-curricular activities you’ve got involved with that further demonstrate you’re an ideal candidate. Reflect on the skills you’ve gained from these (as long as they’re transferable to your studies). Admissions Tutors will be looking for such information, as well as your unique selling points — give examples of things you’ve done that show you have a wider interest in learning. 

You should also try to link your interests, skills and qualities to your university research. However, Oxbridge are not interested in sports, hobbies or if you play any musical instruments — keep it academic.

Show you’re an interesting person and have a true passion for your subject, and your Personal Statement should be a winning one. Your enthusiasm is what will make your statement stand out, so don’t shy away from expressing your love for your chosen subject, though you don’t need to say you’ve dreamed about doing the course your entire life.

Aim to include things like:

The Structure

The key to writing a good UCAS Personal Statement is getting the structure right, as this can have a huge effect on the message it delivers. Often, students get caught up in the content and forget that presenting information effectively is just as important as the words included.

Each section of your statement needs to be crafted correctly so that Admissions Tutors can digest the information easily. While there are no strict rules on how to structure it — since it’s personal to you — there are a few rules of thumb to use to find the right balance. In general, though, remember to consider the format, structure and content equally, and you’ll write a great Personal Statement.

Here is a breakdown of how we recommend students to split up their essay:

Personal Statement Introduction

Rightly or wrongly, it is highly likely that your UCAS Personal Statement will be remembered by its opening sentence. It must be something short, sharp, insightful, and catch the reader’s attention. It sets the precedent for the rest of your statement and unfortunately, decides whether your statement is paid particular attention to when read.

Once that’s out of the way, you need to answer the most important question:

The introduction does not need to be very long. It is generally a good idea to open the statement with something that sets the context of your application. For example, someone who is applying to study History may open: ‘History is all around us’, rather than ‘I have always been interested in History because…”

By the end of the introduction the reader should clearly know:

Make sure you keep it personal and honest! The exact phrase: “from a young age, I have always been interested in” was recently used more than 300 times in Personal Statements in a single year, and substituting “young” for “early” gave an additional 292 statements – these phrases can quickly become boring for Admissions Tutors to read!

Personal Statement Main Body

In the rest of your text, your aim should be to demonstrate your suitability for the course by exemplifying your knowledge of the course structure and its requirements through personal experience. Again, there are no rigorous guidelines on how to do this and it is very much down to your own writing style. Whereas some prefer a strict structure, others go for a more synoptic approach, but always remember to be consistent to achieve a flowing, easy to read Personal Statement.

Here’s the structure we recommend:

Paragraph #1: This should cover why you are suited for your subject. This will include your main academic interests, future ambitions (related to the chosen degree), and what makes the course right for you. This should be the academic side of why you want to study this subject.

Paragraph #2: This should still cover why you are suited for your subject. However, it can be less focused on academic topics. If you’ve had to overcome any significant challenges in life and wish to include these in your Personal Statement, this is normally the best place to do so. Similarly, any work experience or relevant prizes & competitions should be included here.

Paragraph #3: This is the smallest part of the main body and is all about extra-curricular activities. It is easy to get carried away in this section and make outrageous claims, e.g. claim to be a mountain climber if all you have ever climbed is a hill at the end of your street etc. Lying is not worth the risk, given that your interviewer may share the same hobby that you claim to be an expert in. So, don’t be caught out!

What you should include in your Personal Statement main body:

What you shouldn’t include in your Personal Statement main body (or anywhere!):

Personal Statement Conclusion

The conclusion of your Personal Statement should be more about leaving a good final impression rather than conferring any actual information. If you have something useful to say about your interest and desire to study your subject, you shouldn’t be waiting until the very end to say it!

A good conclusion should not include any new information, as this should be in the main body. However, you also need to avoid repeating what you have said earlier in your Personal Statement. This would be both a waste of characters and frustration for the tutor. Instead, it is better to put into context what you have already written and, therefore, make an effort to keep your conclusion relatively short – no more than four lines.

For more inspiration, take a look through our other successful Personal Statement a nalysis articles:

Successful Personal Statement For Computer Science At Oxford

Our Personal Statement do’s

1. Show passion for your subject

Admissions Tutors aren’t going to pick a candidate who doesn’t seem particularly interested in their field. Show your passion and eagerness to learn and succeed. Why do you love your subject? Why have you chosen it? What do you find most interesting and why?

2. Talk about you

This is your chance to talk about you, your interests and skills. It’s no good saying you’re passionate if you don’t prove that you are. Write in a natural style to show off your personality, making sure it’s genuine, relevant and specific.

3. Use appropriate language

Re-read your Personal Statement multiple times and check that the content is academic, engaging and clear.

4. Provide evidence to back up your claims

It’s all well and good saying you love medical science, but this is going to fall flat if you can’t back it up. Talk about your school subjects and results, any wider reading and relevant work experience. Perhaps you attended a lecture on your subject — this would be good evidence.

5. Link your activities outside of education to your course

Tell tutors why these activities are relevant and what you have learned as a result. Focus on transferable skills gained too, such as time management or organisational abilities.

6. Spell check and look for grammatical mistakes

Poor spelling and grammar makes for a terrible first impression, so ensure you triple-check it’s written to the highest standard before submitting it.

Our Personal Statement dont’s

1. Write a clichéd beginning

Don’t waste time thinking of a catchy opening. The best Personal Statements get to the point quickly, so avoid starting with phrases like “From a young age”, “I am applying for this course because”, and “Throughout my life I have always enjoyed…”. Go straight into why you are interested in your course subject.

2. Use cringe-worthy language and cheap gags

This is not impressive and can indicate that you’re not a serious student. It’s essential you don’t come across as verbose or pretentious too, as Admissions Tutors will spot this immediately. They are well-versed in the ramblings of students who think this tone makes them seem more intellectual.

3. Overcomplicate things

Say what you need to, be specific and don’t waffle too much — you’ll run out of characters fast.

4. Go overboard with extra-curricular activities

Talking about these is good, but the truth is, Admissions Tutors have very little interest in what you do outside of education unless you can find a way to directly link them to your subject.

5. Plagiarise content

You can read Personal Statement examples online for inspiration but avoid copying and pasting them. During your interview, you’re likely to be asked about specific parts of your statement, and if you’re caught off-guard, you’re going to look silly. This could ruin your chances of being accepted. Use a plagiarism detector to ensure your essay is unique.

6. Mention universities or specific courses by name

You can only write one Personal Statement, so it’s the same for each course you apply for. Avoid mentioning specific unis by name or detailing exact specifics of a module, for example. Keep it general.

Now you know what to include in your Personal Statement and the best practices for doing so, we hope you feel more confident writing it. We have plenty of guides and successful personal statement examples to go through in our Free Personal Statement Resources page. Good luck submitting your UCAS application!

First impressions count. Learn how to craft the perfect Personal Statement that demonstrates your suitability to Oxbridge Admissions Tutors.

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Literature Quotes and Sayings

We see, enjoy, and criticize the end result of writers' work, but there's so much more to these pieces than what the public consumes. After all, millions of books get published every year, joining the vast libraries that have been built up over time, but we regard few as classics, greats or masterpieces. So what makes the difference between just another piece of writing and a literary success ? Often, it's the writer.

Here's a collection of thoughts from world-famous writers on what literature means to them and why they pursued the written word as a means to express themselves.

Quotes About Writing and Literature

Like a Woman Who Gives Herself Without Preference

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english literature quotes personal statement

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Student reading on bench

How to write a personal statement for English

Tips for convincing English tutors you deserve a place on their course

Here's an analogy every student of English will grasp: "Think of your personal statement as a very short, short story. It has to have a beginning and an end and a character that we care about.

"For the purposes of this story, you are that character. What makes you tick?" Sheffield English lecturer Jonathan Ellis recommends that's the approach you take when you start writing your personal statement.

But in telling your story, don't let your imagination run riot. Listen to the note of caution sounded by the academics who read the personal statements submitted by sixth-formers trying to get on to their English courses. You need to play it safe, they say.

The quietly thoughtful, honest statement will go a lot further than one puffed up with flamboyant claims and razzmatazz.

Professor Martin Coyle, admissions tutor for English at Cardiff University, says students who strain too hard for effect often sound hollow. An interest in the minor figures in Jane Austen's novels is more likely to interest an admissions tutor than a statement written in blank verse, he says.

"They should also be looking forward to university – to anything from analysing grammar in detail, to learning old English, to studying post-modern American poetry," says Professor Coyle.

Does he object to students with a "passion" for their subject. Not really, he says. "If they're not passionate at 17, they're never going to be passionate!"

But Dr Hilary Hinds, an admissions tutor from the English department at Lancaster University, finds cliches such as "passionate about literature" and "I've loved books for as long as I can remember" dull and predictable. "Demonstrate it rather than claim it," she says.

Lancaster University offers English with creative writing, a course that gives applicants a little more scope to be imaginative in their personal statements, says Dr Hinds.

But it is more important to provide evidence of creative writing experience, such as submitting work to a poetry magazine or editing a school magazine.

Dr Hinds advises students to avoid reeling off a list of their A-level reading. "Give me some kind of contextual, analytical or historical angle that shows you are actively engaging with course texts."

School-leavers fresh to an English degree have to brace themselves for a hefty reading list, and evidence of extensive reading in your personal statement will convince tutors you can handle it.

Dr Richard Storer, admissions tutor for English at Leeds Trinity, recommends students read and discuss as much as they can outside of the A-level curriculum. "Books from pre-1900 will catch the eye – that shows more of a readiness to take on a challenge," he says.

His personal bugbear is the opening quote from Plato, Nelson Mandela or Oscar Wilde that may or may not reflect the applicant's philosophy on life. "Quite often they don't seem to have actually looked at the quote or understood it."

Such misplaced pretension is not going to impress Oxbridge either. Steve Watts, chair of the Cambridge admissions forum, says he's never happy to receive personal statements in badly written verse. "There's standing out from the crowd – fine. But there's also making a show of yourself – not so fine," he says.

"The worst thing you can do is to declare how much you love Tolstoy, say, when you're only at page five of War and Peace. You can guarantee we'll ask you about something from the middle or end."

What should you include in your statement? Ucas guidance recommends applicants state their career aspirations, reasons for choosing the course, academic interests, relevant experience and other interests. Is that applicable to an English degree?

Well, the trick is to keep it relevant. A Duke of Edinburgh expedition to the Lake District might seem tangential but it is interesting if it inspires you to read Dorothy Wordsworth's journals. A supermarket Saturday job doesn't develop your powers of literary criticism – but it does show you can get up early and take responsibility for yourself.

English tutors at the University of Cambridge don't really expect work experience – unless its something that enhances how you think about literature, says Watts.

He also says he'd be surprised if many candidates knew their career aspirations at the personal statement stage. Other interests, however, are important: "Reading, theatre-going, film-watching, creative writing, making drama could all be called hobbies but are also part of the business of critical engagement which most English degrees are all about."

Tutors are assessing your potential, not what you have already achieved. They are aware that some students have a better chance of gathering impressive life experiences than others.

Research conducted last year by Dr Steve Jones of Manchester University found that personal statements from independent school applicants were generally better written and listed more prestigious experiences than those from state school applicants.

"Admissions tutors are increasingly conscious of how past advantage can affect the statements submitted," says Dr Jones, "Academic capital is more important than cultural capital – so it's great if you can play the flute, but we'll be more impressed if you show a deep understanding of your discipline and the kind of content you'll encounter on your chosen courses."

He also advises erring on the side of caution when it comes to style. "Don't be under-formal or over-formal, don't crack jokes, and don't use up your word count with pretentious quotes," he says.

There are subtler and more effective ways of bringing your personal statements to life. "The best personal statements," says Sheffield's Ellis, "have their own story to tell – perhaps beginning with the first book you finished in one sitting or the first book you re-read.

"Do you care about authors or genres? Novels or poems? There's no right answer.

"We certainly don't look favourably on personal statements that don't mention a single book. Alas, there are many of these every year.

And of course, every tutor makes it clear that impeccable spelling and grammar are paramount, particularly for English applications. The advice is to check and check again, then get parents, teachers and friends to check.

A misplaced apostrophe can be really off-putting to admissions tutors, and you don't want to give them an easy reason to turn you down.

Most viewed

Prepare the Perfect English Literature Personal Statement

Applying for English Literature at university? You need a good personal statement.

Studying English at university gives you the opportunity to explore great literature, as well as the chance to develop critical thinking and communication skills. What’s more, English graduates go on to have top careers in law, journalism, consulting, and academia. The best places to study English Literature include Oxford, Cambridge, and Durham - but, whatever university you want to get into, you need to start with a great UCAS personal statement . 

You probably already love to read - you want to study English, after all - but it can be tricky to know what to read in order to prepare your personal statement. We’ve gathered the best things to read, listen to, and watch to make your personal statement stand out from the rest. 

english literature quotes personal statement

English Literature Personal Statement

What Makes a Good English Literature Personal Statement?

Of course, a great English Literature personal statement will feature a lot of books. That being said, strong personal statements don’t just recite a long list of classic literature - they engage with the texts. It’s far better to choose a handful of texts that you can analyse deeply , rather than write about every single thing you’ve ever read without saying what you think about them. 

Make your opinions and thoughts clear. What other pieces of writing does this novel remind you of? Why do you think this poet used those techniques? How does this book link to historical context? 

Your English Literature personal statement should also show range across period and genres . For instance, include a contemporary novel and a Victorian poem, or a Renaissance play alongside a film that came out in the 1990s. This will show that you’re able to adapt to a wide variety of texts and demonstrate your passion across the whole subject. 

english literature quotes personal statement

The Best Books for an English Literature Personal Statement 

Finding the best books to read for an English personal statement can feel daunting - there are plenty of intimidating reading lists packed with Dickens and Shakespeare. Reading classic, pre-20th century literature is a great way to boost your personal statement - but it’s not the only way. In fact, it’s far better to pursue your own interests and develop a niche. Interested in science fiction? Great - find some literary sci-fi that is overlooked by elite reading lists. Want to read more diverse fiction than the classic canon? Fantastic - dig deep into history and discover writers like Fanny Burney and Elizabeth Jane Howard. Developing your own passions will make your personal statement stand out. 

Read fiction that you enjoy - whether that’s novels or short stories. Go further than what you’ve read at school. You should have a balance of under-the-radar writers and established literary figures - the likes of George Eliot, Mary Shelley, and Oscar Wilde. If you’re interested in very old literature, try reading Geoffrey Chaucer or Thomas More. Familiarise yourself with literary movements as well as specific authors, too - interesting literary movements include Romanticism, Postmodernism, and Magical Realism. 

Your personal statement should ideally include poetry alongside novels. Use anthologies like The Rattle Bag, edited by Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes, and She is Fierce, edited by Ana Sampson, to explore a huge range of poetry. Don’t just stick to poetry that you’ve studied at school! If you’re not a poetry fan, then think about music lyrics that you like - could these be considered as poetry? 

Finally, supplement your reading with books about literature. This will show that you are thinking about literature, as well as consuming it. Terry Eagleton’s book Literary Theory is a great introduction to theory, as is Jonathan Culler’s Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction. Try to link what you learn from these books to literature that you’ve read. Literary biographies are also a great way to widen your knowledge. Claire Tomalin has written great biographies of Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Thomas Hardy, to name a few. Read about literary movements, too. The Madwoman in the Attic by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar is about feminism in literature, while George Saunders’ A Swim in a Pond in the Rain is an introduction to Russian short stories. 

What to Watch for an English Personal Statement 

Plays are literature too! What’s great about plays is that you can stream them. Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, and Tony Kushner are fantastic playwrights to start with - their work is engaging and accessible. There are hundreds of Shakespeare productions to be found on YouTube - focus on ones from the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre.

YouTube can also be a great way to learn more about literary theory. The School of Life, for instance, is a YouTube channel that discusses philosophy and writing. They have a whole playlist discussing writers including Virginia Woolf and George Orwell, and a ‘History of Ideas’ series which explores literary movements like Romanticism. 

Listening to Radio and Podcasts Will Make Your UCAS Application Stand Out 

Podcasts can feature a wide range of academic speakers, which can help broaden your knowledge of your subject. Radio Four’s In Our Time explores a different topic every episode, ranging from Wuthering Heights to Moby Dick. Each episode features academics from leading universities - you can find a back catalogue of episodes online. Oxford University’s “Great Writer’s Inspire” project features a huge array of lectures that you can stick on in the background - topics include Why Literature Matters and Key Critical Concepts. 

In order to write a perfect personal statement, read as widely and as broadly as you can. Watch and listen to expert talks in order to start thinking like an academic, too. Once you’re ready to turn your preparation into a personal statement, check out our tips for writing a UCAS application that’s unique. Our expert team are on hand to help you get into your dream university - find out more here. 

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What to include in a Personal Statement

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English Literature Personal Statement

Literature has a unique ability in gathering an array of emotions from its readers whilst revealing attitudes towards characters or time periods. A writer’s ingenuity has always engrossed me, which led me to believe that English is the ideal degree to read at university.

An insight into canonical literature truly developed a hunger for literature within me. I particularly found Austen’s focus on the women of Georgian society to be amusing, notably the way that marriage was such a significant aspect of their lives. Her books seemed to remove excessive vulnerability from her female characters; they were thoughtful like Anne Elliot, intelligent like Elizabeth Bennet and imaginative like Catherine Morland. Victorian literature was also engaging in my eyes with Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” offering me a satirical outlook on the social hierarchy of the nineteenth century. I was intrigued by how the members of the upper class, such as Lady Bracknell, persisted to maintain their status and strived to have no association with those that they believed were of a lower breed.

Recently, I have started to appreciate the finesse of close reading. I admired how the use of creative language in Arundhati Roy’s “The God of Small Things”, such as the capitalisation of words, accentuated meaningful events through the twins’ eyes. The parallels were visible between their delight in the English language and my own when I had first began to learn English as a second language. Furthermore, close reading was vital in my comprehension of a governesses’ life in Victorian England and aided me to differentiate between the romantic view that “Jane Eyre” portrayed as opposed to the mundanity that Anne Bronte depicted in “Agnes Grey”.

My AS English Literature course was fundamental to me in developing my ability to critically analyse characters and ideas, especially in the novel “Frankenstein”. I found it fascinating that Frankenstein’s hubris leads to the creature’s destructive nature and that Shelley questions humanity’s desire to overstep the boundaries of science. Nevertheless, I found myself sympathising with Frankenstein due to his eagerness in pioneering a new path for mankind and found him comparable to scientists today. My own investigative approach was heightened by the study of Biology and Mathematics at AS. Similarly, Emily Dickinson’s poetry taught me to consider what she was implying behind her stanzas and to contemplate the presentation of her themes. Her poem “I felt a Funeral, in my Brain” was poignant in the sense that it compared a mental illness to a death which I found harrowing.

What I found most gratifying outside of college was my development in communication skills, an aspect that is imperative for an English student. Participating in Model United Nations as a Syrian delegate was demanding during the peak of the crisis but it honed my capability to produce effectual responses. I volunteer at Marie Curie Cancer Care in order to give back to the community as well as it enabling me to work effectively in a team, which I find invaluable. I learnt to swim this year-a prospect that I had initially been fearful of. I also became a volunteer for the Summer Reading Challenge through my local library. It was beneficial in the sense that I was able to create a curiosity for unfamiliar stories in younger children.

Over the years, my affection for English has only been elevated and my aptitude and diligence for learning will be of great service during my time at university. I view literature with unwavering zeal which will certainly permit me to relish the challenges ahead.

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English personal statements

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On this page you'll find a collection of real personal statements written by students applying to study English and related courses at university.

These personal statements are written by real students - don't expect them all to be perfect! But by reading through a few of these samples, you'll be able to get some ideas and inspiration for your own personal statement. 

English personal statement examples

More help with your personal statement, personal statement examples.

You can find personal statement examples for other courses by using this subject list, or by returning to our personal statements by subject page.

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How to Write a Personal Statement for English 2023: An Oxbridge Graduate’s Top Tips

English Literature Personal Statement

When applying to university, your personal statement is your best opportunity to showcase what motivates you to study the subject you are applying for and why you are suited to study it.  You can do this by providing evidence of your interest: how have you gone beyond the curriculum to satisfy questions which reach past the subject at A Level?  Interviewers for English at university will be looking for students who have an insatiable curiosity for learning and developed interests in various areas of the subject.  They will also be looking for candidates who have the analytical skills and academic rigour required for success at university.  And, of course, you’ll be expected to demonstrate evidence of substantial reading; a successful personal statement will provide a starting point for an interview discussion, so gesture towards a range of different texts which you are prepared to discuss at length. Don’t shy away from making a provocative statement, as long as you are prepared to support any claim you make: independent, fresh responses to texts will generate a positive response.

The key tips to bear in mind when writing a personal statement are: be truthful, be ambitious and don’t undersell yourself. This is an opportunity to show off what you’re good at! Don’t hold back from writing about times when you have excelled (for example, winning an essay competition) but don’t distort what you’ve done either. Don’t mention books which you haven’t read all the way through. If you feel like your breadth of reading might be lacking, it’s a good idea to do some extension reading in the months leading up to applying for university, so that when it comes to writing your personal statement, you’ll have a wide variety of texts to choose from.

How to Structure Your English Personal Statement

The word count for personal statements is quite limited, so it’s important to use every sentence effectively. Don’t repeat yourself and don’t include information which isn’t relevant to your application. When applying for English, there are certain areas which should be addressed in your personal statement, so here is a guideline of how one might structure the personal statement to ensure that all of these areas are mentioned.

Introductory paragraph:

What is your motivation to study English?  Be specific: what do you want to explore at university? What is distinctive about studying literature that makes it worthwhile? Ensure you talk about what motivates your study of the subject now, not a catalyst from your childhood as, even if it may be true, the interviewer will find it clichéd and less relevant.

Main body of the personal statement:

Devote at least a paragraph to talking about specific areas of interest within the subject.  What excites you most? For example, do you have a particular fascination with performance studies or postcolonial theory? Indicate that you have opinions and preoccupations within the discipline.

Mention a range of texts which have interested you: ensure that you’ve mentioned at least one play, prose text and piece of poetry.  It’s also a good idea to show that you’ve engaged with secondary texts, for example a work of literary criticism or a book covering the historical background of a period of literature you’ve studied.

Show that you have an active interest in the subject: have you sought out performances of plays, special lectures or essay competitions? These will all reveal that you’ve gone out of your way to immerse yourself in your subject already, and this is a very appealing trait in a prospective university candidate.

Showcase your skills: don’t just name-drop texts but say something incisive and persuasive about them. This could involve discussing what links together works by authors of the same period or what defines the work of a single author.  Demonstrate your ability to analyse texts effectively, because this is the most important skill which you will use studying English at university level.

English Personal Statement

Looking for ideas for personal statement content?

We have built out an entire co-curricular platform, Minds Underground, for university applicants to use as evidence for their wider subject exploration. A few ideas:

Our English Literature Summer School allows students to broaden their horizons in literature, to consider authors and theorists from across the globe. classes are hosted by our Oxbridge-educated tutors, from a Fellow at all Soul’s College, Oxford, to published authors and Master’s and PhD researchers specialising in English Lang & Lit

Research Projects: E.g. ““Ways of Seeing": Exploring Word, Image and Ideology with a Cambridge Master's English Researcher and Multidisciplinary Artist” (Typically 1 month, 5 project tutorial sessions)

Final paragraph:

The personal statement isn’t long enough to talk at length about extracurricular hobbies and activities, so don’t let these take up too much space (a few lines maximum). However, it is a good idea to mention what you do outside your subject to present yourself as a well-rounded candidate. Therefore:

Mention your other A Level subjects, perhaps describing how they have enhanced your study of English. This will be particularly convincing if you have studied History or a foreign language at A Level.

Mention any extracurricular activities which make you stand out. Do you play a musical instrument, and if so, to what level? If you’re involved in sport, do you play in a team?  Don’t write at length about this: try to contain this information within one sentence.

Mention any prizes or roles of responsibility which you have had at school, including any clubs that you might organise, such as the school newspaper or student council.

Conclude your personal statement by returning to your aptitude for studying the subject . Which core skills do you possess which will equip you to excel at degree level? It’s important to strike a balance between enthusiasm for the subject and evidence of skills.

By Sarah (English Language & Literature, University of Oxford - U2 Tutor)

Looking for an English Personal Statement Writing Tutor or Support For Your Wider Oxbridge English Application?

English Personal Statement Tutoring

U2 Tuition’s Oxbridge-educated tutors have a close insight into what admissions tutors like to see in an English personal statement, and can help students to convey their skills, motivations, and long term goals, in order to stand out from other applicants. The statement should be the candidates own work, but our mentors will provide direction and guide you through the process of content building and writing. We offer offline drafting as well as tuition sessions.

Oxbridge English Tutoring

U2 Tuition offers ELAT admissions test preparation, as well as wider Oxbridge Mentoring programmes (book a free consultation to discuss options). We have a large team of Oxbridge-educated English mentors including 1st Class, Master’s and PhD level graduates.

The Process:

1) We suggest an Oxbridge English graduate as a mentor and send their full CV for review. Our mentors are deeply familiar with the admissions process to study English at the University of Oxford, Cambridge, as well as top UK Universities such as UCL, and are well-placed to guide you through personal statement curation, the entrance exam and interview process. We may suggest a range of application tutors to choose from with slightly differing rates depending on qualifications and level of experience.

2) We typically suggest beginning with a 1.5 hour informal assessment/ taster session , where the mentor will informally assess the student’s current performance level for application, including test and interview. Following this, we issue a report with feedback, and structure a plan to best prepare.

3) U2’s approach for regular English application sessions: The main focus of tutorial sessions will be to explore material that can be discussed in the personal statement and at interview - this may sometimes stretch from A-Level standard to First Year Undergraduate. Mentors ensure each student refines their literary interests, and is exposed to a range of literary eras, approaches and new concepts, guiding students in their reading and wider subject exploration. Together, we build a case for the student, solidifying the stance and direction they will take during interview and honing skills for the ELAT if applicable.

Frequency of sessions can be decided between student and mentor. Students can take either ad hoc sessions, or we structure a full programme for preparation, which may include further co-curricular opportunities such as our research projects , English Literature summer school and Oxbridge mock interview days. Honing the skills necessary to succeed for Oxbridge ideally requires long-term preparation and mentoring presents a wonderful opportunity to learn from some of the very best Oxbridge has produced.

Sessions from £70/h + VAT.

Educational Podcasts to Listen to in 2023: A Subject-Specific Guide to BBC’s Higher Education Podcast: ‘In Our Time’

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