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Any Questions on how to do a good Economics Personal Statement?

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Post on TSR and win a prize! Find out more... 10-04-2014
Interview Discussion 30-01-2014
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    Currently there are no Economics Personal Statement in the wiki and unlikely to be until after September. Current AS students are starting their PSs and could do with some guidance. As I have got experience of what does and what does not work in an economics PS I have decided to do this thread. My plan is that you will post your questions. And I will then edit this initial post to give answers in a FAQ type format.

    These answers are only my (hopefully informed!) opinions and should not be interpreted too religiously. In order to give understandable answers, my comments are liable to have excessive declarative force (e.g. a lack of conditionalisers)

    What Should I do before I start writing my PS?
    Firstly work out what subject you want to do and why. i.e. if you know why you want to study Economics then that puts you in a good position to write a PS.
    Secondly select your universities. For Economics your research should include;
    i) TAELT (The Alternative Economics League Table) 2009. This ranks all UK unis for economics into different groups and gives a lot of background information.
    http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=619184
    ii) The Econ Uni guide. This gives lots of advise on how to use TAELT and how to select your 5 unis.
    http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=658957

    Does my PS matter?
    Yes. It is the first, best and probably only chance you have to sell yourself as an Economist:
    i) Show your interest in the subject.
    ii) Show your ability in the subject
    iii) Show your comprehension of the subject.

    What about my exam results?
    Well exam results are important as well. But they don’t sell your motivation or interest in the subject, only your capability. And lots of other candidates will also have good exam results. So it is important to use your PS to make you stand out.

    Why should I listen to you?
    Fair question.
    Firstly according to the official figures for last season (up to January) I contributed to 49 PSs. I have helped on many more since then and before I become a PS Helper I helped people independently. Further, whilst a PS helper I have read many PSs I have not contributed to, which do not appear in the official figures. Hence I have a good empirical knowledge of what makes a PS good (or bad).

    Secondly I am an Economist (see my sig) and hence I can tell if what you say in your PS makes you sound like you are also an Economist.

    What should be in an economics PS?
    1) Explain why you are interested in and have ability in economics.
    2) Want an example of an economic idea and your reaction (feelings and thoughts).
    3) Using your experiences vividly to give examples of the relevant personal skills you have.

    How should I go about writing a good PS?
    Do a mindmap.
    This helps you get your ideas clear without focusing initially on the detail of how to express something as a sentence.
    You can get down all your ideas of what you might put in your PS. Then move them around and see how they can be structured in a good way.
    Only then should you start using a word processor

    What do I need to do a mindmap?
    Download some freeware software. (see wikipedia for a list http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...pping_software)
    Most of them are pretty simple to use.
    You should up and running in no time.
    (And it is a useful long term skill for when at uni e.g. for essay planning).

    What is the role of each of those sections?
    Section 1): Give background. Show that this is not just a random short term decision. That doing an econ degree is natural extension of your life so far. That it is a continuation.

    Section 2): Show that you are an Economist rather than a layman. Take an idea from a book by a great Economist. Then:
    i)Explain the idea (1 or 2 sentences)
    ii)Give your reaction: feelings (1 or 2 sentences) and thoughts (1 or 2 sentences).
    In order to do this you will need to read some books in order to find the concept that resonates with you most.

    Section 3) Show that you have the personal skills needed to do a degree. Don’t just give activities and skills. Instead give specific examples. So just saying “I needed to be a leader to complete the Gold Duke of Edinburgh award” is not great. Want an example of how doing the award required you to be a leader.

    And are you sure that they want these 3 things?
    I don’t claim to have a direct inside secret source. Breaking a PS down into 3 sections is a suggestion on how to give a PS shape: a lot of PSs I read have terrible structure. This is not good:it appears that you can’t/won’t write in a well-structured manner. And as economics undergraduates spend 3 years writing lots of essay it is very relevant.

    As the PSs I have read are generally poorly planned, felt it essential to some advice on structure. As I only have 1 suggestion that is all I give. However, I do think it is a good plan.

    But if you have an alternative plan on how to lay on your statement then go with it. It is certainly possible I have been excessively prescriptive. However the wiki similarly talks about 3 questions.

    Are you sure that they want the thing about the economic idea? I haven't seen it much in personal statements but it does seem like something they would like.
    I would not go as far as sure (are economists ever sure about anything?). But when there are 15 applicants per place you certainly want a strong application that sells you as an economist. Without any guidance from me nearly every PS I have read has listed the author and title of a book. All I am encouraging applicants to do is to show they have read the inside and not just the outside of the book. Hopefully by this will come across as an economist and not just someone who visited a bookshop once

    Where should my skills go?
    Direct skills should go in section 1.
    Indirect skills should go in section3.

    Direct skills are skills that show that you are a good economist.
    Indirect skills are skills that show that you are a good student.

    What order should I put these sections in?
    I think generally the best idea is to put them in the order I have numbered them (However, the most important thing is to have an order and not just have an unstructured PS with random sentences.) With the order I have suggested you start in the beginning with what life experience have made you an economist (section 1), give an example of where you are currently as an economist (section 2) and finally give the secondary personal skills that support your application (section 3).
    I have read lots of PSs where the economics gets squashed into the 1st introductory paragraph. Not good.

    Do I really need to have a deep knowledge of current economic affairs in the world? I'm just worried that I'll go to an interview and be asked "What do you think of....?" and not know what they are talking about.
    Firstly not sure how many unis interview for econ. Secondly you are not at that stage yet: need a PS to get an interview before worrying about interview technique. Thirdly if you read The Economist or read a newspaper then you will be fine.

    However wanting to understand current affairs could be one of the motivations you give for wanting to study economics.

    I know I want to study Economics. But I can't explain why. Help!!!
    Try and identify your major personal characteristics. Some of them you should be able to sell as being relevant to your application.

    OK. But how I can I find out my major Characteristics?
    Ask friends and family what makes you "special".
    Also try and increases your self awareness (sorry if that sounds too new age).
    http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp

    Can you say something in the course that interests you? Like, "I am particularly interested in studying Econometrics because....."? .
    Sounding like you have read the undergraduate handbook is good as it show you are serious and have done some research.
    However not sure how you can from a position of ignorance finish that sentence well.

    What book should I get my economic idea from?
    There is no best book.
    Reading more books gives you more choice and hence more chance of finding an idea that really resonates with you.

    Which book is one I am likely to get something out of? Personally I don't care that much about real world stuff and prefer economic theory like demand curves but I don't mind reading anything that is interesting and will add some content to my personal statement. Is there a list of good ones? I heard Freakonomics is good, what else is there?
    Asking "which book?" is like asking me "which gf?" (or bf depending on sexual preference). It is very subjective depends on you.
    To find a book start with cheapest options:
    i) Go to library.
    ii) Go to charity shops.

    Want to associate yourself with quality. So Nobel prize winners are good. Or people likely to (e.g. Krugman)

    Oh and I can't recall any helpees getting anything good out of Freakonomics. Having recently the book ,I would not want to reference it in a PS. To me it is too uncritical and leaves me detached. I don't feel active. Conversely I have started reading "The Armchair Economist" by "Steven E. Landsburg" and I really really like it. Much much more like it

    How should I read the book?
    With a pen and paper. When the book explains a concept that produces a cognitive and emotional reaction in you, write the idea and the reaction down.

    Could you give me a list of books that would be good and could be mentioned on a PS? I don’t have a list sorry.

    Any online sources of economics ideas?
    http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economics/laureates/

    Do I need to know anything specific outside of the syllabus for the interview? I read in a book that Oxford have asked about the Philips curve and this has not come up in AS. In fact some Economics applicants haven't even studied Economics A Level so they wouldn't know either. Flippantly: non-economics students probably will not get in as at top unis 80-90% of students have A-level economics. More constructively: reading 1st year undergraduate economics textbooks would be good (2nd hand from last 10 years fine). That can be a source of economic ideas for you to respond to. And that will let you know what you are letting yourself in for.

    What do you mean by an economic idea? Something like David Ricardo's stuff about comparative advantage?
    That would be an example. But you want a 20th/21st centaury example not one from 1815. Want a current active idea. E.g. an idea that won a Nobel prize. With old ideas:
    i) You sound like a historian not an economist
    ii) How can you possibly have a reaction about a concept that is now commonly accepted.

    You can't just go and look for any book because, as you said, Freankonomics would not be a good idea, and neither would an old book (like The Wealth of Nations). This sounds somewhat defeatist to me. And I am not saying you should not read popular economics books. Just be realist about them: reading one will not magically make you into or show you to be an economist. However it may be a pathway to other economics books that do. Yes, you may have to read more than 1 book if you want a strong PS.

    Could you read a book about Game Theory or is it too much Mathematics and not enough Economics? How about a book by Stiglitz like his Globalization one? Or would that be too tough at my level? I just want something which will look good, give me ideas and not be too tough. Game Theory would do nicely. I have not read the Stiglitz Globalisation book. But he is certainly a high class economist and if globalisation interests you then it sounds like a good choice to me. You can certainly try his book. Finally a book written by a Nobel Prize winner is stronger source material than one half written by a Clarks Medal Winner.

    I don't know what to quote from the book?
    Don't quote. Instead describe an idea from the book

    Does the book have to be modern?
    When the book was publisched is not a direct issue.

    What format should I use for the economic concept section?
    Previously I said about:
    i) stating the idea (1 or 2 sentences)
    ii) giving your reaction: feelings and thoughts (1 or 2 sentences)
    Another format would be:
    i) give a common sense idea (or old economic) idea
    ii) give an economic (or new economic) idea
    iii)Give your reaction.

    What sort of writing style should I use?
    Direct: You are trying to sell yourself. So the PS should be like a Sales Pitch.
    Punchy: As with amateur boxing want each sentence to score you points.

    Why should I be direct and punchy?
    Imagine the admissions tutor as being a fair but initially uncertain judge who needs to be convinced about your ability and inclination to do economics. So you need to do sell yourself to the best of your ability. However, you have a limited number of lines (and characters) to do this in. (This is an example of a constrained optimisation problem.)

    2 observations:
    i) Hard to conclusively prove either your ability or inclination. Hence the best you can do is make it suggestive that you are an Economist.
    ii) The more words you use to make a point the less points you can make in the limited space. The more points you make the more chance you have of convincing the admissions Tutor.

    So imagine the admissions tutor as taking the initial position that you are not an economist. Then each sentence should be an attack on that position. The shorter the sentence the faster the blows come in. And he (or she) may be able to provide resistance against some of your comments easily enough. But the shear volume of your points should overwhelme him (or her). Resulting in him (or her ) making you an offer.

    Should I use quotes?
    No. With a PS you can say something directly or indirectly:
    i)Directly = own words = 1 sentence
    ii)Indirectly: 1st sentence = the quote. 2nd sentence = interpret the quote.
    So the indirect route takes twice as long. Which is not good when you have such a tight line/character limit.

    What should I do to sound clever?
    Don't try and sound clever.
    Just assemble clearly the evidence and explain the reasons why economics is the correct course for you.

    should I use a metaphor?
    No: sounds like flowery language to me.

    What sort of language is good?
    An Analogy. In Freakonomics it gives a list of 10 terms used by Estate Agents:
    Fantastic
    Granite
    Spacious
    State-of-the-Art
    !
    Corian (a type of Kitchen work surface)
    Charming
    Maple
    Great Neighbourhood
    Gourmet

    It then asks which 5 are linked to high prices and which to low.

    High Price:
    Granite
    State-of-the-Art
    Corian (a type of Kitchen work surface)
    Maple
    Gourmet

    Low Price
    Fantastic
    Spacious
    !
    Charming
    Great Neighbourhood

    The good 5 are specific, physical straightforward useful terms.
    The bad 5 are empty adjectives. ambigous, lack solid interpretation, makes it sounds like the house "does not have specific attributes worth describing", false enthusiasm (esp. !)

    The relevance of this to your PS? Give useful information not empty adjectives.

    What should I say about my A-levels?
    Nothing.
    As:
    i)there is already a box on the form for qualifications.
    ii)PS space is finite and you do not want to waste it
    iii) anything you say about why your A-levels make you good at econ will apply to anyone else taking those subjects. Hence you will not gain a relative advantage.

    Should you really not say anything about your A Levels? Couldn't you say that studying Physics or Chemistry has made you think analytically and logically, and also say that you like Mathematics and that you're not afraid of the Mathematics you'll find in the Economics course? .
    The admissions tutor will already know the virtues of Physics and Chemistry: so that would be a waste of your time. If you believe that one of your key strengths is maths, then sure you should demonstrate that in your PS. But that would not consist of talking about your A-levels or saying (weakly) that you like maths. Conversely introducing evidence (e.g. Maths Olympiad) or particular vivid experience would be strong.

    Could I say that I achieved Bronze in the Mathematics challenge or will a uni turn their nose up at the Bronze? .Well it is a hell of a lot better than talking about liking maths or what skills A-level Maths requires of you. And anyway you are applying for a degree in economics not maths degree. I am sure Keynes said that an Economist requires little bits of different skills. And a Bronze sounds like a decent dollop of maths to me.

    What are the role of Extra Curricular activities?
    No one is going to be impressed by your ECs in themselves. Need to use them as a launching pad to sell skills. So "I sing in the church choir" is not good. But you might use your singing experiences to show skills e.g.that you can co-operate, learn and interpret source materials.


    What is the role of work experience?
    No one is going to be much impressed by your work experience in itself. It is not going to be directly relevant to your ability to do economics: I can imagine no work experience that you can have done that can show economic ability.

    However, I can think of two indirect uses of work experience:
    1)If you have finance experience and say that you want to do finance in the future, as economic qualifications are valued in that industry, this will mean you have a certain level of commitment to studying economics when it gets tough.
    2)Show personal skills.

    So if you can't work out how your work experience shows you in a good light don't mention it

    I feel I haven't done enough extra activities for 3). What can I do? .
    It is not possible that you have done no extra-curricular activities. You must have some relevant personal qualities. And you must have some activities that can show them. There must have been 5 or 6 occasions in your life when you had to use/develop personal qualities. If you can’t recall any such occasions then either:
    i) You have had an accident and have concussion and need urgently to seek medical attention
    ii) You are an android and need to be returned to the factory to have your humanisation software updated.

    What should I do?
    Start early on your PS.
    Try to use your own voice. That way you will sound active.
    Sell yourself
    Don’t ask people “Is my PS good?”; instead ask “How can I make it better?”
    Write a PS that is primarily about you not about economics. i.e. don't start trying to write what you think an undergraduate economics essay should be like.

    Can I send you my PS?
    Sorry I no longer have time to review PSs. (It takes about an hour to review a PS. And most PSs need about 3 revisions. So with there being so many Economics Applicants, it takes a lot of time.)

    So how can I get my PS reviewed by an Economist?
    Well there is the PS Helper Service. But there is no guarantee that your helper is an Economist. (You should ask).
    Click here: http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/forumdisplay.php?f=134 after reading the PS Helper FAQ first http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/show...5#post12978105
    When you use the PS Helper service you mention in your post that you have already read these comments then they will know not to tell you to read them!

    What should I not do?
    Use lists (of books or skills or anything else)
    Claim to read the Economist (so clichéd).
    Use the Wealth of Nations as a book reference. Again clichéd. But also not where modern economics is at.
    Make unsubstantiated claims (you will just sound arrogant).
    Say you want to become an economist. Analogy: If you were applying to become a vicar you would not say that you want to become a Christian.

    Where can I get general (non-economics specific) advise on PSs?
    Lots of places:
    i)The TSR wiki: http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/wiki..._Statement_FAQ simple start. Can be trashy e.g. used to say that it was ok to do a joint PS for Business Studies and Economics which is terribly wrong. But it looks ok at the moment.
    ii)Search in google for "UCAS personal statement Help". Ignore the rip off PS reading services (use the PS Helper service instead). Go for the university websites: they know what they like.
    iii)LSE wesbite: http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/und..._statement.htm
    http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/und...s_LSE_look_for
    Solid advise from the best British university for Economics.

    What about Joint Degrees?
    Applying for combined honours degrees

    LSE offers 16 combined honours programmes. Applicants applying to these programmes are advised that it is essential that you give equal weighting in your personal statement to both combined subjects.

    For instance, if you are applying to Government and Economics you must show evidence of interest in both subjects. As half of the course covers Government, the Admissions Tutor would not make an offer to somebody who applies to this course, but only refers to their interest in Economics.
    http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/und..._statement.htm

    So basically you can't apply for economics at some places and joint degrees at other places, and expect to get offers from top unis.

    What about Economics and Management at Oxford then?
    Well that is an exception:
    i) E+M is the de facto economics course at Oxford.
    ii) You don't need to mention Management in your PS much (although a brief mention would be good):
    http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/show...98260&page=198
    http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/show...&postcount=245

    What about extenuating circumstances? Should I mention them?
    I think it is better to get your referee to mention them:
    i)You only have very limited space to do a PS in.
    ii) You may sounds pitiful
    iii) Your referee should be in a position to describe your difficulties
    e.g. relative to other applicants.
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    Thanks Paul, but wish you were there last year.
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    (Original post by panda-size)
    Thanks Paul, but wish you were there last year.
    But I was here last year: I joined in September 2007
    Anyway, did your applications not go as well as you would have hoped?
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    (Original post by Paulwhy)
    But I was here last year: I joined in September 2007
    Anyway, did your applications not go as well as you would have hoped?
    It was a bit of a bumpy ride. Having heart attacks here and there, up till March I was rejected by all 3 top 5 econ unis I applied to.
    Meh.:p:
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    Nice one, Paul :yy:
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    (Original post by panda-size)
    It was a bit of a bumpy ride. Having heart attacks here and there, up till March I was rejected by all 3 top 5 econ unis I applied to.
    Meh.:p:
    Yes but you got LSE in the end.
    Do you think your PS was to blame?
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    well done paul, helped me with my offers for 08
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    (Original post by kaal1010)
    well done paul, helped me with my offers for 08
    Glad you feel I helped you. I do reorgnise your login but I forget what offers you ended up with.
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    york southampton loughborough and lancaster. chose york and southampton as firm and insurance but things havent worked out as planned in terms of exams so you'll probably be hearing more from me when i apply for 09 entry lol and my GCSEs were discraceful so the P.S probably made the difference
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    Decent, thanks mate. This should help a lot!

    And yeah, I was thinking The Economist would sound a little overused (even though I do read it)
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    (Original post by kaal1010)
    york southampton loughborough and lancaster. chose york and southampton as firm and insurance but things havent worked out as planned in terms of exams so you'll probably be hearing more from me when i apply for 09 entry lol and my GCSEs were discraceful so the P.S probably made the difference
    Your exams may have gone better than you fear.
    If it has gone badly and your PS was good then hopefully it will be the basis of another good PS this year.

    (Original post by Amm0)
    Decent, thanks mate. This should help a lot!
    And yeah, I was thinking The Economist would sound a little overused (even though I do read it)
    Yes actually reading Economist is really good.
    Just that everyone says they do.
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    Which book is one I am likely to get something out of? Personally I don't care that much about real world stuff and prefer economic theory like demand curves but I don't mind reading anything that is interesting and will add some content to my personal statement. Is there a list of good ones? I heard Freakonomics is good, what else is there?

    What do you mean by an economic idea? Something like Adam Smith's stuff about comparative advantage?

    I feel I haven't done enough extra activities for 3. What can I do?

    And are you sure that they want these 3 things?

    Should you really not say anything about your A Levels? Couldn't you say that studying Physics or Chemistry has made you think analytically and logically, and also say that you like Mathematics and that you're not afraid of the Mathematics you'll find in the Economics course?

    Can you say something in the course that interests you? Like, "I am particularly interested in studying Econometrics because....."?

    Do I really need to have a deep knowledge of current economic affairs in the world? I'm just worried that I'll go to an interview and be asked "What do you think of....?" and not know what they are talking about.
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    well were are you thinking of applying to? with what grades etc?
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    (Original post by gangsta316)
    Which book is one I am likely to get something out of? Personally I don't care that much about real world stuff and prefer economic theory like demand curves but I don't mind reading anything that is interesting and will add some content to my personal statement. Is there a list of good ones? I heard Freakonomics is good, what else is there?

    What do you mean by an economic idea? Something like Adam Smith's stuff about comparative advantage?

    I feel I haven't done enough extra activities for 3. What can I do?

    And are you sure that they want these 3 things?

    Should you really not say anything about your A Levels? Couldn't you say that studying Physics or Chemistry has made you think analytically and logically, and also say that you like Mathematics and that you're not afraid of the Mathematics you'll find in the Economics course?

    Can you say something in the course that interests you? Like, "I am particularly interested in studying Econometrics because....."?

    Do I really need to have a deep knowledge of current economic affairs in the world? I'm just worried that I'll go to an interview and be asked "What do you think of....?" and not know what they are talking about.
    Thanks for actually giving me some questions to work with. I mean all the praise was great but not exactly formative. Hope my answers satisfy you. Oh, and I have corrected your mistake.
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    Thanks.

    Are you sure that they want the thing about the economic idea? I haven't seen it much in personal statements but it does seem like something they would like.

    Could I say that I achieved Bronze in the Mathematics challenge or will a uni turn their nose up at the Bronze?

    Could you give me a list of books that would be good and could be mentioned on a PS? You can't just go and look for any book because, as you said, Freankonomics would not be a good idea, and neither would an old book (like The Wealth of Nations). Could you read a book about Game Theory or is it too much Mathematics and not enough Economics? How about a book by Stiglitz like his Globalization one? Or would that be too tough at my level? I just want something which will look good, give me ideas and not be too tough.

    Do I need to know anything specific outside of the syllabus for the interview? I read in a book that Oxford have asked about the Philips curve and this has not come up in AS. In fact some Economics applicants haven't even studied Economics A Level so they wouldn't know either.
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    Responses above.
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    (Original post by Paulwhy)
    Currently there are no Economics Personal Statement in the wiki and unlikely to be until after September. Current AS students are starting their PSs and could do with some guidance. As I have got experience of what does and what does not work in an economics PS I have decided to do this thread. My plan is that you will post your questions. And I will then edit this initial post to give answers in a FAQ type format.

    These answers are only my (hopefully informed!) opinions and should not be interpreted too religiously. In order to give understandable answers, my comments are liable to have excessive declarative force (e.g. a lack of conditionalisers)

    What should be in an economics PS?
    1) Explain why you are interested in and have ability in economics.
    2) Want an example of an economic idea and your reaction (feelings and thoughts).
    3) Using your experiences vividly to give examples of the relevant personal skills you have.

    What is the role of each of those sections?
    Section 1): Give background. Show that this is not just a random short term decision. That doing an econ degree is natural extension of your life so far. That it is a continuation.

    Section 2): Show that you are an Economist rather than a layman. Take an idea from a book by a great Economist. Put the idea into a couple of sentences. Give your reaction: feelings and thoughts (1 or 2 sentences on each). In order to do this you will need to read some books in order to find the concept that resonates with you most.

    Section 3) Show that you have the personal skills needed to do a degree. Don’t just give activities and skills. Instead give specific examples. So just saying “I needed to be a leader to complete the Gold Duke of Edinburgh award” is not great. Want an example of how doing the award required you to be a leader.

    And are you sure that they want these 3 things?
    I don’t claim to have a direct inside secret source. Breaking a PS down into 3 sections is a suggestion on how to give a PS shape: a lot of PSs I read have terrible structure. This is not good:it appears that you can’t/won’t write in a well-structured manner. And as economics undergraduates spend 3 years writing lots of essay it is very relevant.

    As the PSs I have read are generally poorly planned, felt it essential to some advice on structure. As I only have 1 suggestion that is all I give. However, I do think it is a good plan.

    But if you have an alternative plan on how to lay on your statement then go with it. It is certainly possible I have been excessively prescriptive. However the wiki similarly talks about 3 questions.

    Are you sure that they want the thing about the economic idea? I haven't seen it much in personal statements but it does seem like something they would like.
    I would not go as far as sure (are economists ever sure about anything?). But when there are 15 applicants per place you certainly want a strong application that sells you as an economist. Without any guidance from me nearly every PS I have read has listed the author and title of a book. All I am encouraging applicants to do is to show they have read the inside and not just the outside of the book. Hopefully by this will come across as an economist and not just someone who visited a bookshop once

    What order should I put these sections in?
    I think generally the best idea is to put them in the order I have numbered them (However, the most important thing is to have an order and not just have an unstructured PS with random sentences.) With the order I have suggested you start in the beginning with what life experience have made you an economist (section 1), give an example of where you are currently as an economist (section 2) and finally give the secondary personal skills that support your application (section 3).
    I have read lots of PSs where the economics gets squashed into the 1st introductory paragraph. Not good.

    Do I really need to have a deep knowledge of current economic affairs in the world? I'm just worried that I'll go to an interview and be asked "What do you think of....?" and not know what they are talking about.
    Firstly not sure how many unis interview for econ. Secondly you are not at that stage yet: need a PS to get an interview before worrying about interview technique. Thirdly if you read The Economist or read a newspaper then you will be fine.

    However wanting to understand current affairs could be one of the motivations you give for wanting to study economics.

    Can you say something in the course that interests you? Like, "I am particularly interested in studying Econometrics because....."? .
    Sounding like you have read the undergraduate handbook is good as it show you are serious and have done some research.
    However not sure how you can from a position of ignorance finish that sentence well.

    What book should I get my economic idea from?
    There is no best book.
    Reading more books gives you more choice and hence more chance of finding an idea that really resonates with you.

    Which book is one I am likely to get something out of? Personally I don't care that much about real world stuff and prefer economic theory like demand curves but I don't mind reading anything that is interesting and will add some content to my personal statement. Is there a list of good ones? I heard Freakonomics is good, what else is there?
    Asking "which book?" is like asking me "which gf?" (or bf depending on sexual preference). It is very subjective depends on you.
    To find a book start with cheapest options:
    i) Go to library.
    ii) Go to charity shops.

    Want to associate yourself with quality. So Nobel prize winners are good. Or people likely to (e.g. Krugman)

    Oh and I can't recall any helpees getting anything good out of Freakonomics. Having recently the book ,I would not want to reference it in a PS. To me it is too uncritical and leaves me detached. I don't feel active.

    How should I read the book?
    With a pen and paper. When the book explains a concept that produces a cognitive and emotional reaction in you, write the idea and the reaction down.

    Could you give me a list of books that would be good and could be mentioned on a PS? I don’t have a list sorry.

    Any online sources of economics ideas?
    http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economics/laureates/

    Do I need to know anything specific outside of the syllabus for the interview? I read in a book that Oxford have asked about the Philips curve and this has not come up in AS. In fact some Economics applicants haven't even studied Economics A Level so they wouldn't know either. Flippantly: non-economics students probably will not get in as at top unis 80-90% of students have A-level economics. More constructively: reading 1st year undergraduate economics textbooks would be good (2nd hand from last 10 years fine). That can be a source of economic ideas for you to respond to. And that will let you know what you are letting yourself in for.

    What do you mean by an economic idea? Something like David Ricardo's stuff about comparative advantage?
    That would be an example. But you want a 20th/21st centaury example not one from 1815. Want a current active idea. E.g. an idea that won a Nobel prize. With old ideas:
    i) You sound like a historian not an economist
    ii) How can you possibly have a reaction about a concept that is now commonly accepted.

    You can't just go and look for any book because, as you said, Freankonomics would not be a good idea, and neither would an old book (like The Wealth of Nations). This sounds somewhat defeatist to me. And I am not saying you should not read popular economics books. Just be realist about them: reading one will not magically make you into or show you to be an economist. However it may be a pathway to other economics books that do. Yes, you may have to read more than 1 book if you want a strong PS.

    Could you read a book about Game Theory or is it too much Mathematics and not enough Economics? How about a book by Stiglitz like his Globalization one? Or would that be too tough at my level? I just want something which will look good, give me ideas and not be too tough. Game Theory would do nicely. I have not read the Stiglitz Globalisation book. But he is certainly a high class economist and if globalisation interests you then it sounds like a good choice to me. You can certainly try his book. Finally a book written by a Nobel Prize winner is stronger source material than one half written by a Clarks Medal Winner.

    What sort of writing style should I use?
    Direct: You are trying to sell yourself. So the PS should be like a Sales Pitch.
    Punchy: As with amateur boxing want each sentence to score you points.

    What should I do to sound clever?
    Don't try and sound clever.
    Just assemble clearly the evidence and explain the reasons why economics is the correct course for you.

    What should I say about my A-levels?
    Nothing.
    As:
    i)there is already a box on the form for qualifications.
    ii)PS space is finite and you do not want to waste it
    iii) anything you say about why your A-levels make you good at econ will apply to anyone else taking those subjects. Hence you will not gain a relative advantage.

    Should you really not say anything about your A Levels? Couldn't you say that studying Physics or Chemistry has made you think analytically and logically, and also say that you like Mathematics and that you're not afraid of the Mathematics you'll find in the Economics course? .
    The admissions tutor will already know the virtues of Physics and Chemistry: so that would be a waste of your time. If you believe that one of your key strengths is maths, then sure you should demonstrate that in your PS. But that would not consist of talking about your A-levels or saying (weakly) that you like maths. Conversely introducing evidence (e.g. Maths Olympiad) or particular vivid experience would be strong.

    Could I say that I achieved Bronze in the Mathematics challenge or will a uni turn their nose up at the Bronze? .Well it is a hell of a lot better than talking about liking maths or what skills A-level Maths requires of you. And anyway you are applying for a degree in economics not maths degree. I am sure Keynes said that an Economist requires little bits of different skills. And a Bronze sounds like a decent dollop of maths to me.

    What are the role of Extra Curricular activities?
    No one is going to be impressed by your ECs in themselves. Need to use them as a launching pad to sell skills. So "I sing in the church choir" is not good. But you might use your singing experiences to show skills e.g.that you can co-operate, learn and interpret source materials.


    What is the role of work experience?
    No one is going to be much impressed by your work experience in itself. It is not going to be directly relevant to your ability to do economics: I can imagine no work experience that you can have done that can show economic ability.

    However, I can think of two indirect uses of work experience:
    1)If you have finance experience and say that you want to do finance in the future, as economic qualifications are valued in that industry, this will mean you have a certain level of commitment to studying economics when it gets tough.
    2)Show personal skills.

    I feel I haven't done enough extra activities for 3). What can I do? .
    It is not possible that you have done no extra-curricular activities. You must have some relevant personal qualities. And you must have some activities that can show them. There must have been 5 or 6 occasions in your life when you had to use/develop personal qualities. If you can’t recall any such occasions then either:
    i) You have had an accident and have concussion and need urgently to seek medical attention
    ii) You are an android and need to be returned to the factory to have your humanisation software updated.

    What should I do?
    Start early on your PS.
    Try to use your own voice. That way you will sound active.
    Sell yourself
    Don’t ask people “Is my PS good?”; instead ask “How can I make it better?”
    Write a PS that is primarily about you not about economics. i.e. don't start trying to write what you think an undergraduate economics essay should be like.
    Use the PS Helper service: http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/forumdisplay.php?f=134 after reading the PS Helper FAQ first http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/show...5#post12978105

    What should I not do?
    Use lists (of books or skills or anything else)
    Claim to read the Economist (so clichéd).
    Use the Wealth of Nations as a book reference. Again clichéd. But also not where modern economics is at.
    Make unsubstantiated claims (you will just sound arrogant).
    Say you want to become an economist. Analogy: If you were applying to become a vicar you would not say that you want to become a Christian.

    Where can I get general (non-economics specific) advise on PSs?
    Lots of places:
    i)The TSR wiki: http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/wiki..._Statement_FAQ simple start. Can be trashy e.g. used to say that it was ok to do a joint PS for Business Studies and Economics which is terribly wrong. But it looks at the moment.
    ii)Search in google for "UCAS personal statement Help". Ignore the rip of PS reading services (use the PS Helper service instead). Go for the university websites: they know what they like.
    iii)LSE wesbite: http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/und..._statement.htm Solid advise from the best British university for Economics.
    thank you so much Paul
    That advice is awesome, im using it right now lol for my ps.
    thanks again
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    is it worth talking about wrk exp u did in yr 10 aswell as the recent one in yr 12??
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    how relevant is it?
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    (Original post by Noémie)
    how relevant is it?
    it is in an accountancy firm, though i dont really know/forgotten what i learned from it

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Updated: November 2, 2012
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