Physics can be a challenging, yet rewarding, degree choice. If it is something that interests you then you have to evidence the commitment and enthusiasm universities want, as well as showing how you are different to other applicants.
This can be done by writing your personal statement. Within it you can show how you are exactly what the university is looking for by giving details about your academic life and experience so far.
What should be put into a physics personal statement, I hear you ask? Rest assured, we have the answers.
Read some of the things that universities expect in your personal statement below. Want even more guidance? You can visit our bank of physics personal statements right now.
"Demonstrate your enthusiasm for the subject"
Don’t assume that you have to demonstrate knowledge of the subject to rival Einstein in your personal statement! Physics admissions tutors are interested in more subtle aspects of you. One key feature is demonstrating your enthusiasm for the subject – because enthusiastic students succeed.
Tutors also look for a range of skills that go beyond the qualifications you currently have and include things like your ability to communicate effectively (so watch your grammar and spelling) and your ability to work in a team – so any and all forms of external interests (not just physics) have value in your statement.
"Use your own personal experiences as evidence"
Like all subjects, when applying for a Physics degree it’s important to demonstrate your passion for this area.
Use your own personal experiences, which could be an experiment you’ve recently carried out or a course module you’ve particularly enjoyed, as evidence as to why you want to study the subject.
To further back this up it’s also great to include any field-trips you’ve been on or research you’ve carried out independent from school as extra-curricula activities clearly indicate commitment to the subject area.
Lastly ensure you tell us why you want to study physics. What do you aspire to do with your degree when you graduate?
"Distinguish yourself from others"
In physics at Oxford we look out for personal statements that tell us interesting and unique things about the candidate that might be related to physics which we can ask at the interview.
The best statements I read are quite short. As far as Oxford Physics is concerned 3 paragraphs is more than enough. Do not worry though, we understand that this form goes to many other Universities who may have a different take on the personal statement.
A pretty standard personal statement that does not distinguish itself as either bad or good makes little difference to the selection process, while an exceptionally clear, concise, and unusual personal statement will likely provide an opening for the interview. I would include what areas of physics interest them, perhaps explaining why they find those fields interesting, or even the story of how they became interested in physics in the first place.
Physics interviews are almost 90% asking quantitative questions on maths and physics and finding out how the candidate handles both standard concepts from A-levels and also how the candidate thinks when they encounter some aspect of physics they have never before considered.
The biggest mistake that students make in their personal statements is when they list books they have read, but then, in interview, seem incapable of telling us anything about the books. Remember, we might well have read those books too! So if you DO list books that you read that you either found interesting or inspired you, make sure you re-read them shortly before your interview so that you can talk about them and limit yourself to one or two books.
"Include things that you might not immediately think about"
Your personal statement should demonstrate anything that shows your enthusiasm and passion for physics. Include things that you might not immediately think about including in your personal statement that show you are a rounded student with a real interest in physics.
This might be details of science centres that you have visited, relevant books you have read, an experiment you did in school or college which you found fascinating, something you did to help younger students with physics or maths – anything that shows your interest for physics.