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    Hello,

    I am currently year 12 and will be applying to do English Literature next year at some of the top Russell groups and Cambridge. I am aware that I obviously need to show evidence of wider reading which is fine, but does anyone have any other suggestions to really make my UCAS application stand out? in particular for English ?
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    (Original post by espicton98)
    Hello,

    I am currently year 12 and will be applying to do English Literature next year at some of the top Russell groups and Cambridge. I am aware that I obviously need to show evidence of wider reading which is fine, but does anyone have any other suggestions to really make my UCAS application stand out? in particular for English ?
    See the stickied thread in the English and linguistics forum
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    For personal statements, it's not so much what you've read but what you learned from it. Don't read books and just put that you read them, you need to explain what interested you about them and how they have helped you decide that the course you have picked is right for you. You are trying to show them that you read books you are interested in, and researched any topics you come across in them that you either struggled with or were particularly interested in/wanted to know more about. Universities, especially top ones like cambridge, are looking for people who don't just read what they're told to read but are genuinely inspired by what they read to go and find more information.

    When I was looking for books to read for my personal statement (I applied to do biochemistry), most people were telling me to read really difficult books like some of the stephen hawking books or darwin books. The problem was I wasn't really interested in reading them and to be honest I didn't understand a lot of what they were about at that stage. It was things like articles on the science facebook pages (e.g. ASAP science) and TV shows by people like Brian Cox that had inspired me to want to study my course, so instead I read the books written by them and did some independent research into some of the things covered in the books. One of the people who interviewed me at oxford commented that she hadn't come across many people that had read the books I'd read, and that she thought it was good that I'd been inspired by some quite ordinary books.

    So my advice is pick books about things you actually like or by authors you like, and explain in your personal statement how they have inspired you to want to 'further your understanding' of whatever you want to study, and any new ideas or techniques or theories you came across in the books and any further reading you did on them. Hope this helps!
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    With English Literature in particular, it's easy to fall into the trap of only saying 'I really love reading!' throughout your personal statement - you're applying to study LITERATURE and so loving reading isn't an attribute, it's a necessity. The personal statements they've seen time and time again are just lists of book which 'inspire' students (eg Harry Potter, LOTR, GoT, 1984, Pride and Prejudice etc); think of the cliches "since I was a child I've always loved reading" or "the book which inspired me to study literature is". Those 2 statements could very well be true, but those are two truths every prospective literature student will have. You need to show the Russell Group unis that you can read and evaluate what you've read.

    There's a big difference between:
    "I really enjoyed reading 1984 because my favourite genre is dystopian fiction. The book is very interesting and make me reconsider my attitudes towards the government."
    and
    "Recently I've been exploring the genre of dystopian fiction and the changing depictions through time; the use of language as a societal constraint is most prevalent in 1984 through 'Newspeak', but I found similar ideas in 'We' and 'The Handmaid's Tale', as the removal of the characters' names shows the removal of authority and autonomy. Margaret Atwood said that 'Brave New World' is a "softer" version of 1984 and I found this comparison to be correct so far as depictions of pleasure seeking, but a juxtaposition of the narrative structure shows that both novels explore the idea of the futility of breaking out against the tyrannical authority, and Brave New World uses a cyclical structure to further show this futility. I then read 'Dark Horizons' by Moylan which illuminated the contextual background of this genre of fiction and many historical ideas behind it. Seeing the theatrical rendition of 1984 last year, I was struck by the way the actors used lighting to create the effects of the oppressive atmosphere in the scenes between Winston and Julia..."

    Now, I haven't studied any of those books ^ so I may be talking out of my butt with those ideas, but the general premise is, you don't need to be 'well read', you don't need to have read every Shakespeare play (unless that's your area of interest), and you don't need to buy every single book on the recommended reading list. I would suggest finding a particular genre, time period, style of novel or anything, and just focusing solely on that. I believe that, in a personal statement, Cambridge would much rather see you delve really deep into one particular area of literature than you try and cram the entirety of English Literature into 4000 characters.

    Your question is about standing out, and honestly, if you think about how many years UCAS has been doing the whole personal statement thing, and then you consider how many students every year apply to university... there's really, REALLY no scope for uniqueness, but there's one thing that's entirely individual: your passion for the subject. That will come across best through your academia, through your grades, and through your critical evaluation of any work of literature you happen to mention on your PS.
    Good luck!
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    (Original post by espicton98)
    Hello,

    I am currently year 12 and will be applying to do English Literature next year at some of the top Russell groups and Cambridge. I am aware that I obviously need to show evidence of wider reading which is fine, but does anyone have any other suggestions to really make my UCAS application stand out? in particular for English ?
    Hi espicton98,

    when it comes to personal statements it is really important to show interest in a particular area of literature or a definite subject. Avoid at all cost anything to general or too wide a suject. Try to focus on something you have a particular interest in, in order to focus any potential conversation during Interviews. If you stay too vague, you open to door to questions you won't know much about!

    You could read our blogs on the subjects, to get ideas of what makes a good PS.

    Hope this helps, and don't hesitate to ask if you have further questions.

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    The OP of this thread is 5 months old.
 
 
 
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