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Personal statement help for chemistry

Hi, I'm wondering if anyone has any advice on writing a personal statement for chemistry?

I'm planning on applying for Oxford, Imperial (potentially chem eng), Warwick and Leicester, (unsure of fifth option atm)

I'm currently reading a guidebook to mechanism in organic chemistry (up until the end of the first chapter (structure, reactivity and mechanism) excluding the quantum mechanics parts), organic chemistry by Clayden (parts of it to re-enforce understanding, and organometallic chemistry) and chemical structure and reactivity (resonance structures)

I have done a project on Metal organic frameworks where I submitted a presentation about harvesting water from the air for the Homerton Design programme.

I've participated in the chemistry analyst competition (part of the winning team out of my school), and achieved a silver in the Chemistry Olympiad.

I am concerned whether or not I am going overboard here with the wider-reading? Also, I'm not sure how to link the topics together for my personal statement.

Any advice will be sincerely appreciated!
(edited 6 months ago)
Original post by Anne Qin
Hi, I'm wondering if anyone has any advice on writing a personal statement for chemistry?

I'm planning on applying for Oxford, Imperial (potentially chem eng), Warwick and Leicester, (unsure of fifth option atm)

I'm currently reading a guidebook to mechanism in organic chemistry (up until the end of the first chapter (structure, reactivity and mechanism) excluding the quantum mechanics parts), organic chemistry by Clayden (parts of it to re-enforce understanding) and chemical structure and reactivity (thermodynamics part)

I have done a project on Metal organic frameworks where I submitted a presentation to harvest water from the air for the Homerton Design programme.

I am concerned whether or not I am going overboard here with the wider-reading? Also, I'm not sure how to link the topics together for my personal statement.

Any advice will be sincerely appreciated!

Wider-reading is great for any application, it shows you have an interest outside of school for that subject and that you have discipline to study well. So definitely include those in your personal statement, but don’t go overboard with it and just list books. They want to know what you found interesting about the book and what you learnt from it. And when you get invited to interviews if you’ve mentioned a specific chapter from the book that you found most interesting they’re more likely to ask you about that so you’ll be more prepared to answer any questions they may have. It depends on the book but it’s also likely that they have read the book themselves or know of the people who have written these books. So if you mention the book, have a good understanding of it. It would be good to read the course specifications for what you’re applying for and see if there’s any modules that have similarities to any chapters in the book. Anything that links directly to the course is good because the interviewer will be familiar with it.

I’m doing chemeng at Imperial rn and the things you have in your personal statement sound a lot better than mine. Make sure to include non-academic parts in your personal statement also as after all they are wanting to get to know you as a person. I structured my personal statement starting off with why the course would suit me and how I am interested in it backed up with reasons. And then went on with academic things like courses i’ve attended and what I’ve found interesting and learnt from that. And then went on to talk more about myself and include hobbies. For the academic stuff, always try to keep it linked to the course and not stray away, things that aren’t relevant shouldn’t be included.
Original post by fortified_shi
Wider-reading is great for any application, it shows you have an interest outside of school for that subject and that you have discipline to study well. So definitely include those in your personal statement, but don’t go overboard with it and just list books. They want to know what you found interesting about the book and what you learnt from it. And when you get invited to interviews if you’ve mentioned a specific chapter from the book that you found most interesting they’re more likely to ask you about that so you’ll be more prepared to answer any questions they may have. It depends on the book but it’s also likely that they have read the book themselves or know of the people who have written these books. So if you mention the book, have a good understanding of it. It would be good to read the course specifications for what you’re applying for and see if there’s any modules that have similarities to any chapters in the book. Anything that links directly to the course is good because the interviewer will be familiar with it.

I’m doing chemeng at Imperial rn and the things you have in your personal statement sound a lot better than mine. Make sure to include non-academic parts in your personal statement also as after all they are wanting to get to know you as a person. I structured my personal statement starting off with why the course would suit me and how I am interested in it backed up with reasons. And then went on with academic things like courses i’ve attended and what I’ve found interesting and learnt from that. And then went on to talk more about myself and include hobbies. For the academic stuff, always try to keep it linked to the course and not stray away, things that aren’t relevant shouldn’t be included.

Thank you so much for the advice! Would it be of concern if I were to not mention chemical engineering in my ps though? Or would I be better off applying for chemistry instead?
(edited 6 months ago)
Reply 3
Original post by Anne Qin
Hi, I'm wondering if anyone has any advice on writing a personal statement for chemistry?

I'm planning on applying for Oxford, Imperial (potentially chem eng), Warwick and Leicester, (unsure of fifth option atm)

I'm currently reading a guidebook to mechanism in organic chemistry (up until the end of the first chapter (structure, reactivity and mechanism) excluding the quantum mechanics parts), organic chemistry by Clayden (parts of it to re-enforce understanding) and chemical structure and reactivity (thermodynamics part)

I have done a project on Metal organic frameworks where I submitted a presentation about harvesting water from the air for the Homerton Design programme.

I am concerned whether or not I am going overboard here with the wider-reading? Also, I'm not sure how to link the topics together for my personal statement.

Any advice will be sincerely appreciated!

Hi, one thing I included in my ps was an on campus taster day I attended at the university of Sheffield, if you look around at your local unis if you have any there may be one or online webinars that you could attend. it was really interesting we got to synthesise aspirin (this is also an a level practical in y13) as well as using spectroscopic techniques like proton NMR, FTIR and GCMS and analyse our samples which very few people get to do before attending uni.

Ik that uni of York also has a free online course for chemistry applicants but idk what it actually involves

good luck with your application:smile:
Original post by Anne Qin
Hi, I'm wondering if anyone has any advice on writing a personal statement for chemistry?

I'm planning on applying for Oxford, Imperial (potentially chem eng), Warwick and Leicester, (unsure of fifth option atm)

I'm currently reading a guidebook to mechanism in organic chemistry (up until the end of the first chapter (structure, reactivity and mechanism) excluding the quantum mechanics parts), organic chemistry by Clayden (parts of it to re-enforce understanding) and chemical structure and reactivity (thermodynamics part)

I have done a project on Metal organic frameworks where I submitted a presentation about harvesting water from the air for the Homerton Design programme.

I am concerned whether or not I am going overboard here with the wider-reading? Also, I'm not sure how to link the topics together for my personal statement.

Any advice will be sincerely appreciated!

You have some brilliant supercurriculars to put into your PS, so now you just have to explain how you’ve benefited from them.

I’d say you should probably find some exemplar personal statements to look at (try here: https://www.canva.com/design/DAEqAHRr6eY/eb9IRSRykGwc2LTToP6-3Q/view?utm_content=DAEqAHRr6eY&utm_campaign=designshare&utm_medium=link&utm_source=homepage_design_menu#1) and take inspiration from (obviously don’t copy any parts of them word-for-word).

I’m currently an offer holder for chemistry at Oxford and managed to get myself an offer for chemistry at Imperial last year (which I declined), so if you have questions relating to applying for chemistry at both, feel free to ask.
Original post by aj_11_04
Hi, one thing I included in my ps was an on campus taster day I attended at the university of Sheffield, if you look around at your local unis if you have any there may be one or online webinars that you could attend. it was really interesting we got to synthesise aspirin (this is also an a level practical in y13) as well as using spectroscopic techniques like proton NMR, FTIR and GCMS and analyse our samples which very few people get to do before attending uni.

Ik that uni of York also has a free online course for chemistry applicants but idk what it actually involves

good luck with your application:smile:

Thanks for the ideas, I've synthesised Aspirin at school and took part in the chemistry analyst competition, I'll definitely have a look into online webinars, lectures and courses!
That sounds like an awesome opportunity. Unfortunately, I've been rejected by every summer school I've applied for, hopefully will get into the Homerton one though!

Thank you :smile:!!
Original post by Anne Qin
Hi, I'm wondering if anyone has any advice on writing a personal statement for chemistry?

I'm planning on applying for Oxford, Imperial (potentially chem eng), Warwick and Leicester, (unsure of fifth option atm)

I'm currently reading a guidebook to mechanism in organic chemistry (up until the end of the first chapter (structure, reactivity and mechanism) excluding the quantum mechanics parts), organic chemistry by Clayden (parts of it to re-enforce understanding) and chemical structure and reactivity (thermodynamics part)

I have done a project on Metal organic frameworks where I submitted a presentation about harvesting water from the air for the Homerton Design programme.

I've participated in the chemistry analyst competition (part of the winning team out of my school), and achieved a silver in the Chemistry Olympiad.

I am concerned whether or not I am going overboard here with the wider-reading? Also, I'm not sure how to link the topics together for my personal statement.

Any advice will be sincerely appreciated!


You're doing plenty, what you need to do now is reflect on those experiences and think about how they relate to your interest in the subject. Remember the personal statement is not just a list of things you have done, they want to see you critically reflect on those and that you have taken something away from the experiences.

Also I'd note that chemical engineering involves very, very little chemistry. It's about 70% maths, 20% physics, and maybe 10% chemistry at most. If your main interest is chemistry, chemical engineering is not likely to be a suitable alternative. The one possible exception is the joint honours course at Strathclyde in applied chemistry and chemical engineering, but bear in mind the chemical engineering side is mostly maths.

I'm not aware of Warwick being especially well known for chemistry (it's better known for maths/economics/business/CS). I'd suggest considering places like Southampton, Durham (via Natural Sciences) or Bath which have very good chemistry departments/courses as well or possibly instead (unless you are aiming to work in investment banking, in which case Warwick, being a target uni, will be a better option - for anything else though I'm not sure the department compares that well to those others?).
Original post by artful_lounger
You're doing plenty, what you need to do now is reflect on those experiences and think about how they relate to your interest in the subject. Remember the personal statement is not just a list of things you have done, they want to see you critically reflect on those and that you have taken something away from the experiences.

Also I'd note that chemical engineering involves very, very little chemistry. It's about 70% maths, 20% physics, and maybe 10% chemistry at most. If your main interest is chemistry, chemical engineering is not likely to be a suitable alternative. The one possible exception is the joint honours course at Strathclyde in applied chemistry and chemical engineering, but bear in mind the chemical engineering side is mostly maths.

I'm not aware of Warwick being especially well known for chemistry (it's better known for maths/economics/business/CS). I'd suggest considering places like Southampton, Durham (via Natural Sciences) or Bath which have very good chemistry departments/courses as well or possibly instead (unless you are aiming to work in investment banking, in which case Warwick, being a target uni, will be a better option - for anything else though I'm not sure the department compares that well to those others?).

Thanks for the advice, that's really useful!
I'm not quite sure how to write a personal statement in terms of reflecting on what you've learnt and building on top of that, but I'll have a look at some examples and see if I can work that part out myself.
Yeah, I'm aware that it has very little chemistry involved, I think I might just apply for chemistry instead for the sake of making my ps easier to write, just realised that I'm not that much of a fan of entropy anymore! I might include a sentence about the Van't Hoff equation instead for thermo.
I'm considering Bath as an option, I'll have a look at Durham, I wanted 2 low-ish safety options, hence Warwick and Leicester, thanks for the recommendations :smile: I was considering applying for one course with physics and chemistry but at this rate my ps won't be suited for that anymore unfortunately
Thank you so much! I'll certainly get back to you when I have questions :smile:

Original post by TypicalNerd
You have some brilliant supercurriculars to put into your PS, so now you just have to explain how you’ve benefited from them.

I’d say you should probably find some exemplar personal statements to look at (try here: https://www.canva.com/design/DAEqAHRr6eY/eb9IRSRykGwc2LTToP6-3Q/view?utm_content=DAEqAHRr6eY&utm_campaign=designshare&utm_medium=link&utm_source=homepage_design_menu#1) and take inspiration from (obviously don’t copy any parts of them word-for-word).

I’m currently an offer holder for chemistry at Oxford and managed to get myself an offer for chemistry at Imperial last year (which I declined), so if you have questions relating to applying for chemistry at both, feel free to ask.

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