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Am I doing enough(y12) for my future personal statement?

I’m aiming for top unis for econ and doing:
-maths,fm,econ and history
-I have 4 or five books that I’ve started to read through
-plan to do an epq on econ on something I’m super interested in
-silver senior ukmt maths challenge
-I start tmua prep/extra maths revision sessions around Easter next year maybe a bit earlier
-I read the economics review magazine because I find it interesting
-applied to a few access courses because why not
-no idea how to get work experience that’s actually related but I’ll try on the new year to get summer work experience

I’m doing well in maths and history but I’m finding economics difficult due to poor teaching (basically I understand the concepts, find it super interesting , but the exam technique is really weird and nothing like normal essays and the teacher isn’t helpful).

I’m also working towards music stuff and trying to get a part time job , and with all this I’m super busy and can’t always do it all,but I get a lot done. I know 4 a levels and an epq is a lot. I truly believe I can because I’m handling double maths like 1.5 a levels worth of work despite us going at 2.5 times the pace of normal maths .

I don’t want to go to great unis because of prestige -I just really do find economics and practical applications of maths interesting, and want to study somewhere very quantitative and learn as much as possible. My memory is fab so most of my effort goes to essay/practice questions, not remembering facts . Also, I’ll probably aim for gold maths challenge next year, because I winged the maths challenge this year , don’t know if that helps, probably not, but why not ?


I think I’m doing enough to be honest, but I’m asking to see if there’s something I should be doing that I’m not, or something that I could do less of without negative consequences, or general advice. I really do enjoy learning about economics so this stuff is for personal interest, but I want to make sure I’m setting myself up for uni also.
I think that you are doing plenty and as long as you demonstrate your skills and experience and motivations to the course I’m sure your personal statement will be great. If your looking for extra my advice would be to try and get some work experience even if it’s online during the holidays or the summer as this can be a really great point to talk about in your personal statement. I know spring pod was a helpful website for me and they are always doing new courses I might be worth a look. Here on TSR we also do personal statement reviews so when you have written it your more than welcome to come here for extra support and advice. Good luck with everything !
You’re doing great - but you might want to be wary of the fact that TMUA is being withdrawn from next year and so it won’t be a thing by the time you’re applying. So there’s obviously no point preparing for it as there’ll be a new format in place by that time.

Also 4/5 books is quite a lot and you only really need 2 max to talk about in your PS as long as you talk in detail about it (ie. you’re not just listing your supercurriculars), but tbf 4/5 books will give you the option to choose from and what to talk about in your PS, and link it to other activities related to Economics to create a particular theme for your PS. You also might want to look at some MOOC’s (online courses), there’s thousands on the internet and you can find one very specific to a certain field of Economics which goes beyond the A Level syllabus, and these can be a great thing to talk about in your PS too to show your wider research on Economics.

I’ve also applied for pure Econ this year to top unis, and I would probably say that I had some impressive work experiences that I was able to achieve, and I’d definitely be willing to share details of these and how to apply and get them to you - just PM me if you want to know. Although, for Economics applications, note that work experience is by no means really necessary, and the top unis really just want an academic personal statement based on supercurriculars, and unlike other courses, work expo won’t have as much of an impact for Econ but obviously they’ll still be a decent thing to add.

But well done, it’s amazing that you’ve already started thinking about your application and doing stuff, keep it up.
Reply 3
Original post by jobajojoba
You’re doing great - but you might want to be wary of the fact that TMUA is being withdrawn from next year and so it won’t be a thing by the time you’re applying. So there’s obviously no point preparing for it as there’ll be a new format in place by that time.

Also 4/5 books is quite a lot and you only really need 2 max to talk about in your PS as long as you talk in detail about it (ie. you’re not just listing your supercurriculars), but tbf 4/5 books will give you the option to choose from and what to talk about in your PS, and link it to other activities related to Economics to create a particular theme for your PS. You also might want to look at some MOOC’s (online courses), there’s thousands on the internet and you can find one very specific to a certain field of Economics which goes beyond the A Level syllabus, and these can be a great thing to talk about in your PS too to show your wider research on Economics.

I’ve also applied for pure Econ this year to top unis, and I would probably say that I had some impressive work experiences that I was able to achieve, and I’d definitely be willing to share details of these and how to apply and get them to you - just PM me if you want to know. Although, for Economics applications, note that work experience is by no means really necessary, and the top unis really just want an academic personal statement based on supercurriculars, and unlike other courses, work expo won’t have as much of an impact for Econ but obviously they’ll still be a decent thing to add.

But well done, it’s amazing that you’ve already started thinking about your application and doing stuff, keep it up.

Hi, thanks so much.
Honestly , I thought 4-5 books was low, up to about 15 I read over thirty a year just because. I read because of interest, which I think makes it easier , as I’m not a massive fan of podcasts /documentaries/other extra research methods.

I had no idea about the change from the tmua to something else-how am I supposed to prepare for a format that no one knows about ?
Original post by Peach_rose34
Original post by jobajojoba
You’re doing great - but you might want to be wary of the fact that TMUA is being withdrawn from next year and so it won’t be a thing by the time you’re applying. So there’s obviously no point preparing for it as there’ll be a new format in place by that time.

Also 4/5 books is quite a lot and you only really need 2 max to talk about in your PS as long as you talk in detail about it (ie. you’re not just listing your supercurriculars), but tbf 4/5 books will give you the option to choose from and what to talk about in your PS, and link it to other activities related to Economics to create a particular theme for your PS. You also might want to look at some MOOC’s (online courses), there’s thousands on the internet and you can find one very specific to a certain field of Economics which goes beyond the A Level syllabus, and these can be a great thing to talk about in your PS too to show your wider research on Economics.

I’ve also applied for pure Econ this year to top unis, and I would probably say that I had some impressive work experiences that I was able to achieve, and I’d definitely be willing to share details of these and how to apply and get them to you - just PM me if you want to know. Although, for Economics applications, note that work experience is by no means really necessary, and the top unis really just want an academic personal statement based on supercurriculars, and unlike other courses, work expo won’t have as much of an impact for Econ but obviously they’ll still be a decent thing to add.

But well done, it’s amazing that you’ve already started thinking about your application and doing stuff, keep it up.

Hi, thanks so much.
Honestly , I thought 4-5 books was low, up to about 15 I read over thirty a year just because. I read because of interest, which I think makes it easier , as I’m not a massive fan of podcasts /documentaries/other extra research methods.

I had no idea about the change from the tmua to something else-how am I supposed to prepare for a format that no one knows about ?


Yeah most people do tend to just talk about 2-3 books in their PS as they feel that’s a suitable amount where they can talk in detail about the book (remember it’s only 4000 characters, which you realise isn’t a lot when you start your draft). But it’s obviously better that you enjoy reading and you want to read more books, as it’ll give you so much to choose from.

Yeah that’ll be difficult - hopefully they’ll release information about what the TMUA will be replaced by soon and you can have time to prepare.
Reply 5
Original post by Peach_rose34
Hi, thanks so much.
Honestly , I thought 4-5 books was low, up to about 15 I read over thirty a year just because. I read because of interest, which I think makes it easier , as I’m not a massive fan of podcasts /documentaries/other extra research methods.

I had no idea about the change from the tmua to something else-how am I supposed to prepare for a format that no one knows about ?

This is by no means definitive but I think that they will go back to the ECAA. I don't think they will go for the STEP because while the econ course at Cambridge does involve a lot of maths, it is not to the same extent because a lot of the Maths modules are optional.

If I were you, I would just prepare Maths and Economics stuff. I'd do MAT, TMUA and TSA to get a wide spread of knowledge so that you aren't tight for time as you progress.

The number of books you read shouldn't matter - I think 4-5 books is way too much. I read 2, mentioned 1 in my statement and that was that.

I entered 3 essay competitions and I'm applying for Computer Science. If I'm applying for a subject that doesn't require any essays and I'm doing essay competitions, I won't be the only one doing this and since you are applying for an essay subject, might I recommend doing an essay competition or two? There are far more opportunities for essay comps since you are applying for Economics and so the topics will be far more up your street in addition to availability based off your chosen subject.

Also, additional tip - pace yourself. You have just started year 12. I know you want to go to a competitive university but by doing this much work already, you will burn out very easily.

I began exploring stuff in Y11 just out of curiosity and I didn't have university applications in mind (in fact, I didn't even know how the system worked). Doing 4 + EPQ even with lots of super curricular activities already completed before even starting y12 had me completely stretched to the point of burnout and I don't recommend it. Opportunities will present themselves when you conduct research about super curricular activities you want to take part in but by pushing yourself to the limit and doing this many activities at once, there will come a time where you just don't want to do any work.

You will see that school work will slowly start to get harder and that it will take up more of your time to consolidate your knowledge and so you will not have as much time to complete stuff.

By all means, tackle things in advance but pace yourself would be my advice. This is coming from someone who did just that. I created a timetable for myself for activities I wanted to complete and that enabled me to not only get things done but also stay on top of school work.

Don't just go on the grind of these activities. You must have heard of the saying - All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
Reply 6
I'd say do most of your super curricular activities in the holidays and then leave everything else during school time. You can do one or two activities in your school time but trying to stay on top of schoolwork is your first priority when it comes to doing work.
Reply 7
With regards to the Maths Challenge, I don't recommend mentioning it on your personal statement if that is what you have done ("winging it"). If you are applying to Cambridge or Oxford and you are keen on mentioning your UKMT certificate in your personal statement (which you probably don't need), don't apply to the hyper-competitive ones because there are people who have achieved far better things (not to put you down but it is the truth. The number of people applying with international science and maths olympiad medals is insane).

I applied for Computer Science and at no point did I mention my UKMT. I've applied to competitive places as well so even more of a reason that you will do just fine without it. I'd still recommend mentioning something Mathsy like completing a course or joining a society or taking part in enrichment courses organised by universities. This is how I managed to mention Maths in my statement.

I was part of the school's Maths society. I completed a 10-week long Maths course organised by the AMSP which taught me problem solving techniques. I represented my school in a team Maths Competition organised by Leeds university where we finished 2nd overall. I was selected by my school to attend the Leeds University Royal Institution Masterclasses, which exposed to further techniques that I could implement.

There are many more activities but I'm not going to mention them all.

It's amazing that you have started thinking about your application this early but again, I have to re-iterate this: My advice to you would be to pace yourself along the way.

Now, I know you say that you like the subject content of Economics but you are struggling with it because of a bad teacher. It might be worth checking whether it's because Economics isn't a great fit for you? Consider different career paths and see which one suits you best. That's why I decided to expose myself to as many academic competitions and experiences as I possibly could so that when I eventually make my mind up, I don't have to start from scratch.
Reply 8
Original post by vnayak
With regards to the Maths Challenge, I don't recommend mentioning it on your personal statement if that is what you have done ("winging it"). If you are applying to Cambridge or Oxford and you are keen on mentioning your UKMT certificate in your personal statement (which you probably don't need), don't apply to the hyper-competitive ones because there are people who have achieved far better things (not to put you down but it is the truth. The number of people applying with international science and maths olympiad medals is insane).

I applied for Computer Science and at no point did I mention my UKMT. I've applied to competitive places as well so even more of a reason that you will do just fine without it. I'd still recommend mentioning something Mathsy like completing a course or joining a society or taking part in enrichment courses organised by universities. This is how I managed to mention Maths in my statement.

I was part of the school's Maths society. I completed a 10-week long Maths course organised by the AMSP which taught me problem solving techniques. I represented my school in a team Maths Competition organised by Leeds university where we finished 2nd overall. I was selected by my school to attend the Leeds University Royal Institution Masterclasses, which exposed to further techniques that I could implement.

There are many more activities but I'm not going to mention them all.

It's amazing that you have started thinking about your application this early but again, I have to re-iterate this: My advice to you would be to pace yourself along the way.

Now, I know you say that you like the subject content of Economics but you are struggling with it because of a bad teacher. It might be worth checking whether it's because Economics isn't a great fit for you? Consider different career paths and see which one suits you best. That's why I decided to expose myself to as many academic competitions and experiences as I possibly could so that when I eventually make my mind up, I don't have to start from scratch.

Thanks .
I mean, I love the subject, and I don’t struggle with the content and I score top of my class -it’s just that the way the teacher teaches exam technique is way off(one teacher says 4 paragraphs, another says 1.5, it’s very conflicting ). But this is all what I hope to do in y12 overall and what I’ve just started . Im busy out of my mind - I don’t have any option but to pace myself .
Original post by vnayak
With regards to the Maths Challenge, I don't recommend mentioning it on your personal statement if that is what you have done ("winging it"). If you are applying to Cambridge or Oxford and you are keen on mentioning your UKMT certificate in your personal statement (which you probably don't need), don't apply to the hyper-competitive ones because there are people who have achieved far better things (not to put you down but it is the truth. The number of people applying with international science and maths olympiad medals is insane).

I applied for Computer Science and at no point did I mention my UKMT. I've applied to competitive places as well so even more of a reason that you will do just fine without it. I'd still recommend mentioning something Mathsy like completing a course or joining a society or taking part in enrichment courses organised by universities. This is how I managed to mention Maths in my statement.

I was part of the school's Maths society. I completed a 10-week long Maths course organised by the AMSP which taught me problem solving techniques. I represented my school in a team Maths Competition organised by Leeds university where we finished 2nd overall. I was selected by my school to attend the Leeds University Royal Institution Masterclasses, which exposed to further techniques that I could implement.

There are many more activities but I'm not going to mention them all.

It's amazing that you have started thinking about your application this early but again, I have to re-iterate this: My advice to you would be to pace yourself along the way.

Now, I know you say that you like the subject content of Economics but you are struggling with it because of a bad teacher. It might be worth checking whether it's because Economics isn't a great fit for you? Consider different career paths and see which one suits you best. That's why I decided to expose myself to as many academic competitions and experiences as I possibly could so that when I eventually make my mind up, I don't have to start from scratch.


A Gold in UKMT (if achieved) is definitely something they should put in - I’ve seen many successful LSE and Cambridge personal statements which mention it, and admissions tutors have said it’s something which does add a bit to the PS. Don’t go into detail about it, but just mention how it’s helped hone ur mathematical skills or it is an evidence of your strong quantitative capabilities, and then go into your supercurriculars and activities related to maths you have done.

Performing well in the UKMT and not mentioning it in your PS will simply be a waste.
Reply 10
Original post by jobajojoba
A Gold in UKMT (if achieved) is definitely something they should put in - I’ve seen many successful LSE and Cambridge personal statements which mention it, and admissions tutors have said it’s something which does add a bit to the PS. Don’t go into detail about it, but just mention how it’s helped hone ur mathematical skills or it is an evidence of your strong quantitative capabilities, and then go into your supercurriculars and activities related to maths you have done.

Performing well in the UKMT and not mentioning it in your PS will simply be a waste.

The thing is I didn’t study because I thought I’m one month into y12, I’d be lucky to get bronze , then I got well above the minimum for silver without revising , and also it’s nothing like a level/tmua/mat/step it’s very different in style. Honestly I thought getting an a star prediction in further maths would say enough about my maths ability for economics, but I guess I’ll save up and do an mooc.
Original post by Peach_rose34
The thing is I didn’t study because I thought I’m one month into y12, I’d be lucky to get bronze , then I got well above the minimum for silver without revising , and also it’s nothing like a level/tmua/mat/step it’s very different in style. Honestly I thought getting an a star prediction in further maths would say enough about my maths ability for economics, but I guess I’ll save up and do an mooc.


An A*A* prediction in Maths/FM, along with a 9 in GCSE Maths and preferably GCSE Additional Maths or Further Maths will say enough about your mathematical capability, but you would still need to talk about how you've further developed your interest in Maths in your personal statement, and made sure you're prepared for such a quantitative economics course. For this, mentioning UKMT would be decent, as the grades in Maths are something that you do in school and not out of choice, but a UKMT or other supercurricular activities eg. MOOC's are maths related stuff that you've done outside of the school syllabus and out of choice, showing unis that you've gone above and beyond the normal school stuff to show your enthusiasm for Maths.

A UKMT Silver is still pretty strong, and it wouldn't hurt to mention something along the lines of ' My success in UKMT' in your personal statement, but if you do believe that mentioning a Gold would add that extra punch, then next year you'll have the option again to take the UKMT, and you can prepare for it. The date of it may be close to the Oxbridge deadline so it may be running close, but if I recall correctly, the UKMT this year was about 10-12 days before the Oxbridge deadline, so having your PS ready by then and then doing the UKMT and hypothetically achieving a Gold would mean that you can add in the UKMT Gold and send it off (if that makes sense).
Reply 12
Original post by jobajojoba
An A*A* prediction in Maths/FM, along with a 9 in GCSE Maths and preferably GCSE Additional Maths or Further Maths will say enough about your mathematical capability, but you would still need to talk about how you've further developed your interest in Maths in your personal statement, and made sure you're prepared for such a quantitative economics course. For this, mentioning UKMT would be decent, as the grades in Maths are something that you do in school and not out of choice, but a UKMT or other supercurricular activities eg. MOOC's are maths related stuff that you've done outside of the school syllabus and out of choice, showing unis that you've gone above and beyond the normal school stuff to show your enthusiasm for Maths.

A UKMT Silver is still pretty strong, and it wouldn't hurt to mention something along the lines of ' My success in UKMT' in your personal statement, but if you do believe that mentioning a Gold would add that extra punch, then next year you'll have the option again to take the UKMT, and you can prepare for it. The date of it may be close to the Oxbridge deadline so it may be running close, but if I recall correctly, the UKMT this year was about 10-12 days before the Oxbridge deadline, so having your PS ready by then and then doing the UKMT and hypothetically achieving a Gold would mean that you can add in the UKMT Gold and send it off (if that makes sense).

What if I self taught extra further maths content (the extra modules which I’m interested in) such as fp2 and further stats 1 and 2 . I can try and do online courses, but I really have to minimise the cost of extra education stuff . I got a book about the basics of econometrics out of interest, so I definitely like maths but it’s kind of taking the **** to try and do 2 full a levels in it, several online courses in both maths and economics , whilst also having a strong interest in other aspects of economics, whilst also having a life , you know? It’s not that I don’t want to -I love economics and applied maths , but I can’t do everything and I have no idea how to get an online course in maths without forking out a fortune .
Reply 13
Original post by jobajojoba
A Gold in UKMT (if achieved) is definitely something they should put in - I’ve seen many successful LSE and Cambridge personal statements which mention it, and admissions tutors have said it’s something which does add a bit to the PS. Don’t go into detail about it, but just mention how it’s helped hone ur mathematical skills or it is an evidence of your strong quantitative capabilities, and then go into your supercurriculars and activities related to maths you have done.

Performing well in the UKMT and not mentioning it in your PS will simply be a waste.

I probably should have mentioned on my PS that I got gold certificates in SMC, merit certificates in Andrew Jobbings Kangaroo, Olympiad qualifications after IMC as well.

I mentioned achieving a gold certificate in my Cambridge SAQ but Imperial, Durham, Manchester and Edinburgh don't know about it.

I think my teachers mentioned it in my reference though but I can't remember since the last time I saw my reference was 27/09 just before sending my application off.

I have offers from Manchester and Edinburgh so far and had my Imperial interview already (Cambridge rejection ☹️ ) so just waiting on Durham and Imperial.

I am applying for CS so that was probably a mistake on my part. If they didn't mention it, I'm amazed as to how I have these offers and the interview because my personal statement is nothing special if I am being honest, nor am I applicable for contextual offers.
Reply 14
Original post by Peach_rose34
The thing is I didn’t study because I thought I’m one month into y12, I’d be lucky to get bronze , then I got well above the minimum for silver without revising , and also it’s nothing like a level/tmua/mat/step it’s very different in style. Honestly I thought getting an a star prediction in further maths would say enough about my maths ability for economics, but I guess I’ll save up and do an mooc.

1) What do you mean "save up and do a MOOC?" Audit the course for free - no one cares if you have the certificate or not. They only care about if you have the knowledge or not.

2) It doesn't matter if you are only one month into year 12 to do the maths challenge. I didn't put in any work for the SMC because you can't prepare for it really, got a gold certificate and qualified for the Kangaroo. I didn't know about the date of the Kangaroo round at all and on the day itself when I rocked up to my Maths lesson, my friend asked me what I was doing in the lesson and that I had the Kangaroo round right now. I got a merit certificate from that.

Takeaways: My friend, I wouldn't say that I'm particularly gifted at Maths - I enjoy problem solving and that's all there really is to it to be honest. You don't need to put it the work for the SMC - familiarise yourself with Maths techniques you already know and learn how to apply them to a whole new level. There are so many people in my school better than me at Maths because they only learn what will be asked, which is amazing when it comes to achieving grades but in these contexts, perhaps not as important.

Get as much exposure to the Economics content as you can through completing online courses. I haven't paid a single penny on online courses and it's not just me that has done that. Think about it - if you had to pay to complete online courses, this isn't readily available to EVERYONE because people come different households and have different family incomes and so may or may not be able to afford it. What do those people do in that instance? They have to make the information readily available to everyone so it completely free. If you do pay for the course, you are essentially paying for the certificate you receive at the end and marking the assignments that they set you while you are on the course which is not worth it in my opinion. For instance, the Harvard CS50 Intro to CS course certificate is $220 !! All for a piece of paper (I'm downplaying the value of that piece of paper obviously but still, it's a bit excessive) ?
Original post by Peach_rose34
Hi, thanks so much.
Honestly , I thought 4-5 books was low, up to about 15 I read over thirty a year just because. I read because of interest, which I think makes it easier , as I’m not a massive fan of podcasts /documentaries/other extra research methods.

I had no idea about the change from the tmua to something else-how am I supposed to prepare for a format that no one knows about ?

Just hold back on entrance exam prep till u know more abt the changes, u have loads of time

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