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Your Personal Statement is your chance to show the admissions team who you are and why they should take you on their course, so it’s important to take the time to get it right.

While this can seem intimidating, you are in the right place – our Biology Personal Statement Guide takes you through the whole process and gives you some top tips to get you well on your way to a stellar Personal Statement.

This guide is split into the following sections:

Why are Personal Statements Important? 

While your grades – both completed and predicted – give the admissions team raw data on your academic abilities, your Personal Statement offers context. It shows them who you are, what you’re passionate about and, crucially, why they should want you on their Biology course.

Together with the other information in your application, the Personal Statement is a key piece that helps admissions teams to decide whether or not to offer you a place (or an interview (for courses that offer interviews). It is therefore important for you to dedicate time and effort to your Personal Statement in order to make sure it best reflects you and your abilities.


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What Should I Include in a Biology Personal Statement? 

In broad terms, you should include why you want to study Biology, why you’re ready for university-level study, and why the university should want you. We can boil these down into several key elements: your passion for the subject; your academic ability; and your ‘soft’ skills. We’ll look at how you do each of these in a little more detail below, but the key is to use evidence – in each case use an example to show the admissions team that you have the specific skill, rather than just telling them.

Your Passion for the Subject

A degree is a big commitment, and the admissions team are looking for students that are truly passionate about Biology. Take a moment to think about which area(s) of Biology you find most interesting, and what sparked this interest – it could be that you went on holiday to the coast, for example, and found yourself fascinated by the collection of life present in rockpools, or perhaps you watched a documentary on the incredible abilities of animals to migrate.

You then want to show that you have actively pursued this passion since this motivation struck: perhaps you then went on to research why such life is present in these pools, or the mechanisms by which animals navigate over long distances.

Your Academic Ability

While the admissions team will have your grades, you can use your Personal Statement to show the breadth of your academic ability beyond just these exams. You can use direct examples – such as taking part in Maths Challenges or essay competitions – or indirect examples of where you have gone beyond your classwork to learn more about the areas that interest you. You may have attended a lecture, read a book, or read a recent article in the area in which you are most interested.

For such indirect evidence, the key part is to show that you have thought about it afterwards – don’t just say that you read a certain book, but say what you learnt from it, how it changed the way you think about Biology, or how it led you to further research a certain area.

Your Soft Skills

At degree level you are responsible for your work-life balance and will be working independently for much of the time, so the admissions team are also looking for someone with the skills to thrive in this environment: time management, self-motivation, and persistence, to name a few!

You can use examples from other areas in your life to show these skills. Perhaps you play an instrument or are part of a school club, and these extra commitments mean you have to schedule your time carefully. Or perhaps you can think of a time when you persevered through a tricky situation despite its challenges. The key here is to stress what you have gained from these activities that you can bring to your Biology degree.

What Should I Avoid in a Biology Personal Statement? 

Try to avoid ‘telling’ rather than showing. Anyone can say that they are passionate about Biology or that they read into their favourite topics in their spare time. Instead, try to back all of your attributes up with examples and evidence from your school work or super-curricular activities.

That said, it is also important to avoid simply listing achievements or examples without reflecting on them. In each case, think about what you learnt, how it changed how you think, or how it will help you in your degree. This reflectance shows critical thinking and makes for a quality Personal Statement.

If you can’t think of what you’ve gained from a certain experience, or how it will help you in your degree, it may not be relevant and you should consider not including it. Due to the word limit (see below), each example needs to show a strong attribute of yours – if not, it can be chopped!

Finally, try to avoid cliché statements such as the classic “I have always wanted to study Biology”. While it may have been what you’ve wanted to do since you were little, there is always a better way to show this and to be a little more creative.

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Advice on How to Start a Biology Personal Statement  

Ultimately, there are no rules on how to start a Personal Statement and, perhaps apart from using a cliché statement (as above!), you can’t necessarily go wrong.

That said, you should try to express yourself and show your passion for Biology early on. You could open with a line summarising where your interest comes from, or the particular area you want to study (if you know this). For example, this could be something like: “While my interest in Biology was sparked early on by a family visit to the coast, my appreciation for the complexities and intricacies of the natural world has only grown since, and is ultimately an area to which I wish to dedicate my career”.

Advice on How to Finish a Biology Personal Statement  

Again, there are no hard and fast rules on how to finish a Personal Statement and it is an area where you can apply a little creative licence.

The general aim is to wrap up with a concise one or two lines summarising why you’re passionate about Biology, why you’re ready to study it at degree level, and why you’re a good candidate.

If you opened with a particular structure or example, it can be nice to come full circle and refer back to this – perhaps referencing how you feel that this example, combined with your academic ability and the ‘soft’ skills you evidenced in the body of your statement, makes you a good candidate to study Biology at degree level.


Perhaps the biggest tip is to start early! It doesn’t need to be anything fancy at first – take a little while to think about why exactly you have chosen to study Biology, and jot this down, along with some bullet points of your skills and examples you can use to show these. Then you can start organising these into paragraphs and get writing. You also don’t have to write it in order. The start and end of a Personal Statement can be the trickiest bits, so if you’re stuck don’t be afraid to move on and write the rest of it, giving time for inspiration to strike for those tricky sections. When you have a draft of the full Statement, ask someone to look over it and give their feedback – another set of eyes can be invaluable.

Also, if you realise you don’t have much evidence of your skills or wider reading, don’t panic! Now is the perfect time to pick an area of Biology you’re particularly interested in, find a recent and accessible book in the field, and have a read. Or, to find recent articles that have been published in the field, try taking a look at the websites of major journals such as Nature and picking out a few articles that interest you.

Your Personal Statement has a strict limit of 4000 characters (including spaces) or 47 lines of text – whichever comes first. This comes to roughly 600-800 words, which is not particularly long. It is therefore important to make sure all of your words count – if they’re not doing a job in showing your passion, your ability, or how suited you are to degree level Biology, they can likely be cut.

Extracurricular activities that are Biology-related are always good to include as they show that you’re interested and motivated in furthering your own understanding. This could be things like mentioning a book you have read, a lecture you attended, or an online course that you’ve taken in your own time.

Extracurricular activities that aren’t Biology-related can also be valuable and may include anything you enjoy and do regularly such as sport, drama, and music. The important thing here is to stress how the skills you’ve learnt in these activities has, or will, help you in your Biology degree. Perhaps having a busy sporting calendar has taught you time-management, for example, or volunteering with your local drama school has helped with your teamwork and communication skills.

Whilst you cannot directly tailor your personal statement to any one specific course (since the same statement goes to all of your chosen universities), you can make sure that it appeals to Oxbridge sensibilities.

Oxford and Cambridge are mainly interested for your academic side – your motivation for learning more than just what you are taught in the classroom, and your passion for engaging critically with Biology as a subject. You can do this by emphasising examples where you have taken it upon yourself to learn more – perhaps by reading a book or attending a lecture – and by then detailing what you thought of this content, what you learnt from it, and what you will go on to do with this information. What questions did it answer, but also what questions did it raise?

If you are wishing to study Biology at Cambridge you will apply to ‘Natural Sciences’, which is broad and interdisciplinary course. In this case you may therefore want to add a line or two recognising the importance of science being interdisciplinary. For example, you may have read a book that showed how chemical understanding can be used to advance Biology.

Book your Biology Personal Statement Package

You can contact our Oxbridge-graduate Consultants on +44 (0) 20 7499 2394 or email [email protected] to discuss our personal statement packages. 

If you’d like to know more about Biology, we have admissions test guidance and interview preparation readily available. 

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