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Writing a chemistry personal statement: expert advice from universities

Find the winning formula to stand out from the crowd with your chemistry degree application

We’ve spoken to the experts at three UK universities to get their thoughts on exactly what they’re looking for in a chemistry personal statement. 
Are you looking for inspiration?
Over on The Student Room, we have more than 50 examples of real chemistry personal statements.

There are no wrong answers when you’re writing a personal statement

Admissions tutors want to know why you’re applying to take this course, and honesty is always the best policy here. There's no right or wrong answer. 

“We want to read about why you want to study on the course, not why you think you should study the course,” says Dr Alex Wright, admissions officer for chemistry at the University of Kent.

“We want to see personality through your writing; this is easier said than done. As an example, if you want to study chemistry in part because you simply love the practical/lab work, do not be embarrassed to mention this. If you want to study chemistry because you want to be a computational drug development chemist, mention why.” 

Avoid the clichés

Sweeping generalisations about why you want to study chemistry are a waste of your (very limited!) word count. Keep it specific and keep it personal. 

“When writing your personal statement for chemistry courses, avoid sweeping statements like 'chemistry is the stuff of life' and focus instead on what makes you passionate about chemistry,” says David Robinson, chemistry admissions tutor at Nottingham Trent University. 

“To be successful in chemistry you’ll need to put in the hours, both studying and in the lab - so in your personal statement you’ll need to demonstrate to an admissions tutor why you are motivated to study chemistry.” 

Your personal statement can mark the first step in your relationship with the course tutors

Applying to university is a two-way street, and you’ll want to be sure that the course you’ve applied to is the right one for you. Professor Mark Lorch, chemistry admission tutor at the University of Hull, suggests using your personal statement as a jumping-off point for your relationship with the tutors. 

“Your personal statement is a chance to introduce yourself to a uni, and done well it can make you stand out from the crowd and is the first step to building a personal relationship with academic staff,” says Mark.  

“It also serves as a good way to check if a uni is really going to take an interest in you as a person. If you find that an admissions tutor has read your statement, and makes an effort to engage with you and what you have written (maybe they’ll contact you by email or talk to you when you visit), then there’s a good chance they will also take an interest in you when you are actually one of their students. 

“So when writing your statement let your passion shine through. Don’t just list the extra books you’ve read, or videos you’ve watched, the title of your EPQ or the place you did some work experience. Don’t just tell us what sports and hobbies you enjoy. Instead, tell us how these and other experiences make you unique. When we meet or contact you that will form the bases of an interesting conversation, help us get to know you, and from there you can get to know us as well.” 

If you know where you want your career to take you, talk about it in your personal statement

“Be bold in mentioning your chemistry-related career aspirations; it shows your long term commitment to the subject to the admissions tutor,” says David at Nottingham Trent University. 

Include any relevant work experience or hobbies

Admissions staff want motivated students who are going to enjoy their course, and relevant work experience can be a great way to prove that you’re passionate about chemistry. 

“To strengthen your personal statement even further, show how your hobbies and work experience could relate to your chemistry career,” says David.

“For example, have you volunteered at a science/chemistry community event, or taken part in a chemistry competition at school or college? Have you won any prizes for chemistry talents? Can you show how your part-time job would help in your chemistry career (for example, team work, or dealing with hazardous substances).” 

And think about how other extracurriculars could be relevant

Even work experience that isn’t immediately related to chemistry could help you showcase desirable skills. 

“Nearly all extra-curricular activities and hobbies are worth mentioning, even if to yourself they seem 'mainstream,” says Alex at the University of Kent. 

“Having a steady passion for activities outside of academic study shows self-motivation to commit, learn, engage, and develop yourself.  

“In the eyes of an admission officer, if you can motivate yourself to regularly participate in an activity, become part of a community outside of school, compete in a sport, help others through volunteering, or otherwise, this can make a big difference to your application.” 

Chat your personal statement through with your friends and family

If you’re feeling stuck, a fresh pair of eyes on your chemistry personal statement could work wonders. 

“It can seem difficult but try to discuss and review your statement with your peers, family, and/or school staff,” says Alex. 

“Often the best ideas come from collaboration. Discussions may help you better reflect on your ambition and give you a new angle on finishing off those critical few hundred words.”

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