Oxford Graduate Medicine Personal Statement

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Your personal statement is an important part of your application to Oxford. It allows you to tell us about your interests, achievements and ambitions in your own words. Although we do not formally score your statement we read it carefully. If you are invited for interview, the statement is likely to provide a focus for the questions that you are asked. It is therefore essential that your statement is an accurate, unembellished account of your activities. We may check the claims that you make on your statement: discovery of fabricated or exaggerated material – during the admissions exercise, or even later on during your time as a student – may bring into question your suitability to practise Medicine. 

Present yourself in the best light: the same basic facts about yourself (in terms of education, interests, experience), when presented differently, can quite dramatically convey positive or negative messages about you to tutors.

For A100 Medicine at Oxford, GCSE and BMAT performance data are predominantly used initially to determine whether or not you are short-listed for interview. The information that you provide in your personal statement becomes increasingly important if you are not short-listed on the basis of GCSE and BMAT scores. Of course, every detail becomes important once you have reached the interviews and are being considered for a place.

1. Please do not be shy in declaring any mitigating circumstances

These may help us to put your achievements or personality within a finer context. We actively look for reasons why you may have under-performed in examinations, or performed well against the odds. These may be factors associated with your schooling, health or domestic circumstances. If you are returning to study after a break, or switching vocation, it is even more important to highlight your reasons for choosing to study Medicine, and for you to demonstrate your determination, resilience, ability and commitment. 

2. Do not simply recount everything you have ever undertaken

We’re looking for quality, not quantity! Remember that large numbers of applicants apply for our courses. Tell us in what ways you will stand out from the crowd. In choosing to talk about an activity, describe what you have drawn from the experience: has it changed you as a person? Did it surprise you?

3. We want to learn about you as a person, not just about your academic qualifications

If you have undertaken extra-curricular activities, or hold positions of responsibility at school, tell us why you sought these, and why they are important to you. You will not impress us by simply recounting that you took up a placement in Thailand, but we might be more appreciative if you tell us what you personally learnt from the experience, about your interaction with local people, and about shadowing the medical team working within your village. 

Example: I have become involved with a city music and drama group, and work especially with the younger members. I find this exciting and more than occasionally challenging. Coaching for the group has given me experience in organising others, as well as teaching them. Watching group members learn and progress is thrilling, especially in the case of one of them who has ADHD. At first he was incapable of remaining still, silent or attentive for even a few minutes, but eventually became far more focused and calmer, making excellent progress in many areas.

4. Directly address our selection criteria in your statement

Here are our selection criteria and some examples:

Personal characteristics: suitability for medicine

  • Empathy: ability and willingness to imagine the feelings of others and understand the reasons for the views of others

Example: My volunteering in the local community and my studies in Religion and Classical Civilization have also increased my ability to understand varying cultural, ethical and social perspectives, and allowed me to look at issues in a wider context.

  • Motivation: a reasonably well-informed and strong desire to practise medicine

Example: My interest in the human body burgeoned while I was taking the Essentials of First Aid class organised by St John Ambulance. The two consecutive years of volunteer service in X Hospital that followed reinforced my passion for the subject.

  • Communication: ability to make knowledge and ideas clear using language appropriate to the audience
  • Honesty and Integrity
  • Ethical awareness
  • Ability to work with others

Example: I have had a weekend job at X since 2016, which has further allowed me to develop teamwork skills, taught me how to work towards personal targets when under pressure, and allowed me to interact with many different members of the public.

Example: Dancing has taught me valuable people skills; you learn to work intimately with fellow dancers and trust them completely.

  • Capacity for sustained and intense work

Academic Potential

  • Problem-solving: critical thinking, analytical approach
  • Intellectual curiosity: keenness to understand the reason for observations; depth; tendency to look for meaning; enthusiasm and curiosity in science
  • Communication skills: willingness and ability to express clearly and effectively; ability to listen; compatibility with tutorial format

Example: Studying History at A-level has helped develop my writing and critical analysis skills.

Example: At school I have taken part in a French exchange programme which greatly improved my language skills, independence and confidence.

5. You will not be alone in trying to open your statement with an attention grabbing intro

If you try this, make sure it helps tutors to learn something about what motivates and enthuses you.

Example: My vast collection of books and videos on "How the Body Works" when I was 7 years old first triggered my interest in the functions of the body. Watching the little personified, cartoon blobs that represented red blood cells run around an animated yet functioning body fascinated me and I longed to find out more. As a result, when a friend received a letter explaining their little girl had just been diagnosed with X at just 14 months old, I was intrigued to find out what this was.

6. The statement is called a personal statement for a reason

It should be written by you, not by your parents, siblings, or teachers. Do not plagiarise material that you find on the web as there is a great chance that such deception will be discovered.

7. Do not feel that there is a precise template to follow that will score you points!

We look for bright and independent thinkers, so try to be original!

Academic entry requirements

See the academic entry requirements page for our entrance requirements. The list is not exhaustive, and tutors can consider a wide range of other qualifications.

Some qualifications may not be sufficient for an application to be considered; we strongly recommend that you look at the University listing of international qualifications to check that you are indeed eligible to apply. If not, you will need to supplement your existing qualifications with further study. The University of Oxford does not offer Foundation or Access programmes, but there are other providers that may be able to help you to reach our entry level. Additionally advice on taking A-levels or the IB can be obtained respectively from your local British Council www.britishcouncil.org or the International Baccalaureate Organisation www.ibo.org.

Please note that whatever your qualifications we would expect a strong track record in Chemistry (compulsory), plus at least one from Biology, Physics and Mathematics.

It is crucial that you include your full educational history (with qualification type and grade) as part of your UCAS application, not just the qualifications you are currently taking. Without this information, it is difficult for the Medical School to properly assess your application.

Places for international applicants

Competition for places on the Medicine course at Oxford University for international students is very strong as the Medical School is required by the government to restrict the number of students who are classified as international students for fees purposes to a maximum of fourteen each year, across both the standard (A100) and Graduate Entry (A101) courses.

Do be aware that citizenship does not in itself determine your status for fees purposes. The issue is decided according to the facts of each case, having regard to where the student has been 'ordinarily resident' for the three year period to 31 August prior to commencing a course at a British University. In most cases, the main purpose of this residence must not have been for educational purposes. Advice from the University on determining status for fees purposes can be found on the fee status website.

Applicants should try to solve any uncertainty about their status before they submit their UCAS application - we suggest seeking specialist guidance, but applicants are most welcome to contact the University’s fees clerk (fees.clerk@admin.ox.ac.uk) with details of their specific circumstances.

Independent information on fee classification can be obtained from UKCISA (see  www.ukcisa.org.uk), an organization that provides advice on fee and visa issues to international students.

Short-listing is conducted in line with the quota imposed on the Medical School by the UK Government for the available international places i.e. the number shortlisted for interview is restricted to approximately 32 for the standard A100 course.

Fees & finance

You can find out more about fees, living costs and funding on the student funding website.

We regret that there are few, if any, scholarships available for A100 Medicine in Oxford due to the nature and duration of the course and the costs involved. To undertake a full funding search, please visit the student funding website.

The following website may also be of interest: www.scholarship-search.org.uk.

Your local branch of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies might be able to advise you on finding scholarships, or looking for more affordable medical courses, perhaps in your own country. Their website is www.ifrc.org.

Interviews for international applicants

Please note that if your application is shortlisted after you have taken the BMAT, you would be required to attend an interview in Oxford in December, even if you live overseas.

Applicants based overseas are advised that they may be expected to make any necessary arrangements well ahead of time to facilitate travel to Oxford in December, which includes organising the appropriate visa to travel to the UK (where required).

Those shortlisted will be interviewed at two colleges: where possible, one will be your college of choice (or allocation, if you made an open application), the second will be allocated to you randomly.

Your invitation letter will come from the college at which you will spend the first night, and this may not be your college of choice (or allocation). The order in which colleges see you will be arbitrary, and therefore the college interviewers will not be aware of your college choice (or allocation) at the time of the interviews, and you should not reveal it to them.

You will be asked to be in Oxford for approximately 26 hours. You will spend the first afternoon and the night at one college, then move to the other college for the next morning.

The number and format of interviews at each college may vary but the selection criteria are common to all colleges. You will be interviewed by at least two academics at each college and by at least one practising clinician. You cannot predict whether your application has been successful by counting the number of interviews you receive, so don’t become anxious if you receive either more or fewer than you expect! 

 You can also find further information at the University interview website.

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