Economics Personal Statement

Han Chun Ting  is currently a first year undergraduate reading Bsc Economics at London School of Economics and Political Science. This personal statement was part of his successful application to LSE, UCL, University of Warwick, University of Bath and City University of London for Economics.

Economics is an important subject that shapes the world. The concept of Economics helps governments to implement the best policies for their countries to move forward and helps firms to analyse what are the best steps to take to maximise their revenues. Besides that, Economics is also a unique subject as having knowledge on the subject itself is not enough because the practical implementation of this knowledge is hugely affected by human behaviour. This makes Economics very intriguing as models are made to predict the most probable outcomes based on how people are behaving now and how they might in the future.

The current economic problems in my home country have fuelled my interest to study Economics at university level. In recent years, due to falling global oil prices, the revenue of the Malaysian government has taken a big hit. This has led the government to look for other sources of revenue to replace the loss of income from its petroleum industry. Some of the measures taken include the implementation of Goods and Services Tax and the removal of subsidies towards certain necessity goods. These measures have brought on a new high in the level of inflation within the country. As the cost of living increases, many people, especially low and medium income citizens are starting to go into unemployment. As a result, Malaysia is experiencing one of its worst economic recession over the past two decades. Social unrest is also reaching its peak as people are starting to publicly protest and question the government’s actions. The measures taken by the government have also affected my family as we are forced to change our lifestyle to accommodate the increase in price of the goods that we consume. All of these have left me to question the rationality behind some of the decisions made by the government as I argue on what should be done to replace the country’s source of income without placing extra burden on its people.

The broad range of subjects that I have taken up to A-Levels have allowed me to understand how the discipline of various subjects can be used concurrently. Studying Physics, I have learned to become more systematic and sensitive when assessing and drawing conclusions towards any implications of a given situation. I have taken up Economics in A-Levels to gain a better understanding on the subject. I also possess a strong mathematical background having studied Further Maths at A-Levels. Topics such as calculus and statistics are closely related to Economics, thus I believe I am well equipped to face the demands of studying Economics at degree level.

Academically, I have participated in competitions and won numerous awards. I believe by participating in these competitions, I can equip myself with better skills and be more competitive with the many challenges that are yet to come. Being an active participant in extra-curricular and social activities, I have learned a lot such as leadership and compassion, all of which has built me to become a more holistic and all rounded individual. Besides that, these opportunities have help build my confidence to talk to a large audience which could prove to be beneficial in the future when presenting my ideas. Being a part of my school’s football team has taught me more than anything else on how important teamwork and team harmony is to succeed.

With its high standards of teaching and state-of-the-art facilities, it is clear that the UK is the best place for me to pursue my university studies. I believe that my passion for the subject along with my academic potential will aid and bring me a step closer towards my goal to make a change in my home country.

DISCLAIMER: The personal statements on this site are strictly meant as a starting point to give an idea of how successful personal statements look like. There is no surefire formula to writing good personal statements. COLLEGELAH IS STRICTLY AGAINST PLAGIARISM OF ANY KINDUCAS employs a plagiarism check system that checks applicants’ work against other published writing so please DO NOT PLAGIARISE.

Chemical Engineering Personal Statement

This personal statement was part of this student’s successful application to UCL, University of Bath, University of Birmingham and University of Sheffield for MEng Chemical Engineering and University of Manchester for MEng Chemical Engineering with a year in industry. 

As a child, I would listen to enthralling stories of my grandfather tapping rubber at his family’s estate. The local community then was intertwined with the rubber industry as Malaysia was the largest producer of natural rubber in the world. Meanwhile in school, I would learn about the importance of natural rubber and wondered how a thick white liquid could be processed into remarkable products such as latex gloves and automotive parts and exported globally. I realised that complex processes involved in manufacturing raw materials into products were not limited to rubber but included myriad industries such as petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals. During Chemistry lessons, I discovered that natural rubber can be vulcanized by adding sulphur to refine its properties, modifying it into an improved material by increasing its hardness and durability. At this point, I realized that vulcanization was only a small part of a larger process to produce rubber as the final product.

Albeit challenging, A-Level motivated me to pursue continuous learning and to be open to new ideas. Physics, Chemistry and Math helped develop my critical thinking and problem solving skills. I became interested with the idea of connecting the theories of chemistry into practical situations in life. The concept of creating products from raw materials using a series of processes drew my attention towards Chemical Engineering. I now look forward to generating processes for the creation of products, leveraging on my problem solving skills and ensuring that products made meet customers’ requirements.

Following up on this interest, I spoke to practicing Chemical Engineers who suggested I read up on Fluid Mechanics for a start. In “The Essentials of Fluid Mechanics”, I read about laminar and turbulent flows and learned how fluid flow rates are laminar at low velocities, represented by highly ordered motion. As the velocity of the fluid increases, the fluid flow becomes more chaotic and is hence turbulent. For example, cigarette smoke rises in smooth streamlines at first, then starts fluctuating in a random manner as it continues rising.

Realizing the importance of learning new skills and challenging my brain, apart from my academic pursuits, I have advanced my interest in music and learned the guitar, while continuing with singing and playing the piano. I joined Sunway Student Volunteers as I wanted to reach out to people of different ages and strata of society. I have helped at the National Zoo where I observed the zookeepers who were committed and took pride in their demanding tasks, a trait to leverage on to achieve my goals. I regularly teach children aged 5-6 at my church. Interacting with them has taught me patience, a strength I can rely on in the future.

I participated in shot put and javelin events and won a few medals for my school. I was selected to be on the netball team, won second place in my school’s cross country run and became one of the top athletes there. Sports taught me to embrace the failures in life and not be discouraged to continue striving. In 2015, as the President of Red House, a school sports team, I learnt that kindness and empathy were effective approaches in relating to people and building team spirit. This role taught me not to underestimate the importance of teamwork.

Born into a multiracial family, I engage easily with people of various backgrounds. Having mastered English, Malay and Hokkien, I have also picked up Spanish. This is the first step in preparation for me to practice in any part of the world. Attending one of the universities in the UK would not only equip me with academic knowledge, but would also sharpen my soft skills. My dream would be to have all these come together when I finally contribute my skills to advancements in industry as a full fledged Chemical Engineer.

DISCLAIMER: The personal statements on this site are strictly meant as a starting point to give an idea of how successful personal statements look like. There is no surefire formula to writing good personal statements. COLLEGELAH IS STRICTLY AGAINST PLAGIARISM OF ANY KINDUCAS employs a plagiarism check system that checks applicants’ work against other published writing so please DO NOT PLAGIARISE.

Computer Science Personal Statement

This personal statement was part of this student’s successful application to UCL, University of St Andrews, Durham University, University of Warwick and Lancaster University for Computer Science. 

I believe the possibilities computer technology present is limited only by one’s imagination and desire to innovate which both attracts and motivates me to study in this field. The unpredictability associated with this so called era of digital Darwinism excites me and with software bridging the gap between humans and computer, it is my aspiration to be in the forefront of future technological breakthroughs by pursuing a degree in computer science and ultimately a career in software engineering.

Being born in a multilingual country has exposed me to the different interpretable “layers” that make up speech in spoken languages. This has given me a better appreciation of the literal and precise syntax of the programming language. During ICT lessons, I was taught programming languages such as Python and often given projects to create relatively simple games such as “Hangman” using basic concepts we had been taught. My failures leading up to eventual success in creating the game taught me the importance of using logic to understand the flow and structure of any written programme. I truly enjoyed this programming experience which required both creativity and careful planning.

This year I was granted the opportunity to intern with a computer software consulting company. The research I conducted for the company on de-constructed databases enlightened me on the future of “big data” and how it will be one of the key drivers to the growth and development of the global economy. With this better understanding and appreciation of data being a coveted commodity, one of my aspirations as a future software engineer would be to help Malaysian companies develop efficient software systems that would integrate both structured and unstructured data harvesting into usable analytics and thereby enhancing business intelligence, improving their efficiency and ultimately competitiveness.

Possessing an affinity for numerical equations, mathematics and physics has taught me to analyse problems through critical thinking and utilise my understanding of concepts to find a solution. I enjoy the challenge that mathematics presents and the logical thinking required to break down seemingly convoluted problems into simple, solvable parts. Moreover, I have come to be fastidious and methodical when working towards a solution to avoid carelessness, an indispensable characteristic when developing software whose functionality hinges upon a line by line programming perfection.

To me, being creative is an asset to this vibrant industry of computer technology because just as no two artists create the same masterpiece, no two software engineers programme the same way to create identical systems. As a photographer, I have learnt to observe my environment from different perspectives to frame dynamic shots that excite me. It is my belief and hope that my unique perspective as a photographer will help me, as a computer science student, to regard problems as something three dimensional thus approachable from different angles to provide “out-of-the-box”-successful solutions. As an athlete, sports is equally a mental game to me as it is a physical one. Over the years, it has given me confidence, strength to persevere under duress and discipline to reach my goals. With that confidence, I took on the role of Vice House Captain of my college and organised the annual house trip for over a hundred students. This experience developed my leadership skills, communication skills as I had to correspond with many parties and teamwork when working with my peers. A three-month internship stint with a local magazine fostered my soft skills in a working environment and ingrained time management to meet published deadlines.

Ultimately, with my innate diligence and desire to learn, I hope to pursue a degree in Computer Science in your prestigious university and my goal, as a fully qualified software engineer, would be to successfully contribute to the burgeoning advancement of technology.

DISCLAIMER: The personal statements on this site are strictly meant as a starting point to give an idea of how successful personal statements look like. There is no surefire formula to writing good personal statements. COLLEGELAH IS STRICTLY AGAINST PLAGIARISM OF ANY KINDUCAS employs a plagiarism check system that checks applicants’ work against other published writing so please DO NOT PLAGIARISE.

Medicine Personal Statement

This personal statement was part of this student’s successful application to UCL, University of Edinburgh and Queen Mary University London for Medicine. 

As a St. John Ambulance first aider, I treated a schoolmate who fractured his forearm and dislocated his elbow. I immediately assigned my fellow first aiders their roles before speaking calmly to my schoolmate. Yet, held back by the limitations of being a first aider, we could only stabilise him before transferring him to the hospital for treatment. My perceived limitations sparked my consideration of pursuing medicine as a career choice as it exposed me to the extensive possibilities of being a doctor.

Intrigued by the decision-making process in medicine, I shadowed a doctor in the emergency ward of a local hospital. He diagnosed patients not just by using a fixed algorithm, but by using a blend of his clinical acumen, the results of lab tests and imaging modalities, considering every aspect of the illness. Through this, I realised that he maintained a healthy dose of scepticism to avoid red herrings, which could have caused misdiagnoses. Wielding the wisdom to choose his diagnostic tools at the correct moments, he avoided the unnecessary usage of resources, which were then made available for patients in the Intensive Care Unit. By doing so, I recognised that doctors constantly problem-solve, highlighting the investigative nature of a doctor’s role, consequently strengthening my resolve to study medicine.

I also understood the importance of compassion in medicine after witnessing the gravity of the psychological impact of illnesses on patients, especially those with heart disease. To tackle this, the doctor reassured and motivated them to change their sedentary lifestyles, a tough but gratifying task. From this, I learnt that doctors play a pivotal, yet unspoken role in solving some modifiable risk factors in such illnesses, consequently improving public health. He also adopted a scientific approach to most cases by not only addressing the symptoms but also the pathophysiology. Through this, I realised that science and benevolence are symbiotic in this field, exposing me to the holistic aspect of medicine.

Reading about the vastly unexplored area of neuroscience exposed me to the danger of brain tumours, such as glioblastomas. The heterogenous nature of these cells renders chemotherapy ineffective, leaving neurosurgeons with only the crude option of surgery to remove these tenacious tumours. Even then, the dilemma of deciding whether to operate or not plagues doctors ‘minds. I am optimistic that further research can solve this issue by paving the path to the finding of non-invasive diagnostic techniques, such as monoclonal antibodies. This can potentially lead to the discoveries of effective chemotherapeutic agents and oncolytic viruses that can specifically target these cells, such as the Zika virus which can kill glioblastomas. Research is an integral and exciting aspect of medicine, which ultimately aims to improve patient care. I believe that it is vital to apply research in the clinical setting. Volunteering at a hospice enabled me to empathise with the elderly. One particular lady left me feeling helpless as she was bedridden and blind, binding her to a challenging life. I realised that my company brought her joy, exposing me to the importance of applying medical humanities in the clinical setting.

To further improve my interpersonal skills, I tutored underprivileged children from a rural area in English through my college’s Rotaract Club. This allowed me to understand the importance of communicating well in a multiracial society, another key aspect of a doctor’s job scope. This experience further inspired me to champion public health as the kids were living in poor conditions. Currently, I am self-learning to code and play the guitar, whilst regularly playing badminton to ensure that I am constantly learning new skills whilst leading a balanced lifestyle. Together, these experiences gave me the valuable insights needed to practice in this field that is an imperfect science but nonetheless a gratifying art.

DISCLAIMER: The personal statements on this site are strictly meant as a starting point to give an idea of how successful personal statements look like. There is no surefire formula to writing good personal statements. COLLEGELAH IS STRICTLY AGAINST PLAGIARISM OF ANY KINDUCAS employs a plagiarism check system that checks applicants’ work against other published writing so please DO NOT PLAGIARISE.

Economics Personal Statement

Aaron Goh is currently on a gap year and will be reading BSc Economics at University of Cambridge. This personal statement was part of his successful application to University of Cambridge, UCL, University of Warwick and University of Durham for Economics.

Max Hartwell said that “economics is, in essence, the study of poverty”. I disagree. I think economics today is, fundamentally, the study and use of incentives to achieve policy goals. However, if what Hartwell meant was that alleviating poverty is the goal of economics, then I concur – it must be the most important aim of socioeconomic policy. Reading Duflo and Banerjee’s ‘Poor Economics’, I found myself increasingly interested in discussions of solutions to poverty. In particular, I am interested in the effects of education on poverty; I believe education is a necessary condition to escape vicious cycles of low education, low skill, and therefore low incomes. I do not believe in a single, miraculous solution to poverty. However, I think that a heterogeneous use of education-driven policies bears the most promising results.

I found an appealing theoretical basis for my hypothesis in my A-level studies – Marginal Revenue Productivity (MRP) theory suggests that workers who produce output of higher value will earn higher wages. Furthermore, education changes structural causes, and breaks intergenerational chains of, poverty. Educating children reduces inequality from the get-go, while educating or re-training adults with the right skills grants them access to higher-paying jobs in current demand. Further exploration of empirical research by the Hamilton Project shows that increasing educational attainment will increase average income. Therefore, a sound way to help the poor is to improve access to, and incentive for, education.

I was intrigued by Dulo and Banerjee’s counter-intuitive inding that conditional cash transfers were not as effective as unconditional ones at incentivising the poor to send their children to school; this highlighted that policies to increase education for the poor need to be carefully thought out. For instance, one policy that they discuss is making microcredit available to the poor. I initially agreed, since in theory, this would reduce liquidity constraints holding them back from education. However, research by Augsburg et al. on Bosnia found that higher microcredit availability actually reduced the school attendance of 16-19 year olds due to them leaving school to start businesses! The use of econometric analysis, coupled with tools such as the Randomised Control Trials used by Dulo and Banerjee, can help reveal how our policies should be crafted; I look forward to gaining a rigorous understanding of such analysis at an undergraduate level.

Inspired by data-driven approaches to uncovering solutions for poverty, I downloaded World Bank time-series for GNI per capita, and gross primary, secondary and tertiary enrolment in America to examine the correlations between these variables. A rudimentary analysis of data for America revealed the R-squared value for a regression of GNI per capita on the three different enrolment variables to be 0.61 at most (for primary enrolment). This suggested to me that while education may be a necessary condition for ameliorating poverty, it is not a sufficient condition; it is dependent on other elements too, which is why Eric Hanushek found that in many cases, simply spending more on education did not accrue significant returns. One such element may be political uncertainty. I once discussed the ongoing civil war in Libya at a Model United Nations Conference; it has shut down schools and exacerbated extreme poverty. Policy solutions here must deal with the differing political reality of the country. All this reaffirmed to me that policy discussions require rich cross-disciplinary handling, something I look forward to learning more of.

My tertiary education will be funded by a Malaysian Central Bank scholarship; this opportunity was life changing for someone of lower middle-class income status like myself. How can others access opportunities like this? I hope to gain the rigour and knowledge to answer these questions, beginning with an education in economics.

DISCLAIMER: The personal statements on this site are strictly meant as a starting point to give an idea of how successful personal statements look like. There is no surefire formula to writing good personal statements. COLLEGELAH IS STRICTLY AGAINST PLAGIARISM OF ANY KINDUCAS employs a plagiarism check system that checks applicants’ work against other published writing so please DO NOT PLAGIARISE.

Economics at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)


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This write-up will explain largely the key questions surrounding applications to read Economics at LSE – Composition and direction of the Personal Statement and subject choices. I am currently studying BSc in Economics (L101) at LSE, having studied A level (History, Economics, Maths and Further Maths) at Kolej Tuanku Ja’afar previously.


The Personal Statement is undisputedly the most important component of your application. Tons of other applicants will possess stellar grades, which is where your statement will differentiate you from the others and land yourself an offer. If your grades aren’t stellar, likewise, this is the hinging factor that might place you over the others. Evidently rejections from LSE often fall back to faults in Personal Statements being not up to the standard LSE wants or that they do not reflect what LSE looks for in an applicant.

Let’s establish three simple principles to follow in writing your personal statement, which will apply to arguably all other university applications through UCAS. Firstly, your personal statement must reflect that your academic potential or interest. Secondly, your personal statement should be about academics. Thirdly, your personal statement should reflect you. Being able to follow these three divine commandments will, hopefully, bring out the essence of your application to British universities, with LSE included. Keep in mind that Economics at LSE is extremely competitive, you have no reason to slack off on your personal statement.

How shall I display my academic potential or interest?

The most intuitive way to do this is to display curiosity, sophistication and clear understanding of economic issues that deeply interest you. Given that, it might be helpful to start planning and think about burning questions or issues that you love way beforehand rather than to glide through economic books or textbooks to find the “most interesting topic”.  You will be able to talk about topics that interest you deeply more intelligently, passionately and interestingly.

In my case, my initial draft largely consisted of brief mentions and analysis of books of different topics, ranging from financial crises, development, income disparity to policies. A clear problem was that it lacked depth and sophistication. Surely it displayed evidence of reading but certainly not competency. Realising that, my further drafts focused on largely a central topic – development. In doing so, the number of books mentioned was reduced significantly. Each book mentioned revealed a different aspect of developmental economics, while complementing and extending one another. At this point, it is easy to slip into a trap of summarising books you read. Avoid this and relate the content to what you have understood, or how it revealed a new aspect that sparks curiosity. A good way to do this is to either express an opinion in extension to your analysis of the book or an intelligent question.

A crucial aspect that might easily be overlooked is mathematics. Maths is the Holy Grail for LSE, especially for economics, which is maths-intensive. This means that you should display mathematical competency in your Personal Statement, not forgetting to relate maths with economics. Developing this portion in depth, supported by your understanding and perhaps, achievements in maths would be great. Remember however that listing your achievements in maths competitions is good but isn’t impressive in comparison to a candidate who shows awareness of relation between maths and economics in context.

How should I make my Personal Statement academic?

An appropriate answer to that would be to strike out/cut down on ECAs and personal interests that have no direct relation with Economics. However, that does not mean that your personal statement should be strictly without ECAs etc. Having internships and ECAs that directly relate to Economics would be very helpful if you are able to show that they facilitate your understanding of the subject. Intuitive examples could be debates and internships at the government/think tanks/financial institutes/research institutes. To be clear, it is imperative to discuss them in an academic context and not the typical “leadership/teamwork skills”. Surely the latter is interesting but less importance than the academic portions.

If you do feel the burning need to include unrelated ECAs or personal interests, to the point that you will not gain sufficient closure, do it by all means. However, do minimise it to perhaps, a short paragraph at most. It will contribute at most marginally, if not nothing at all, to the strength of your application, which also applies to generally highly selective universities. It is your personal statement regardless, do whatever that makes you most comfortable.

How do I reflect myself in my Personal Statement?

Given that UCAS Personal Statements are academic in content, having an essence of individuality would, supposedly, make your application more differentiable and perhaps, impressive. Notice how US college essays explicitly, and sometimes strictly, emphasise on revealing yourself as an individual. Your goal is to achieve that effect within the academic construct of a UCAS Personal Statement.

Understandably, it is relatively easy to achieve this effect in the introductory paragraph of your Personal Statement. A situation, observation or experience that relates to an Economic problem would be appropriate. Of course, do expound on it and if it relates to you to the point that it deserves to be in the first paragraph of your statement, you should be able to raise intelligent, sophisticated and nuanced questions/understanding.

Extending that, an issue that closely relates to you would also be an appropriate theme of your personal statement. This general theme allows you to explore a topic in depth easier and in context, particularly when you know first-hand about the economic problem/topic in discussion. Take the freedom in exploring in breadth but writing along a familiar theme comes with good depth, understanding and relative ease. Moreover, your Personal Statement avoids the pitfall of being a barrage of loosely linked academic topics, with a touch of dryness.


What subjects should I take?

LSE is part of the Russell Group universities, which are all selective research-intensive universities. A common thing that all of them share explicitly is their preference for traditional subjects over vocational/soft subjects. LSE, in particular, discourages explicitly its applicants from taking soft subjects such as Accounting (yes, even if you’re applying for Accounting and Finance), Law (even for Law applicants), media studies etc. Economics applicants should, therefore, take the precaution of taking traditional subjects given that your offer will exclude Further Maths from being part of the A*AA offer. Your grades for Further Maths, however well you do, will only count towards the “Pass in A2 Further Mathematics” segment. According to LSE’s international officer James Brown (2015), taking a soft subject will put your application at a disadvantageous position, which could, however, be amended by getting impressive grades (metric is uncertain but the mid-high 90s UMS range would make sense).

There is also an ever-going discussion over the necessity of Further Maths as a fourth subject. There are practical benefits of taking Further Maths if you are applying for Economics at LSE as well as at other universities. University Economics generally requires good mastery of mathematics. More than half of your first year modules in LSE will be about maths, which means that taking Further Maths will help you in going about university easier than those without.

There is a saying that goes “taking Further Maths will not give you any advantage but not taking it will disadvantage your application.” Although there are people who have obtained offers without taking Further Maths, there is no reason to deliberately put one aspect of your application in a weaker position.

Given that, an optimal subject combination should comprise of Maths, Further Maths and 2 hard subjects. Hard subjects include but are probably not limited to the following: History, Economics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, English Literature, Geography, Classical Studies and Languages. A list of “non-preferred” subjects is available on the LSE website itself under the page titled “LSE’s entry requirements”.

On a less related note, given that people applying for similar subjects might be viewing this, specifically Econometrics and Mathematical Economics that normally doesn’t accept first year entries, it is stated on the subject page on the LSE website that taking at least one physical science would be attractive, from which you will also find out that they don’t normally accept direct entries into first year.

What if my AS exams were to go wrong?

I suppose this segment is only relevant to those who would take their AS exams in summer (May/June) before UCAS application opens. A quick answer would be that you’re probably doomed. Fear not, however, as mentioned previously, your spectacular, groundbreaking, marvelous, impressive, stellar Personal Statement might be able to save you. Nonetheless, if your AS grades are only a grade away from the grade requirements and that your predictions meet them, you’re probably still in for the game. I cannot stress how important it is to perform well in your AS exams. Re-sits are possible but you might have to compensate on your A2. Worst of all is that the not-so-good AS grades will have to be declared on UCAS.

In instances where extenuating circumstances such as medical conditions, staffing issues etc. have affected your grades, declare them. In my case, I had a history teacher crisis in which there was a lack of a teacher for disturbingly long period of time. Unsurprisingly, I managed to obtain only a ‘b (76)’ for my AS History.. The point is that if your extenuating circumstances have affected your grades such that they do not reflect your academic performance, declare them with the utmost and shameless honesty. It is still possible that you stand as strong as or stronger than others with better grades.


Suah Jing Lian is currently a Bank Negara Malaysia Kijang Scholar who is pursuing Economics in the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). He has a penchant for Baroque music, particularly Bach’s partitas, and debating, which he claims provides sparks to his life. People claim that he looks and speaks in an intimidating way but not really, he’s one of the most eccentric people you will ever meet.

UK Architecture Application

Madiha-Ijaz.Ahmad-collage 1

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Hi there! I am Louisa from Kuching, Sarawak. I did my A-levels at Kolej Tuanku Ja’afar (KTJ) and am currently pursuing the Foundation Course in the Architectural Association School of Architecture (AA School). This will lead to my First Year in Architecture.

When you hear the word ‘architecture’, you will probably think of buildings, sketches or the people responsible for creating space, function and form while the engineers grumble over that these architects draw dreams that they have to create. Architecture is, however, a long journey of 5 academic years for the master’s degree and another two years of working to earn your RIBA part 3, which ultimately proves that you are a fully-fledged architect and are able to sign off your drawings. It is encouraged to take a break to work for a year after the third year of your degree. So this journey would be about 8 years long – “as bad as medicine”, people would say.

You have to be certain of your choice and you must have a passion for this course. Otherwise, it will be absolute torture for you. The hashtag ‘#architorture’ is a thing on Instagram, go check it out. This is not the course for you if your plan is to get rich quick. The famous architects you hear about don’t represent more than a bare minority and they had to work long and hard to reach where they are now. Hard work, perseverance and passion are necessary to survive this craziness.


The big major question everyone has in their mind. The major headache of every art student. Honestly, presentation is what is important for the portfolio the most. You need to give good quality images of your work and then be able to explain it well. Have a side note to each image and tell them what inspired you to do this – the thought process. To each student their own because the portfolio is almost like an extension of your character. Especially now with my course mates, when I see their portfolios, I see their characters in the images and the way they present their images.

There is no right or wrong with portfolios. It may vary according to the school you apply for, they may be looking for students with certain qualities or styles. That is why it is important to research on the schools you are applying for, to understand their approach to teaching the architectural course.

When I applied to the AA School, my portfolio was very much comprised of fine art with a bit of graphic design thrown in. My friends have portfolios showing just sketches or just photographs or every style of art under the sun; showing their experiments and approaches. The AA School likes students from all styles as long as you can communicate and explain your work. They are more interested in the way you think, the way you approach things, rather than actually seeing what you can do, though that is necessary too.

Personal Statement

Another headache. At this time, the UCAS students are shaking their heads and panicking because the deadlines are here or for the Oxbridge candidates, pass and the agony of waiting is upon them. The important thing about personal statements is to speak about your passion in architecture and what influenced you to choose architecture. Let them understand without question or doubt as to why they should choose you for a place in their university for architecture. Explain how your skills and ECA activities tie into architecture or how they are useful.

Spend a small amount of time, small being the crucial word here, to explain why you choose the university. Of course for UCAS applicants, you have to be very general about it but explain why the university would be necessary for your future and how you are important to the school too, how you could contribute to them. Talk about how your experience and leadership skills acquired in high school can be used in the clubs and societies offered in the university.

For applicants applying to private universities or applying to a university individually, this is the time to really research on the university’s teaching style. Is it technical or more creative? Explain why you want to pursue those aspects that the university can offer. These are mere examples. Remember, do not oversell yourself or ‘butter up’ the school too much. You will come off as desperate or a sycophant, both of which will decrease your favourability to the universities and you do not want that to happen. Unless you state it, the universities will have no idea which other universities to applied to, this is especially so for UCAS candidates, until you have chosen your firm and insurance choice.

In my personal experience, I would say, be prepared to work hard but remember to work smart. Every day, do something and little by little, it will build up into something amazing. Do not get discouraged if your first topic was bad. Keep working on it, Rome was not built in a day after all. You can only get better with practice. Do proper research, read a lot and observe. Take photographs, sketches, make annotations of buildings and anything at all that captured your attention. You never know when these things might actually help spark that creative streak in you down the road when you are stuck in the studio in the middle of the night trying to come up with an idea. You start to notice what works and what does not in architecture, architecture will take over your life.

Important point is, that even with an architectural degree, you do not necessarily have to practice architecture. There are people with architectural degrees doing product design, interior design or even event planning. The sky is the limit, it does not stop with architecture. In fact, it gives you a better understanding of things. In architecture, you learn model-making, observational study, photography, and an excellent understanding of the Adobe Creative Suite which includes Photoshop to name a few.

I personally enjoy my course even though it can get extremely tedious. Honestly, there are moments when I love it and moments when I question my life choices. But if you are certain about this, and you have a passion for it, I say ignore whatever other people say and go for it. This is your future, you should do something you enjoy and if need be, go against the current. I am all for being unique. After all, that is how amazing things happen – with confidence, tenacity and hard work.

Louisa Wong is currently reading Architecture in the Architectural Association School of Architecture (AA School) in the United Kingdom.

Actuarial Science/ Maths & Stats/ MORSE Personal Statement

Lim Yeak Seng is currently reading Actuarial Science at the London School of Economics and Politics (LSE). This personal statement is part of his successful application to the London School of Economics and Politics (LSE), City University London, Heriot-Watt University and University of Warwick for MORSE.

I am intrigued by how stochastic processes are applied in probability theory, in order to capture uncertainty in real world dynamic phenomena. The book ‘Time Series Modelling of Water Resources and Environmental Systems’ by K.W. Hipel impresses me with its employment of statistical methodologies for scientific data analysis of environmental time series. The research undertaken by Silva et al in optimising the generation of power from hydroelectric plants, by utilising linear multivariate time series models to model flows into the reservoirs, has saved Brazil about $87 million in five years. From my research, I believe the time series model can provide a rigorous mathematical formulation of underlying structures and their relation to observable random variables, via its latent variables. I realise the importance of holistic and pragmatic time series models in simulating real world situations and for predicting possible future outcomes.

I was introduced to cladistics by the entomologist, W. Hennig in ‘Phylogenetic Systematics’. The cladograms are assembled by computer analysis of similarities and differences between species, such as characters and DNA sequences. Linnaeus’s classification scheme and Haeckel’s Tree Of Life provide a solid foundation for mathematicians to catalogue nature’s diversity and to reveal the secret of evolution.  In 2010, D. Theobald effectively applied cladistics methods to test this hypothesis, known as ‘universal common ancestry’; the results came down firmly in favour of a common ancestry for all present-day life. I am impressed by how the construction of cladograms can make the classification of organisms more systematic, avoiding the subjective decisions of traditional taxonomy. In the future, I aspire to contribute to society by utilising my numerical ability to analyse statistical data in order to construct models with greater predictive power.

As an intern at Yong Sing Insurance, I was introduced to a variety of policies. I am fascinated by how an actuary formulates a policy, taking different variables into consideration with the aim of maximising profits. My second internship at Hong Leong Bank exposed me to the resilience of Malaysia’s existing financial systems. An integrated regional crisis management framework, alongside surveillance mechanisms, puts policymakers in a constant state of preparedness for any eventuality. I am intrigued by how better risk assessments by an actuary allow the best decisions to be made by policymakers for implementing pre-emptive measures. The causes and impacts of the current world financial crisis fascinate me. My reading suggests that the limitations and defects of D. X. Li’s Gaussian Copula model caused the U.S. Subprime Mortgage crisis to aggravate. The unstable correlation between financial quantities and the unpredictability of the parameters of the economic models have made it difficult to assess hugely complex risks accurately. In my view, sufficient historical data about actual defaults needs to be assembled and the indication of rising default risk, such as the soaring price of credit default swap, should be considered when constructing statistical models.

I enjoy solving complicated maths questions and I am currently enrolled in a Data Analysis and Statistical Inference module on Coursera. I am very curious about how statistical theories work; currently, I am studying frequentist and Bayesian inference.  Both are useful in parameter estimation, depending on the data size and the availability of the prior distribution.

I have developed my leadership skills and discipline as a Scout Leader. Working as the Treasurer of the Maths Club has given me invaluable experience in managing funds. I enjoy sports and athletics; I represented my District in the International Ekiden Run.

I am a motivated, passionate and determined student who is looking forward to acquiring the skills I need by studying as an undergraduate at a prestigious UK university.

DISCLAIMER: The personal statements on this site are strictly meant as a starting point to give an idea of how successful personal statements look like. There is no surefire formula to writing good personal statements. COLLEGELAH IS STRICTLY AGAINST PLAGIARISM OF ANY KIND. UCAS employs a plagiarism check system that checks applicants’ work against other published writing so please DO NOT PLAGIARISE.

Physics Personal Statement

Jiaxen Lau is currently reading Physics in University of Oxford. This personal statement was part of his successful application to University of Oxford, Royal Holloway, University of London; University of Warwick, University of St Andrew and Durham University.

For me, the most exciting thing about physics is the thought of what it can help us achieve in our future. The fundamental nature of subatomic particles could develop new forms of qubit-based computers; superconductors could alleviate inefficiencies in public transport and electronic circuits; the nature of space-time could even allow a fast spaceship to noticeably slow its own passing of time. As I explore books and other media, I find that our world’s intricate clockwork is beautiful, intellectually stimulating and full of discoveries to be made. By uncovering and understanding these phenomena, we allow ourselves to make great leaps in our own technological capabilities. I aspire to explore the physical world with like-minded peers and professors, as well as do research to contribute to this extraordinary field.

I keep up to date with current developments in Physics through online science news and communities including the Institute of Physics. To add to my knowledge of physics, above popular physics books, I am currently also reading Feynman’s transcribed lectures and undertaking Leonard Susskind’s Theoretical Minimum course online. I find them challenging yet rewarding, as they use more complex diagrams and intriguingly more sophisticated manipulations of mathematics than my A-levels. I especially admire their intricate use of mathematical principles I know to spawn ideas in physics, such as the use of geometric lengths of a light ray’s path from different reference frames to arrive at the theory of special relativity, or the solving of differential equations to determine concepts in classical mechanics.

Physics expresses itself through mathematics, and apart from representing my school in various maths and science competitions, I had the opportunity to practise using mathematics during an internship with Accenture, where I helped to develop software to predict a company’s categorical expenditures. The project involved using Excel and Visual Basic programming to manipulate large amounts of data. I enjoyed applying my mathematical knowledge, in particular the process of generating and understanding various graphs from the complex sets of data I sorted, and then modelling and making predictions from trends. I also enjoyed writing technical procedures and explanations for the software’s user manual.

Becoming my school’s Film Club President taught me a lot about communication. Making films made me think of creative ways to deliver information; I also enjoyed teaching junior members in the club filmography-techniques and how to use editing software. Over time, I learned to articulate ideas more efficiently and to think from others’ perspectives to make my explanations captivating. I further practise this skill in my school’s maths club, where I regularly prepare and give mathematical demonstrations and lessons. I love to talk about useful applications of mathematics in the sciences; one of my favourite topics to present was an introduction to Fermi Problems, an estimation technique used by scientists to induce approximate values from limited data. Sharing ideas and teaching others allows me to solidify information in my own mind, which I find helpful when studying. I look forward to challenging myself to use these skills at university to convey increasingly complex and technical ideas in physics to others.

As my school’s Head Boy, I lead a team of prefects in a multitude of activities aimed at maintaining a positive learning environment, while also playing a part in coordinating social events such as fundraisers, concerts and the Sixth Form induction. I find that the organisational, time management and teamwork skills I gain through these experiences help me to plan my studies well and work comfortably in groups.

DISCLAIMER: The personal statements on this site are strictly meant as a starting point to give an idea of how successful personal statements look like. There is no surefire formula to writing good personal statements. COLLEGELAH IS STRICTLY AGAINST PLAGIARISM OF ANY KIND. UCAS employs a plagiarism check system that checks applicants’ work against other published writing so please DO NOT PLAGIARISE.