Law Personal Statement

This personal statement helped this applicant gain admission to University of Manchester, University of Cambridge and University of Warwick to read law.

All identifying countries and acts have been removed to prevent controversy

“What is law?” – One of the biggest ironies in life that most legal scholars often struggle to answer.

Some people perceive it as a tool to serve justice; others equate it to the concept of order, while one school of thought often contends that law is inextricably linked to morality. Therefore, the existence of a general definition that provides a clear insight into the abstract nature of law remains questionable thus far. I think that understanding the concept of law and questioning its principles is an interesting pursuit. For example, if the function of law is to maintain order, then whose definition of order are we referring to: the majority or the authority?

My interest in law stemmed from my academic introduction to the concept of law and morality. The intellectual debate of fairness and justice served as an impetus for me to peruse relevant book namely A Critical Introduction to Law by W.Mansell, B.Meteyard and A.Thomson which provided an honest evaluation on the role of law in contemporary societies. Through this endeavor, I have come to the realization that the judiciary system in [COUNTRY] has been deviating from the rule of law that ensures equality. However, it now appears to be driven towards the rule by law under the incumbent government. Law enforcement is no longer impartial but is rather being implemented in a discretionary manner where different treatments are given on racial and political grounds. For instance, [ACT 1] and [ACT 2] were abused to silent dissent and advance particular political interests in [COUNTRY]. The implementation of legislation that permits detention without trial severely violates fundamental human rights and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Hence, I believe that it is imperative to question the great disparity between the operations of law in theory and in reality so that justice can be served.

Adhering to my belief that success should not be confined solely to academic excellence, I have actively engaged myself outside the classroom to develop my character. Debating at a national level empowered self-belief which enabled me to articulate my thoughts in public. As the secretary-general in the Prefectorial Board, I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to lead the department of discipline where my leadership and communication skills were honed. I am also humbled to be the recipient as the Model Student of the year.

I am a firm believer in perseverance. For this reason, I chose to persist in ballet despite the challenges I have had to overcome as a result of starting lessons at the late age of sixteen. Mastering an art which requires consistent hard work has inspired me to become a disciplined and determined individual. All these achievements have provided me with the necessary qualifications to be selected as one of the sixty six elite Malaysian students chosen to participate in a two week leadership course known as the Tun Razak Leadership Program 2011. The program was an eye-opener that made me realize that the learning in a multicultural society has much to offer. I learnt the value of tolerance and to respect the opinions of others.

Having developed a profound interest in law, I am all ready to embark on this intellectually rewarding journey in a reputable university, with the aim of maintaining the balance between my academics and other activities. I am looking forward to implementing the useful knowledge from tertiary education to make a positive contribution to my 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 KIND. UCAS employs a plagiarism check system that checks applicants’ work against other published writing so please DO NOT PLAGIARISE.

Steps to Reading Law at Cambridge

Interested in studying in Cambridge’s Squire Law Library?

1. What do I need to do to apply for Law at Cambridge?

All UK universities go through UCAS, which is the standardized university application service provider. The process includes the submission of the standard personal information (name, address, etc), along with the all-important academic grades as well as a personal statement. These are essential, but, in terms of the application, are rather standard and don’t require too much fuss, so I won’t go too much into that.

Cambridge, however, has an additional application called the COPA (Cambridge Online Preliminary Application) which is for international students only. The most important thing to note about this is that there are extra short essays. They are optional, but it’s good to fill them out if you can. Why miss out an opportunity to let them get to know you better? The first essay is an optional personal statement, which provides an opportunity to talk specifically about why you are applying to Cambridge in particular. I think this is important because this is the only chance you get to do this. There are lots of good universities, so why Cambridge? A good way to answer this question is to ask yourself what draws you to it compared to, for example, Oxford. Next, is a question about specific career plans, followed by a question on how you have kept up your interest in your subject, and one for “anything else” that you want to add. It isn’t compulsory to fill them out, and you don’t have to know what you plan to do for the next ten years of your life, but if you do have specific plans, it would be good to tell them about your plans. A word of warning to students, especially those without prior scholarships: when you submit the COPA, you will have to pay a fee of £30 (roughly RM150).

The Cambridge UCAS application is usually due in mid-September, and the COPA a month later in October. You will also have to submit the SAQ (Supplementary Application Questionnaire), which all applicants (not only international students) submit. If you are already submitting the COPA though, don’t worry about the SAQ, as it’s quite similar. A few weeks after I submitted my COPA, I was emailed with an interview invitation, which is a normal and vital part of the application process. Candidates can choose to be interviewed in Cambridge itself or Malaysia; I chose the latter. If you are being interviewed in Malaysia, you will need to pay a fee of around RM600 (all fees are paid by credit card online). Some courses require additional tests, and as I applied to read Law, I had to take the Cambridge Law Test (CLT). I had both my interview and the CLT in the same day. All tests administered by Cambridge are taken on the same day, and some people have their interview and test on different days (though within the same few days).

2. How did you write your personal statement?

The personal statement is one of the most important parts of the application, and also one of the most harrowing. I wrote over ten drafts in total, and my final draft is a far cry from my first. I can still remember staring at a blank screen in the middle of the exam period wondering what I was doing, and if I should be studying instead of working on yet another draft… Quite a horrible experience at the time, but looking back, I appreciate that learning process.

In my statement, I wrote mainly about my motivation for reading Law, and brought in ECAs that related to my subject. Using this, I was able to elaborate on both key experiences, and the skills needed to study Law. I also ensured that I wrote about my A Level subjects, and brought in how they have made me even more interested in studying Law. In short, I made sure that everything was relevant to reflect my interest in Law, and showcased the qualities I have that will make me a good law student!

While writing, I asked trusted people for help, including the lovely people in my college, and used their criticisms and opinions to fine-tune my statement. The last few drafts were tough, as I had to cut out something I thought was absolutely essential. This risk, however, clearly paid off.

3. Did you have to take any admissions test? If so, how was it and how did you prepare for it?

I had to take the Cambridge Law Test (CLT) a few hours after my interview. To be honest, it was quite hard! There are three types of questions that can be asked: Comprehension Questions, Problem Questions, and Essay Questions. What you receive can depend on your college, and I received a Problem Question. You can find out more about the CLT here: (there are sample questions too!)

I prepared by reading several law articles, as recommended by my Head of School in KDU University College. For the CLT, they don’t expect prior legal knowledge, so you don’t have to go into hardcore study mode for it. If you’re not taking Law as an A Level subject, don’t worry – they say that that isn’t a factor, and I didn’t take it either. The most important thing is to hone in on certain skills, namely critical thinking, a sharp, discerning mind, and strong logic to be able to apply what you are given. I concentrated mainly on my upcoming AS exams, as the subjects I took were helpful for the CLT, in terms of skills needed.

4. How was your interview session?

Cambridge law interviews in Malaysia are generally done on a one-to-one basis. I was first asked a fairly technical question, but most of the interview was based on a case study. Using the scenario (which was actually a real case), my interview asked how I would argue if I were the prosecutor, the defence, and finally, what I would decide if I were the judge. This gave me the opportunity to see both sides of the story, before coming to a decision of my own. There was quite a lot of interaction as I worked through the questions, and I found my interviewer friendly. The interview was definitely intellectually demanding, but I found it enjoyable as a whole.

I think what helped me through was that I exhibited a strong desire to learn, and I actually had fun during the interview too. I read that Cambridge interviews are like mini-supervisions, so I decided to treat mine as such, and saw it as a glimpse into how learning in Cambridge would be like if I did get accepted. Because of that, I was able to absorb as much as possible, and tried my best to show my enthusiasm for knowledge.

I prepared for my interview and the CLT simultaneously, so please refer to the above section for general preparation. There were, however, several things I did specifically for the interview. My college arranged for a mock interview through MABECS, which I found really helpful. The questions were very different, but it was good to have a test run before the actual thing. I also read through my personal statement again (and again) to make sure I could elaborate on everything there (and also remind myself of why specifically I want to pursue law), and thought about a few questions I thought might be asked.

Cambridge recently published a post with tips on the interview, which can be viewed here:

5. What do you think contributed to the success of your application?

That’s an easy one: lots of prayers and hard work!

I think what made me stand out was that I had a strong opening line to catch their eyes, and had a solid conclusion as well. In terms of my content,  I also sought a lot of advice. I strongly believe that getting the opinions of others is very important, but don’t try to please everyone. It’s your personal statement, and ultimately your chances at going to a good university after all.

Another vital thing was the recommendation letters from my college. I made sure to participate in activities when I could, and was vocal (aka loud and asked weird questions) in class. This was of course part of the A Level learning process, but I also think it helped my college to write strong letters for me, as they had more material to work with.

6. I’m applying to read Law at Cambridge this year. Can you please give me some advice?

Just do your best! Try not to have regrets in the end, and work so that you are giving your all at any point in time. I certainly didn’t expect to be given an offer by Cambridge, and when I applied, my attitude was to do my best so that even if I wasn’t accepted, I wouldn’t have any regrets, and wouldn’t think “oh, maybe if I had put this in and said that in the interview instead… Maybe if I had listened to X about putting this in…”

For your personal statement, make sure that it’s you. Try this: if you stick in someone else’s name instead of your own, does it still fit? If the answer is yes, then you should probably work on it more until it finally sounds uniquely you. You don’t have to say that you admire a particular person or book just because everyone else is doing so (unless you really do and have a unique reason). Be yourself, and not anyone else.

For the interview, think aloud. They want to know your thought process, and it’s fine if you get answers wrong (and anyway, if you are asked your opinion in a law interview, there’s no right and wrong, though there is a better argument). It’s the journey that counts, not so much the destination, especially in this. Demonstrate a strong desire to learn, and be teachable!

Also, pick your Cambridge college carefully. Some, like mine, require written class work to be submitted. I found this something I liked, since I had essays with solid marks, and as I applied for law, I wanted them to see the quality of my written work. These colleges provide alternatives if your subjects are not essay-based, but this is something to take into account, as if you submit written work, it will form part of your application, and contribute to the final decision.

Once you have done your very best, then just pray very hard, and leave the rest to God.


Alicia Loh

Alicia Loh is a Bank Negara Kijang Emas scholar who will be reading Law in the University of Cambridge. She gives all glory to God. She can usually be found with a book and lots of pink, and blogs at, where she writes important things about life (such as her furry baby’s first time walking on grass).

Advice from the Cambridge Lawyer

Sharyn Wong holds an unconditional offer from the University of Cambridge to read Law

Sharyn Wong holds an unconditional offer from the University of Cambridge to read Law

According to the official University of Cambridge brochure for applicants, ‘successful applicants achieve academic results in the top 1-2% of their year’. If I were you, a fresh-faced student secretly harbouring hopes of frolicking on the lush, green grass in Cambridge, I would quit reading this and start perusing my books Right Now.

In all seriousness, you probably have the grades, the charisma, the IQ and a freshly-pressed suit – ironed 6 months before your interview. You’re here because you want to know what it’s going to be like.

I won’t go into the nitty-gritty of form-filling, let’s delve straight into the process itself.

Let’s face it: you have a reason for choosing Law as your degree. You’re extremely passionate about the law and no one could make you give up your dream even if they offered you a million dollars. Why else would you spend the next 40 years of your working life looking at pages upon pages of statutes? Internalise that passion, and you’re on your way to a winning personal statement.

What next? Oh, just the interview. You’re a future award-winning lawyer, this should be easy-peasy. Come here, let me give you a tip or two.

Whoops, trick question! Lawyers don’t need tips. You’re perfectly capable of answering any question thrown at you because your charisma and confidence makes everyone believe what you say. Keep it that way.

Okay, one tip: My magic formula for measuring success in an interview is simple; if I go in smiling and I come out without any changes in my facial muscles, I consider it a success.

Unless a monster mauled my face in there. But rest assured, the Cambridge interview has been tested as 100% safe by numerous eyewitnesses who have survived with flying colours.

As you emerge with nary a speck of dust on your tailored suit, you will be whisked away to a huge hall of sweaty, nervous students to sit for the Cambridge written test. Naturally, you will have cooling pads hidden underneath your clothes as you breeze past the competition.

The questions revolve around solving a hypothetical case and answering one essay question. If you don’t know how to answer these questions with the logic and innate legal abilities that you have possessed since you were in the womb, maybe it’s time to reconsider that dream career.

At last! The final hurdle. (Drumroll.) Wait, there’s one more? Of course, dear, it’s called your A-Levels. Remember the opening sentence of this essay? ‘Successful applicants achieve academic results in the top 1-2% of their year.’

I hope you learned a lot from this essay. It’s always my pleasure to help people achieve their dreams. :’)

This advice just cost you $100. I shall be sending the legal bill to you soon.

Disclaimer: The author does not accept any responsibility or liability for the advice contained in this article. Follow at your own risk.

Sharyn Wong Yi Jien is a student who will be pursuing her law degree in the University of Cambridge.