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hi, am Namara. i just joined UCAS but am finding it hard to view any examples of personal statements as i am asked for a studyUCAS account. hw cn i get one. thx

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Help with English and Mod langs Personal Statement pls!

cat_hartley
Q: Hi! I'm a sixth former just going into yr13 and i'd really appreciate some help with my Personal Statement. I'm hoping to apply to Oxford and some other fairly prestigious unis such as Warwick, Nottingham, Edinburgh, Queen Mary to read English Lit and French. Mainly I'd like advice as to how to 'sell yourself' w/o seeming arrogant. For instance, I achieved a Top Candidate Award in English Literature GCSE by the AQA (one of the top five best marks!) and also just got 300/300 UMS points in my French AS-level. Should I tell them about this and if so, where? I'd be really grateful for some constructive criticism, my statement is (roughly) as follows: I have chosen to apply for a Joint Honours Degree in English and French because of my deep enthusiasm for, and extensive interest in both these disciplines. Up to the age of 16 I was home-educated and I feel that this has dramatically impacted both my approach and my attitude to education. Through largely teaching myself my GCSEs, I developed the ability to organize and discipline myself. More importantly, the freedom from the constraints of curriculum allowed me to tailor my studies around my own interests and so be motivated by a genuine desire to learn rather than by the need to pass examinations. I opted to take AS levels in Music, History, Law and Critical Thinking as I felt these disciplines would develop and enhance the analytical and linguistic skills required for a language degree. Additionally I have found that these subjects complement and inform my study of English Literature and French. Studying the 16th Century has deepened my understanding of the contexts within which writers such as Webster and Shakespeare functioned. Analyzing the works of classical and contemporary music has heightened my awareness of the importance of structure, motif and theme development in shaping the meaning of both French and English literary texts. I find the similarity between musical ‘architecture’, and the construction of literature fascinating – both require areas of novelty, challenge, uncertainty, familiarity, tension and release to be truly effective. My enthusiasm for English Literature stems from a long-held love of reading, and from an appreciation of the way in which the written word can encapsulate the real world on many levels – both mundane and profound. I am particularly interested in the writers of the Romantic period especially the female writers, Mary Shelley, Emily Bronte, and Jane Austen. To further explore this topic I have recently been reading Romanticism and Gender. I also find Shakespeare inspirational for the sheer prolific volume and originality of his work. Harold Bloom’s passionately favourable critique ‘The Invention of the Human’ is a book which has heightened my desire to learn more about the influence of his genius. A desire to understand the mechanics of language and to acquire the ability to communicate fluently in another language is what has fuelled my interest in French. While my ambition is still primarily to perfect my command of the French language I am excited by the avenue it provides into a foreign land of literature. In particular I would relish the opportunity to study English and French literature comparatively, and explore the ways in which English and French writers have learned from and reacted against each other’s work. Currently I am enjoying reading Camus’ L’Etranger’ and ‘La Peste’ but I also have an interest in the oeuvres of Moliere, Maupassant and Hugo. Beyond academia I pursue my interest in music by playing the piano (to GradeVIII ASBRM standard) flute and being a member of the college choir. I am an active member of Young Life (a Christian inter-church youth organization) as well as a Southport Young Life Committee member. For two successive summers I have undertaken voluntary work with United Beach Missions. Although I have by no means fully decided on my preferred career at this stage, I am keen to pursue an occupation directly related to the use of English and/or French language. A week’s work experience shadowing a journalist has revealed to me the importance of having a faultlessly accurate command of language to pursue a writing-related career. It is this kind of masterful understanding of language that I hope to acquire though my undergraduate study.
Answer: This is quite an impressive personal statement and functions on an appropriately sophisticated level for the types of institution you are applying to. Your obvious interest in literature and the wider reading you mention is going to be particularly effective. Please DO mention the following:

Candidate Award in English Literature GCSE by the AQA (one of the top five best marks!) and also just got 300/300 UMS points in my French AS-level

There's a difference between arrogance and statement of fact! Isuggest you link this achievement to your independent study for your GCSEs.

Some notes for you to consider:

1. I have chosen to apply for a Joint Honours Degree in English and French because of my deep enthusiasm for, and extensive interest in both these disciplines. [this is too general and bland a statement to really impress - what about a short quotation perhaps from a literary figure that would sum up your view!?]

2. my approach and my attitude to education [not tightly expressed - what about just 'my approach to education'?]

3. reading Mellor's "Romanticism and Gender" [if it's not Mellor's book, state the author]

4. Human' is a book which has heightened my desire to learn more about the influence of his genius.
A desire to understand [repetition of 'desire' awkward stylistically]

Hope this helps!

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