When the decision of what to study and where to apply has been made, the personal statement is the next area to address. The personal statement is your chance to showcase your talents and get across your enthusiasm for your proposed course of study. It needs to be an articulate and persuasive passage, which has a beginning, a middle and an end, and it should be a pleasure to read rather than a list of things you have done. If you start thinking about this early enough in your A Level studies, then I can suggest suitable reading that may help you form some ideas. If you have already written your personal statement I can review it with you and suggest improvements.
Applying to top universities either in the UK or elsewhere may well involve an interview. Aside from strategies for the interview itself described below, one of the best ways to feel confident as you go in is to have a little knowledge beyond that which most applicants will have. This can help you bring something interesting to the conversion if you have the opportunity, but also to answer tough questions where others would crumble! We can work on the kinds of things that are good to know and that can give you the edge in a competitive market!
As part of the application process you may be called for interview, although many universities make offers based on the written application alone. I have done a great deal of mock interview practice for candidates applying for a variety of courses at Oxford, Cambridge and other leading universities. These have been both chemistry and related subject interviews, which involve a real technical grilling on subject knowledge and its application and also some discussion arising from the personal statement. The real interviews themselves are a combination of both types of questioning, and many students get quite anxious before them – understandably so! Some practice in the hot seat with someone you don’t know very well followed by some honest feedback about how you could improve could make all the difference.