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FaraPersonal Statements
Workshop Penulisan
Oxford Education Day
25 April 2015

Farania Rangkuti
Doctoral student at the Evolutionary Ecology of Infectious Diseases (EEID)
Scholar at Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (OCIS)
Fellow at Schlumberger Foundation Faculty for the Future

Suka - duka menulis personal statements

1. Panduan dan tips


1. Studi kasus: contoh esai personal statements

dari beberapa kandidat yang sukses diterima
di Universitas Oxford

Apa pentingnya personal statements?

By far, the most important part of any
university or scholarship application is the
personal statement. A strong personal
statement can set you apart from other
applicants and give you a chance to explain
how you meet the selection criteria.
-- The US-UK Fulbright Commission

Riset baik-baik!
Pelajari baik-baik: apa yang diminta oleh
program studi/beasiswa tujuanmu?
Kriteria statements untuk S1 bisa
berbeda dengan kriteria untuk S2 dan
Kriteria universitas di UK bisa berbeda
dengan kriteria universitas di USA
Dan seterusnya -> harus riset dan
pelajari kriteria program tujuan dengan

Lain padang lain belalang,

lain lubuk lain ikannya

Riset baik-baik!
Is there a specific topic?
Example: Explain how your studies will be relevant to your
home country
Is there a word count limit?
Example: The UCAS personal statement is ~ 4000 characters
Is the question / topic split into two sub-topics?
Example: What do you see yourself doing in four years? and
For postgraduate studies, you might be required to combine both
personal statements and research statements in one essay

Tip spesial untuk calon mahasiswa S1 yang

mendaftar melalui UCAS
In UCAS, remember it's the same personal
statement for all courses you apply to
so avoid mentioning universities or colleges
by name, and ideally choose similar subjects.
If they're varied then write about common
themes like problem solving or creativity.

Jadi, apa dong yang universal?

Personal statement = a SALES PITCH

Jadi, apa dong yang universal?

Personal statement = a SALES PITCH


Persiapkan jauh-jauh hari

untuk S1:


Rencanakan dengan matang

untuk S1:


Be specific!


Jangan fokus pada:

Hal yang negatif
Dont talk about why you havent done
something, or why you dropped an A level.
Focus on the positives!

Hal yang tidak relevan

Before you write about playing badminton or a
school trip you went on in year nine, apply the
'so what?' rule. Does it make a useful
contribution and help explain why you should
be given a place on the course? If not, scrap it.

Hindari: klise

Hindari: klise
Top 10 most overused personal statement opening sentences, according to UCAS
('Ucas Guide to Getting into University and College' ):
1. I am currently studying a BTEC National Diploma in ... (used 464 times)
2. From a young age I have always been interested in ... (309 times)
3. From an early age I have always been interested in ... (292 times)
4. Nursing is a very challenging and demanding career ... (275 times)
5. For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated with ... (196 times)
6. "Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only ... (189 times)
7. Nursing is a profession I have always looked upon with ... (178 times)
8. For as long as I can remember I have been interested in ... (166 times)
9. I am an International Academy student and have been studying since ... (141 times)
10. Academically, I have always been a very determined and ... (138 times)


Kenali dirimu


Gali kelebihanmu

Think of the variety of skills you have developed

while volunteering for a charity, for example; such
as communication, teamwork, organisation and
working with people from diverse backgrounds.
Shona McQuillan, course inquiry manager at
Birmingham City University.

An admissions tutor at Harvard

summed it up by saying they look
for 'non-teenage activities, says
Mark Brown, head of upper school
at Whitgift, an independent boys
school in Surrey. For example,
last year one of our boys edited a
magazine for young people in
One sixth-former at Camden
School for Girls was a registered
bee-keeper, another made and
sold meat pies, and one group
volunteered as temporary art
curators at the British Museum.


Jadilah dirimu sendiri!

Be a storyteller. Have a narrative.

Be persuasive
Find your unique angle. Every applicant is
asked the same question. Its your job to
find an angle that stands out from the rest.
Everyone is unique in their own way!
Make sure your personal statement is
interesting and not repetitive. You want to
grab the reader and keep them drawn in
and interested. Tell the reader why you are
more suitable than most people applying
for that particular course.


Jadilah dirimu sendiri!

Make the statement truly personal

Show, dont tell

Dont just say how good you are, show it by mentioning an
achievement of which you are particularly proud.


Tips: 3 Whys

1. Why you want to study the particular course youve chosen

Convey your enthusiasm and motivation by covering the some of the points
How you first became interested in this field: e.g. at secondary school or
during a particular module in your undergraduate degree
How you have learned about it: e.g. through lectures, tutorials, projects,
work experience, dissertation, conversations with academic staff
What you particularly enjoy about the subject
How work experience or an internship has inspired you to learn more
about the subject


Tips: 3 Whys

2. Why you want to study at the institution youve selected

Things you could write about in this paragraph include:
The reputation of the particular course
The academics there who are well known in the field youre interested in mention if youve read any of their work
Specific academic staff there that you want to do research with
Academic staff teaching on the course that youre keen to study with
How the institution offers the right course content and structure for you: eg
modules, projects, dissertations, placements, fieldwork
How the institution would provide a contrast to where you did your
undergraduate degree: eg larger, more specialised
Networks of contacts which the institution can provide
Facilities and resources that the institution offers eg research equipment,


Tips: 3 Whys

3. Why they should select you

Consider including information about:
Your academic strengths and interests
High grades youve received for specific modules, essays, projects and
Academic prizes or bursaries youve received e.g. Deans List, academic
scholarships, travel bursaries
Specific work experience that youve done that has prepared you for the course
Research activities youve been involved in: e.g. working alongside academic staff
during the vacations, your dissertation, etc
Any extra curricular activities which demonstrate an interest in the area you plan
to study
How you can successfully balance academic study with other commitments


Tips: Another 3 Whys

Why me: Connect the dots between your CV and transcript.

Talk about what you gained from these experiences and how
this will make you an ideal student for the programme.
Why here: Describe your academic fit with the university or for
a scholarship programme, your connection with their mission.
Is there a particular focus or faculty member youre excited
Why now: What are your short/long-term goals? How does
doing this programme, at this time, at this university help you
fulfil these?


Proofread & revisi berjuta kali

Jangan menyerah!

Studi kasus
Contoh esai personal statements dari beberapa
kandidat yang sukses diterima di Univ. Oxford

S1 Matematika

S1 Matematika
One might say that my early interest on mathematics is partially a result of boredom during long
distance trips and power failures. Frequently, I had to entertain myself by getting my brother or friends
to play simple tactical games, which I either devised myself or modified from existing games. As I was
playing, I would think of winning strategies in each game: for example, in the four-player version of the
game chopsticks, I would craftily position myself such that I was third to move as I found that the third
player has control of the entire game. I was greatly pleased to realize in secondary school later on that
my peculiar hobby of devising winning tactics is in studied in mathematics. Having practised in the
microcosm of casual games trains me to think strategically, developing my skills in mathematics,
especially in topics such as combinatorics and game theory. It is clear to me that mathematics is the first
discipline I was passionate about and it is still greatly fascinates me now.
While reading Atlas Shrugged recently, I noted Ayn Rands intriguing statement on mathematics: she
wrote that ones love for mathematics is the joy of admiration and of ones own ability. Albeit
reductive, I find that her statement resonates with my own fascination of mathematics. I love
mathematics because of the enthrallment of solving a challenging problem. I love mathematics because
of its elegance and its irrefutability. I love mathematics because the sense of accomplishment when I
manage to prove a fundamental truth, pleased for a moment that I have discovered for myself a law of
immense significance and implication.
I have obtained two bronzes and two silvers in Indonesian National Mathematics Olympiad and
Singapore Mathematics Olympiad, and many distinctions in other competitions...

S1 Engineering

S1 Engineering

S2 Statistik

S2 Statistik
My first encounter with statistics was during my International Baccalaureate years, but it was not until my
time in Cambridge was I truly fascinated with the subject. I still remember vividly the set of lectures on
probability theory given by Dr ******* in the second year of the Economics Tripos. Among the mundane topics
that any introductory course would cover such as tossing coins and rolling dice, I found a couple of real gems
that spurred my interest in Statistics: the Prosecutors Fallacy and Simpsons Paradox. At first, I was extremely
baffled by how a simple Bayesian inversion made a significant difference to the interpretation and
consequently, at times, become the deciding factor in determining whether a proposition is true beyond
reasonable doubt. Crucially, it also forced me to re-think my approach to statistical inference. I asked myself,
could it be that I have misinterpreted or even misused the hypothesis testing procedure that is commonly
used in Classical Statistics? I learned that I have. As the lectures progressed, I was amazed by just how
important conditioning upon evidence is, as I explored the underlying cause of the Yule-Simpson effect. I
learned that statistical inference can be easily misleading or worse misused, and that I still have a lot to learn in
order to see through faults in statistical models.
Towards the end of my undergraduate years, I managed to get a first-hand experience in applying my interest
in Bayesian Statistics. Supervised by Dr ****** himself, I produced a study that challenged the Classical
paradigm that dominated the debate between the natural-rate and hysteresis theories of unemployment.
During the project, I learned how to use R and WinBUGS, giving me some experience with statistical
programming. The work was later graded a first-class dissertation.
Although my background is in Economics, my passion is in Statistics. I believe that I have a solid foundation for
pursuing a graduate study in Applied Statistics. My Economics background comes with knowledge of statistical
techniques and experience in applying them to test theoretical predictions. Currently, I am enrolled in the
course MPhil in Economics in Cambridge University, where half of the modules I am taking are econometric
ones. They are directly relevant to statistics and will prepare me well for the graduate programme. Moreover, I
have experience in statistical programming in Visual-Basic on MS Excel, R and WinBUGS, and I intend to take a
beginners MATLAB classes next year.

S2 Kesehatan Umum

S2 Kesehatan Umum

S3 Zoology

S3 Zoology
.This project aims to identify any new and potentially malaria-protective primate hemoglobinopathies. A
better identification would be immensely beneficial and would enable us to compare human and non-human
primate mechanisms in responding to malaria. The abundance of genetic data would help us investigate the
evolutionary history of the parasites and their hosts globin genes. In the long term, this data could serve as an
indispensible footing for testing the Malaria Hypothesis in primates. I believe that this project would be a very
good fit for me and that I have the necessary set of skills required for its successful completion, specifically due
to the following reasons:
First, for the last eight years I have been involved in various computing and computational biology projects. I
worked in several world-class laboratories and institutions, including ********. My genuine interest in biology
is reflected from the themes of research that I have conducted since 2009: most, if not all, are efforts directed
towards helping to solve biological questions.
It was the same genuine interest that compelled me to work at the ******. In this group I have been mentored
by Professor ***********, who specialises in Plasmodium genomics and is among the most cited researchers
in parasitology, and I grew truly attached to the field. As a part of my thesis project, I had the chance to work
on various genomes of pathogenic microorganisms, develop and utilize various computational methods, and
establish a valuable interaction with Professor ******s colleagues from the Sanger Institute at Cambridge. I
successfully completed my thesis in June 2011, and was then given an offer to work as a bioinformatics
consultant for his lab, which I enthusiastically and gratefully accepted. This new role enables me to further
develop competence in genomic analysis. I recently published a research paper as a joint first author in
Bioinformatics, a leading journal in mathematical and computational biology, and have been developing an
implementation of simulated annealing, a metaheuristics machine-learning method to optimize genome
assembly while co-authoring a paper on Mycobacterium tuberculosis sequencing methods.

Selamat berjuang!