Personal statement advice: maths

Regardless of the subset of maths you love, demonstrating your motivation and enthusiasm for the subject is key to an impressive maths personal statement. Here are more top tips from tutors.

Showing your mathematical motivations

'Maths is like Marmite: you either like it or you don’t': an opening line from one student's maths personal statement, which, while not really revealing anything concrete about that applicant's motivation, does help to illustrate how tricky it can be explaining what exactly you enjoy about the subject.

With a subject like maths at university, motivation is 90% of the battle – so anything that demonstrates your motivation and enthusiasm for the subject will go down well. Here are a few tips from admissions tutors to help with your maths personal statement:

  • 'We love to see anything that shows the depth or breadth of your interest in maths, and especially your interests in the subject beyond the A level (or equivalent) syllabus – like any maths books you’ve read, maths clubs you’re part of, or especially any maths challenges you’ve been involved in'.
  • The University of Bristol looks for applicants who can show participation and success in mathematical competitions: 'there are many of these competitions, whether local, national, or international, and the more recent your participation and the greater the success you attained, the more weight it carries.'
  • 'We like to see a bit of spark and originality. For example, what first inspired your interest in maths, or better still, what currently inspires it?'
  • 'Give us a sense of which aspects of maths you especially like and why. Is it algebra, calculus, statistics, or something else?'

How polished your statement needs to be will vary from uni to uni because it’s your mathematical ability and potential that matters most – but as the London School of Economics’ says, 'an original and interesting personal statement which outlines your enthusiasm and motivation is expected.'

What else to include in your maths personal statement

  • Your extra-curricular activities: tutors want to know about your sporting, cultural, or community involvement, or anything else you do outside your studies that demonstrates drive, commitment, enthusiasm, and your potential to excel.
  • What you'll contribute: uni isn’t just about studying – universities are also communities, and it's great if you can show how you'll contribute to university life.
  • Your personality: try to give tutors a sense of your personality through talking about any outside interests that offer an insight into who you are. Bristol is looking for students who 'stand out from the crowd' and are upbeat in their statements.

Try not to be too quirky, but do get your personality across if you can. And most of all, explain why you love maths.