A deep perusal of Cambridge personal statement examples can help you understand how to go about crafting your own finely honed statement. You can also look at college letter of intent samples, diversity essay examples – also called diversity secondary essays – or the Common App essay for inspiration.

Writing college essays is tough. Whether you need help with how to start a college essay or how to structure your college essay, reading essay samples written for Cambridge will help you navigate this intimidating process and submit a personal statement that impresses the admissions committee. Now let’s dive in!

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8 min read

Cambridge Personal Statement Examples What is Cambridge Looking For? Conclusion FAQs

Cambridge Personal Statement Examples

Example No.1

Working as a private tutor has changed my life dramatically. I started out because some of my peers wanted assistance with their studies, but I quickly became frustrated. Tutoring seemed like an easy way to make money. All I had to do was explain some concepts – or so I thought. When I started tutoring, I would read out a lesson or concept, then go over problems with my student until I knew they could handle that particular problem, and I would be back for the next session. However, I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something deeper to teaching a subject.

I was working with my friend Eli on math every week. What frustrated me with Eli was that, although he could grasp concepts, he was always in need of help. I realised that I wasn’t helping Eli; I was only teaching him one concept at a time. What I needed to do was teach Eli how to learn. It wasn’t enough to show him answers and equations; I had to teach him how to spark his curiosity. I had to teach him how to think, not what to think. This was the missing element in my instruction. It wasn’t enough that I should help a student grasp a difficult concept, but rather to acquire the tools he would need to grow in his curiosity and approach to studying.

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When next I taught Eli, I changed my methods. Instead of just telling Eli when to use a specific calculus formula, I started bringing in oddly shaped containers and showing him how calculus would be useful in determining their volume. Giving him physical mysteries to solve and showing him the applicability of calculus fired Eli’s imagination and engaged him far more. I was on my way to teaching Eli how to think.

Eli needed fewer sessions after that, which became my measurement of success. Strangely enough, doing my work optimally would put myself out of a job. While there will always be new students to help, the goal of a teacher or tutor should not be to keep working with one student, but to help that student move beyond the teacher and then to seek out the next growing mind to aid.

This didn’t just change Eli’s studying habits or math grade; it also changed me. I had unlocked a key element of teaching, and I was myself learning and growing. My goal had shifted. I started thinking about tutoring no longer as a job but as a career. In my work as a tutor, I discovered a passion for helping others to learn and improve themselves. As I said, working as a tutor might have started as a way to earn money, but because I wasn’t satisfied with a job half done, I found a true passion for helping students.

It is for these reasons that I decided to apply to the Education programme. I find the focus on collaborative research in Cambridge’s Education department especially exciting. Ample opportunities exist to learn and explore alongside faculty, staff, and students, and I believe that this collective approach aligns with my own sense of the teamwork required in education. In particular, the Cambridge Educational Dialogue Research group piques my interest in dialogic education.

My dream job involves helping students realise their full potential. I would like to develop a system that will allow a more collaborative, personal approach to education – the kind that I employed with Eli and other students – to foster curiosity in students and teachers alike. I hope to realise my full potential through your programme.

Example No.2

I felt like I was ready to throw my computer monitor out the window or give up entirely on coding. I was trying to learn how to programme a video game, but I was becoming frustrated with my project. Our deadline was looming, and I felt like I had taken on a bigger project than I could handle.

Fortunately, I learnt the most valuable lesson that day. My friend, Kaylee, noticed my frustration and asked, “Can I help?”. I showed her what was wrong, and she helped me move past my hurdles and smooth out my code. I shared some of my ideas, and we both went away with a better understanding of computer coding. Along with improving my own project and getting over my own frustrating hurdle, I was also able to help Kaylee. Our conversations throughout the day had me suggesting several shortcuts to tighten up her coding language, making it more efficient and precise. While I hadn’t intended to help Kaylee, our collaboration benefited her as well.

The lesson was to stay connected. We live increasingly in a virtual world, from social media to online work-from-home jobs, and it is harder than ever to maintain connections with actual human beings. This led Kaylee and me to found the “Human Programming Club,” which emphasised human interaction, along with collaboration and a team effort. The club grew to include several schools in our area, which improved the programming experience of a lot of computer science students in our city.

Your Computer Science programme emphasises these human and collaborative elements. In second year, students work on a group project “…which reflects current industrial practice.” This emphasis on working together attracted me to your programme and is the reason I am applying. The Cambridge Ring, which emphasises social, career and community, is something I would love to be a part of. This is also because I have long-term goals that I believe will be best served with this type of education.

My plan is to bring the liveliness of the Human Programming Club to our current computing technologies, both in programming environments and through the interactions we have with machines and with apps in our day-to-day lives. I want our interactions with computers to serve relationships and human society, not replace them. Most importantly, I want to bring an inclusiveness and sense of belonging to the world of programming. When we emphasised these aspects of our Human Programming Club, we saw an increase in underrepresented persons among the membership. Making marginalised persons feel more accepted in the world of coding and computer science would be amazing. You also offer positive action programmes for women and LGBTQ+ computer science students, and I find this encouraging and something I would like to support.

I believe your programme is optimal for me to work towards those goals, and I hope to hear from you – and connect – soon.

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Example No.3

The sky seemed smaller when I saw the eagle pass across the sun. I immediately pulled out the nature journal I had with me. These journals have kept track of every scientific discovery I have experienced. I did a quick sketch of the bird – some extras of the wings – and wrote down my observations. I also recorded questions about the bird – mostly diet and habitat – that occurred to me while sketching. My journals, based on Kipling’s “six honest serving men” (What, Why, When, How, Where and Who), guided and augmented my insatiable curiosity. I returned from my US vacation with two full journals of sketches and questions about everything. Fascinated with how a bird’s wing works, it became an obsession at the library for weeks.

These questions gave me purpose in another favourite place of mine: the lab. I couldn’t wait to get home and get into the science labs of my school, which would provide me the opportunity to ask my questions and get answers. My teacher, Mr. Shepherd, books the lab for me after school to allow me to go deeper into research. He has helped me set up experiments in aerodynamics, lift and velocity, which would help me to understand a bird’s wing better.

I also used my shop class time to build different gliders to test. I tried one that really flapped, but it never got off the ground. Still, I learnt why it couldn’t work – the wood was too heavy for the small engines I used. That failure became as informative as a success would have been.

I love all aspects of scientific inquiry, and it is for this reason that I have applied to your Biological Sciences programme, which is both comprehensive and focused. I am particularly interested in your research projects on organisms, evolution and ecology. How do new species arise? How did we get to the species we have now? Birds’ wings didn’t come from nowhere, and I’d love to explore the past, present and future of the evolution of species. I believe your programme will allow me this opportunity.

What is Cambridge Looking For?

Cambridge recommends that you follow the UCAS advice on personal statements when writing your own. While acceptance to Cambridge is based solely on academic criteria (ability and potential), your personal statement may be discussed during the interview, so it is an important aspect of your college interview prep.

When writing your personal statement, consider the following 4 points highlighted by Cambridge:

It will also be helpful to keep Cambridge’s core values and mission statement in mind and reflect those ideals in your essay.

Also remember that every essay is, to some extent, a “why this college” essay. You should always use that as a baseline for how to write a college essay.

Mission Statement

“The mission of the University of Cambridge is to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence."

Core Values

Freedom of thought and expression

Freedom from discrimination

Integrating Values

You don’t need to specifically use the exact wording Cambridge chooses, but your essays should reflect these goals. Here’s what every essay can include:

  • Something to show that you think about your community and the global community, to correspond with the stated goal of contributing to society
  • A focus on education and research – mentioning your curiosity or pursuit of knowledge
  • Expressing yourself and telling your story to fulfil one half of the core values
  • Are there any ways you represent diversity? This could be in your personal profile or experiences, but more important will be ways you might have contributed to assisting diversity, progress, or the advancement of underrepresented persons.

All Cambridge personal statements have a 4,000-character cap, which includes spaces, and must be no longer than 47 lines. Some universities might have college essay topics, but Cambridge’s personal statements are not prompt-based.


These three examples should give you a good sense of the structure, tone and content you can consider in your Cambridge personal statement.

If you still need more examples, you can get good insights from different institutions’ requirements, such as the Oxford personal statement. Columbia Medical School secondary essay examples or Brown Medical School secondary essay examples might not seem germane to your Cambridge essays, but they will still provide you with the structure and focus you need. Looking at other essay systems, such as the one that applies to the AMCAS personal statement, might also give you ideas.


1. What is the word count limit for a Cambridge personal statement?

Cambridge University personal statements should be no more than 4,000 characters, and this number includes spaces.

2. Is there a minimum I should write?

No. If you express yourself well, it doesn’t really matter if you have a shorter personal statement. Brevity is a good thing, provided you have fully communicated why you are the perfect candidate for the programme to which you are applying.

3. What should go into a personal statement?

Give examples of your connection to the programme you are interested in, and remember the rule of “Show, don’t tell” when communicating this. Traits you want to show include curiosity, passion, and personal growth. You might choose to highlight some of your extracurriculars for college, too.

4. What should I leave out?

Anything irrelevant, which has no bearing on your goals or accomplishments, as well as anything negative. You don’t want to cast yourself in a negative light or just be perceived as a negative person. 

5. Do you have any structural tips for me?

Stay very focused on one or two main points. You must show your greatest strengths and connect yourself to the programme. You don’t need to include everything, so just focus on one, driving point.

Start with a good “hook” sentence and use your opening paragraph to set up the rest of the essay. Keep to one theme per paragraph and link everything together with your conclusion for the perfect essay.

6. What is the admissions committee looking for in my personal statement?

They will want to see creativity, curiosity, persistence, a good work ethic, a connection to the material and some sense of goals and aspirations. College admissions consulting, such as a college essay review service, can give you excellent advice on your personal statement. 

7. How much time should I take to write a personal statement?

Two or three weeks, working daily on your statement, to give you the chance to not only write, but re-write, refine, edit, proofread and find someone to read and critique your paper.

8. How do I beat writer’s block?

Brainstorming for a few minutes will help. Take two or three minutes and a blank page and write down everything you love about your chosen subject. Free-associate, and you’ll almost definitely have something when your time is up.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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