Paragraph One (or shorter): Motivation for Course Choice
* Answer clearly the question ‘Why do you want to read this subject?’
* Use a direct motivation statement (‘I would like to study x because…’) or a biographical statement (‘My interest in x began…’ or ‘I have had a strong interest in x since…’). If you choose the latter, keep it brief! Don’t tell your life story!
* Give a clear sense of your current interests and how you would like to develop them. If you have career plans, mention them, but this is not essential. You should, however, present yourself as a person looking to the future. You need to be on an ‘upward learning curve’.
* Avoid writing things which defer to the school’s opinion of you — ‘My teachers tell me I am good at physics’ or ‘My high grades in maths have spurred me to continue study in this area’. Your application will show your predicted grades and (hopefully) a good teacher’s reference. The PS is to show your specific interests, aims and achievements.
* If you are applying to do joint honours (eg History and Psychology) you need to say something about each subject and show how they can be linked (eg knowledge of individual psychology can help us in the study of history).
* If you do not know why you want to read a particular subject, you need to do some serious thinking now. Research courses in the careers library and on the internet, ask friends and family to interview you about your interests, write a personal memo to yourself with a list of things you like/dislike.
Paragraph Two (or shorter): Academic Interests and Achievements
* Answer the questions that admissions officers are likely to ask about your academic suitability: ‘What have you done so far that is relevant to your course choice?’ and ‘What specific academic accomplishments or skills or interests do you have?’
* Use your extended essay or other school projects to show what you have done in terms of research. Give some idea of work you have done which you would like to pursue further. The IB extended essay is excellent preparation for university-type work — show that you have taken the opportunity (even if you are still working on it at the moment).
* Mention any wider reading outside the syllabus that you have done or specific…