Personal statement

The Personal Statement is your opportunity to explain how you fit with the Gates Cambridge programme.

Describe - in not more than 3,000 characters (approx. 500 words) - how your interests and achievements, both academic and extra-curricular, demonstrate a capacity for leadership and a commitment to improving the lives of others. Please also set out why you think there is a good fit between your professional aspiration and the graduate programme at Cambridge for which you are applying.

Graduate Application Form

The Personal Statement is used by the Gates Cambridge Shortlisting Committees to distinguish between candidates who have been highly ranked by departments on academic grounds. It helps the Committees identify those candidates who, as well as being academically outstanding, possess a capacity for leadership and commitment to improving the lives of others. Note that this is the only part of the application form where you are asked about your 'fit' with Gates Cambridge.

Key points to consider

You should also bear in mind that the attributes described above are broadly interpreted, and are dependent on the experiences of each applicant, so there is no magic formula for the Personal Statement. But some key points to consider are:

  • There are a no hard and fast rules about what you should put into your Personal Statement - your individual circumstances and story will in large part determine what will appear;
  • In general it should provide an overview of some of your past and current activities and future plans which are relevant to the scholarship;
  • Importantly, you should make sure that whatever does go into your statement illustrates how you meet one or more of the four Gates Cambridge criteria (which are purposefully broad);
  • Keep it focused and stick to 3,000 characters (approx. 500 words) maximum - it's all we need, and being concise is a useful skill;
  • Provide examples to back up your statements and avoid generalisations;
  • It should not be a copy or re-hash of a personal statement for another scholarship, since the criteria may not be quite the same;
  • Be honest and open about the extent of your impact when describing situations, projects, etc.;
  • Show that you have fully researched the course you are applying for and clearly link it to your future plans;
  • Review the short biographies of Gates Cambridge Scholars to get an idea of the types of people who have been successful in obtaining a Scholarship;
  • Ask an advisor and/or someone else to review your statement to ensure it reads well and is free from errors;
  • Do a final check for spelling and grammar before submitting.