Mathematics – Boost Your Personal Statement

So you’re considering studying Maths at university but you’re still not sure about what to include in your personal statement.  Conveying your interest in Maths can be challenging without specific examples to back it up and, understandably, as a Year 12 student in this current situation, extra-curricular activities have been hard to come by.  So here are a few ideas you can consider to help bolster that personal statement of yours, and to keep your mind occupied too! 

Virtual Work Experience

Luckily, logical thinking and problem-solving skills are the enviable traits of students who have a strong mathematical ability and such versatile skills are transferable to any workplace.  Although gaining work experience is not highly essential for a maths degree, it is another way of showing an admissions tutor (the person who reads your personal statement) that there is more to you than just your studies.    

Work experience has been difficult to obtain this year due to Covid-19, but there are plenty of virtual work experience opportunities available through the online platform Inside Sherpa.   If you’re having problems accessing the site, just view it on Chrome. Some current opportunities on offer will enable you to develop employability skills as well as financial maths skills, such as the Auditing opportunity, where you can gain experience in payroll tax or the Citibank experience where you can perform a discount cash flow analysis.  For something more data-driven and analytical, try the Virtual Data Analytics Experience with KPMG.  However, if you are seeking a more general type of business insight, Barclays Lifeskills are also offering virtual work experience at Freeformers, a digital transformation agency. 

If any of the above does not suit you, try and gain some experience at your own school in the autumn term.  You could ask a maths teacher if you can assist their lessons in order to help younger year groups or try volunteering your time with maths tutoring opportunities through Vinspired.  Although opportunities are currently available on the website, check to see if they can be done virtually as your safety is paramount.

Learning Online and Wider Research

If you know where to look, you will find that you have several opportunities to develop your skills and knowledge of maths online, so start researching your chosen university courses to gain insight into what you will be studying at degree level.  For an introduction to Calculus, Differential Equations, Data Science, Maths for Machine Learning, Fibonacci Numbers and the Golden Ratio,  try the online learning platform Coursera where you can access free short courses to expand your knowledge. Also check under the Science, Maths and Technology section of the free Open University online courses. For further mathematical puzzles and cryptarithms or academic maths courses, you can also try the platform FutureLearn.  These courses will require your commitment but think of all the skills you will be developing!

For free online lectures, try virtual university taster days or check out the free pre-recorded online maths lectures through Gresham College including newer areas such as computational mathematics.  Why not also have a listen to My Favourite Theorem or other podcasts such as A Brief History of Mathematics or others featuring Marcus Du Sautoy, Simon Singh and many more on BBC Radio 4.  You can also develop your skills further by researching the Post-16 material available through the Mathematical Association, which includes topics such as Mechanics, and for wider reading try the online Plus Magazine which brings attention to practical maths in everyday life.  

Logic and Problem-solving skills

You can probably evidence plenty of logic and problem-solving through your A Level Maths or Further Maths course.  However, do you have any experience of these skills outside of your maths lessons?  Do you play a sport where you use special tactics?  Or do you enjoy mathematical puzzles such as Sudoko online?   You may also want to start solving daily mathematical problems such as those available through the website nrich or brush up on your spreadsheet skills by taking a free Excel course.  Problem-solving skills can also be evidenced by getting involved in competitions.  Try looking for some on the Maths Careers website or for summer programmes, go to gothinkbig – both of which have some brilliant careers resources too!  

And finally, remember that an admissions tutor also wants to see evidence that you are a well-rounded individual and that there is more to you than just maths so do include other hobbies and interests you have too!

These are only some ideas to keep you busy, but do keep an eye out for other opportunities too.  For other ideas related to maths, do also check out the personal statement blogs for Engineering and Business, Accounting, Finance and Economics too!

For further advice on your personal statement, email: wpcareersadvice.1@city.ac.uk

*Always be cautious and check any online forum or employer with your teacher or people at home first, as your safety is paramount!

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