Application requirements

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Applications for the Oxford MBA  class of 2024-25 are now open.

Find out everything you'll need to prepare to submit a complete and competitive application.

Work experience

Relevant experience.

You should have at least two years of full-time work experience, detailed on a one page CV . We look for evidence of career progression and international exposure, as well as being able to show leadership potential. We do not look for experience in a specific sector. 

Career plan

You will be asked to detail your post-MBA career plans and demonstrate how the programme will equip you with the skills to reach these goals. By indicating a clear view of your professional development, you will show us that you understand the strengths of your professional experience, have researched your future professional goals, and how an MBA will bridge the gap between the two.

Undergraduate degree

You will be asked to upload all your university degree academic transcripts/mark-sheets to the online application form.

All applicants are required to have completed a recognised undergraduate degree. As evidence, you will be asked to upload all your university degree academic transcripts/mark-sheets to the online application form. These must outline the subjects studied or grades obtained from each academic year.

If your original transcripts are not in English you must also supply an official translation. 

GMAT or GRE score

We look for a high level of quantitative and analytical skills evidenced by your GMAT or GRE results.

We accept valid scores for both the original GMAT and GMAT Focus Edition. We don't ask for a minimum score, but GMAT scores of 650 or above are considered competitive. Our current class has a median GMAT score of 690.

  • All sections of the GMAT must be taken in order to be considered valid
  • Official online scores must be accessible by our admissions department for your application to be considered complete. For GMAC to release your official scores to Saïd Business School, please give your test centre the following code: Q0G-4B-59
  • GMAT scores are not valid if they are older than five years on the application deadline date
  • Contact GMAC directly to arrange to take the test

A GRE verbal score of 160 and a quantitative score of 160 is considered competitive, however we do accept all scores. Our current class has a median of 160 (verbal) and 160 (quantitative).

  • All sections of the GRE must be taken in order to be considered valid
  • Official online scores must be accessible by our admissions department for your application to be considered complete. For ETS to release your official scores to Saïd Business School, please give your test centre the following institution code: 0807
  • GRE scores are not valid if they are older than five years on the application deadline date
  • Contact ETS directly to arrange to take the test

Please note you  must  submit either a GMAT or GRE score result with your application, regardless of your previous work experience, studies, or qualifications. Further detail can be found on our FAQs page.

Written work

As part of your application, you will need to submit a supporting statement

  • Tell us something that is not covered in your application which you would like the Admissions Committee to know about you. (Maximum 250 words)

If you are applying under the Oxford 1+1 MBA scheme you also need to submit the following essay:

  •  Explain why you see this as particularly beneficial for you and how it fits with your career and personal development aims. (Maximum 250 words)

Re-applicants will need to submit an additional essay as below:

  • What improvements have you made in your candidacy since you last applied to the Oxford MBA? (Maximum 250 words)

When reviewing your essays, the admissions committee will be looking for evidence of the following: good communication skills, leadership potential, analytical skills, fit with the Oxford MBA community, among other characteristics.

Online assessment

You will need to complete four questions via our online assessment platform.

To virtually meet you, get a sense of your personality and see how you think on your feet, you will need to complete an online assessment as part of your application:

  • Two motivation-based questions - all candidates will answer the same questions
  • One competency-based questions - this will be randomised
  • Written response  - this will be randomised and light-hearted to show us how you can think on your feet!

The motivation-based questions give you the opportunity to demonstrate your motivations for undertaking an MBA and why the Oxford MBA is the right programme for you.

The competency-based question lets you demonstrate the skills and qualities we look for, such as decision-making, problem-solving, influence, leadership and strong communication skills. 

Once you have submitted your application for either the Oxford MBA or Oxford 1+1 MBA you will see a link in your application status portal. This will enable you to register with Kira Talent, our online assessment platform, and complete your assessment. This link will appear up to 24 hours after submitting your application, therefore we strongly encourage you to leave yourself enough time to practice and complete the online assessment by the deadline in which you are applying.

You will be provided with preparation time and practice sessions before going live with your real responses. The whole online assessment should only take up to 30 minutes for you to complete. All you need is a desktop or laptop computer with a functioning webcam, microphone and internet connection.

We require two professional or academic references.

Using the online application form you will need to submit two references, preferably from professional referees. Once your referee details are input into the form, your referee will receive an automatic email from the School with details on how to complete the online reference form. Please note we can only accept references from a valid work/professional/institutional email address and not from Gmail/Hotmail accounts.

English language capability

You will need to prove your English language capability through one of the below means if you are a national of a non-majority English speaking country (listed below) as defined by the UK Visas & Immigration Office*.

A TOEFL score

Test of English as a Foreign Language® is a standardised test to measure the English language ability of non-native speakers wishing to enrol in English-speaking universities. The institution code for ordering your official TOEFL score sheet from ETS is 0807. There is no department code, this can be left blank.  TOEFL scores are only valid if they have been taken less than two years prior to the start date of the course for which you are applying.

  • Minimum Score: 110
  • Minimum required on each component: Listening - 22; Reading - 24; Writing - 24; Speaking - 25

An IELTS score

The International English Language Testing System, or IELTS™, is an international standardised test of English language proficiency for non-native English language speakers. If you choose to take the IELTS you need to sit the academic test.  IELTS scores are only valid if they have been taken less than two years prior the start date of the course for which you are applying.

  • Minimum Score: 7.5
  • Minimum required on each component: 7.0

Cambridge Certificate (C1 Advanced)

The C1 Advanced (formerly known as Cambridge English: Advanced or CAE) is an international standardised test of English language proficiency for non-native English language speakers.  We will only accept scores that have been taken less than two years prior to the start date of the course for which you are applying.   If admitted you will be asked to supply an official copy of the certificate.

  • Minimum score: 191
  • Minimum required on each component: 185

Cambridge Certificate (C2 Proficiency)

The C2 Proficiency (formerly known as Cambridge English: Proficiency or CPE) is an international standardised test of English language proficiency for non-native English language speakers. We will only accept scores that have been taken less than two years prior to the start date of the course for which you are applying.  If admitted you will be asked to supply an official copy of the certificate.

  • Minimum Score: 191

*UK Visas & Immigration office English speaking country list

Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Ireland, Jamaica, Malta, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, USA, UK. 

English language wavier

At the discretion of the Admissions Committee, the requirement to provide English language test scores may be waived. You can apply for a waiver if you have completed, or are currently completing one of the following:

A degree-level course that is:

  • at least nine months in duration
  • undertaken at a recognised institution where teaching and assessment throughout the course is undertaken entirely in English; and
  • has been completed within 2 years of the start date of the course to which you are applying.

You can also apply for a waiver based on substantial professional experience if:

  • you have worked for a minimum of two years in a majority English speaking country where the main language for the role was English
  • your role involved daily professional use of each of the four language components (reading, writing, listening, and speaking)
  • you worked in an appropriately technical context to demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively in an academic environment; and
  • your role has ended no more than two years before the start date of the course to which you are applying.

If you meet either criteria based on your previous education or your professional experience, you will need to indicate this by answering yes or no to the English Language waiver questions on the 'English Ability' tab on your application form. If you choose the professional experience option, you will need to summarise your role and use of English to enable the assessors to judge whether it meets the criteria.

Application form and fee

Please ensure you have all the above requirements before submitting your application form.

Please ensure your application is complete and that your £150 application fee has been paid upon submission.

The admissions committee can only consider a candidate once all supporting documentation has been received. We conduct spot checks on a regular basis to ensure the authenticity of applicants' references, work experience and academic background. We also reserve the right to ask for supporting evidence if necessary.

Ready to apply?

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Start your application today, or browse our frequently asked questions (FAQs) to answer any further queries you may have.

Ellin Lolis Consulting

2023-2024 Oxford Saïd MBA Essay Tips and Example Essays

Aug 1, 2023

oxford accepted essays

  • Who is Oxford Saïd looking for?
  • How should I answer the Oxford Saïd  MBA essay questions?
  • Make Your Oxford Essays Shine
  • Oxford Saïd Deadlines

UPDATE : This article was originally posted on September 4, 2020. It has been updated with new information and tips below. 

With its focus on ethical leadership and social impact, Oxford is at the top of the list for an increasing number of applicants who seek to pursue (or continue pursuing) a high-impact, global career. 

However, with impressive recruiting statistics and its unique 1+1 MBA + Master’s program, the competition to join Oxford’s elite MBA is more difficult than ever. 

That’s why we’ve prepared this guide to help you use your Oxford admissions essays to stand out. We’ve rounded up our best tips and links to Oxford Saïd MBA sample essays to ensure you give your Saïd application your best shot. 

1. Who is Oxford Saïd looking for?

oxford said students

Source: @ oxfordsbs on Instagram

“Oxford University has a rich tradition of developing leaders. Our MBA programme builds on this legacy, providing you with a solid foundation in core business principles while developing a broadened mindset and understanding of the role of business in society.” Oxford Saïd Admissions

Every year, Oxford searches the globe (64 countries are represented in the Class of 2023) for outstanding professionals to join its annual class of 313 students. With a strong emphasis on diversity, there is no “typical” Oxford student, yet the average admitted student for the Class of 2023 had a 690 median GMAT score and five years of work experience .

oxford said class profile

Beyond the impressive statistics, though, Oxford is looking for candidates who want to make a positive impact on the world through their careers. That’s why, in addition to strong academic performance (demonstrated through the test scores and university grades), Oxford seeks candidates who possess the following qualities:

oxford accepted essays

If this sounds like a community in which you’d be right at home, you’ll first have to prove you’ve got what it takes by successfully answering Oxford’s short admissions essay questions. 

2. How should I answer the Oxford Saïd  MBA essay questions?

oxford said essay questions

Additionally, Oxford has numerous “hidden” responses about your goals when filling out your online application form. Our tips for answering these are also detailed below!

2.1. Essay 1 Tips

Tell us something that is not covered in your application which you would like the Admissions Committee to know about you. (Maximum 250 words)

For this short question, we recommend including at least one story to show off an aspect of your values, your profile, or your personality that the admissions committee has not seen in other parts of your application. This prompt is broad, so you’re free to choose elements from your personal and professional life. 

We suggest you choose your most high-impact story or personal characteristic and meaningfully explain both what happened and what it taught you/how it shaped you. To help you structure your response, we suggest you use the STAR format when shaping your story. 

To help you identify which stories would be best for this response, you must have a clear understanding of Oxford’s culture so you can demonstrate your “fit” with the school. Ask yourself, Which parts of Oxford’s culture do you identify with, and how do you see yourself putting those into practice during your MBA? How can you contribute to the Oxford community in a way no one else can? Check out this video that focuses on what Oxford students value most about the school community.

You can also consider other aspects of your profile and personal brand that you’ve already touched upon in other parts of your Oxford application – considering you will have a set of mini goals essays to answer within the online application form (more on these below). 

Additionally, if you have space to add a bit about how you will connect it to your Oxford MBA experience, this can be a great conclusion. 

For example, last year, our client Marcelo talked about how he was recruited to help his company solve a financial challenge at a branch in Angola and developed a solution, together with that country’s government, that not only solved the company’s financial issue but also provided a reliable food source for thousands of Angolans. He then wrote about his plan to share the challenges of performing business on an international scale and bringing discussions about global issues to the Oxford community. 

TOP TIP: If you’re having trouble fitting all of this information into just 250 words, our team of editing experts can be your ace up the sleeve by helping you incorporate as much content as possible to show off your profile in this super short essay. 

Need more guidance? 

Our MBA Resource Center has dozens of Oxford MBA essays that worked to get our clients admitted to help you plan out a winning Oxford Saïd essay. 

Our library also includes guides for all top global MBA programs, detailed essay brainstorms, interview tips and mocks, CV templates, and recommendation letter guides. Click to join ! 

MBA Resources Center

2.2. 1+1 Essay Tips

If you are applying under the Oxford 1+1 scheme you also need to submit the following essay:

Explain why you see this as particularly beneficial for you and how it fits with your career and personal development aims. (Maximum 250 words)

For this question, we suggest a straightforward statement that includes why the additional degree is necessary to reach your goals and specific elements of the program that will support your growth both as a professional and as a person. 

As such, you might want to start by creating a list of ways you want to grow personally and professionally at Oxford, then work to connect elements of the 1+1 program to demonstrate that the program clearly supports your development goals. 

Since you have a short space here, you may want to limit yourself to 3-5 reasons. This will give you enough space to talk both about how and why you want to develop in a particular area and then state specific aspects of the 1+1 program that will help you grow in a way the MBA alone would not.

Writing a 250-word essay can be challenging, but we’ve prepared an in-depth post to help you maximize every word. 

2.3. Optional Reapplicant Essay Tips

Re-applicants will need to submit an additional essay: What improvements have you made in your candidacy since you last applied to the Oxford MBA? (Maximum 250 words) 

Here, make sure you clearly demonstrate how you have improved since your previous application. We have written extensively on the topic of reapplying to business school here . 

2.4. Short Goal Essays Tips

Inside the application form, Oxford has also “hidden” many small essays about your goals. Though there is no stated word count for these, you want to be sure to be complete yet concise. Something in the range of 100-250 words should be adequate, in our opinion! 

The topics and guidelines are below. 

-Describe below your immediate plan after graduating from the MBA.

With this short answer question, Oxford essentially has asked you to write a very short version of a traditional MBA goals essay. Furthermore, they have deliberately been very clear about what they want here: short-term goals only . 

TOP TIP: If you’re not sure what your goals are, check out this post designed to help you think through this critical component of your application!

When discussing your goals , clarity is king, so make sure you include a job title and industry in your description of your post-MBA aspiration. 

After clearly stating your goal, you should dedicate a bit of space to discussing what motivates you to pursue these goals. Here, you may choose to include a bit of background information that is relevant to your career choice, but be careful not to include information that overlaps with the “How do you meet these requirements” question below.  

Ending your essay with a killer conclusion sentence to leave your reader with a strong image of your profile is the perfect wrap-up.  

-How does your preferred sector in your preferred location recruit MBA talent and what do they look for in a candidate? Describe the research you have done so far.

Here, research is the key to success.

As such, we recommend that you start by interviewing as many people as you can who are related in some way to your post-MBA industry. Since Oxford asks how recruitment works in your preferred location make sure to narrow your focus to include only your target geography . 

You may want to consider speaking to the HR departments of companies you’d like to work for, speak to headhunters specialized in this area, and even talk to friends or colleagues who successfully recruited for your post-MBA role in the past. 

Then, when writing your essay, give a description of how recruitment works in your sector in your preferred location and what they look for in a successful candidate . For the latter, make sure to cite things like specific required skills (such as an ability to use advanced analytics tools or fluent Spanish), personal characteristics, and degree/certifications. 

Then, cite each of the steps you took to discover this information, mentioning the specific people and companies you spoke with and the insights they provided you. 

To wrap up, you may want to close with a sentence on why, learning what you have learned, you are confident you will be successful in your own recruitment process. You’ll go into more detail below, so make sure to keep this brief.

-Reflecting on your answer above, how do you meet these requirements?

A little bit about your work history is essential for this essay, which gives context to your goals and proof that you have relevant experience related to your goals.

When discussing your career progress to date, keep in mind the information the admissions counselors already have. The goal here is not to list every achievement you’ve made (they probably see that on your resume), but to give brief, strong examples of an accomplished career, especially focusing on achievements that relate to your future goals. 

For example, though you may have had a highly successful marketing internship, but have since forged a career in M&A, you may want to leave your marketing achievements out of your goals essay to focus on more relevant information. 

Nonetheless, not everyone has a perfectly linear path where each step logically leads to the next. Your work history might look disjointed on paper, but the key is to emphasize growth and highlight your capabilities. All of this needs to add up to show that you have what it takes to achieve your post-MBA goals . 

-What do you plan to do between now and starting your MBA to prepare and maximise your chances of success?

To answer this question, you must clearly demonstrate what you are doing or plan to do before your MBA to prepare yourself to reach the goals you stated above. 

For example, last year, our client Bruno, who was planning to leave his MBB consulting job to open his own startup, spoke about how he was spending his secondment period at a startup to learn best practices, had signed up for numerous entrepreneurship conferences, and had joined several professional groups on fintech innovation. He then cited how each of these would help him be more successful as an entrepreneur after his MBA. 

If you’re planning to switch industries, here make sure you also give a detailed description of the steps you’re taking before joining Saïd to enhance your skills and also cite your networking efforts. Showing you’ve connected with people in your target industry and area already building the network you’ll need to be successful will go a long way to reinforce you’re going to achieve your post-MBA goals. 

Finally, if you plan to return to your current company ( whether sponsored or not ), show how you plan to continue evolving in your responsibilities and preparing yourself to take the next step up the career ladder. 

-Should you not be successful in securing your first choice of role, what is your alternative?

It’s always good to have a backup plan, especially considering the tough economic realities present in many places in the world these days. For your Plan B, make sure it relates in some way to your “official” goal so as not to undermine your goals statements. 

For example, if your goal is to work in private equity, but your plan B is to start an eco-travel company, the admissions committee is going to wonder just how committed you were to those original goals in the first place. 

However, a job that allows you to achieve the same impact, just in a different format, would be ideal. 

For example, if you want to work in a biotechnology startup to learn best practices and shape health care, a good backup might be working in a more established biotechnology firm and later making the jump to an earlier-stage venture. 

2.5. Video Essay Tips

Online assessment: You will need to complete five questions via our online assessment platform.

To virtually meet you, get a sense of your personality and see how you think on your feet, you will need to complete an online assessment as part of your application:

– Two motivation-based questions – all candidates will answer the same questions

– Two competency-based questions – these will be randomised

– Written response – this will be randomised and light-hearted to show us how you can think on your feet!

The motivation-based questions give you the opportunity to demonstrate your motivations for undertaking an MBA and why the Oxford MBA is the right programme for you. The competency-based questions let you demonstrate the skills and qualities we look for, such as decision-making, problem-solving, influence, leadership, and strong communication skills. 

Once you have submitted your application for either the Oxford MBA or Oxford 1+1 MBA you will see a link in your application status portal. This will enable you to register with Kira Talent, our online assessment platform, and complete your assessment. This link will appear up to 24 hours after submitting your application, therefore we strongly encourage you to leave yourself enough time to practice and complete the online assessment by the deadline in which you are applying.

You will be provided with preparation time and practice sessions before going live with your real responses. The whole online assessment should only take up to 30 minutes for you to complete. All you need is a desktop or laptop computer with a functioning webcam, microphone and internet connection.

In addition to the written essays, you will be required to complete a set of video essays for your application to be considered complete. 

We have prepared an extensive guide on this component of the application, which you can access here !

Looking for Oxford Saïd MBA essay examples? 

Check out our real sample essays that got our clients admitted here .

3. Make Your Oxford Essays Shine

One of the most common mistakes we see in MBA essays is that candidates fail to tell compelling stories . This is important because if your stories are not compelling, they will not be persuasive. At the same time, they must be backed by strong examples that establish a track record of success and prove to the admissions committees why you belong at their school. 

Striking this balance between content and creativity can be tough, however, as succeeding means not only choosing the right stories but ensuring they are told in an optimal manner. 

This is why our iterative developmental feedback process here at Ellin Lolis Consulting helps you mold your message through the application of our storytelling expertise until it reflects exactly what makes your profile stand out and show fit with your target program.   

Not only can you take advantage of our iterative feedback process through multiple edits – you can also benefit from it after a single review! If your budget is tight, our editors will be happy to help polish your text as much as possible and leave “bonus comments” so you can keep working on it on your own!

ellin lolis mba consultant

No matter how long we work with you, we will always ensure your essays shine . Sign up to work with our team of storytelling experts and get accepted.

4. Oxford Saïd Deadlines

Here are the deadlines for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle. You can access the online application here . 

Oxford has not yet released their deadlines for this year. You can keep track of updates here . 

Real MBA Essays That Got People In

School-specific sample essays that got our clients accepted

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July 31, 2022

Oxford Saïd MBA Essay Tips and Deadlines [2022 – 2023]

Oxford Saïd MBA Essay Tips and Deadlines [2022 - 2023]

Oxford lets your resume, recommendations, application form, and transcript(s) speak for themselves. The one required MBA essay question indicates that the adcom wants a glimpse of you beyond these core elements. It seems like a simple question – but there is a little twist in it that amplifies its importance in the application and its connection between you and the admissions readers. Also realize that the adcom learns about you from this essay not just through the details of the topic you present but also through your decision to use that topic. That decision reflects your values, your understanding of fit with Oxford , and your overall perspective.

Oxford Saïd 2022-23 MBA application essay

Tell us something that is not covered in your application which you would like the Admissions Committee to know about you.  (Maximum 250 words)

While the “something” will be the topic of the essay, the real heart of this essay question lies in the phrase “which you would like the Admissions Committee to know.” It almost posits a dialogue between you and the adcom; it sets up a relationship, a dialogue. It’s personal; they’re talking to YOU. Reading the spirit as well as the literal meaning of these words, you can infer that the adcom is looking for a story or a message that gets to the essence of  who you are  in some way.

Therefore, don’t try to find the most dramatic or exotic topic possible; this essay doesn’t have to shout. Rather, it should incisively reveal a fresh dimension of you – one that is relevant to the application and that will add to the Oxford Saïd community.

That leaves a lot of room for topic choice. I suggest committing to one topic and discussing it in as much depth as is possible in 250 words. Make this single essay vivid and memorable by basing it on your actual experience, which gives the adcom not just information about you but also your unique perspective on an aspect of your life.

As for topic, be strategic in selecting one that is relevant, will engage the Oxford adcom, and  enhances your fit  for Oxford Saïd.

Oxford Saïd at a glance

Saïd median GMAT score: 690

Saïd class size: 350

94% of the Saïd MBA class are international students.

Check out the Business School Selectivity Index for more stats about top b-schools.

Has this blog post helped you feel more confident about approaching your Oxford Saïd application? We hope so. It’s our mission to help smart, talented applicants like you gain acceptance to your dream schools. With so much at stake, why not hire a consultant whose expertise and personalized guidance can help you make your dream come true? We have several flexible consulting options— click here to get started today!

We’ve helped hundreds of applicants get accepted to top MBA programs and look forward to helping you too!

Oxford Saïd 2022-2023 MBA application deadlines

Source:  Oxford Saïd website

5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid In Your MBA Application Essays - Download your free guide!

Related Resources:

  • School-Specific MBA Application Essay Tips
  • Different Dimensions of Diversity , a podcast episode
  • “I’m Smart, Really I Am!” Proving Character Traits in your Essays

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Tips from my first year - essay writing

This is the third of a three part series giving advice on the essay writing process, focusing in this case on essay writing.

Daniel is a first year BA History and Politics student at Magdalen College . He is a disabled student and the first in his immediate family to go to university. Daniel is also a Trustee of Potential Plus UK , a Founding Ambassador and Expert Panel Member for Zero Gravity , and a History Faculty Ambassador. Before coming to university, Daniel studied at a non-selective state school, and was a participant on the UNIQ , Sutton Trust , and Social Mobility Foundation APP Reach programmes, as well as being part of the inaugural Opportunity Oxford cohort. Daniel is passionate about outreach and social mobility and ensuring all students have the best opportunity to succeed.

dd profile

History and its related disciplines mainly rely on essay writing with most term-time work centring on this, so it’s a good idea to be prepared. The blessing of the Oxford system though is you get plenty of opportunity to practice, and your tutors usually provide lots of feedback (both through comments on essays and in tutorials) to help you improve. Here are my tips from my first year as an Oxford Undergraduate:

  • Plan for success – a good plan really sets your essay in a positive direction, so try to collect your thoughts if you can. I find a great way to start my planning process is to go outside for a walk as it helps to clear my head of the detail, it allows me to focus on the key themes, and it allows me to explore ideas without having to commit anything to paper. Do keep in mind your question throughout the reading and notetaking process, though equally look to the wider themes covered so that when you get to planning you are in the right frame of mind.
  • Use what works for you – if you try to use a method you aren’t happy with, it won’t work. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experiment; to the contrary I highly encourage it as it can be good to change up methods and see what really helps you deliver a strong essay. However, don’t feel pressured into using one set method, as long as it is time-efficient and it gets you ready for the next stage of the essay process it is fine!
  • Focus on the general ideas – summarise in a sentence what each author argues, see what links there are between authors and subject areas, and possibly group your ideas into core themes or paragraph headers. Choose the single piece of evidence you believe supports each point best.
  • Make something revision-ready – try to make something which you can come back to in a few months’ time which makes sense and will really get your head back to when you were preparing for your essay.
  • Consider what is most important – no doubt if you spoke about everything covered on the reading list you would have far more words than the average essay word count (which is usually advised around 1,500-2,000 words - it does depend on your tutor.) You have a limited amount of time, focus, and words, so choose what stands out to you as the most important issues for discussion. Focus on the important issues well rather than covering several points in a less-focused manner.
  • Make it your voice – your tutors want to hear from you about what you think and what your argument is, not lots of quotes of what others have said. Therefore, when planning and writing consider what your opinion is and make sure to state it. Use authors to support your viewpoint, or to challenge it, but make sure you are doing the talking and driving the analysis. At the same time, avoid slang, and ensure the language you use is easy to digest.
  • Make sure you can understand it - don’t feel you have to use big fancy words you don’t understand unless they happen to be relevant subject-specific terminology, and don’t swallow the Thesaurus. If you use a technical term, make sure to provide a definition. You most probably won’t have time to go into it fully, but if it is an important concept hint at the wider historical debate. State where you stand and why briefly you believe what you are stating before focusing on your main points. You need to treat the reader as both an alien from another planet, and a very intelligent person at the same time – make sure your sentences make sense, but equally make sure to pitch it right. As you can possibly tell, it is a fine balancing act so my advice is to read through your essay and ask yourself ‘why’ about every statement or argument you make. If you haven’t answered why, you likely require a little more explanation. Simple writing doesn’t mean a boring or basic argument, it just means every point you make lands and has impact on the reader, supporting them every step of the way.
  • Keep introductions and conclusions short – there is no need for massive amounts of setting the scene in the introduction, or an exact repeat of every single thing you have said in the essay appearing in the conclusion. Instead, in the first sentence of your introduction provide a direct answer to the question. If the question is suitable, it is perfectly fine to say yes, no, or it is a little more complicated. Whatever the answer is, it should be simple enough to fit in one reasonable length sentence. The next three sentences should state what each of your three main body paragraphs are going to argue, and then dive straight into it. With your conclusion, pick up what you said about the key points. Suggest how they possibly link, maybe do some comparison between factors and see if you can leave us with a lasting thought which links to the question in your final sentence.
  • Say what you are going to say, say it, say it again – this is a general essay structure; an introduction which clearly states your argument; a main body which explains why you believe that argument; and a conclusion which summarises the key points to be drawn from your essay. Keep your messaging clear as it is so important the reader can grasp everything you are trying to say to have maximum impact. This applies in paragraphs as well – each paragraph should in one sentence outline what is to be said, it should then be said, and in the final sentence summarise what you have just argued. Somebody should be able to quickly glance over your essay using the first and last sentences and be able to put together the core points.
  • Make sure your main body paragraphs are focused – if you have come across PEE (Point, Evidence, Explain – in my case the acronym I could not avoid at secondary school!) before, then nothing has changed. Make your point in around a sentence, clearly stating your argument. Then use the best single piece of evidence available to support your point, trying to keep that to a sentence or two if you can. The vast majority of your words should be explaining why this is important, and how it supports your argument, or how it links to something else. You don’t need to ‘stack’ examples where you provide multiple instances of the same thing – if you have used one piece of evidence that is enough, you can move on and make a new point. Try to keep everything as short as possible while communicating your core messages, directly responding to the question. You also don’t need to cover every article or book you read, rather pick out the most convincing examples.
  • It works, it doesn’t work, it is a little more complicated – this is a structure I developed for writing main body paragraphs, though it is worth noting it may not work for every question. It works; start your paragraph with a piece of evidence that supports your argument fully. It doesn’t work; see if there is an example which seems to contradict your argument, but suggest why you still believe your argument is correct. Then, and only if you can, see if there is an example which possibly doesn’t quite work fully with your argument, and suggest why possibly your argument cannot wholly explain this point or why your argument is incomplete but still has the most explanatory power. See each paragraph as a mini-debate, and ensure different viewpoints have an opportunity to be heard.
  • Take your opponents at their best – essays are a form of rational dialogue, interacting with writing on this topic from the past, so if you are going to ‘win’ (or more likely just make a convincing argument as you don’t need to demolish all opposition in sight) then you need to treat your opponents fairly by choosing challenging examples, and by fairly characterising their arguments. It should not be a slinging match of personal insults or using incredibly weak examples, as this will undermine your argument. While I have never attacked historians personally (though you may find in a few readings they do attack each other!), I have sometimes chosen the easier arguments to try to tackle, and it is definitely better to try to include some arguments which are themselves convincing and contradictory to your view.
  • Don’t stress about referencing – yes referencing is important, but it shouldn’t take too long. Unless your tutor specifies a method, choose a method which you find simple to use as well as being an efficient method. For example, when referencing books I usually only include the author, book title, and year of publication – the test I always use for referencing is to ask myself if I have enough information to buy the book from a retailer. While this wouldn’t suffice if you were writing for a journal, you aren’t writing for a journal so focus on your argument instead and ensure you are really developing your writing skills.
  • Don’t be afraid of the first person – in my Sixth Form I was told not to use ‘I’ as it weakened my argument, however that isn’t the advice I have received at Oxford; in fact I have been encouraged to use it as it forces me to take a side. So if you struggle with making your argument clear, use phrases like ‘I believe’ and ‘I argue’.

I hope this will help as a toolkit to get you started, but my last piece of advice is don’t worry! As you get so much practice at Oxford you get plenty of opportunity to perfect your essay writing skills, so don’t think you need to be amazing at everything straight away. Take your first term to try new methods out and see what works for you – don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Good luck!

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Your Personal Statement is the first demonstration of your character that the admissions teams at Oxford and Cambridge will see. Your perfect Personal Statement can only be written by yourself as it has to convey exactly who you are, why you want to study at Oxbridge and why you deserve to be there. But that doesn't mean help isn't available. There are many things to learn that can improve the effectiveness of your statement when implemented correctly. One of the best ways to get a deeper understanding of what makes a good Personal Statement is to read successful statements that have transferable qualities. This page features over 25 Successful Oxbridge Personal Statements from a whole variety of subjects. Read through them and learn what makes them so good (as well as the mistakes that some make), so that you can create a strong base for your own writing.

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Successful humanities personal statements, cambridge law ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆, oxford law ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆, oxford law & french ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆, oxford economics & management ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆, cambridge economics ★ ★ ★ ★ ★, cambridge land economy ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆, cambridge classics ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆, oxford classics ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆, cambridge pbs ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆, oxford psychology ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆, cambridge philosophy ★ ★ ★ ★ ★, oxford ppe ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆, cambridge english ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆, oxford english language & literature ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆, oxford modern languages ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆, oxford geography ★ ★ ★ ★ ★, oxford history ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆, successful science personal statements, cambridge medicine ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆, oxford medicine ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆, cambridge veterinary medicine ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆, kcl dentistry ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆, cambridge natural sciences (bio) ★ ★ ★ ★ ★, cambridge natural sciences (phy) ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆, oxford physics ★ ★ ★ ★ ★, oxford chemistry ★ ★ ★ ★ ★, cambridge engineering ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆, oxford engineering ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆, cambridge maths & physics ★ ★ ★ ★ ★, oxford computer science ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆, personal statement posts from our blog.

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Successful Personal Statement For Veterinary Medicine At Cambridge

Read through a successful Veterinary Medicine Personal Statement for Cambridge with a full analysis by Oxbridge Tutors. Find out why the Personal Statement helped the candidate to receive a Cambridge offer.

Successful Personal Statement For Law At Oxford

Read through a successful Law Personal Statement for Oxford with a full analysis by Oxbridge Tutors. Find out why the Personal Statement helped the candidate to receive an Oxford offer.

Successful Personal Statement For Economics At Cambridge

Read through a successful Economics Personal Statement for Cambridge with a full analysis by Oxbridge Tutors. Find out why the Personal Statement helped the candidate to receive a Cambridge offer.

Successful Personal Statement For Economics & Management At Oxford

Writing an Economics and Management Personal Statement for Oxford? If so, you’re in the right place! In this post, we go through a REAL Personal Statement submitted to UCAS for a candidate wishing to study E&M at Oxford.

Successful Personal Statement For PPE At Oxford

Writing a PPE Personal Statement for Oxford? If so, you’re in the right place! In this post, we go through a REAL Personal Statement submitted to UCAS for a candidate wishing to study PPE at Oxford.

Successful Personal Statement Example For Computer Science At Oxford

Read through a successful Computer Science Personal Statement for Oxford with a full analysis by Oxbridge Tutors. Find out why the Personal Statement helped the candidate to receive an Oxford offer.

Successful Personal Statement For Medicine At Oxford University

Writing a Medicine Personal Statement for Oxford? If so, you’re in the right place! In this post, we go through a REAL Personal Statement submitted to UCAS for a candidate wishing to study Medicine at Oxford.

Successful Personal Statement For Medicine At Cambridge

Writing a Medicine Personal Statement for Cambridge? If so, you’re in the right place! In this post, we go through a REAL Personal Statement submitted to UCAS for a candidate wishing to study Medicine at Cambridge.

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oxford accepted essays

How to write an Oxford application essay

Hello hello!

Not sure how many future Wellesley’s plan on applying to study abroad at Oxford (and the OIS already has great resources for this); thought I’d share my essays and how I structured/thought about them.

When you apply for Oxford, at least for the visiting program, you can apply for two out of the thirty-something colleges that make up the University. Granted, Wellesley only allows us to choose from seven or so of those thirty plus colleges, but that’s still plenty to choose from.

How I chose which two colleges to apply for: Arbitrarily. I literally googled “Oxford University Mountaineering Club” (because I knew I would want to get heavily involved with that club) and looked a the two climbing wall locations. Mansfield and St. Edmund were the two closest to these locations, ha.

Other specifications included: had to teach Economics, since that’s what I’m studying, and had to be a full year (I didn’t want any one-semester silliness–if I’m going to go to Oxford, I’m going to get the full experience!) and finally, I literally calculated the percentage of each college that is made up of visiting students and I think Mansfield and St. Edmund were pretty high; i.e. my chances of getting in were best there.

Okay so onto the essay structuring itself: First paragraph is basically “Why Oxford”

Oh and by the way, here’s what the essay prompt was. That’s kind of important:

“A personal statement which provides a brief account of your studies to date in your present university and an account of how a year of study at Mansfield College would fit into your educational plans. Your personal statement should also include a detailed description of the main subjects you would like to study as well as a description of the course work you have completed in the subject(s) at your home college or university.”

Okay first paragraph: “Why Oxford”

I am drawn to Oxford, and Mansfield College specifically, for a number of reasons. Oxford’s tutorial program requires a combination of dedication, hard work, and independence that I believe would challenge and enhance my intellectual ability, and is also a challenge I am excited to take on and am well prepared for. Oxford also has the geographic environment I am looking for, which is a place of natural beauty and greenery, with a large city easily accessible but not too close by (very similar to Wellesley). Mansfield College, specifically, offers courses in subjects I hope to pursue at Oxford, namely Economics and Management, and in which I already have demonstrated interest. Finally, being an avid rock climber, I have thoroughly researched Oxford’s Mountaineering Club, and Mansfield College is particularly close to both the Iffley Bouldering Wall and the Brookes Climbing Wall, two main locations for the OUMC.

Second paragraph is “why me/why I’m a good fit/why I can handle the program”:

The reason I say I am well prepared for Oxford’s tutorial program is because I am well acquainted with challenging, independent work, as well as heavily writing-based daily routines. The MIT Sloan School of Management course I took this semester, Power and Negotiation, was writing-intensive, met once a week, and was very much a self-learning process. I have also been developing my writing skills since age ten, when I began keeping a journal, and am now one of five weekly bloggers for the Wellesley Admissions Office. I am highly interested in improving my writing and independent work skills, and believe Oxford’s tutorial program perfectly aligns with those interests.

Paragraph three is “what courses I plan on taking (since they want to know) AND WHY and what courses I have already taken”:

Specifically, I plan to take Economics and Management courses at Mansfield, with the addition of one Human Sciences course. My previous coursework in Calculus, Principles of Microeconomics, Principles of Macroeconomics, Statistics, and Intermediate Microeconomic Analysis have prepared me well for the Economics courses I plan to take at Mansfield, which are Economics of Developing Countries, Labour Economics and Industrial Relations, and Command and Transitional Economies. I am drawn to these specific primary tutorials because I am highly interested in the macro economy. I read the Wall Street Journal daily and follow the international impact of economic policies made not only in the U.S., but also in China, Japan, and the European Union. My previous coursework in Power and Negotiation introduced me to art of managing difficult interactions and developed my desire to take Strategic Management, Organisational Analysis, Behaviour and Leadership, and Behaviour and its Evolution: Animal and Human at Mansfield. Having held multiple leadership roles since high school and with plans to work in finance after graduation, I desire to enhance my interpersonal and management skills.

A quick note here: I don’t read the WSJ anymore. I was just reading it a lot at the time of this application because I was preparing for banking interviews for summer internships. So don’t feel like you have to be someone who reads a lot of publications all the time. It’s okay to stretch the truth.

Paragraph four is “conclusion and what other cultural aspects (of Oxford, or the UK in general) I find unique/I will look forward to experiencing”

Given my experience in writing-intensive and independent work, my demonstrated interest in Economics and Management, and my passion for climbing, I feel I am a particularly good fit for a year abroad at Mansfield College. In addition, I plan to take full advantage of the social and traditional events at Oxford, including the formal dinners and lectures. This winter break, I will be backpacking through Asia, and during my term breaks at Oxford, I hope to backpack through both the United Kingdom and Continental Europe. Having demonstrated my ability to withstand a rigorous academic workload by taking challenging courses and maintaining very good grades at Wellesley, while participating in time-consuming extracurricular activities, I believe Oxford will supplement very well the educational experience I’ve established for myself at Wellesley. It would be a pleasure and a privilege to spend a year abroad at Mansfield College.

Voila! There’s an essay. One page, size 12, Times New Roman, single spaced, normal margins.

Below is my St. Edmund essay, slightly tweaked to personalize it to the school, but otherwise the same.

Hope this will be helpful to future Wellesley-Oxford-hopefuls!

Cheers and have a great rest of the week,

I am drawn to Oxford, and St. Edmund Hall specifically, for a number of reasons. The Oxford tutorial program requires a combination of dedication, hard work, and independence that I believe would challenge and enhance my intellectual ability, and is also a challenge I am excited to take on and am well prepared for. Oxford has the geographic environment I am looking for, which is a place of natural beauty and greenery, with a large city easily accessible but not too close by (very similar to Wellesley). St. Edmund Hall, specifically, offers courses in subjects I hope to pursue at Oxford, namely Economics and Management, and in which I have already demonstrated an interest. Finally, being an avid rock climber, I have thoroughly researched Oxford’s Mountaineering Club, and St. Edmund Hall is particularly close to both the Iffley Bouldering Wall and the Brookes Climbing Wall, two main locations for the OUMC.

In addition, I am drawn to both St. Edmund Hall’s recent partnership with the Oxford Chinese Economy Programme and the launch of the China Growth Centre in 2009. I am highly interested in China’s economy, as demonstrated by my History of Chinese Commerce and Business course this semester and my close reading of the Wall Street Journal (which has proven especially interesting lately considering the decisions of the People’s Bank of China to decrease benchmark rates.) Both the OXCEP and the CGC will allow me to pursue my growing interest in the Chinese economy while I’m abroad.

Finally, one of my extracurricular passions, rock climbing, will be thoroughly fulfilled if I am to attend Oxford, and St. Edmund Hall specifically. The OUMC is extensive, active, and very well equipped with resources. I am currently pioneering the founding of a climbing team at Wellesley, and have already networked with various climbing gyms, Wellesley administrators, and climbing equipment brands—one of which has already agreed to sponsor our fledgling team! St. Edmund Hall has a prime location (compared to the other colleges Wellesley has programs with) in relation to OUMC facilities. I would be honored to climb, compete, and go on trips with OUMC members, as well as learn from club leaders how to successfully lead the club.

Given my experience in writing-intensive and independent work, my demonstrated interest in Economics and Management, and my passion for climbing, I feel I am a particularly good fit for a year abroad at St. Edmund Hall. In addition, I plan to take full advantage of the social and traditional events at Oxford, including the formal dinners and lectures. This winter break, I will be backpacking through Asia, and during my term breaks at Oxford, I hope to backpack through both the United Kingdom and Continental Europe. Having demonstrated my ability to withstand a rigorous academic workload by taking challenging courses and maintaining very good grades at Wellesley, while participating in time-consuming extracurricular activities, I believe Oxford will supplement very well the educational experience I’ve established for myself at Wellesley. It would be a pleasure and a privilege to spend a year abroad at St. Edmund Hall.

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Oxford University Personal Statements

We hope our collection of oxford university personal statements provides inspiration for writing your own. please do not plagiarise them in any way, or ucas will penalise your application. our  personal statement editing & review services  are availble if you feel you need a little extra help..

History Personal Statement Example 3 Recently, I found out that my grandma was gambled into slavery for seven years. She escaped her prison and made her way back to Hong Kong, 300 miles south. I was amazed at how courageous she was. This personal discovery led me to read Jung Chang's 'Wild Swans' which made me both proud and ashamed of my heritage...

Computer Science Personal Statement Example 4 I find it amazing to watch as the digital revolution sculpts society at a rate that has never before been seen; there is so much to still be discovered. Quantum computing is a topic that particularly interests me, stemming from my studies and keen interest in physics...

Economics and PPE Personal Statement Example My aspiration to study economics at both advanced and degree level has stemmed from my lasting interest in current affairs and world development. These issues require an application of economics in real-life situations and can be related to many diverse subjects such as politics, philosophy and psychology...

English Literature Personal Statement Example 1 When I saw Gatz, John Collin's eight hour interpretation of The Great Gatsby, I noticed that Fitzgerald changes the colour of Daisy's hair every time he describes it. It is "like a dash of blue paint", "yellowy" like her daughters and then "dark, shining"...

Geography Personal Statement Example 2 In a dynamic world, the study of geography is increasingly important. The diversity of the subject and the interaction between the physical environment and human population is becoming even more evident with climate change and globalisation influencing our everyday lives...

Psychology Personal Statement Example 11 “If she’s smart she will study Medicine.” This is an unwritten rule in my culture - all Nigerian parents want their children to become doctors. What becomes of the aspiring psychologist in the family? I met a junior doctor, at an educational conference, who wanted to specialise in psychiatry...

History Personal Statement Example 13 Until I began my A-levels last September, I had never been to school or followed a formal syllabus. My parents homeschooled me. They guided, encouraged, and fed my interests with books, documentaries and discussions...

Natural and Biological Sciences Personal Statement Example Experiencing first-hand life as a human in the natural world, I have the authority to confirm that regardless of previous knowledge, unexplained phenomena still exist. As a scientist, I adore observing the unknown, analysing the known and making decisions accordingly...

English Personal Statement Example 22 What I enjoy above all else in a piece of literature is the feeling that it has brought about change, either in me or in some wider context. Literature which offers the opportunity for an adapted way of living or thinking, however slight, is I think a thing to be kept and treasured in our intellects...

English Literature and Creative Writing Personal Statement Example 1 I once aspired to be a visual artist, a photographer or painter. However, I later discovered the unique ability of poetry and the written word to maintain its power and resonance in a world saturated with images and messages...

Computer Science Personal Statement Example 45 Advances in computer and information technology over the past few decades have brought about revolution in science, medicine, education, business, and entertainment. I wish to be part of the future revolution and that is why I want to study computer science...

English Literature Personal Statement Example 16 I believe that to read English is to read the human being itself: after all, we are all writers. Even in the very act of choosing our words - thinking them, speaking them, physically writing them down - we create something meaningful...

Human Sciences Personal Statement Example Perhaps what makes me different from other University applicants is that I have ambition to understand multidimensional human life. It is not the appeal of a top qualification or the zesty student lifestyle that attracts me to this course; but it is the long-term knowledge and answers to interdisciplinary human problems, and the enigmas that I will commit a lifetime investigating with perhaps no solution, that inspires me to apply...

Engineering Personal Statement Example 19 Physics is that branch of science without which science is just like a beautiful lamp with no light. For centuries, mathematicians and physicists have made plenty of scientific contributions thus helping the world make a better place to live...

History (Ancient and Modern) Personal Statement Example 1 It is those things we don’t yet know or understand that make history a fascinating, intellectual puzzle. We know a remarkable amount about history and the development of society but new archaeological discoveries, the dedicated efforts of historians, translators and other academics and advancements in areas such as archaeometry mean that the body of historical information is still expanding...

Archaeology and Anthropology Personal Statement Example 2 As an immigrant living in Spain, I am constantly reminded of the importance social and cultural factors have on my daily life, the language I speak, and the difference between the relationships I maintain with people from my own country and those I encounter here on a daily basis...

Computer Science Personal Statement Example 49 My views about computing changed considerably when I heard about Linux. In the late nineties it was a newer operating system and tasks like installing and configuring were considered to be quite challenging in India...

Law Personal Statement Example 70 Law is ever changing, whether parliament is passing new legislation, existing legislation is being rewritten or the courts are interpreting laws in different ways. In the case of Anthony Bland the distinguishing of earlier precedents was vital...

History and English Personal Statement Example Studying history and English concurrently has appealed to me ever since I recognised the inseparability of the two disciplines closest to my heart. Personally, I believe that the literary style of a piece of writing is as important as scholarly research and I try to make my essays as lively as possible whilst still grounded in solid historical or literary method, dulce et utile, following the example of writers such as Richard J Evans...

Economics and Management Personal Statement Example 2 My interest in Economics goes beyond an appreciation of statistics and profit margins. In my mind, economics represents the relationship between people and their money – a relationship that dates back to the history of mankind...

German Personal Statement Example 7 The study of language has always been appealing and is the focus of much of my time and energy, but the study of the German language is what mesmerises me most. Before understanding German I was first intrigued by its sound, and as I began to learn it, I became fascinated by its complexity...

Economics Personal Statement Example 30 The ever-changing nature of the human science intrigues me. Newton’s laws of motion will never change, from wherever ‘the ball is dropped’. However, different strategies and policies have to be framed and implemented for each economic problem...

Mathematics & Computer Science Personal Statement Example I have found mathematics a fascinating subject since my early years. I enjoy it as it is challenging and logical. I am particularly interested in decision mathematics as it is a field that is directly related to real-life applications of mathematics and can be used to solve problems, such as finding the optimal solution for transporting materials from one place to another while minimising the cost...

Physics Personal Statement Example 15 I have always been intrigued by the world of physics. From everyday experiences to the most extreme boundaries of today's knowledge, I have always voraciously searched for answers to my questions. As I grew up, the elegance of mathematical demonstrations and of physical theorems fascinated me, and I have often dreamt of making contributions to the unification theory and of improving and simplifying the Navier-Stokes equations...

Electrical Engineering Personal Statement Example 2 The defining wonder of today’s age is electricity. In just two centuries, we have come from Faraday’s crude but prophetic experiments to devices just a square inch that can calculate in seconds what the most gifted of human minds might take days...

Medicine Personal Statement Example 70 The challenge of spending my working life immersed in the fascinating, ever-evolving world of the medical sciences, and the opportunity to use this knowledge to benefit others, has drawn me to seek a career in medicine...

Politics, Philosophy & Economics (PPE) Personal Statement Example 3 In this day and age virtually every aspect of our lives may be considered political. My passion to study Politics stems from this tenet and a belief that a comprehension of Politics is integral to understanding the current state of humanity...

Chemistry Personal Statement Example 18 Chemistry explores the properties of all matter and energy in our universe, which eventually leads to breakthroughs that benefit mankind, ranging from how to prevent food from decomposing to understanding what chemicals can help or harm you...

Philosophy Personal Statement Example (Mature Student) Since leaving education in 2006 I have always wanted to return; a great love of learning, desire for knowledge and natural curiosity throughout my life resulted in an ambition to teach. It was with this ambition in my heart that I took the plunge and returned to education, beginning my Access course last year with the intention of applying to study for a primary education degree...

Civil Engineering Personal Statement Example 17 My decision to study engineering stems from a desire to contribute to the evolution of society through a process that does not just define our environment but our era. My personal inspiration is the Segovia aqueduct, an 800m long, 30 metre high Roman marvel which still stands today...

Ancient and Modern History Personal Statement Example 1 What makes history engaging and interesting to me is its interdisciplinary nature and its ability to take you on a journey to the discovery of humanity's past. History has been a constant source of captivation for me, from studying the mythology of Ancient Greece in primary school through to the study of the Russian Revolution at A Level...

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Oxford Personal Statement Examples: Top 4

Oxford Personal Statement Examples

If you’re looking to craft the perfect personal statement, reading over some Oxford personal statement examples will be the best way to start. It’s one thing to read college essay tips or instructions on how to write the perfect personal statement, but another entirely to see an example of how it’s done.

How to start a college essay can be tricky, but we have you covered! In this article, we have Oxford personal statement examples for your edification so that you can write your own best work.

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Article Contents 12 min read

Oxford personal statement examples, example no.1.

We are made of stories. History itself is the story we tell ourselves about who we are, and our oldest stories are still with us. Gilgamesh would never have found his immortality but through his story being told over and over again. Scrooge is visited by three ghosts every year for some people, and no matter how many times we hear about his conversion from miser to “…as good a man as the good old city knew…” we have our hearts warmed, reminding ourselves of the importance of human comfort and generosity. I have come to my interest in the classics through my interest in the stories we tell that make us who we are.

My personal reading list always exceeds my school’s reading list. When I was a boy, I was gripped by the stories of heroes like Perseus and Hercules. As I grew, I sought further stories and came across the epic poems. Over the years, I have found many people who share my enjoyment of these tales, but often they do not truly know them. One of my perpetual fascinations with classics is how these stories change, or are perceived, in the public consciousness.

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For example, many people know of the Labours of Hercules – or Herakles, as the Greeks said – but they rarely know why he was tasked with these Labours: he killed his children. We often make dark aspects of old stories into children’s stories. We see this with modern cartoon versions of far grimmer fairy tales. I believe that this has done our world a disservice. Instead of confronting unpleasant truths, we hide them. History is often whitewashed along with the stories to make it palatable.

My studies of the classics have led me to begin a work on Hercules – investigating how his story has been told and retold. I am also examining how the story has changed over the years, why it has changed and how retelling this story in gentler ways has paralleled pop culture dumbing down stories and ignoring unpleasant truths.

“It’s just a frog,” I thought, but no matter how I tried to convince myself of that fact, I didn’t find it any easier to dissect. I was disappointed in myself because I thought that a scientist should be dispassionate, logical, and capable of dealing with any sentimental subject in an objective fashion. Yet there was the frog, my scalpel poised dramatically above its little, amphibian torso. I was almost paralysed with sympathy, and I began to fear that I would never be a scientist.

When I was young, I would wander the woods, sketching plants and animals before looking them up at home. I am happiest when I am learning something new – even if it means unlearning a truth I “knew” the day before. I had loved labs and experiments, but I had hit the wall of dissection. Could I take these creatures apart? I love learning about them, but how could I slice them open?

I told my friend Jeremiah that I wasn’t going to dissect the bullfrog. I would drop the course and do something else with my life. “I’ll help,” he said, “Come on.” With his support and encouragement, I made the first cut and couldn’t believe what I saw; I was entranced by the intricacy of the frog. Being able to see and understand nature from an insider’s perspective, so to speak, was no longer “gross,” and my curiosity finally kicked in.

As I continued in biology, through lab experiments, dissections and investigations, I found myself reversing my position on the mentality of the scientist. It is not that we must be dispassionate, but that we must intimately feel a connection with the natural world. We are a part of this world – as perfectly slotted into our evolutionary position as any other creature. More excited than ever, I joined a biology club in our city where I was surrounded by biologists of all ages – amateur and professional – and I grew immensely. I was even awarded 1 st place in a biology Olympiad.

I believe that a truly successful scientist is one who finds harmony in the natural world, not one who exploits it, and I have had several conversations with my laboratory instructor on these points. He agreed with me, and we have been working on a rubric to create a more nature-friendly approach to the science curriculum at our school. He was already quite nature-conscious, but we both agree that we could be doing more to minimise our ecological footprints.

My dream job is one that helps to balance human interaction with nature on a global scale, to fight climate change and ensure the survival of all natural species. I hope to study the natural sciences at Oxford to bring this about. I believe that my journey is one of lifelong learning, a concept stressed at your school. I am also interested in your research in sustainable urban development. I think that co-existing with nature is one of the all-important issues for humanity and for an aspiring biologist. I want to contribute to a world where, even if we dissect frogs, we do so with a sense of responsibility, not callous indifference.

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Example No.3

I was ten minutes into a well-structured argument as to why I was not argumentative before I realised the irony of my words. I shut my mouth, red-faced and laughing with the rest of my family. I come from a family of debaters. Not that being a debater is the only thing that makes me want to study history and politics at your institution. Politicians are more than just arguers, but my temperament is well-suited to challenging ideas and wrestling with those ideas in the public sphere.

I want to make a difference on a national level in the political arena, serving the public as a politician. I joined the debate club to learn how to perform well in front of an audience, how to test my ideas and most importantly, how to lose. I am proud of my track record, wins and losses. Losses can be a strength. My first debate was, “Be it therefore resolved that there is an obesity problem in this country.” I was assigned the “pro” angle, and I was so sure that I could win by appealing to statistical realities. However, I lost. My opponent had sharper arguments and convinced the audience that “problem” implied an inherent morality issue with obesity. I had no counterargument.

From that loss, I learned how to use language better, to anticipate counterarguments and to know my opponent’s position better than my own. Every loss is an opportunity to grow, and I love that I have been pitted against fierce opponents who make me earn every point. I would rather achieve fewer victories against a skilled debater than gain many victories against those who are ill-prepared. I also rarely lose on the same subject twice.

This is relevant to my political philosophy, which is that I believe politicians should be willing to change their opinions, even on important issues. If nobody changed their minds, we would all be pig-headed fools. I want the best information, and if that changes my mind, so be it. We need more changed minds and evidence-based policies coming from politicians who value truth and accuracy, as well as the ethics to provide morally defensible positions.

Thanks to my debate club experience, I was able to campaign successfully for student body president, a position I held for two years. I took this responsibility seriously, even if not every peer or authority figure felt the same way. During my time in student government, my proudest accomplishment was helping create a new scholarship programme to fund the university studies and housing of one student. I believe that politicians should fight for changes that will benefit people, not just institutions, so this scholarship was a particularly exciting project for me to work on.

Outside of political ambitions, my favourite thing to do is to go to museums and art galleries. I take tremendous pleasure in discovering who we were and are and being able to compare the two. I hope to bring my historical knowledge and understanding to my career in politics.

Whether I am debating at family dinner or quietly, reverently studying in a museum, my greatest joy would be to help people build the society that they want to see.

Example No.4

When the first atomic bombs were detonated, Oppenheimer famously stated, “I am become death, destroyer of worlds,” characterising the transcendent regret he felt. Of course, Oppenheimer was himself quoting from the Bhagavad Gita. When I think of Oppenheimer’s sorrow, I think of the importance philosophy has for a person navigating hard sciences, like mathematics.

For many people, philosophy and mathematics – what I hope to study at Oxford – are divorced from one another, if not opposites. One, resulting from the musings of a curious mind, is seen as almost useless in practical terms. The other is seen as cold, scientific truth in written form. But I believe they are linked. I loved reading Oxford’s published paper, “Influencing HIV/AIDS Policy in India Through Mathematical Modelling.” Our math knowledge, and the application thereof, can directly affect the world around us, improving it for all.

In my final year of high school, I wanted to write about the impact that mathematics has on the world. I wrote a paper on black holes. I interviewed a mathematician named Peter Richards who was working at a physics lab studying the phenomenon. Mr. Richards told me how the gravity of black holes creates event horizons, shaping space around them, but that scientists are investigating whether gravity is influenced by light. This cosmological-level chicken-or-egg question became the basis of my paper, which was about how we think about the universe and our place in it. Mathematics might one day answer who we are and why we are here. This paper won 1 st place in an essay competition and secured me a small scholarship.

Math is the language of the universe. I see it everywhere: in nature’s patterns and in the music I play. I have been learning to play flutes – everything from woodwinds to concert flutes to world music instruments like ocarinas. As my study of math deepens, I become more immersed in exploring the range of the instrument, which, in turn, transforms my music. Math reshapes the world around us.

This study of the interplay between mathematics and philosophy led me to study the mathematics of global populations, which I believe will soon become imperative research on how we can maintain a sustainable eco-system. I attended a recent event for mathematicians studying global trends, where I interviewed several prominent mathematicians in the field for the school paper. I got to ask these important persons about their thoughts on the responsibility mathematicians have regarding humanity and the care needed to help our species. A surprising number – two out of the five I spoke with – had given little or no thought to the idea of blending philosophy and mathematics. I was shocked at this mathematical proof that even people in the field did not give much thought to this.

I hope to combat this in my own life and studies, encouraging mathematicians to increase their conscientious use of their skills to better humanity in a direct way, as well as to be more conscious of their responsibilities in the world today.

Oxford recommends that you follow the UCAS advice on personal statements when writing your own. It is well worth taking your time drafting your personal statement because the admissions committee at Oxford reads each one several times. They are really interested in learning about anything academic because they are curious about your potential in your field of study. This implies that they are interested in both what you have done and are doing in school as well as anything you have done outside of the classroom that is related to the subject you have chosen to study. More than being the best extracurriculars for college , Oxford refers to these activities as super-curriculars . Super-curriculars can be anything “you’ve read, listened to, watched or visited” that relates to your academic interests, unlike extracurriculars.

About 80% of your personal statement should discuss your academic interests and super-curriculars. The recommended structure is as follows:

  • Opening paragraph explaining why you want to pursue the programme
  • 3 or 4 paragraphs analysing your academic and super-curricular activities
  • Brief closing paragraph about your extracurricular interests, with a focus on transferable skills and career plans/future aspirations

To ensure that your personal statement applies specifically to the University of Oxford, first look at the school’s mission, vision statement and core values. Aligning your essay with these values will help prove that Oxford is the perfect fit for you, which is your main goal. This is the first step in how to write a college essay for this school.

You may also want to reference other important aspects of Oxford. Do they have research in the area you want to work in? Do they have a professor you cannot wait to study with? Do they have the curriculum set up in a way that best suits you as a student and your future goals? You need to show not only how you fit with Oxford, but also how the school will propel you forward in a way that no other school could.

Oxford’s Mission Statement

“We inspire people locally, nationally and globally by extending access to Oxford’s world-class teaching and resources through flexible and inclusive opportunities for study and research.”

Oxford’s Vision Statement

“To be a global centre of excellence for lifelong learning. Courses will be underpinned by the best teaching, research and support for learning to meet the needs of diverse, ambitious and intellectually curious students. Staff and students will work together within and beyond Oxford to foster a vibrant learning community attentive to the importance of promoting sustainability and social justice.”

Oxford’s Values

Finally, note that all Oxford personal statements have a character cap of 4,000, including spaces, and must be no longer than 47 lines.

Essay Writing Tips

Here are some general pieces of advice to keep in mind while working through your college essay review process. These tips will apply to your Oxford essays, but they will also be beneficial for any essays. Essays follow a basic structure and have a fundamental goal that is shared among them, even when specifics differ. So, you could be writing supplemental college essays , college diversity essays , or Harvard medical school secondary essays , but regardless of the type of essay or school, these tips will still apply.

The Main Objective

All essays are, directly or indirectly, “ why this college” essays . The admissions committee is looking for students who fit their institution and are excited about attending. Whatever your college essay topics are, you’re always answering that fundamental question.

Start Strong

College essay introductions are hard in and of themselves. Conquering the introduction means beating the blank page. Start with the best “"hook” sentence you can find. That means you need an attention-grabbing opener that compels the reader to continue.

Once you’re through the introduction, you must follow through with two or three paragraphs about your accomplishments or criteria the school expect to hear about – in Oxford’s case, those are your academics and super-curriculars.

Each story should answer the fundamental question: “Why is this person perfect for this school?"

Wrap it up with a conclusion that summarises your main points and, if possible, connects to the introduction like a loop.

Up to 4,000 characters, which includes spaces.

You don’t want to go so short you can’t say anything of substance. Brevity is the soul of wit, however, so don’t worry about having a personal statement that is “only” 300–400 words long. Don’t pad out your statement; say what you need to and no more.

Your personal statement shows your unique abilities and personality and why you are ideally suited for the institution and programme to which you are applying. Showcase qualities like perseverance, leadership, teamwork, curiosity, creativity, logic and personal growth.

Your main focus will be on academics and super-curricular activities.

Negative people don’t come off well, so dwelling on problems, whining, or badmouthing people is never a good idea.

Formal, standard essay format is perfect: hook sentence, introduction, main body – which expresses one or two main ideas – and a conclusion that comes full-circle, ideally connecting to the introduction. You can use the first person, since this is a personal essay.

Always follow the rule of “show, don’t tell” to demonstrate your qualities and abilities.

Free-associate for a while. Give yourself one or two minutes to write on the programme you want to take at Oxford and just free-associate. By the end, your passion for the subject will have won out and given you a good list of ideas to explore.

Your essay gets cut off. Never exceed the limit. So, in practical terms, if you exceed the character limit, or 47 lines, part of your personal statement will be missing.

Not formally, no, but it is being evaluated, so make sure you edit properly and go over spelling and grammar with a fine-tooth comb.

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Referencing styles

Author-date citations (Harvard) Numbered notes Numbered reference citations (Vancouver) OSCOLA

Introduction

Source references are vital to academic works (both print and digital) and so it is essential that they are clear, complete, and consistently formatted. Online bibliographical material is hyperlinked to provide readers with instant access to relevant sources or additional information.

Reference styles vary greatly across disciplines. This section details the main reference styles supported by OUP (Harvard, Vancouver, and OSCOLA) and provides examples that you can follow. If you are in doubt, your OUP editorial contact will be able to advise you on the best citation system for your text.

Author-date citations (Harvard)

The author-date style is an efficient and clear method of providing citations to published sources, which appear in a reference list at the end of the chapter or book. No superscripts are used, which means that reordering of the text does not require renumbering of notes. Instead of superscript numbers, a parenthetical citation (consisting of author name and date of publication) appears in the text and leads the reader to a full entry in a reference list that appears at the end of the chapter or book.

The method works particularly well when most of your citations are to published books or journal articles. It works less well if you are citing a lot of unauthored material or untraditional sources. Unlike numbered notes, author-date citations cannot accommodate translations or commentary outside the main text, although it is possible to combine author-date citations (for bibliographic citations) with numbered notes (for explanatory text).

In-text citation

References are cited within the text by including the author’s last name and a date parenthetically. A page number can be added if needed. If the author’s name appears in the sentence containing the citation, you need only use the date. Complete bibliographical reference information is listed at the end of the chapter or text.

Up to two author names can be used in the in-text citation. When citing a work with three or more authors, use the first author’s last name plus ‘et al.’

If you cite multiple references by the same author that were published in the same year, distinguish between them by adding labels (e.g. ‘a’ and ‘b’) to the year, in both the citation and the reference list.

Structure of the reference list

The reference list appears at the end of the chapter or text in alphabetical order. The name of the first author is inverted. In science literature, initials are often used in place of author first names.

The bibliographic elements listed below are required for the most common types of reference citations. Additional elements are mentioned that may be optional or to be used in only certain instances (e.g. a page number or other locator that is required if you are quoting a precise part of a large work, but not if the reference is to the work as a whole). Consistency in application is important.

Do not use long dashes (“—") to substitute for the name of an author who is identified in the bibliography due to how that entry will be linked in digital versions. Because the entry may not appear immediately following the entry with the full name, repeat the name in full.

Examples of author-date references in British style

Authored book.

Required elements

Lastname, Firstname/initials. Year of Publication. Title of Work .

With optional elements

Lastname, Firstname/initials, and Firstname/initials Lastname. Year of Publication. Title of Work , 2nd ed. City of Publication: Publisher.

Chapter in an edited book

Lastname, Firstname/initials, Year of Publication. ‘Title of Chapter in an Edited Book’. In Title of Edited Volume , edited by Firstname Lastname.

Lastname, Firstname/initials, and Firstname/initials Lastname. Year of Publication. ‘Title of Chapter in an Edited Book’. In Title of Edited Volume , edited by Firstname Lastname, page number(s) [or alternative locator info]. 2nd ed. City of Publication: Publisher.

Journal article

Lastname, Firstname/initials,Year of Publication. ‘Title of Article’. Name of Journal vol. number: start page.

Lastname, Firstname/initials, and Firstname/initials Lastname. Year of Publication. ‘Title of Article’. Name of Journal vol. number (issue number) (Month or Season): start page–end page. doi: DOI [or stable URL].

Magazine article

Lastname, Firstname/initials, Year of Publication. ‘Title of Article’. Day and Month of Pub. doi: DOI [or stable URL].

Lastname, Firstname/initials, and Firstname/initials Lastname. Year of Publication. ‘Title of Article’. Name of Magazine , Day and Month of Pub. doi: DOI [or stable URL].

Required elements if a magazine article has no stated author

‘Title of Article’. Year of Publication. Name of Magazine , Month of Pub. doi: DOI [or stable URL].

Website or other source

Include as much of the following as possible in your bibliographic entry: author; title or description of the content; owner/publisher; month and/or day of publication, most recent revision (or, failing that, date accessed); and URL. The year of publication should be the second element in the entry.

Some flexibility is acceptable to accommodate the wide variety of content available, particularly online.

Website names are usually set in roman type, but the names of online magazines and books are italicized (like their print counterparts).

As you write ...

Example: author–date citation with a reference list and further reading —british style.

Psychoanalytic studies, along with other literary and cultural texts, not only contribute to the new discourse of the jungle but also reflect the imperialist history that brings West Europeans and Americans into contact with the geographic jungles of India, Africa, and other parts of the world (Rogers et al. 2010, 1). This colonial context needs to be sketched here as well in order to reveal how the birth of the jungle eventually produces new constructions of sexuality in the United States. Billops (1999a) notes that the word ‘jungle’ comes from the Hindi and Marathi word jangal, meaning ‘desert’, ‘waste’, ‘forest’; as well as from the Sanskrit jangala, meaning ‘dry’, ‘dry ground’, or ‘desert’. Its first appearance in English is in 1776, with its meaning already shifted towards what might be more recognizable today: ‘Land overgrown with underwood, long grass, or tangled vegetation; also, the luxuriant and often almost impenetrable growth of vegetation covering such a tract’ (Dreft and Smithers 1978, 87). Brought into English as a result of an imperialist presence in India, ‘jungle’ is intimately related to the larger rise of Western imperialism around the world, particularly in the nineteenth century (Billops 1999b). Western powers such as Britain and France went from controlling 35 per cent of the earth’s surface in 1800 to, by 1914, ‘a grand total of roughly 85 per cent of the earth as colonies, protectorates, dependencies, dominions, and commonwealths’ (Said 1993, ch.2, ‘Colonial impacts’).

Reference list

Billops, Camille. 1999a. ‘Indo-European Loan Words’. Annals of Linguistics 21 (4): pp. 38–44.

Billops, Camille. 1999b. ‘Indo-European Vowel Shift: Evidence and Interpretation’. Annals of Linguistics 21 (4): p. 45.

Dreft, Edward, and Susan Smithers. 1978. ‘Words Working’. International Journal of American Linguistics 62 (3): pp. 227–263. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.1978.tb25475.x.

Rogers, Jason, Millicent Eng, and Rene Woo. 2010. ‘English-Based African Creoles’. In Spreading the People: Colonizing Languages in the Raj , edited by Jason Rogers, pp. 310–330. 2nd ed. London: Verso.

Said, Eleanor. 1993. The European Dream of Africa . New York: Random House.

Further reading

Bickerton, Derek. 2008. Bastard Tongues: A Trail-Blazing Linguist Finds Clues to Our Common Humanity in the World’s Lowliest Languages . New York: Hill and Wang.

‘Evolutionary Linguistics’. 2012. Wikipedia. Updated 4 November. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_linguistics.

Mfuti, Miriam. 2001. ‘Pidgin Town’. In The Oxford Handbook of Pidgins and Creoles , edited by Alain Smet, pp. 107–112. New York: Oxford University Press.

Rambow, John. 2007. ‘Will This Demon Fit in My Carry-On?’ Bangalore Monkey blog. 21 December. http://www.bangaloremonkey. com/2007/12/will-this-demon-fit-in-my-carry-on.html.

Examples of author-date references in US style

Lastname, Firstname/initials, Year of Publication.  Title of Work .

Lastname, Firstname/initials, and Firstname Lastname/initials. Year of Publication.  Title of Work , 2nd ed. City of Publication: Publisher.

Lastname, Firstname/initials, Year of Publication. “Title of Chapter in an Edited Book.” In  Title of Edited Volume , edited by Firstname Lastname.

Lastname, Firstname/initials, and Firstname Lastname/initials. Year of Publication. “Title of Chapter in an Edited Book.” In  Title of Edited Volume , edited by Firstname Lastname, page number(s) [or alternative locator info]. 2nd ed. City of Publication: Publisher.

Lastname, Firstname/initials,Year of Publication. “Title of Article.”  Name of Journal  vol. number, start page.

Lastname, Firstname/initials, and Firstname Lastname/initials. Year of Publication. “Title of Article.”  Name of Journal  vol. number (issue number) (Month or Season Year): start page–end page. doi: DOI [or stable URL].

Lastname, Firstname/initials, Year of Publication. “Title of Article.”  Name of Magazine , Month of Pub.

Lastname, Firstname/initials, and Firstname Lastname/initials. Year of Publication. “Title of Article.”  Name of Magazine , Month and Day of Pub. doi: DOI [or stable URL].

Required elements If a magazine article has no stated author:

“Title of Article.” Year of Publication.  Name of Magazine , Month of Pub.

 “Title of Article.” Year of Publication.  Name of Magazine , Month and Day of Pub, doi: DOI [or stable URL].

Include as much of the following as possible in your bibliographic entry: author; title or description of the content; owner/publisher; month and/or day of publication, most recent revision (or, failing that, date accessed); and URL. The year of publication should be the second element in the entry. Some flexibility is acceptable to accommodate the wide variety of content available, particularly online.

The names of websites are usually set in roman type, but the names of online magazines and books are italicized (like their print counterparts).

Reference list vs. bibliography

Note that a reference list in the author-date system can contain only items that are actually cited in the work. The reference list must contain all of those items. This differs from a bibliography in the numbered-note system, which can contain both cited items and items of interest that have not been specifically cited. If there are uncited works that you would like to draw to the reader’s attention, these can be placed after the references in a separate listed titled ‘Further reading’.

Example: author–date citation with a reference list and further reading—US style

Psychoanalytic studies, along with other literary and cultural texts, not only contribute to the new discourse of the jungle but also reflect the imperialist history that brings West Europeans and Americans into contact with the geographic jungles of India, Africa, and other parts of the world (Rogers et al. 2010, 1). This colonial context needs to be sketched here as well in order to reveal how the birth of the jungle eventually produces new constructions of sexuality in the United States. Billops (1999a) notes that the word “jungle” comes from the Hindi and Marathi word jangal, meaning “desert,” “waste,” “forest”; as well as from the Sanskrit jangala, meaning “dry,” “dry ground,” or “desert.” Its first appearance in English is in 1776, with its meaning already shifted toward what might be more recognizable today: “Land overgrown with underwood, long grass, or tangled vegetation; also, the luxuriant and often almost impenetrable growth of vegetation covering such a tract” (Dreft and Smithers 1978, 87). Brought into English as a result of an imperialist presence in India, “jungle” is intimately related to the larger rise of Western imperialism around the world, particularly in the nineteenth century (Billops 1999b). Western powers such as Britain and France went from controlling 35 percent of the earth’s surface in 1800 to, by 1914, “a grand total of roughly 85 percent of the earth as colonies, protectorates, dependencies, dominions, and commonwealths” (Said 1993, ch.2, “Colonial impacts”).

Billops, Camille. 1999a. “Indo-European Loan Words.” Annals of Linguistics 21 (4): pp. 38–44.

Billops, Camille. 1999b. “Indo-European Vowel Shift: Evidence and Interpretation.” Annals of Linguistics 21 (4): p. 45.

Dreft, Edward, and Susan Smithers. 1978. “Words Working.” International Journal of American Linguistics 62 (3): pp. 227–263. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.1978.tb25475.x.

Rogers, Jason, Millicent Eng, and Rene Woo. 2010. “English-Based African Creoles.” In Spreading the People: Colonizing Languages in the Raj , edited by Jason Rogers, pp. 310–330. 2nd ed. London: Verso.

“Evolutionary Linguistics.” 2012. Wikipedia. Updated November 4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_linguistics.

Mfuti, Miriam. 2001. “Pidgin Town.” In The Oxford Handbook of Pidgins and Creoles , edited by Alain Smet, pp. 107–112. New York: Oxford University Press.

Rambow, John. 2007. “Will This Demon Fit in My Carry-On?” Bangalore Monkey blog. December 21. http://www.bangaloremonkey. com/2007/12/will-this-demon-fit-in-my-carry-on.html.

Numbered notes

Using numbered notes is a common method of citing sources, particularly in the humanities. Sequential superscript numbers appear in the text to direct the reader to bibliographic or explanatory information that appears in a note.

This is a flexible style that allows authors to combine bibliographic information with annotation, translation, or other commentary. Scholars who frequently cite unpublished material will find numbered notes more useful than author-date citations.

Endnotes or footnotes?

In print publishing, notes can be placed at the bottom of the page as footnotes or at the end of a chapter or book in a separate section as endnotes.

Footnotes are preferred in cases where the information in the note is important enough that readers need it to fully engage with the material. Please note that in a digital context, footnotes in the traditional sense are not possible. Depending on the format, footnotes can appear at the end of a section or chapter, or they may be viewed by clicking or hovering over the superscript numbers in the text to display individual footnotes.

Endnotes are a better choice in print if the material in the notes does not need immediate engagement by the reader. For digital publications where individual chapters may be made available to readers, the notes should appear with the chapter, rather than separately at the end of the work. This varies according to discipline, so please consult your OUP editorial contact if you are unsure.

The formatting of bibliographic information is identical for footnotes and endnotes.

Please use the following guidance:

  • Numbered notes appear sequentially in the text as superscripts, ideally at the end of a sentence, following the closing punctuation.
  • Use Arabic numerals.
  • Numbers should restart at 1 at the beginning of each chapter and run consecutively to the end of each chapter. Do not start renumbering within a chapter (e.g. per page or per double-page spread) or use asterisks, as this will cause confusion in a digital environment.
  • Do not number the notes continuously throughout a book, because a later change would necessitate extensive renumbering.

Note structure and format

Required bibliographic elements are given below for the most common types of reference citations, along with optional elements that if used, must be consistent.

  • Page numbers are useful locators when referencing in print publications.
  • Give page ranges using the fewest number of figures as possible (e.g. pp. 126–27, not pp. 126–127).
  • When referencing a digital publication, you may not have access to a print page number. Cite a specific locator (e.g. chapter titles and sub-headings). Do not use location numbers from a proprietary e-reader (e.g. Kindle location numbers).
  • Edition numbers are not required when citing a first edition but are necessary for subsequent editions.

Numbered notes in British style

Firstname Lastname, Title of Work (Year of Publication).

Firstname Lastname, Title of Work , 2nd ed. (City of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication), page number(s) [or alternative locator info].

  • Michael Murray, Climate Change at the Poles (New York: Scribner, 2007), p. 9.
  • Darian Ibrahim and Carol Marche, Financing the Next Silicon Valley , 3rd ed. (San Francisco: Upbeat Press, 2010).

Edited book

Firstname Lastname, ed., Title of Work (Year of Publication).

Firstname Lastname, eds., Title of Work , 2nd ed. (City of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication), page number(s) [or alternative locator info].

  • Anton Smirov, ed., Eastern Europe After the Iron Curtain (London: Chatto and Windus, 2012).

Firstname Lastname, ‘Title of Chapter in an Edited Volume’, in Title of Edited Volume , edited by Firstname Lastname (Year of Publication).

Firstname Lastname, ‘Title of Chapter in an Edited Volume’, in Title of Edited Volume , edited by Firstname Lastname (City of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication), page number(s) [or alternative locator info].

Hanna Growiszc, ‘Far Right Ideologies in Czech Literature’, in Eastern Europe After the Iron Curtain , edited by Anton Smirov (London: Chatto and Windus, 2012), ch. 7.

Authored book with an editor or translator

Firstname Lastname, Title of Work , ed./trans. Firstname Lastname, (Year of Publication).

Firstname Lastname, Title of Work , ed./trans. Firstname Lastname, 2nd ed. (City of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication), page number(s) [or alternative locator info].

  • Günter Grass, The Tin Drum , trans. Breon Mitchell (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2009).

 Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics , ed. and trans. Terence Irwin (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 1999).

Multi-volume work

References to multi-volume book citations can take a variety of forms, depending on whether an individual volume or the entire work is being cited, and the authorship of the work.  

Citing one volume of a multi-volume work

  • Robert Caro, The Path to Power , vol. 1, The Years of Lyndon Johnson (New York: Knopf, 1982), p. 267.

Citing a multi-volume work as a whole

Robert Caro, The Years of Lyndon Johnson , 4 vols (New York: Knopf, 1982–2012).

Allison Wyste, ed. Indian and Tibetan Cooking , vol. 6, Cuisines of Asia, ed. Robert Trautmann (London: Brill Books, 2007).

Multi-volume work with series editor and individual author/editors

Whenever possible, include a DOI (preferred) or a stable URL for citations to journal articles. However, a URL or DOI is not sufficient to stand alone as a reference.

Firstname Lastname, ‘Title of Article’, Name of Journal vol. number, (Year): start page.

Firstname Lastname, ‘Title of Article’, Name of Journal vol. number, issue number (Month or Season Year): start page–end page, doi: DOI [or stable URL].

Barbara Eckstein, ‘The Body, the Word, and the State: J. M. Coetzee’s “Waiting for the Barbarians”’, Novel: A Forum on Fiction 22, no. 2 (Winter 1989): pp. 175–198, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1345802.

David Hyun-Su Kim, ‘The Brahmsian Hairpin’, 19th Century Music 36, no. 1 (Summer 2012): pp. 46–47, doi:10.1525/ncm.2012.36.1.046. 

A DOI or URL can be included for articles that you consulted online. The citations for online-only magazines follow the same pattern as print-based magazines, with the addition of URLs. If an online journal or magazine has a stable home page that allows a user to search for articles by title or author, it is acceptable to include the URL for that page (rather than the longer, more specific URL).

‘Title of Article’, Name of Magazine , Month of Pub, Year.

Firstname Lastname, ‘Title of Article’, Name of Magazine , Month and Day of Pub, Year, doi: DOI [or stable URL].

Mary Rose Himler, ‘Religious Books as Best Sellers’, Publishers Weekly , 19 February 1927.

‘Amazon Best Books 2012 Revealed’, Publishers Weekly , 13 November 2012, http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/publisher-news/article/54738-amazon-best-books-2012-revealed.html.

Fritz Allhoff, ‘The Paradox of Nonlethal Weapons’, Slate , 13 November 2012, http://www.slate.com.

Law citation styles vary widely depending on jurisdiction. The following examples are for citing law cases in a non-specialist academic context. If you are writing specialist legal content, see ‘Citing of Legal Materials’ for detailed citation information.

Case Number Name of Case [Year] Report VolNo-FirstPageNo

Case C-34/89 P Smith v EC Commission [1993] ECR I-454

Name of Case [Year] VolNo Report, PageNo

Ridge v Baldwin [1964] AC 40, 78

Name of Case , VolNo Reporter SeriesNo (Year)

Name of Case , VolNo Reporter SeriesNo (Name of Court Year)

Bowers v Hardwick 478 US 186 (1986).

Unpublished or informally published content

The titles of unpublished works are set in quotation marks rather than italics. In place of a publisher, location or institutional information can be given.

Troy Thibodeaux, ‘Modernism in Greenwich Village, 1908–1929’ (PhD dissertation, New York University, 1999), p. 59.

Mary Koo, ‘Prakriti and Purusha: Dualism in the Yoga of Patanjali’ (lecture, Theosophical Society, Chennai, India, 17 May 2008).

To cite a website or other source that does not fall within those covered here, include as much of the following as possible (in this order) in your citation: author; title or description of the content; owner/publisher; date of publication or most recent revision (or, failing that, date accessed); and URL. Some flexibility is acceptable to accommodate the wide variety of content available, especially online.

The names of websites are usually set in roman type but the names of online magazines and books are italicized (like their print counterparts).

  • ‘The Board of Directors of the Coca-Cola Company Authorizes New Share Repurchase Program’, Coca- Cola Company, 18 October 2012, http://www.coca-colacompany.com/media-center/press-releases/the-board-of-directors-of-the-coca-cola-company-authorizes-new-share-repurchase-program.
  • John Rambow, ‘Will This Demon Fit in My Carry-On?’, Bangalore Monkey blog, 21 December 2007, http://www.bangaloremonkey.com/2007/12/will-this-demon-fit-in-my-carry-on.html.
  • Wikimedia privacy policy, Wikimedia Foundation, accessed 26 November 2010, http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/ Privacy policy.

Numbered notes in US style

Firstname Lastname, Title of Work , (Year of Publication).

Firstname Lastname, eds., Title of Work , (Year of Publication).

  • Hanna Growiszc, “Far Right Ideologies in Czech Literature,” in Eastern Europe After the Iron Curtain , edited by Anton Smirov (London: Chatto and Windus, 2012), ch. 7.
  • Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics , ed. and trans. Terence Irwin (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 1999).

Multi-volume book citations can take a variety of forms, depending on whether an individual volume or the work as a whole is being cited, and on how the multi-volume work was authored or edited.

  • Robert Caro, The Years of Lyndon Johnson , 4 vols. (New York: Knopf, 1982–2012).
  • Allison Wyste, Indian and Tibetan Cooking , vol. 6, Cuisines of Asia, ed. Robert Trautmann (London: Brill Books, 2007).

Firstname Lastname, “Title of Chapter in an Edited Volume,” in Title of Edited Volume , edited by Firstname Lastname (Year of Publication).

Firstname Lastname, “Title of Chapter in an Edited Volume,” in Title of Edited Volume , edited by Firstname Lastname (City of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication), page number(s) [or alternative locator info].

Firstname Lastname, “Title of Article,” Name of Journal vol. number, (Year): start page.

Firstname Lastname, “Title of Article,” Name of Journal vol. number, issue number (Month or Season Year): start page–end page, doi: DOI [or stable URL].

  • Barbara Eckstein, “The Body, the Word, and the State: J. M. Coetzee’s ‘Waiting for the Barbarians,’” Novel: A Forum on Fiction 22, no. 2 (Winter 1989): pp. 175–198, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1345802.
  • David Hyun-Su Kim, “The Brahmsian Hairpin,” 19th Century Music 36, no. 1 (Summer 2012): pp. 46–47, doi:10.1525/ncm.2012.36.1.046.

A DOI or URL can be included for articles that you consulted online. Online-only magazines follow the same pattern as print-based magazines, with the addition of URLs. If an online journal or magazine has a stable home page that allows a user to search for articles by title or author, it is acceptable to cite that page rather than a longer, more specific URL.

“Title of Article,” Name of Magazine , Month of Pub, Year.

Firstname Lastname, “Title of Article,” Name of Magazine, Month and Day of Pub, Year, doi: DOI [or stable URL].

  • Mary Rose Himler, “Religious Books as Best Sellers,” Publishers Weekly , February 19, 1927.
  • “Amazon Best Books 2012 Revealed,” Publishers Weekly , November 13, 2012, http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/publisher-news/article/54738-amazon-best-books-2012-revealed.html.
  • Fritz Allhoff, “The Paradox of Nonlethal Weapons,” Slate , November 13, 2012, http://www.slate.com.

Law - case law

Law citation styles can vary widely depending on jurisdiction. These examples are for citing legal case law in a non-specialist academic context. If you are writing specialist legal content, see ‘Citing of legal materials’ for detailed information on law citation.

Name of Case [Year] VolNo Report PageNo

Ridge v. Baldwin [1964] AC 40, 78

Name of Case , Vol No. Reporter Series No. (Year)

Bowers v Hardwick , 478 U.S. 186 (1986)

Name of Case , Vol No. Reporter Series No. (Name of Court Year)

Bowers v. Hardwick 478 U.S. 186 (1986)

The titles of unpublished works are set in quotation marks rather than italics. Since there is no publisher, location or institutional information can be cited.

  • Troy Thibodeaux, “Modernism in Greenwich Village, 1908–1929” (PhD dissertation, New York University, 1999), p. 59.
  • Mary Koo, “Prakriti and Purusha: Dualism in the Yoga of Patanjali’ (lecture, Theosophical Society, Chennai, India, May 17, 2008).

If you need to cite a website or other source that does not fall within those covered here, include as much of the following as possible (in this order): author; title or description of the content; owner/publisher; date of publication or most recent revision (or, failing that, date accessed); and URL. Some flexibility is acceptable to accommodate the wide variety of content available, especially online.

  • “The Board of Directors of the Coca-Cola Company Authorizes New Share Repurchase Program,” Coca-Cola Company, October 18, 2012, http://www.coca-colacompany.com/media-center/press-releases/the-board-of-directors-of-the-coca-cola-company-authorizes-new-share-repurchase-program.
  • John Rambow, “Will This Demon Fit in My Carry-On?,” Bangalore Monkey blog, December 21, 2007, http://www.bangaloremonkey. com/2007/12/will-this-demon-fit-in-my-carry-on.html.
  • Wikimedia privacy policy, Wikimedia Foundation, accessed November 26, 2010, http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/ Privacy_policy.

Short citations

When a work is cited for the first time in a chapter, full bibliographic information should be given (for an alternative, see ‘Numbered notes in combination with a bibliography’). Subsequent citations should be shortened as in the following examples.

Legal short citations

Give the first mention of legal cases in full. Subsequent mentions within the same article or chapter can be shortened to the case name alone, given in italics (even if italics are not used in the original citation)

  • Case C–34/89 P Smith v EC Commission [1993] ECR I–454
  • P Smith v EC Commission.

Example: short citations in US style

  • See, for example, Alan Hess, Googie: Fifties Coffee Shop Architecture (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1985) and Noah Sheldon, Ranch House (New York: Harry S. Abrams, 2004).
  • Sheldon, Ranch House , p. 207.
  • Ashraf Salama, “Evolutionary Paradigms in Mosque Architecture,” Faith & Form 40, no. 1 (2007): pp. 16–17.
  • Salama, “Evolutionary Paradigms.”
  • Hess, Googie , p. 21.
  • Wikimedia privacy policy, para. 16.

Numbered notes in combination with a bibliography

It is possible to combine notes and bibliography so that all the notes, including the first reference, are short citations that lead the reader to a full citation in the bibliography. This system results in shorter notes and less work for the reader, since complete information is easily available in the alphabetical bibliography and need not be hunted for through all the chapter notes. This requires that all cited sources appear in a bibliography, which can also contain works that are not cited but are germane to the topic.

Structure of a bibliography entry

Bibliographies are structured similarly to notes, but there are some important differences. The first author name (and only the first) is inverted for alphabetization. Punctuation format also varies slightly between notes and bibliographic entries.

Do not use long dashes (e.g. “—") to substitute for an author’s name if it is repeated in the bibliography. Repeat the name in full because in a digital version, the shortened entry may not follow the complete one immediately.

Bibliography entries in British Style

Lastname, Firstname, Title of Work , (Year of Publication).

Lastname, Firstname, and Firstname Lastname. Title of Work , 2nd ed. (City of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication).

Lastname, Firstname. ‘Title of Chapter in an Edited Book’. In Title of Edited Volume , edited by Firstname Lastname (Year of Publication).

Lastname, Firstname, and Firstname Lastname. ‘Title of Chapter in an Edited Book’. In Title of Edited Volume , edited by Firstname Lastname (City of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication), page number(s) [or alternative locator info].

Lastname, Firstname,‘Title of Article’. Name of Journal vol. number, no. X (Year): start page.

Lastname, Firstname, and Firstname Lastname. ‘Title of Article’. Name of Journal vol. number, no. X (Month or Season Year): start page–end page. doi: DOI [or stable URL].

‘Title of Article’. Name of Magazine , Month Year of Pub.

Lastname, Firstname, and Firstname Lastname. ‘Title of Article’. Name of Magazine , Day Month Year of Pub, doi: DOI [or stable URL].

If you need to cite a website or other source that does not fall within those covered here, include as much of the following as possible (in this order): author; title or description of the content; owner/publisher; date of publication, most recent revision (or, failing that, date accessed); and URL. Some flexibility is acceptable to accommodate the wide variety of content available, especially online.

Sample bibliography

Growiszc, Hanna. ‘Far Right Ideologies in Czech Literature’. In Eastern Europe After the Iron Curtain , edited by Anton Smirov (London: Chatto and Windus, 2012), ch. 7.

Himler, Mary Rose. ‘Religious Books as Best Sellers’. Publishers Weekly , 19 February 1927.

Khan, Imran, and Richard Collins. ‘True Belief: Hindu Metanarratives in Bollywood’. Journal of Cinema Studies 7, no. 4 (2009): pp. 104–115. doi:10.1086/jcs113.3.752.

Murray, Michael. ‘The Antarctic Summer Lengthens’. Journal of Climate Studies 20, no. 9 (2011): p. 203.

Murray, Michael. Climate Change at the Poles (New York: Scribner, 2007).

Rambow, John. ‘Will This Demon Fit in My Carry-On?’ Bangalore Monkey blog. 21 December 2007. http://www.bangaloremonkey.com/2007/12/will-this-demon-fit-in-my-carry-on.html.

Bibliography entries in US style

Lastname, Firstname, “Title of Chapter in an Edited Book.” In Title of Edited Volume , edited by Firstname Lastname (Year of Publication).

Lastname, Firstname, and Firstname Lastname. “Title of Chapter in an Edited Book.” In Title of Edited Volume , edited by Firstname Lastname (City of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication), page number(s) [or alternative locator info].

Lastname, Firstname,“Title of Article.” Name of Journal vol. number, no. X (Year): start page.

Lastname, Firstname, and Firstname Lastname. “Title of Article.” Name of Journal vol. number, no. X (Month or Season Year): start page–end page. doi: DOI [or stable URL].

“Title of Article.” Name of Magazine , Month of Pub, Year.

Lastname, Firstname, and Firstname Lastname. “Title of Article.” Name of Magazine , Month and Day of Pub, Year, doi: DOI [or stable URL].

Growiszc, Hanna. “Far Right Ideologies in Czech Literature.” In Eastern Europe After the Iron Curtain, edited by Anton Smirov (London: Chatto and Windus, 2012), ch. 7.

Himler, Mary Rose. “Religious Books as Best Sellers.” Publishers Weekly, February 19, 1927.

Khan, Imran, and Richard Collins. “True Belief: Hindu Metanarratives in Bollywood.” Journal of Cinema Studies 7, no. 4 (2009): pp. 104–115. doi:10.1086/jcs113.3.752.

Murray, Michael. “The Antarctic Summer Lengthens.” Journal of Climate Studies 20, no. 9 (2011): p. 203.

Rambow, John. “Will This Demon Fit in My Carry-On?” Bangalore Monkey blog. December 21, 2007. http://www.bangaloremonkey.com/2007/12/will-this-demon-fit-in-my-carry-on.html.

Numbered reference citations (Vancouver)

Numbered reference citations (also known as author–number or Vancouver references) are used in scientific and medical texts. In this system, each reference used is assigned a number. When that reference is cited in the text, its number appears, either in parentheses or brackets or as a superscript. All cited references appear in a numbered reference list at the end of the chapter or book.

An advantage of numbered references over the author–date style is that less space in the main text is required for in-text citations. The system also avoids ambiguity in the case of two works by the same author published the same year, an occasional issue in author–date citations. A disadvantage is that late addition or removal of references usually requires renumbering of both the reference list and the citations. Numbered reference citations cannot be used to provide commentary or other explanatory material to the text.

References are cited within the text by using a number in a superscript, in parentheses, or in square brackets. Although each of these variants is acceptable, only one can be used in a single text. The examples in this guide will enclose citation numbers in parentheses. Note that although citations are numbered in the order of their first appearance in the text, non-consecutive note numbers are possible, to allow references to be cited more than once. Citations can take the form of a range: for example (4–7) would cite references 4, 5, 6, and 7 simultaneously. If it is necessary to cite specific page numbers that are not present in the reference list, page numbers can be inserted into the citation: for example (4p6, 5pp1–11).

Please note the following:

  • Author first names are usually given as initials only, with no full stops (e.g. “AN” not “A.N.”) between initials. In the case of multiple authors, you can list up to six full names; for more than six authors, list the first three plus ‘et al’. All author names are inverted (i.e. last name, first name).
  • Names of journals can be abbreviated, as in the examples in this section, but must follow the standard abbreviations used by PubMed. Journal article titles are given without quotation marks and in sentence-style capitalization.
  • Do not use long dashes (e.g. “—") to substitute for the name of an author whose name is repeated in the bibliography. Repeat the name in full because linking in a digital publication may not immediately follow the entry with the full name.
  • Citations are numbered in the order in which they first appear in the text.

Required bibliographic elements are given below for the most common types of reference citations, along with optional elements (if used, be consistent). Other elements below are required if applicable (for example, you need a page number or other locator if you are quoting a precise part of a large work, but you can skip it if the reference is to the work as a whole).

Numbered reference citations in British style

Lastname FI, Title of Work , Year of Publication.

Lastname FI, Lastname FI, Lastname FI. Title of Work , 2nd ed. City of Publication: Publisher; Year of Publication: startpage–endpage [or alternative locator info].

Unauthored book (books published by committee, agency, or group)

Title of Work . Year of Publication.

Title of Work . 16th ed. City of Publication: Publisher; Year of Publication: startpage–endpage [or alternative locator info].

Lastname FI. Title of chapter in sentence case. In: Lastname FI, eds. Title of Work. Year of Publication.

Lastname FI, Lastname FI, Lastname FI. Title of chapter in sentence case. In: Lastname FI, Lastname FI, Lastname FI, eds. Title of Work . 2nd ed. City of Publication: Publisher; Year of Publication: startpage–endpage [or alternative locator info].

Lastname FI, Title of article in sentence case. Abbreviated Journal Title . Year of Publication; Volume No.

Lastname FI, Lastname FI, Lastname FI, et al. Title of article in sentence case. Abbreviated Journal Title . Year of Publication; Volume No. (Issue No.) (Supplement No.): startpage–endpage [or alternative locator info]. doi: DOI [or stable URL].

Magazine or newspaper article

Lastname FI. Title of article in sentence case. Magazine or Newspaper Title . Month and Year of Publication.

Lastname FI. Title of article in sentence case. Magazine or Newspaper Title . Day Month and Year of Publication: startpage–endpage. doi: DOI [or stable URL].

If the article has no stated author:

Title of article in sentence case. Magazine or Newspaper Title . Month and Year of Publication.

Title of article in sentence case. Magazine or Newspaper Title . Day Month and Year of Publication: startpage–endpage. doi: DOI [or stable URL].

Include of the following (in this order) in your bibliographic entry: author; title or description of the content; owner/publisher; date of publication or most recent revision (or, failing that, date accessed); and URL. Some flexibility is acceptable to accommodate the wide variety of content available online and in non-traditional formats. Follow the capitalization and italicization patterns of the examples here as much as possible.

If the nature of the material you are citing is not clear from the bibliographic information, you can provide a descriptor in brackets after the first element of the reference.

Example: Numbered reference citations and reference list—British style

Colorectal cancer (cRc) is one of the most common malignancies and the second leading cause of death from cancer in Europe and North America (1). While early stage cRc is associated with an excellent 5-year survival rate (90% for localized disease), approximately 20% of patients present with metastatic disease, and many patients diagnosed with stage ii or iii cancer will experience a recurrence and develop distant metastases (2). At present, established clinico-pathological criteria are used to estimate risks of recurrence in stage ii and iii disease, and this is routinely used in the selection of patients or adjuvant systemic therapy following surgical resection. The clinical outcome of patients who receive such adjuvant treatment can, however, vary widely, when additional molecular factors are taken into consideration. Identification of novel prognostic markers is, therefore, vital in improving the prognosis of this disease (3). One of the recently described substances important for angiogenesis is endoglin. Endoglin, also known as cD105, is a receptor for transforming growth factor-ß1 molecule, which binds preferentially to the activated endothelial cells that participate in tumour angiogenesis, with weak or negative expression in vascular endothelium of normal tissues. Endoglin is induced by hypoxia. Therefore, it is very useful for assessment of neo-angiogenesis of malignant neoplasms (4–6). Many reports indicate that endoglin assessed immunohistochemically in colorectal cancer correlates not only with tumour microvessel density, but also with survival. It has also been reported as a valuable parameter predicting patients having an increased risk of developing metastatic disease. Endoglin is expressed not only on cell surfaces since its soluble form (sol-end) can be detected also in blood (4–7). A few studies evaluated the clinical significance of elevated sol-end levels in colorectal cancer patients (7).

1. Ferlay J, Autier P, Boniol M, Heanue M, Colombet M, Boyle P. Estimates of the cancer incidence and mortality in Europe in 2006. Ann Oncol . 2007; 18: pp. 581–592.

2. Meyerhardt JA, Mayer RJ. Systemic therapy for colorectal cancer. In: Boniol M, Smith J, eds. Oncological Research Reviews . 16th ed. New York, NY: Dekker; 2005; pp. 476–487.

3. Allegra CJ, Paik S, Colangelo LH, et al. Prognostic value of thymidylate synthase, Ki-67, and p53 in patients with Dukes’ B and C colon cancer: a National Cancer Institute-National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project collaborative study. J Clin Oncol. 2003; 21: pp. 241–250.

4. Drug Topics Red Book . Montvale, NJ: Thomson Healthcare, 2009: p. 232.

5. FDA approves new treatment for advanced colorectal cancer. 2012. US Food and Drug Administration website. 27 September. http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm321271.htm.

6. Stivarga [package insert]. Wayne, NJ: Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, 2012.

7. Mysliwiec P, Pawlak K, Kuklinski A, Kedra B. Combined perioperative plasma endoglin and vegF-a assessment in colorectal cancer patients. Folia Histochem Cytobiol . 2008; 46(2)(suppl. 1): pp. 487–49.

Numbered reference citations and reference list in US style

Lastname FI, Lastname FI, Lastname FI. Title of Work , 2nd ed. City of Publication: Publisher; Year of Publication.

Title of Work. Year of Publication.

Title of Work. 16th ed. City of Publication: Publisher; Year of Publication: startpage–endpage [or alternative locator info].

Lastname FI, Title of chapter in sentence case. In: Lastname FI, ed. Title of Work. Year of Publication.

Lastname FI, Lastname FI, Lastname FI. Title of chapter in sentence case. In: Lastname FI, Lastname FI, Lastname FI, eds. Title of Work. 2nd ed. City of Publication: Publisher; Year of Publication: startpage–endpage [or alternative locator info].

Lastname FI, Title of article in sentence case. Abbreviated Journal Title. Year of Publication; Volume No. (Issue No.)

Lastname FI, Lastname FI, Lastname FI, et al. Title of article in sentence case. Abbreviated Journal Title. Year of Publication; Volume No. (Issue No.)(SupplementNo): startpage–endpage [or alternative locator info]. doi: DOI [or stable URL].

Lastname FI. Title of article in sentence case. Magazine or Newspaper Title. Month, Day, and Year of Publication.

Lastname FI. Title of article in sentence case. Magazine or Newspaper Title. Month, Day, and Year of Publication: startpage–endpage. doi: DOI [or stable URL].

Title of article in sentence case. Magazine or Newspaper Title. Month, Day, and Year of Publication.

Title of article in sentence case. Magazine or Newspaper Title. Month, Day, and Year of Publication: startpage–endpage. doi: DOI [or stable URL].

Include as much of the following as possible in your bibliographic entry (in this order): author; title or description of the content; owner/publisher; date of publication or most recent revision, or, failing that, date accessed; and URL if available. Some flexibility is acceptable to accommodate the wide variety of content available online and in non-traditional formats. Follow the capitalization and italicization patterns of these examples.

Example: Numbered reference citations and reference list—US style

Colorectal cancer (cRc) is one of the most common malignancies and the second leading cause of death from cancer in Europe and North America (1). While early stage cRc is associated with an excellent 5-year survival rate (90% for localized disease), approximately 20% of patients present with metastatic disease, and many patients diagnosed with stage ii or iii cancer will experience a recurrence and develop distant metastases (2). At present, established clinico-pathological criteria are used to estimate risks of recurrence in stage ii and iii disease, and this is routinely used in the selection of patients or adjuvant systemic therapy following surgical resection. The clinical outcome of patients who receive such adjuvant treatment can, however, vary widely, when additional molecular factors are taken into consideration. Identification of novel prognostic markers is, therefore, vital in improving the prognosis of this disease (3). One of the recently described substances important for angiogenesis is endoglin. Endoglin, also known as cD105, is a receptor for transforming growth factor-ß1 molecule, which binds preferentially to the activated endothelial cells that participate in tumor angiogenesis, with weak or negative expression in vascular endothelium of normal tissues. Endoglin is induced by hypoxia. Therefore it is very useful for assessment of neo-angiogenesis of malignant neoplasms (4–6). Many reports indicate that endoglin assessed immunohistochemically in colorectal cancer correlates not only with tumor microvessel density, but also with survival. It has also been reported as a valuable parameter predicting patients having an increased risk of developing metastatic disease. Endoglin is expressed not only on cell surfaces, since its soluble form (sol-end) can be detected also in blood (4–7). A few studies evaluated the clinical significance of elevated sol-end levels in colorectal cancer patients (7).

1. Ferlay J, Autier P, Boniol M, Heanue M, Colombet M, Boyle P. Estimates of the cancer incidence and mortality in Europe in 2006. Ann Oncol. 2007; 18: pp. 581–592.

2. Meyerhardt JA, Mayer RJ. Systemic therapy for colorectal cancer. In: Boniol M, Smith J, eds. Oncological Research Reviews. 16th ed. New York, NY: Dekker; 2005; pp. 476–487.

3. Allegra CJ, Paik S, Colangelo LH, et al. Prognostic value of thymidylate synthase, Ki-67, and p. 53 in patients with Dukes’ B and C colon cancer: a National Cancer Institute-National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project collaborative study. J Clin Oncol. 2003; 21: pp. 241–250.

4. Drug Topics Red Book. Montvale, NJ: Thomson Healthcare, 2009: p. 232.

5. FDA approves new treatment for advanced colorectal cancer. US Food and Drug Administration website. September 27, 2012. http://www.fda. gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm321271.htm.

7. Mysliwiec P, Pawlak K, Kuklinski A, Kedra B. Combined perioperative plasma endoglin and vegF-a assessment in colorectal cancer patients. Folia Histochem Cytobiol. 2008; 46(2)(suppl. 1): pp. 487–492.

For legal works, we recommend that you follow The Oxford University Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities (OSCOLA). The fourth edition (published in 2012) covers International Law. The full set of guidance can be found at https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/migrated/oscola_4th_edn_hart_2012.pdf

Information on how to apply OSCOLA style in EndNote, Latex, Refworks and Zotero can be found at https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/research-subject-groups/publications/oscola-styles-endnote-latek-refworks-and-zotero

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10 Successful Harvard Application Essays | 2021

Our new 2022 version is up now.

Our 2022 edition is sponsored by HS2 Academy—a premier college counseling company that has helped thousands of students gain admission into Ivy League-level universities across the world. Learn more at www.hs2academy.com . Also made possible by The Art of Applying, College Confidential, Crimson Education, Dan Lichterman, Key Education, MR. MBA®, Potomac Admissions, Prep Expert, and Prepory.

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Successful Harvard Essay

I had never seen houses floating down a river. Minutes before there had not even been a river. An immense wall of water was destroying everything in its wake, picking up fishing boats to smash them against buildings. It was the morning of March 11, 2011. Seeing the images of destruction wrought by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, I felt as if something within myself was also being shaken, for I had just spent two of the happiest summers of my life there.

In the summer of my freshman year, I received the Kikkoman National Scholarship, which allowed me to travel to Japan to stay with a host family in Tokyo for ten weeks. I arrived just as the swine flu panic gripped the world, so I was not allowed to attend high school with my host brother, Yamato. Instead, I took Japanese language, judo, and karate classes and explored the confusing sprawl of the largest city in the world. I spent time with the old men of my neighborhood in the onsen, or hot spring, questioning them about the Japan of their youth. They laughed and told me that if I wanted to see for myself, I should work on a farm.

The next summer I returned to Japan, deciding to heed the old men’s advice and volunteer on a farm in Japan’s northernmost island, Hokkaido. I spent two weeks working more than fourteen hours a day. I held thirty-pound bags of garlic with one hand while trying to tie them to a rope hanging from the ceiling with the other, but couldn’t hold the bags in the air long enough. Other days were spent pulling up endless rows of daikon, or Japanese radish, which left rashes on my arms that itched for weeks. Completely exhausted, I stumbled back to the farmhouse, only to be greeted by the family’s young children who were eager to play. I passed out every night in a room too small for me to straighten my legs. One day, I overslept a lunch break by two hours. I awoke mortified, and hurried to the father. After I apologized in the most polite form of Japanese, his face broke into a broad grin. He patted me on the back and said, “You are a good worker, Anthony. There is no need to apologize.” This single exchange revealed the true spirit of the Japanese farmer. The family had lived for years in conditions that thoroughly wore me out in only a few days. I had missed two hours of work, yet they were still perpetually thankful to me. In their life of unbelievable hardship, they still found room for compassion.

In their life of unbelievable hardship, they still found room for compassion.

When I had first gone to Tokyo, I had sought the soul of the nation among its skyscrapers and urban hot springs. The next summer I spurned the beaten track in an attempt to discover the true spirit of Japan. While lugging enormously heavy bags of garlic and picking daikon, I found that spirit. The farmers worked harder than anyone I have ever met, but they still made room in their hearts for me. So when the tsunami threatened the people to whom I owed so much, I had to act. Remembering the lesson of compassion I learned from the farm family, I started a fund-raiser in my community called “One Thousand Cranes for Japan.” Little more than two weeks later, we had raised over $8,000 and a flock of one thousand cranes was on its way to Japan.

oxford accepted essays

Professional Review by AcceptU

This essay is very clean and straightforward. Anthony wisely uses imagery from a well-known historic event, the 2011 tsunami, to set the scene for his story. He visited Japan for two summers and provides depth about what he learned: In his first summer, he explored Tokyo and studied the language and culture; in his second summer, he lived in rural Japan and worked long hours on a farm.

We like to see how applicants learn, grow or change from the beginning to the end - and Anthony rightfully spends more time describing the hard work and lifestyle of farming and what he learned from this experience.

The beauty of the essay actually lies in its simplicity. Admittedly, it is not a groundbreaking or original essay in the way he tells his story; instead, Anthony comes across as someone who is very interesting, hardworking, intellectually curious, dedicated, humble and likable - all traits that admissions officers are seeking in applicants.

We like to see how applicants learn, grow or change from the beginning to the end - and Anthony rightfully spends more time describing the hard work and lifestyle of farming and what he learned from this experience. Anthony concludes with a reference to his opening paragraph about the tsunami, and impresses the reader with his fundraising to help victims.

It is not necessarily missing, but perhaps a sentence or two could have been added to explain why Anthony was in Japan in the first place. What was his connection to the country, language or culture? Does it tie into an academic interest? If so, that would make his already strong essay even stronger in the eyes of admissions officers.

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I entered the surprisingly cool car. Since when is Beijing Line 13 air-conditioned? I’ll take it. At four o’clock in the afternoon only about twenty people were in the subway car. “At least it’s not crowded,” one might have thought. Wrong. The pressure of their eyes on me filled the car and smothered me. “看看!她是外国人!”(Look, look! She’s a foreigner!) An old man very loudly whispered to a child curled up in his lap. “Foreigner,” he called me. I hate that word, “foreigner.” It only explains my exterior. If only they could look inside.…

I want to keep reading because there is something she is saying about her identity--be it performative or actual--that I am curious about.

They would know that I actually speak Chinese—not just speak, but love. They would know that this love was born from my first love of Latin—the language that fostered my admiration of all languages. Latin lives in the words we speak around the world today. And translating this ancient language is like watching a play and performing in it at the same time. Each word is an adventure, and on the journey through Virgil’s Aeneid I found that I am more like Aeneas than any living, dead, or fictional hero I know. We share the intrinsic value of loyalty to friends, family, and society. We stand true to our own word, and we uphold others to theirs. Like Aeneas’s trek to find a new settlement for his collapsed Troy, with similar perseverance I, too, wander the seas for my own place in the world. Language has helped me do that.

If these subway passengers understood me, they would know that the very reason I sat beside them was because of Latin. Even before Aeneas and his tale, I met Caecilius and Grumio, characters in my first Latin textbook. In translations I learned grammar alongside Rome’s rich history. I realized how learning another language could expose me to other worlds and other people—something that has always excited me. I also realized that if I wanted to know more about the world and the people in it, I would have to learn a spoken language. Spanish, despite the seven years of study prior to Latin, did not stick with me. And the throatiness of French was not appealing. But Chinese, more than these other traditional languages, intrigued me. The doors to new worlds it could open seemed endless. Thus I chose Chinese.

If these subway passengers looked inside me, they would find that my knowledge of both Latin and Chinese makes me feel whole. It feels like the world of the past is flowing through me alongside the world of the future. Thanks to Latin, Chinese sticks in my mind like the Velcro on the little boy’s shoes in front of me. If this little boy and his family and friends could look inside, they would understand that Latin laid the foundation for my lifelong commitment to languages. Without words, thoughts and actions would be lost in the space between our ears. To them, I am a foreigner, “外国人” literally translated as “out-of-country person.” I feel, however, more like an advena, the Latin word for “foreigner,” translated as “(one who) comes to (this place).” I came to this place, and I came to this country to stay. Unfortunately, they will not know this until I speak. Then once I speak, the doors will open.

oxford accepted essays

Professional Review by Bridge to College

Your college essay should serve two purposes: allow the reader to gain insights about you that they are not able to do in other parts of your application and provide an example of your writing abilities. To the former, you are hoping to demonstrate five soft skills that most colleges are at least implicitly interested in gleaning, those that indicate your capacity to be a good student at their institution.

Alex arrives at both goals in an interesting way. Without seeing the rest of her application, I can only assume that she is possibly interested in pursuing a major in a language (if she is pursuing a major in an applied math, this essay would be extremely interesting) and she has likely participated in some kind of team sport to demonstrate the soft skill of teamwork. To be honest, as someone who speaks five languages myself and studied Latin in undergrad, I don’t necessarily agree with her assessment of the languages. BUT I’m interested. I want to keep reading. She isn’t supposed to get everything right in this essay; she’s supposed to demonstrate a capacity for learning. And she does that.

I want to keep reading because there is something she is saying about her identity--be it performative or actual--that I am curious about. With our work in college access and admissions, we’ve only worked in underserved communities, be they students of color or girls interested in STEM or first-generation college students or more. People make an assumption that we are exploiting these identities into sob stories that admissions readers will immediately hang on to. We’re not doing that. We are encouraging students to write about something similar to what Alex did—describe how your identity has created a learning opportunity or a moment of resilience or determination. Alex seems like someone who is well resourced: her access to certain text; language curricula and the amount of time she spent studying those languages; even her sentence structure, gives that away. But her openness to adapt with humility is a critical skill that is so necessary to be a great student, and unfortunately a skill that many students miss.

For the second goal, she does a tremendous job of demonstrating her writing abilities. Her sentence structures are varied and there aren’t egregious mistakes in grammar and spelling. The last two sentences of the second paragraph sold me on her skill-level and personhood. I also really appreciated that she wasn’t shying away from what she has been able to access as far as her schooling. Alex is smart, witty, and well-traveled, and you’re going to know it. I love that.

The essay works as an introduction to who she is and her soft skills, as well as a demonstration of her writing abilities.

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When I was a child, I begged my parents for my very own Brother PT-1400 P-Touch Handheld Label Maker to fulfill all of my labeling needs. Other kids had Nintendos and would spend their free time with Mario and Luigi. While they pummeled their video game controllers furiously, the pads of their thumbs dancing across their joysticks, I would type out labels on my industrial-standard P-Touch with just as much zeal. I labeled everything imaginable, dividing hundreds of pens into Ziploc bags by color, then rubber-banding them by point size. The finishing touch, of course, was always a glossy, three-eighths-inch-wide tag, freshly churned out from my handheld labeler and decisively pasted upon the numerous plastic bags I had successfully compiled.

Labeling became therapeutic for me; organizing my surroundings into specific groups to be labeled provides me with a sense of stability. I may not physically need the shiny color-coded label verifying the contents of a plastic bag as BLUE HIGHLIGHTERS—FAT, to identify them as such, but seeing these classifications so plainly allows me to appreciate the reliability of my categorizations. There are no exceptions when I label the top ledge of my bookshelf as containing works from ACHEBE, CHINUA TO CONRAD, JOSEPH. Each book is either filtered into that category or placed definitively into another one. Yet, such consistency only exists in these inanimate objects.

Thus, the break in my role as a labeler comes when I interact with people. Their lives are too complicated, their personalities too intricate for me to resolutely summarize in a few words or even with the 26.2 feet of laminated adhesive tape compatible with my label maker. I have learned that a thin line exists between labeling and just being judgmental when evaluating individuals. I can hardly superficially characterize others as simply as I do my material possessions because people refuse to be so cleanly separated and compartmentalized. My sister Joyce jokes freely and talks with me for hours about everything from the disturbing popularity of vampires in pop culture to cubic watermelons, yet those who don’t know her well usually think of her as timid and introverted. My mother is sometimes my biggest supporter, spouting words of encouragement and, at other instances, my most unrelenting critic. The overlap becomes too indistinct, the contradictions too apparent, even as I attempt to classify those people in the world whom I know best.

For all my love of order when it comes to my room, I don't want myself, or the people with whom I interact, to fit squarely into any one category.

Neither would I want others to be predictable enough for me to label. The real joy in human interaction lies in the excitement of the unknown. Overturning expectations can be necessary to preserving the vitality of relationships. If I were never surprised by the behaviors of those around me, my biggest source of entertainment would vanish. For all my love of order when it comes to my room, I don’t want myself, or the people with whom I interact, to fit squarely into any one category. I meticulously follow directions to the millimeter in the chemistry lab but measure ingredients by pinches and dashes in the comfort of my kitchen. I’m a self-proclaimed grammar Nazi, but I’ll admit e. e. cummings’s irreverence does appeal. I’ll chart my television show schedule on Excel, but I would never dream of confronting my chores with as much organization. I even call myself a labeler, but not when it comes to people. As Walt Whitman might put it, “Do I contradict myself? / Very well, then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.).”

I therefore refrain from the temptation to label—despite it being an act that makes me feel so fulfilled when applied to physical objects—when real people are the subjects. The consequences of premature labeling are too great, the risk of inaccuracy too high because, most of the time, not even the hundreds of alphanumeric digits and symbols available for entry on my P-Touch can effectively describe who an individual really is.

oxford accepted essays

Professional Review by Elite Prep

Amusing yet insightful, perhaps the most outstanding quality of Justine’s personal statement lies in the balance she strikes between anecdotal flourish and honest introspection. By integrating occasional humour and witty commentary into an otherwise lyrical and earnest self-reflection, Justine masterfully conveys an unfettered, sincere wisdom and maturity coveted by prestigious universities.

Justine breaks the ice by recalling a moment in her childhood that captures her fervent passion for labelling. When applying to selective academic institutions, idiosyncrasies and peculiar personal habits, however trivial, are always appreciated as indicators of individuality. Justine veers safely away from the temptation of “playing it safe” by exploring her dedication towards organizing all her possessions, a dedication that has followed her into adolescence.

She also writes from a place of raw honesty and emotion by offering the rationale behind her bizarre passion. Justine's reliance on labelling is underpinned by her yearning for a sense of stability and order in a messy world—an unaffected yearning that readers, to varying degrees, can sympathize with.

She also writes from a place of raw honesty and emotion by offering the rationale behind her bizarre passion. Justine’s reliance on labelling is underpinned by her yearning for a sense of stability and order in a messy world—an unaffected yearning that readers, to varying degrees, can sympathize with. She recognizes, however, it would be imprudent to navigate all facets of life with an unfaltering drive to compartmentalize everything and everyone she encounters.

In doing so, Justine seamlessly transitions to the latter, more pensive half of her personal statement. She extracts several insights by analyzing how, in staunch contrast with her neatly-organized pencil cases, the world is confusing, and rife with contradictions. Within each individual lies yet another world of complexity—as Justine reflects, people can’t be boiled down into “a few words,” and it’s impossible to capture their character, “even with the 26.2 feet of laminated adhesive tape compatible with [her] label maker.”

In concluding, Justine returns back to the premise that started it all, reminding the reader of her take on why compartmentalizing the world would be an ultimately unproductive effort. The most magical part of Justine’s personal statement? It reads easily, flows with imagery, and employs a simple concept—her labelling practices—to introduce a larger, thoughtful conversation.

oxford accepted essays

The best compliment I ever received was from my little brother: “My science teacher’s unbelievably good at telling stories,” he announced. “Nearly as good as you.” I thought about that, how I savor a good story the way some people savor last-minute touchdowns.

I learned in biology that I’m composed of 7 × 10 27 atoms, but that number didn’t mean anything to me until I read Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything. One sentence stayed with me for weeks: “Every atom you possess has almost certainly passed through several stars and been part of millions of organisms on its way to becoming you.” It estimates that each human has about 2 billion atoms of Shakespeare hanging around inside—quite a comfort, as I try to write this essay. I thought about every one of my atoms, wondering where they had been and what miracles they had witnessed.

My physical body is a string of atoms, but what of my inner self, my soul, my essence? I've come to the realization that my life has been a string as well, a string of stories.

My physical body is a string of atoms, but what of my inner self, my soul, my essence? I’ve come to the realization that my life has been a string as well, a string of stories. Every one of us is made of star stuff, forged through fires, and emerging as nicked as the surface of the moon. It frustrated me no end that I couldn’t sit down with all the people I met, interrogating them about their lives, identifying every last story that made them who they are.

I remember how magical it was the first time I read a fiction book: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I was duly impressed with Quidditch and the Invisibility Cloak, of course, but I was absolutely spellbound by how much I could learn about Harry. The kippers he had for breakfast, the supplies he bought for Potions—the details everyone skimmed over were remarkable to me. Fiction was a revelation. Here, at last, was a window into another person’s string of stories!

Over the years, I’ve thought long and hard about that immortal question: What superpower would you choose? I considered the usual suspects—invisibility, superhuman strength, flying—but threw them out immediately. My superhero alter ego would be Story Girl. She wouldn’t run marathons, but she could walk for miles and miles in other people’s shoes. She’d know that all it takes for empathy and understanding is the right story.

Imagine my astonishment when I discovered Radiolab on NPR. Here was my imaginary superpower, embodied in real life! I had been struggling with AP Biology, seeing it as a class full of complicated processes and alien vocabulary. That changed radically when I listened, enthralled, as Radiolab traced the effects of dopamine on love and gambling. This was science, sure, but it was science as I’d never heard it before. It contained conflict and emotion and a narrative; it made me anxious to learn more. It wasn’t that I was obtuse for biology; I just hadn’t found the stories in it before.

I’m convinced that you can learn anything in the form of a story. The layperson often writes off concepts—entropy, the Maginot Line, anapestic meter—as too foreign to comprehend. But with the right framing, the world suddenly becomes an open book, enticing and ripe for exploration. I want to become a writer to find those stories, much like Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich from Radiolab, making intimidating subjects become familiar and inviting for everyone. I want to become Story Girl.

By combining her previous interest with her newfound love for biology, Carrie is able to highlight how her past experiences have assisted her in overcoming novel challenges. This portrays her as a resilient and resourceful problem-solver: traits that colleges value heavily in their students.

Carrie begins her essay with a fondly-remembered compliment from her brother, introducing her most passionate endeavor: storytelling. By recalling anecdotes related to her love of stories, she establishes herself as a deeply inquisitive and creative person; someone whose greatest virtue is their unfettered thirst for knowledge. Curiosity is greatly prized by colleges, and Carrie’s inclusion of this particular value encourages admissions officers to keep reading.

Going on to explore the intersections between stories and science, Carrie reveals her past difficulties with AP biology; that is, until she learnt about the amazing stories hidden within the subject. By combining her previous interest with her newfound love for biology, Carrie is able to highlight how her past experiences have assisted her in overcoming novel challenges. This portrays her as a resilient and resourceful problem-solver: traits that colleges value heavily in their students.

Carrie ends her essay with her belief that through stories, everything is possible. She expounds on her future ambitions in regards to storytelling, as well as her desire to make learning both fun and accessible to everyone via the power of stories. By comparing her goals to that of a superhero, Carrie is able to emphasise her enthusiasm for contributing to social change. Most importantly, Carrie’s ambitions show how she can contribute to the Harvard community positively, making her a strong applicant.

Dan Lichterman

As an admission essay specialist , Dan Lichterman has been empowering students to find their voice since 2004. He helps students stand out on paper, eliminating the unnecessary so the necessary may speak. Drawing upon his storytelling background, Dan guides applicants to craft authentic essays that leap off the page. He is available for online writing support within the US and internationally. To learn more and schedule a brief complimentary consultation visit danlichterman.com.

I have a fetish for writing.

I’m not talking about crafting prose or verses, or even sentences out of words. But simply constructing letters and characters from strokes of ink gives me immense satisfaction. It’s not quite calligraphy, as I don’t use calligraphic pens or Chinese writing brushes; I prefer it simple, spontaneous, and subconscious. I often find myself crafting characters in the margins of notebooks with a fifty-cent pencil, or tracing letters out of thin air with anything from chopsticks to fingertips.

"One's handwriting," said the ancient Chinese, "is a painting of one's mind." After all, when I practice my handwriting, I am crafting characters. My character.

The art of handwriting is a relic in the information era. Why write when one can type? Perhaps the Chinese had an answer before the advent of keyboards. “One’s handwriting,” said the ancient Chinese, “is a painting of one’s mind.” After all, when I practice my handwriting, I am crafting characters.

My character.

I particularly enjoy meticulously designing a character, stroke by stroke, and eventually building up, letter by letter, to a quote person­alized in my own voice. Every movement of the pen and every drop­let of ink all lead to something profound, as if the arches of every "m" are doorways to revelations. After all, characters are the build­ing blocks of language, and language is the only vehicle through which knowledge unfolds. Thus, in a way, these letters under my pen are themselves representations of knowledge, and the delicate beauty of every letter proves, visually, the intrinsic beauty of know­ing. I suppose handwriting reminds me of my conviction in this vi­sual manner: through learning answers are found, lives enriched, and societies bettered.

Moreover, perhaps this strange passion in polishing every single character of a word delineates my dedication to learning, testifies my zeal for my conviction, and sketches a crucial stroke of my character.

"We--must--know ... " the mathematician David Hilbert's voice echoes in resolute cursive at the tip of my pen, as he, addressing German scientists in 1930, propounds the goal of modern intellectu­als. My pen firmly nods in agreement with Hilbert, while my mind again fumbles for the path to knowledge.

The versatility of handwriting enthralls me. The Chinese devel­oped many styles -- called hands -- of writing. Fittingly, each hand seems to parallel one of my many academic interests. Characters of the Regular Hand (kai shu), a legible script, serve me well during many long hours when I scratch my head and try to prove a mathematical statement rigorously, as the legibility illuminates my logic on paper. Words of the Running Hand (xing shu), a semi-cursive script, are like the passionate words that I speak before a committee of Model United Nations delegates, propounding a decisive course of action: the words, both spoken and written, are swift and coherent but resolute and emphatic. And strokes of the Cursive Hand (cao shu) resemble those sudden artistic sparks when I deliver a line on stage: free spontaneous, but emphatic syllables travel through the lights like rivers of ink flowing on the page.

Yet the fact that the three distinctive hands cooperate so seamlessly, fusing together the glorious culture of writing, is perhaps a fable of learning, a testament that the many talents of the Renaissance Man could all be worthwhile for enriching human society. Such is my methodology: just like I organize my different hands into a neat personal style with my fetish for writing, I can unify my broad interests with my passion for learning.

“...We -- will -- know!” Hilbert finishes his adage, as I frantically slice an exclamation mark as the final stroke of this painting of my mind.

I must know: for knowing, like well-crafted letters, has an inherent beauty and an intrinsic value. I will know: for my versatile interests in academics will flow like my versatile styles of writing.

I must know and I will know: for my fetish for writing is a fetish for learning.

oxford accepted essays

Professional Review by Dan Lichterman

We learn that he expresses his innermost self through an art that has become a relic within the information age. As we peer into his mind, we learn something essential about Jiafeng's character–that he is irrepressibly drawn to the intricate beauty of pure learning.

Jiafeng’s essay succeeds by using the metaphor of handwriting, and it’s immense physical satisfaction, to showcase the unbounded pleasure of pursuing knowledge. We can visualize spontaneously crafted letters filling his notebooks. We see him trace Chinese characters into air by chopstick and fingertip. We learn that he expresses his innermost self through an art that has become a relic within the information age. As we peer into his mind, we learn something essential about Jiafeng’s character–that he is irrepressibly drawn to the intricate beauty of pure learning.

Jiafeng goes on to reveal that his intellectual pursuit has been shaped by not one but three Chinese styles of handwriting, each reflecting a distinct element of his intellectual growth. We see Jiafeng’s logic when engaged in mathematical proof, rhetorical flair when speaking before Model United Nations, and improvisational spark when delivering lines on stage. He presents these polymath pursuits as united by writing, indicating to readers that his broad interests are all an expression of the same principle of discovery. By the time readers finish Jiafeng’s essay they have no doubts regarding the pleasure he derives from learning–they have experienced him enacting this celebration of thought throughout every line of this well-crafted personal statement.

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“Ella, what did you think of Douglass’s view on Christianity?” I gulped. Increasingly powerful palpitations throbbed in my heart as my eyes darted around the classroom – searching for a profound response to Dr. Franklin’s question. I took a deep breath while reaching the most genuine answer I could conjure.

“Professor, I don’t know.”

Dr. Franklin stared at me blankly as he attempted to interpret the thoughts I didn’t voice. My lack of familiarity with the assigned text wasn’t a consideration that crossed his mind because he was familiar with my past contributions to class discussions. I was a fervent critic of the corrupted culture behind Christianity of the Puritans in Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” and modern evangelicals involved in the puzzling divinity of Donald Trump. He arched his flummoxed brows as he began to open his mouth.

“Professor, what I mean is that I’m not sure whether or not I even have a say on Douglass’s statements on Christianity in his Narrative of the Life.”

In class, I often separated the culture of Christianity from the religion. To tie these immensely disparate concepts as one and coin it as Christianity would present fallacies that contradict with the Christianity I knew. Lack of tolerance and hostility were products of humans’ sinful nature – not the teachings of Christ. People were just using Christianity as an excuse to exalt themselves rather than the holy name of Jesus. These were the “facts.”

My greatest realization came when Douglass declared Christian slave-holders as the worst slave-holders he ever met because of their deceptive feign of piety and use of Christianity to justify the oppression of their slaves. I realized that I couldn’t bring myself to raise the same argument that I used to convince myself that my Christianity of love was the only true Christianity. To Douglass, Christianity was the opposite. I didn’t want to dismiss his story. People use this sacred religion to spread hatred, and to many, this is the only Christianity they know. Their experiences aren’t any bit falser than mine.

Christianity isn’t the only culture that harbors truth that transcends the “facts.” America’s less of a perfect amalgamation of different ethnic cultures and more of a society severed by tribal conflicts rooted in the long established political culture of the nation. Issues such as racism, white privilege, and gender disparity are highly salient topics of current political discussion. However, during a time when people can use online platforms with algorithms that provide content they want to see, we fail to acknowledge the truth in other people’s experiences and express empathy.

My protective nature drives my desire to connect with different people and build understanding. To do so, however, I step outside my Korean American Southern Baptist paradigm because my experiences do not constitute everyone else's.

As a Korean-American in the South, I am no stranger to intolerance. I remember the countless instances of people mocking my parents for their English pronunciation and my brother’s stutter. Because their words were less eloquent, people deemed their thoughts as less valuable as well. I protect my family and translate their words whenever they have a doctor’s appointment or need more ketchup at McDonald’s. My protective nature drives my desire to connect with different people and build understanding. To do so, however, I step outside my Korean American Southern Baptist paradigm because my experiences do not constitute everyone else’s.

Excluded from the Manichaean narrative of this country, I observe the turmoil in our nation through a separate lens - a blessing and a curse. Not only do I find myself awkwardly fixed in a black vs. white America, but I also fail to define my identity sandwiched between Korean and American. In the end, I find myself stuck amongst the conventional labels and binaries that divide America.

“You seem to work harder than most to understand other people’s points of view,” Dr. Franklin said after I shared these thoughts to the class.

“I find this easier because I spent my childhood assuming that my culture was always the exception,” I replied. As an anomaly, accepting different truths is second nature.

oxford accepted essays

Professional Review by Crimson Education

At a time in which the Black Lives Matters movement was sweeping America and racial tension was at a high, Ella was able to offer a powerful and brave perspective: how she feels to be neither Black nor White. The true strength of this essay is its willingness to go where people rarely go in college essays: to race, to politics and to religion.

This is a trait that exists in a powerful independent thinker who could push all kinds of debates forwards - academic ones or otherwise.

Her dedication to her religion is evident - but so is her willingness to question the manipulation of the word ‘Christianty’ for less than genuine purposes. It requires intellectual bravery to ask the hard questions of your own religion as opposed to succumbing to cognitive dissonance. This is a trait that exists in a powerful independent thinker who could push all kinds of debates forwards - academic ones or otherwise.

Her word choice continues to emphasize bravery and strength. “I protect my family” inserts Ella as the shield between her family and the daily racism they experience in the south because of their accents and heritage. Her humorous quirks show the insidious racism. She even needs to shield her family from the humble request for some more Ketchup at McDonalds! Imagine if one is nervous to ask for some more Ketchup and even such a mundane activity becomes difficult through the friction of racial tension and misunderstanding. This is a powerful way to deliver a sobering commentary on the real state of society through Ellen’s lived experiences.

She demonstrates her intellectual prowess in her discussion of somewhat high-brow topics but also grounds herself in the descriptions of her daily acts of kindness.

She connects major societal debates (Trumpism for example) with daily experiences (her translations at the doctor’s office) with a gentle but powerful cadence. She demonstrates her intellectual prowess in her discussion of somewhat high-brow topics but also grounds herself in the descriptions of her daily acts of kindness.

Creatively Ella weaves numerous literary devices in and out of her story without them being overbearing. These include alliteration and the juxtaposition of longer sentences with shorter ones to make a point.

Her final dialogue is subtle but booming. “....my culture was the exception”. The reader is left genuinely sympathetic for her plight, challenges and bravery as she goes about her daily life.

Ella is a bold independent thinker with a clear social conscience and an ability to wade in the ambiguity and challenge of an imperfect world.

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"Paint this vase before you leave today," my teacher directed as she placed foreign brushes and paints in my hands. I looked at her blankly. Where were the charts of colors and books of techniques? Why was her smile so decidedly encouraging? The sudden expectations made no sense.

She smiled. "Don't worry, just paint."

In a daze, I assembled my supplies the way the older students did. I was scared. I knew everything but nothing. And even in those first blissful moments of experimentation, it hurt to realize that my painting was all wrong. The gleam of light. The distorted reflection. A thousand details taunted me with their refusal to melt into the glass. The vase was lifeless at best.

As the draining hours of work wore on, I began wearing reckless holes in my mixing plate. It was my fourth hour here. Why had I not received even a single piece of guidance?

At the peak of my frustration, she finally reentered the studio, yawning with excruciating casualness. I felt myself snap.

"I barely know how to hold a brush," I muttered almost aggressively, "how could I possibly have the technique to paint this?"

She looked at me with a shocked innocence that only heightened the feeling of abandonment. "What do you mean you don't have the technique?"

It was as though she failed to realize I was a complete beginner.

And then suddenly she broke into a pitch of urgent obviousness: "What are you doing! Don't you see those details?? There's orange from the wall and light brown from the floor. There's even dark green from that paint box over there. You have to look at the whole picture," she stole a glance at my face of bewilderment, and, sighing, grabbed my paint,stained hand. "Listen, it's not in here," she implored, shaking my captive limb. "It's here." The intensity with which she looked into my eyes was overwhelming.

I returned the gaze emptily. Never had I been so confused…

But over the years I did begin to see. The shades of red and blue in gray concrete, the tints of Phthalo in summer skies, and winter’s Currelean. It was beautiful and illogical. Black was darker with green and red, and white was never white.

I began to study animals. The proportions and fan brush techniques were certainly difficult, but they were the simple part. It was the strategic tints of light and bold color that created life. I would spend hours discovering the exact blue that would make a fish seem on the verge of tears and hours more shaping a deer’s ears to speak of serenity instead of danger.

As I run faster into the heart of art and my love for politics and law, I will learn to see the faces behind each page of cold policy text, the amazing innovation sketched in the tattered Constitution, and the progressiveness living in oak-paneled courts.

In return for probing into previously ignored details, my canvas and paints opened the world. I began to appreciate the pink kiss of ever-evolving sunsets and the even suppression of melancholy. When my father came home from a business trip, it was no longer a matter of simple happiness, but of fatigue and gladness' underlying shades. The personalities who had once seemed so annoyingly arrogant now turned soft with their complexities of doubt and inspiration. Each mundane scene is as deep and varied as the paint needed to capture it.

One day, I will learn to paint people. As I run faster into the heart of art and my love for politics and law, I will learn to see the faces behind each page of cold policy text, the amazing innovation sketched in the tattered Constitution, and the progressiveness living in oak-paneled courts.

It won’t be too far. I know that in a few years I will see a thousand more colors than I do today. Yet the most beautiful part about art is that there is no end. No matter how deep I penetrate its shimmering realms, the enigmatic caverns of wonder will stay.

oxford accepted essays

Professional Review by College Confidential

My favorite college essays begin with one moment in time and end by tying that moment into a larger truth about the world. In this essay, Elizabeth uses this structure masterfully.

This essay is a great example of a create essay. It's real strength, however, lies in showing how the writer pursues her goal despite frustration and grapples with universal questions.

The essay opens with dialogue, placing the reader right in the middle of the action. She shares only the details that make the scene vivid, like the holes in her mixing plate and her teacher’s yawn. She skips backstory and explanations that can bore readers and bog down a short essay. The reader is left feeling as though we are sitting beside her, staring at an empty vase and a set of paints, with no idea how to begin.

The SPARC method of essay writing says that the best college essays show how a student can do one (or more) of these five things: Seize an opportunity, Pursue goals despite obstacles, Ask important questions, take smart Risks, or Create with limited resources. This essay is a great example of a “create” essay. It’s real strength, however, lies in showing how the writer pursues her goal despite frustration and grapples with universal questions.

As the essay transitions from the personal to the universal, her experience painting the vase becomes a metaphor for how she sees the world. Not only has painting helped her appreciate the subtle shades of color in the sunset, it has opened her up to understand that nothing in life is black and white. This parallel works especially well as a way to draw the connection between Elizabeth’s interest in political science and art.

Written by Joy Bullen, Senior Editor at College Confidential

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When I failed math in my sophomore year of high school, a bitter dispute engulfed my household -- “Nicolas Yan vs. Mathematics.” I was the plaintiff, appearing pro se, while my father represented the defendant (inanimate as it was). My brother and sister constituted a rather understaffed jury, and my mother presided over the case as judge.

In a frightening departure from racial stereotype, I charged Mathematics with the capital offences of being “too difficult” and “irrelevant to my aspirations," citing my recent shortcomings in the subject as evi. dence. My father entered a not guilty plea on the defendant's behalf, for he had always harbored hopes that I would follow in his entrepreneurial footsteps -- and who ever heard of a businessman who wasn't an accomplished mathematician? He argued that because I had fallen sick before my examination and had been unable to sit one of the papers, it would be a travesty of justice to blame my "Ungraded” mark on his client. The judge nodded sagely.

With heartrending pathos, I recalled how I had studied A-Level Mathematics with calculus a year before the rest of my cohort, bravely grappling with such perverse concepts as the poisson distribution to no avail. I decried the subject's lack of real-life utility and lamented my inability to reconcile further effort with any plausible success; so that to persist with Mathematics would be a Sisyphean endeavor. Since I had no interest in becoming the entrepreneur that my father envisioned, I petitioned the court for academic refuge in the humanities. The members of the jury exchanged sympathetic glances and put their heads together to deliberate.

Over the next year, however, new evidence that threw the court's initial verdict into question surfaced. Languishing on death row, Mathematics exercised its right to appeal, and so our quasi-court reconvened in the living room.

In hushed tones, they weighed the particulars of the case. Then, my sister announced their unanimous decision with magisterial gravity: "Nicolas shouldn't have to do math if he doesn't want to!" I was ecstatic; my father distraught. With a bang of her metaphorical gavel, the judge sentenced the defendant to "Death by Omission"-- and so I chose my subjects for 11th Grade sans Mathematics. To my father's disappointment, a future in business for me now seemed implausible.

Over the next year, however, new evidence that threw the court's initial verdict into question surfaced. Languishing on death row, Mathematics exercised its right to appeal, and so our quasi-court reconvened in the living room.

My father reiterated his client's innocence, maintaining that Mathematics was neither "irrelevant" nor "too difficult." He proudly recounted how just two months earlier, when my friends had convinced me to join them in creating a business case competition for high school students (clerical note: the loftily-titled New Zealand Secondary Schools Case Competition), I stood in front of the Board of a company and successfully pitched them to sponsor us-- was this not evidence that l could succeed in business? I think I saw a tear roll down his cheek as he implored me to give Mathematics another chance.

I considered the truth of his words. While writing a real-world business case for NZSSCC, l had been struck by how mathematical processes actually made sense when deployed in a practical context, and how numbers could tell a story just as vividly as words can. By reviewing business models and comparing financial projections to actual returns, one can read a company's story and identify areas of potential growth; whether the company then took advantage of these opportunities determined its success. It wasn't that my role in organizing NZSSCC had magically taught me to embrace all things mathematical or commercial -- I was still the same person -- but I recognized that no intellectual constraints prevented me from succeeding in Mathematics; I needed only the courage to seize an opportunity for personal growth.

I stood up and addressed my family: “I’ll do it.” Then, without waiting for the court’s final verdict, I crossed the room to embrace my father: and the rest, as they (seldom) say, was Mathematics.

oxford accepted essays

Professional Review by KEY Education

For some, math concepts such as limits, logarithms, and derivatives can bring about feelings of apprehension or intimidation. So, Nicolas’s college essay reflecting on his personal conflict coming to terms with Mathematics offers a relatable, down-to-earth look at how he eventually came to realize and appreciate the importance of this once-dreaded subject. Not only does Nicolas’s statement use a unique, engaging approach to hook the reader in, but also he draws various connections from Mathematics to his relationship with his family, to his maturation process, and to his extracurricular involvement. A number of factors helped Nicolas’s statement add color to his application file, giving further insight into the person he is.

Nicolas’s choice of Mathematics as the focusing lens is effective for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is genuine and approachable. It is not about some grandiose idea, event, or achievement. Rather, it is about a topic to which many students—and people for that matter—can relate. And from this central theme, Nicolas draws insightful linkages to various aspects of his life. At the outset of his essay, Mathematics is presented as the antagonist, or as Nicolas skillfully portrays, the “defendant”. However, by the end of his piece, and as a demonstration of his growth, Nicolas has come to a resolution with the former defendant.

Adding to the various connections, Nicolas presents his case, literally, in an engaging manner in the form of a court scene, with Nicolas as the plaintiff charging the defendant, Mathematics, with being too difficult and irrelevant to his life.

Through Nicolas’s conflict over Mathematics, we gain a deeper understanding of his relationship with his father and the tension that exists in Nicolas fulfilling his father’s wishes of following in his entrepreneurial footsteps. His father’s initial attempts at reasoning with him are rebuffed, however Nicolas later acknowledges that he “considered the truth of his words” and eventually embraces his father, signifying their coming to a resolution with their shared understanding of each other. Furthermore, Nicolas connects his evolved understanding of Mathematics to his important organizational role in creating the business-focused New Zealand Secondary Schools Case Competition, acknowledging how “mathematical processes actually made sense when deployed in a practical context, and how numbers could tell a story just as vividly as words can.” As he states, “I needed only the courage to seize an opportunity for personal growth,” which he ultimately realizes.

Adding to the various connections, Nicolas presents his case, literally, in an engaging manner in the form of a court scene, with Nicolas as the plaintiff charging the defendant, Mathematics, with being too difficult and irrelevant to his life. Bearing in mind word count limitations, what would have been interesting to explore would be deeper insights into each of the connections that Nicolas drew and how he applied these various lessons to other parts of his life.

Nicolas employs a number of characteristics essential for a successful essay: a theme that allows for deeper introspection, an engaging hook or approach, and a number of linkages between his theme and various aspects of his life, providing insight into who he is and how he thinks.

oxford accepted essays

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Successful Harvard Essay by Abigail Mack

Abigail gained national attention after reading her application essay on TikTok earlier this year, with over 19.9 million views on the first video. Her essay helped her to recieve a rare likely letter in the most competitive Harvard application cycle in history with a less than 4 percent acceptance rate, and now she uses her platform to help other college hopefuls navigate the application process. Watch her read the beginning of her essay here and check out her other writing tips on her TikTok .

I hate the letter S. Of the 164,777 words with S, I only grapple with one.

I hate the letter “S”. Of the 164,777 words with “S”, I only grapple with one. To condemn an entire letter because of its use 0.0006% of the time sounds statistically absurd, but that one case changed 100% of my life. I used to have two parents, but now I have one, and the “S” in “parents” isn’t going anywhere.

“S” follows me. I can’t get through a day without being reminded that while my friends went out to dinner with their parents, I ate with my parent. As I write this essay, there is a blue line under the word “parent” telling me to check my grammar; even Grammarly assumes that I should have parents, but cancer doesn’t listen to edit suggestions. I won’t claim that my situation is as unique as 1 in 164,777, but it is still an exception to the rule - an outlier. The world isn’t meant for this special case.

The world wouldn’t abandon “S” because of me, so I tried to abandon “S”. I could get away from “S” if I stayed busy; you can’t have dinner with your “parent” (thanks again, Grammarly) if you’re too busy to have family dinner. Any spare time that I had, I filled. I became known as the “busy kid”- the one that everyone always asks, “How do you have time?” Morning meetings, classes, after school meetings, volleyball practice, dance class, rehearsal in Boston, homework, sleep, repeat. Though my specific schedule has changed over time, the busyness has not. I couldn’t fill the loss that “S” left in my life, but I could at least make sure I didn’t have to think about it. There were so many things in my life that I couldn’t control, so I controlled what I could- my schedule. I never succumbed to the stress of potentially over-committing. I thrived. It became a challenge to juggle it all, but I’d soon find a rhythm. But rhythm wasn’t what I wanted. Rhythm may not have an “S”, but “S” sure liked to come by when I was idle. So, I added another ball, and another, and another. Soon I noticed that the same “color” balls kept falling into my hands- theater, academics, politics. I began to want to come into contact with these more and more, so I further narrowed the scope of my color wheel and increased the shades of my primary colors.

Life became easier to juggle, but for the first time, I didn’t add another ball. I found my rhythm, and I embraced it. I stopped running away from a single “S” and began chasing a double “S”- passion. Passion has given me purpose. I was shackled to “S” as I tried to escape the confines of the traditional familial structure. No matter how far I ran, “S” stayed behind me because I kept looking back. I’ve finally learned to move forward instead of away, and it is liberating. “S” got me moving, but it hasn’t kept me going.

I wish I could end here, triumphant and basking in my new inspiration, but life is more convoluted. Motivation is a double edged sword; it keeps me facing forward, but it also keeps me from having to look back. I want to claim that I showed courage in being able to turn from “S”, but I cannot. Motivation is what keeps “S” at bay. I am not perfectly healed, but I am perfect at navigating the best way to heal me. I don’t seek out sadness, so “S” must stay on the sidelines, and until I am completely ready, motivation is more than enough for me.

oxford accepted essays

Professional Review by HS2 Academy

There's an honesty here as she reveals to the reader her attempts at filling this void in her life by constantly keeping busy. It's further satisfying to see these attempts at committing to various activities evolve into what she terms a double

Abigail’s essay navigates one of the most delicate sorts of topics in college applications: dealing with personal or family tragedy. Perhaps the most common pitfall is to take a tragic event and effuse it with too much pathos and sense of loss that the narrative fails to reveal much about the author’s own personality other than the loss itself. In short, a “sob story.” However, Abigail’s essay adeptly skirts this by utilizing wit and a framing device using the letter “S” to share a profoundly personal journey in a manner that is engaging and thought-provoking.

Rather than focus purely on the loss of one of her parents to cancer, Abigail reflects on her life and the adjustments she has had to make. It is particularly poignant how she expresses the sense that her life with only one remaining parent seems somehow anomalous, that the constant reminders of the completeness in the familial structures of others haunts her.

What also makes this essay all the more intriguing is how we get a glimpse into her internal life as she learns to cope with the loss. There’s an honesty here as she reveals to the reader her attempts at filling this void in her life by constantly keeping busy. It’s further satisfying to see these attempts at committing to various activities evolve into what she terms a “double S,” or “passion,” as she discovers things that she has become passionate about. Perhaps this essay could have been strengthened further by giving the reader a sense of what those passions might be, as we’re left to speculate based on the activities she had mentioned.

Lastly, we see a sense of realism and maturity in Abigail's closing reflection. It’s easy to end an essay like this with a sense of narrative perfection, but she wisely concedes that “life is more convoluted.” This poignant revelation gives us a window into her continuing struggles, but we are nonetheless left impressed by her growth and candor in this essay.

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I learned the definition of cancer at the age of fourteen. I was taking my chapter 7 biology test when I came upon the last question, “What is cancer?”, to which I answered: “The abnormal, unrestricted growth of cells.” After handing in the test, I moved on to chapter 8, oblivious then to how earth-shattering such a disease could be.

I learned the meaning of cancer two years later. A girl named Kiersten came into my family by way of my oldest brother who had fallen in love with her. I distinctly recall her hair catching the sea breeze as she walked with us along the Jersey shore, a blonde wave in my surrounding family's sea of brunette. Physically, she may have been different, but she redefined what family meant to me. She attended my concerts, went to my award ceremonies, and helped me study for tests. Whenever I needed support, she was there. Little did I know that our roles would be reversed, forever changing my outlook on life.

Kiersten was diagnosed with Stage II Hodgkin's lymphoma at the age of 22. Tears and hair fell alike after each of her 20 rounds of chemotherapy as we feared the worst. It was an unbearable tragedy watching someone so vivacious skirt the line between life and death. Her cancer was later classified as refractory, or resistant to treatment. Frustration and despair flooded my mind as I heard this news. And so I prayed. In what universe did this dynamic make any sense? I prayed to God and to even her cancer itself to just leave her alone. Eventually, Kiersten was able to leave the hospital to stay for six weeks at my home.

But the beauty that resulted from sympathizing as opposed to analyzing and putting aside my own worries and troubles for someone else was an enormous epiphany for me. My problems dissipated into thin air the moment I came home and dropped my books and bags to talk with Kiersten. The more I talked, laughed, smiled, and shared memories with her, the more I began to realize all that she taught me.

My family and I transformed the house into an antimicrobial sanctuary, protecting Kiersten from any outside illness. I watched TV with her, baked cookies for her, and observed her persistence as she regained strength and achieved remission. We beat biology, time, and death, all at the same time, with cookies, TV, and friendship. Yet I was so concerned with helping Kiersten that I had not realized how she helped me during her battle with cancer.

I had been so used to solving my problems intellectually that when it came time to emotionally support someone, I was afraid. I could define cancer, but what do I say to someone with it? There were days where I did not think I could be optimistic in the face of such adversity. But the beauty that resulted from sympathizing as opposed to analyzing and putting aside my own worries and troubles for someone else was an enormous epiphany for me. My problems dissipated into thin air the moment I came home and dropped my books and bags to talk with Kiersten. The more I talked, laughed, smiled, and shared memories with her, the more I began to realize all that she taught me. She influenced me in the fact that she demonstrated the power of loyalty, companionship, and optimism in the face of desperate, life-threatening situations. She showed me the importance of loving to live and living to love. Most of all, she gave me the insight necessary to fully help others not just with intellect and preparation, but with solidarity and compassion. In this way, I became able to help myself and others with not only my brain, but with my heart. And that, in the words of Robert Frost, “has made all the difference.”

oxford accepted essays

Professional Review by collegeMission

Nikolas is candid, writing about how he could solve problems intellectually, but struggled to cope emotionally during Kiersten's diagnosis and treatment. Ultimately, he finds his way and gains a deeper perspective on life, and thus shares a story of overcoming and of complex intellectual and emotional growth.

Nikolas uses an unexpected approach in this essay, sharing a story of someone else’s struggle, as he highlights change within himself. The emotions and connection that he felt for Kiersten, his older brother’s girlfriend, are quite powerful, as is his recognition of his own attempt to navigate his way through the experience. Nikolas is candid, writing about how he could solve problems intellectually, but struggled to cope emotionally during Kiersten’s diagnosis and treatment. Ultimately, he finds his way and gains a deeper perspective on life, and thus shares a story of overcoming and of complex intellectual and emotional growth.

Nikolas’ use of imagery is terrific. We first see it in the essay when he describes one of his first impressions of Kiersten, with her blonde hair flowing in the wind by the Jersey Shore and how that contrasted with the dark hair of his family. That description then flows as we read the next paragraph, where he talks about the impact of her cancer. “Tears and hair fell alike after each of her 20 rounds of chemotherapy as we feared the worst.” Instead of explicitly sharing everyone’s heartbreak, through details that heartbreak becomes so very evident.

One missing piece here is an explanation of why Kiersten stayed with Nikolas’ family rather than returning home to her own family. Maybe a quick explanation would have helped the reader make sense of her location, and create an even stronger linkage with Nikolas and his family. Additionally, Nikolas might have taken one more step toward the end of the essay to connect this newfound emotion to other parts of his life. The final paragraph feels slightly repetitive, and a compelling route could have been to show how he went on to embrace the idea of “loving to live and living to love.” Nonetheless, Nikolas reveals that he is capable of growing through adversity, a character trait that this admissions committee clearly appreciated.

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5 strategies to unlock your winning college essay.

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CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 29: People walk through the gate on Harvard Yard at the Harvard ... [+] University campus on June 29, 2023 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that race-conscious admission policies used by Harvard and the University of North Carolina violate the Constitution, bringing an end to affirmative action in higher education. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

The college application season is upon us, and high school students everywhere are staring down at one of the most daunting tasks: the college essay. As someone who has guided countless applicants through the admissions process and reviewed admissions essays on an undergraduate admissions committee, I've pinpointed the essential ingredient to a differentiated candidacy—the core of your college admissions X-factor .

The essential ingredient to your college admissions X-factor is your intellectual vitality. Intellectual vitality is your passion for learning and curiosity. By demonstrating and conveying this passion, you can transform an average essay into a compelling narrative that boosts your chances of getting accepted to your top schools. Here are five dynamic strategies to achieve that goal.

Unleash Your Authentic Voice

Admissions officers sift through thousands of essays every year. What stops them in their tracks? An authentic voice that leaps off the page. Forget trying to guess what the admissions committee wants to hear. Focus on being true to yourself. Share your unique perspective, your passions, and your values. Authenticity resonates deeply with application reviewers, making your essay memorable and impactful. You need not have experienced trauma or tragedy to create a strong narrative. You can write about what you know—intellectually or personally—to convey your enthusiasm, creativity, and leadership. Intellectual vitality shines through when you write with personalized reflection about what lights you up.

Weave A Captivating Story

Everyone loves a good story, and your essay is the perfect place to tell yours. The Common Application personal statement has seven choices of prompts to ground the structure for your narrative. The most compelling stories are often about the smallest moments in life, whether it’s shopping at Costco or about why you wear socks that have holes. Think of the Common Application personal statement as a window into your soul rather than a dry list of your achievements or your overly broad event-based life story. Use vivid anecdotes to bring your experiences to life. A well-told story can showcase your growth, highlight your character, and illustrate how you've overcome challenges. Intellectual vitality often emerges in these narratives, revealing how your curiosity and proactive approach to learning have driven you to explore and innovate.

Reflect And Reveal Insights

It's not just about what you've done—it's about what you've learned along the way. When you are writing about a specific event, you can use the STAR framework—situation, task, action, and result (your learning). Focus most of your writing space on the “R” part of this framework to dive deeply into your experiences and reflect on how they've shaped your aspirations and identity.

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Donald trump $300 million poorer after guilty verdict as truth social stock sinks, aurora alert should you prepare to see the northern lights this week.

The most insightful college-specific supplement essays demonstrate depth of thought, and the ability to connect past experiences with your future life in college and beyond. Reflecting on your intellectual journey signals maturity and a readiness to embrace the college experience. It shows admissions officers that you engage deeply with your studies and are eager to contribute to the academic community.

Highlight Your Contributions—But Don’t Brag

Whether it's a special talent, an unusual hobby, or a unique perspective, showcasing what you can bring to the college environment can make a significant impact. Recognize that the hard work behind the accomplishment is what colleges are interested in learning more about—not retelling about the accomplishment itself. (Honors and activities can be conveyed in another section of the application.) Walk us through the journey to your summit; don’t just take us to the peak and expect us know how you earned it.

Intellectual vitality can be demonstrated through your proactive approach to solving problems, starting new projects, or leading initiatives that reflect your passion for learning and growth. These experiences often have a place in the college-specific supplement essays. They ground the reasons why you want to study in your major and at the particular college.

Perfect Your Prose

Great writing is essential. Anyone can use AI or a thesaurus to assist with an essay, but AI cannot write your story in the way that you tell it. Admissions officers don’t give out extra credit for choosing the longest words with the most amount of syllables.

The best essays have clear, coherent language and are free of errors. The story is clearly and specifically told. After drafting, take the time to revise and polish your writing. Seek feedback from teachers, mentors, or trusted friends, but ensure the final piece is unmistakably yours. A well-crafted essay showcases your diligence and attention to detail—qualities that admissions officers highly value. Intellectual vitality is also reflected in your writing process, showing your commitment to excellence and your enthusiasm for presenting your best self.

Crafting a standout college essay is about presenting your true self in an engaging, reflective, and polished manner while showcasing your intellectual vitality. Happy writing.

Dr. Aviva Legatt

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The Directly Observed Therapy Short-Course (DOTS) strategy in Samara Oblast, Russian Federation

Y balabanova.

1 HPA Mycobacterium Reference Unit, Clinical TB and HIV Group, St Bartholomew and Queen Mary School of Medicine, 2 Newark street, London E1 2AT, UK

3 Samara City Tuberculosis Dispensary N1, Pionerskaya street, Samara, 443001, Russia

F Drobniewski

2 Samara Oblast Tuberculosis Dispensary, Samara, 154 Novo-Sadovaya Street, 443068, Russia

S Zakharova

V nikolayevskyy.

4 Center for Health Management, Tanaka Business School, Imperial College London, South Kensington campus, London SW7 2AZ, UK

5 Department of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0 ), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines Russia as one of the 22 highest-burden countries for tuberculosis (TB). The WHO Directly Observed Treatment Short Course (DOTS) strategy employing a standardised treatment for 6 months produces the highest cure rates for drug sensitive TB. The Russian TB service traditionally employed individualised treatment.

The purpose of this study was to implement a DOTS programme in the civilian and prison sectors of Samara Region of Russia, describe the clinical features and outcomes of recruited patients, determine the proportion of individuals in the cohorts who were infected with drug resistant TB, the degree to which resistance was attributed to the Beijing TB strain family and establish risk factors for drug resistance.

prospective study

2,099 patients were recruited overall. Treatment outcomes were analysed for patients recruited up to the third quarter of 2003 (n = 920). 75.3% of patients were successfully treated. Unsuccessful outcomes occurred in 7.3% of cases; 3.6% of patients died during treatment, with a significantly higher proportion of smear-positive cases dying compared to smear-negative cases. 14.0% were lost and transferred out. A high proportion of new cases (948 sequential culture-proven TB cases) had tuberculosis that was resistant to first-line drugs; (24.9% isoniazid resistant; 20.3% rifampicin resistant; 17.3% multidrug resistant tuberculosis). Molecular epidemiological analysis demonstrated that half of all isolated strains (50.7%; 375/740) belonged to the Beijing family. Drug resistance including MDR TB was strongly associated with infection with the Beijing strain (for MDR TB, 35.2% in Beijing strains versus 9.5% in non-Beijing strains, OR-5.2. Risk factors for multidrug resistant tuberculosis were: being a prisoner (OR 4.4), having a relapse of tuberculosis (OR 3.5), being infected with a Beijing family TB strain (OR 6.5) and having an unsuccessful outcome from treatment (OR 5.0).

The implementation of DOTS in Samara, Russia, was feasible and successful. Drug resistant tuberculosis rates in new cases were high and challenge successful outcomes from a conventional DOTS programme alone.

Since the 1990s the World Health Organization Directly Observed Therapy Short Course (DOTS) management strategy has become the internationally recommended approach for tuberculosis (TB) control programmes [ 1 - 3 ]. By the beginning of the new Millennium, 149 countries in the world had adopted the DOTS strategy to varying degrees and important measures of DOTS success (case detection and treatment success) were included in the Millennium Development Goals framework [ 4 ]. In the former Soviet Union (FSU) only a limited number of WHO DOTS implementation programmes exist and currently countries of the FSU report the lowest case detection rates (22%) with 9% of cases failing treatment and a death rate of 7% during treatment [ 4 ]. WHO has acknowledged that until TB is controlled in Africa and Eastern Europe, this disease will remain of major world-wide concern; current analysis indicates that it is unlikely that the Millennium Development Targets for TB will be met in these regions [ 4 ].

Russia is one of 22 TB high-burden countries as defined by the WHO [ 5 , 6 ]. Russia has a highly-specialised tuberculosis health care system with a large organisationally-vertical network of specialized institutes, dispensaries, hospitals, outpatient clinics, sanatoria and rural feldsher points. Case detection is based largely on the presence of radiological abnormalities on chest X-rays with or without bacteriological confirmation detected through a national policy of compulsory annual fluorographic population screening [ 7 - 9 ]. In contrast to the WHO recommended tuberculosis control DOTS strategy, which favour minimising hospital stays, clinical guidelines and health system financing incentives, TB patients in Russia experience frequent and lengthy hospitalisations, and historically have received individualised treatment regimens with doses of the main first line drugs and duration of chemotherapy varying from internationally accepted standard treatment regimens. The system also included prolonged periods of follow-up and repetitive courses of anti-relapse therapy [ 10 , 11 ].

The rationale for implementing the DOTS strategy in Russia is to establish cost-effective tuberculosis control by reducing unnecessary care costs due to lengthy hospitalisations, while improving cure rates and reducing the development of drug resistant TB [ 3 , 7 , 12 - 14 ].

In 2002, with assistance from the UK Department for International Development, a TB control programme that adhered to internationally accepted norms and standards was launched by the regional Ministry of Health. We have reported elsewhere on the considerable body of research undertaken in Samara that explores the epidemiological profile, the health care system structures and processes, and public health challenges being faced by the oblast [ 7 , 9 - 12 ], [ 15 - 23 ]

This paper describes the clinical features and outcomes of patients recruited to a DOTS programme which was implemented in civilian and prison sectors in Samara Oblast.

At the initial stage of implementation of DOTS a standard protocol was agreed with the Regional Ministry of Health. This was followed by extensive training of medical doctors and TB nurses with the involvement of WHO and experts from Russian Federal TB Institutes. Two project medical co-ordinators based in Samara were appointed to oversee implementation which was rolled out in three phases.

Under phase one, initiated in April 2002, patient recruitment commenced at two pilot TB dispensaries in Samara City and at two TB prison colonies (one, an inpatient prison facility used for initial therapy, the second an outpatient facility where continuation of therapy occurred) that looked after all prisoners with TB in the oblast. Recruitment was expanded in January 2003, under phase two, to all TB facilities in Samara city (five dispensaries and three TB hospitals) and to the neighbouring city Togliatti. Under phase three, a further rollout occurred in January 2004 to the rural district of Krasny Yar. We report results through all three phases and include patients recruited up to the third quarter of 2004.

Patients were recruited into standard WHO categories (Table ​ (Table1). 1 ). In 2002, initially only new cases were recruited (category I and III). From April 2003, recruitment was extended to include relapse cases (category II). Because of the prevalence of drug resistance and concerns that resistance profiles would be further amplified [ 23 - 25 ] chronic cases were ineligible for recruitment.

WHO treatment categories and outcome definitions [28]

* Treatment success is defined as the sum of patients cured and those who have completed treatment.

Given implementation of the internationally supported programme ceased in third quarter 2004, clinical outcomes presented are until the third quarter of 2003. Outcomes for patients recruited subsequently were registered within the newly adopted Russian national system which continued following this programme [ 26 , 27 ].

Standard TB control treatment outcomes were recorded (Table ​ (Table1). 1 ). Treatment success under the DOTS strategy was determined by cures and treatment completions and unsuccessful treatment included patients who failed and defaulted [ 28 ].

A modified feature of the programme was introduced where patients registered initially under the DOTS cohort could be transferred to an "individual treatment regimen", an approach that reflected the Russian legacy of individualised approaches to treatment. According to the prevailing views of Samara phthisiatrists not only patients who were diagnosed with MDRTB but also some severely ill patients or those with severe co-morbidities or perceived adverse reactions would be removed from the DOTS programme and managed within the regional TB programme using an individualised approach in line withy earlier Russian traditions. Cases, following recruitment, which were subsequently determined to have MDR TB, were transferred out to an individually-tailored MDRTB drug regimen. A further feature of the modification of the DOTS programme was the continuation of the intensive phase of treatment beyond two months (for one more month) despite patients becoming smear-negative in the end of the second month of therapy intensive phase. This was done, in accordance with Russian traditions, where extensive radiological changes were present.

Standard technical approaches to documentation and diagnostic/treatment protocols were employed[ 28 ]. Sputum collection was performed at recommended intervals. During the intensive phase of therapy ethambutol was administered instead of streptomycin because a previous drug resistance survey had documented very high rates of primary resistance to streptomycin [ 9 , 23 ].

For all patients smear microscopy and culture was performed at recommended intervals. Smear microscopy and culture were performed using standard Ziehl-Neilsen microscopy and culture on Lowenstein-Jensen media. All positive isolates were tested for drug susceptibility to isoniazid, rifampicin, ethambutol and streptomycin. Quality-assured drug susceptibility testing (DST) was performed at three civil and one prison site using an absolute concentration method on Lowenstein-Jensen media. DST was assured by a period of training by staff from the WHO Supranational Reference Laboratory (SRL) in London (Health Protection Agency MRU) and in Samara. A blinded analysis of a test panel of TB cultures was performed. A proportion (10%) were retested by the SRL in London.

DNA was extracted and Beijing family strains were analysed in London and Samara by detection of the IS6110 insertions in the dnaA-dnaN intergenic region on a proportion of sequential isolates (n = 740).

Direct supervision of treatment adherence was completed by TB nurses at TB hospitals and dispensaries with out-patients receiving treatment daily or three times weekly. Upon release, ex-prisoners completed their treatment upon transfer of their care to the civilian service.

Medical co-ordinators performed regular visits to all participating DOTS sites to support implementation, ensure recruitment was maintained, and review documentation and adherence to the protocol. Over-arching project management group meetings which included all clinical stakeholders and the project directors from each DOTS site occurred on a monthly basis.

Socially disadvantaged patients were identified by a responsible physician at each dispensary and offered additional support to encourage treatment adherence with weekly food packages at a cost of 100 Russian Roubles (3 Euros) per person per week.

Data were entered and stored into a password protected database. The statistical analysis was performed using Excel and SPSS 12. Proportions with 95% confidence intervals (CI), relative risks (RR), odds ratios (OR), and χ 2 test are used for comparison of categorical variables.

The study was approved by the Samara Regional Ethics Committee.

2,099 patients were recruited from 1 st April 2002 to 30 th September 2004, including 1,971 individuals with pulmonary tuberculosis (93.9%) and 128 patients with extrapulmonary disease (6.1%); 1,684 of recruits were men (80.2%) and 415 (19.8%) women. 640 patients were recruited in the prison sector and 1459 were civilian TB patients.

One third (33.1%; 694/2,099) of recruited patients were WHO category I and 24.3% (162/694) of these were smear-negative cases with extensive parenchymal involvement; 58.8% (1,234/2,099) of cases were WHO category III patients. Recruitment into WHO category II was limited to relapse cases only and 171 patients (8.1%) were recruited.

The mean age of patients was 38.5 years (95%CI 37.9–39.1 years; range: 16–90 years) with prisoners being significantly younger than civilians (mean age 30.9 years; 95%CI 30.2–31.6 years versus mean age 41.9 years; 95%CI 41.1–42.7 years). Female patients were older than male patients (mean age of men was 38.0 (95%CI 37.4–38.6) years and mean age of women with TB was 40.4 (95%CI 38.8–42.0) years).

Details of bacteriologically (smear and/or culture) confirmed cases are shown in Table ​ Table2. 2 . Table ​ Table3 3 shows differences between the infectious status of civilian and prison populations with TB where civilians were more likely to have infectious disease whether determined by smear status or culture status. Overall the rate of laboratory diagnosed TB cases was slightly higher in civilian patients than prisoners.

Proportion of bacteriologically confirmed new and relapse pulmonary cases (II quarter 2002 – III quarter 2004)

*a proportion of patients could not expectorate a sputum sample of a quality that would be suitable for culturing

Difference in infectious status between civilians and prisoners

* statistically significant at p < 0.05

Cultures from 948 sequentially new and 94 relapse cases were isolated and tested for susceptibility to first-line drugs. Of the new cases, 24.9% (236/948) new cases had isolates resistant to isoniazid, 20.3% (192/948) new cases had isolates resistance to rifampicin, and 17.3% (164/948) had MDRTB (vs 34.0% (32/94) of relapse cases being MDR (OR-2.5; 95%CI 1.6–3.9). Table ​ Table3 3 and Figure ​ Figure1 1 show the differences between civilian and prison patients.

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Object name is 1465-9921-7-44-1.jpg

Rates of first-line drug resistance among civil and prison patients.

Molecular epidemiological analysis demonstrated that a half of all isolated strains (50.7%; 375/740) belonged to the Beijing family. Of note, seven isolates (0.9%) were mixed strains. The prevalence of the Beijing strain (60.9%; 117/192) among prisoners was significantly higher (OR-1.7; 95% CI 1.2–2.4) than in civilians (47.1%; 258/548) confirming earlier research findings in a drug resistance survey in the same region in the preceding year [ 19 ].

For 709 isolates data on both drug resistance and strain type were available (31 isolates were non-viable or were contaminated and DST could not be performed). Drug resistance including MDR TB was strongly associated with being infected with the Beijing strain (for MDR TB 35.2% in Beijing strains versus 9.5% in non-Beijing strains, OR-5.2 (3.4–7.9) (Table ​ (Table5) 5 ) confirming earlier research in a different population of patients treated under the Russian system in the same region[ 19 ].

Comparison of first-line resistance levels in Beijing compared to non-Beijing strains (n = 709^)

* statistically significant difference at p < 0.001

^ both epidemiological and drug resistance results were available for 709/1042 (68.0%) cultures; 31 cultures were non viable or contaminated; cultures were drawn from all dispensaries and prison facilities in Samara City.

Difference in resistance rates between civil and prison patients

*statistically significant at p < 0.05

Multivariate analysis suggests that being a prisoner (OR – 4.4; 95%CI 2.7–7.1), having a relapse of TB (OR-3.5; 95%CI 1.7–7.1), being infected with the Beijing family strains (OR-6.5; 95%CI 4.0–10.5) and having unsuccessful outcome of treatment (OR-5.0; 95%CI 1.1–22.7) were risk factors for MDR TB.

During the course of treatment the majority (97.7%; 284/290) of smear-positive new cases converted by the end of the intensive phase of treatment.

Treatment outcomes among new cases confirmed by culture are shown in Table ​ Table6. 6 . Because recruitment of relapses was initiated at a later stage, the number of these is small. Overall 85.4% (786/920) of newly diagnosed and recruited patients were treated according to the WHO protocol. Nearly fifteen percent (134/920) of patients were transferred out of the DOTS clinical protocol and this included patients transferred to individual regimens because MDRTB (17.3% of all new cases were MDR and 34.0% of all relapse cases) or extensive radiological abnormalities, adverse drug reactions, or co-morbidities). MDR TB patients were removed from the programme according to DOTS project criteria and further treated with tailored schemes using second-line drugs. More smear positive patients were transferred out than smear-negative cases (22.4% versus 11.6%; OR-2.2; 95%CI 1.5–3.2). In total 75.3% (592/786) of patients were successfully treated and in 7.3% (57/786) treatment failed or patients defaulted. The odds of failing treatment or defaulting were higher in smear positive patients (OR – 10.6; 95% CI 3.4–32.8).

Cohort outcomes for new cases confirmed by culture

*a proportion of patients were excluded from cohort (transferred to a different regimen due to MDR TB, extensive radiological abnormalities, drug adverse reactions, severe accompanying pathology)

** N of patients remained in the cohort (column "total") is taken as a denominator

There was no statistically significant difference in treatment outcomes between male and female patients.

The rates of unsuccessful treatment was higher among civilians compared to prisoners (OR-4.5; 95%CI 2.1–10.0)

Twenty-eight patients (3.6 %; 28/786) died during the course of treatment with a significantly higher proportion (11.3%) of smear-positive cases dying versus smear-negative (OR -12.5; 95%CI 5.0–31.3).

Discussion and conclusion

The WHO have argued that the introduction of DOTS cohort treatment strategies improves case detection and treatment and leads to a reduction in TB prevalence and death rates by cutting the duration of illness and case fatality.

Two examples from middle and high incidence countries (Peru and China) support this view. In Peru, the incidence rate of pulmonary TB has decreased annually by 6% after the nationwide implementation of DOTS[ 29 ]. In 13 provinces of China that implemented DOTS, the prevalence rate of culture-positive TB was cut by 30% between 1990 and 2000 [ 30 ]

The introduction of DOTS resulted in profound changes to the delivery of clinical care within the Samara TB Service. Although a direct observation component had, broadly. been present within the old system through lengthy hospitalisation periods, the strict adherence of physicians to standard regimens, the emphasis on laboratory diagnosis, and a robust system of recording and reporting of cohorts were new [ 7 ].

Similarly fewer than 70% of patients with TB were cured or completed treatment in Samara compared to 75.3% in the cohort groups. This is in keeping with the cure rates reported for DOTS programmes internationally (Table ​ (Table7) 7 ) and the global treatment success rate under DOTS has been high since the first observed cohort in 1994 (77%)[ 4 ].

Comparison of Samara DOTS cohort with overall treatment success and outcome for global DOTS cohorts in 2002

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The relatively high failure rates noted elsewhere in Eastern Europe, (9% of cases failed treatment and 7% died during treatment) are believed to be associated with high rates of multidrug resistance (which in itself is an indicator of a programme with low cure rates previously). In Samara, prior to the introduction of the DOTS cohort strategy we established that drug resistance was high in both new (approx 20%) and chronic cases in Samara [ 9 , 17 , 23 ].

Dye et al [ 4 ] further established that the prevalence will decrease sooner if case detection by DOTS programs (and hence the quality of treatment) can be improved more quickly, thus reducing the burden of illness during this period in future years. The DOTS programmes emphasise the importance of bacteriological confirmation. [ 7 ]Prior to the establishment of the cohort, there were more than 1.5 million flurographic examinations of the general population for early diagnosis of TB reflecting the national policy of fluorography screening of the population for TB for early diagnosis. We have reported on the subjective nature of radiological examination elsewhere [ 31 ] and emphasised the need for bacteriological confirmation of the diagnosis in line with international standards.

Previously, less than one-third (30.1%) of cases were bacteriologically confirmed (Coker et al, 2003 IUATLD) compared to the DOTS cohort where 49.6% of all cases (and 57.6% in civilian cases) were bacteriologically confirmed. [ 10 , 11 ]Overall the proportion of cases which had a bacteriological confirmation of the diagnosis was similar to rates reported from other regions of Russia [ 4 ];.

[ 31 ]Although the laboratory component of the TB service in Samara Oblast has been extensively upgraded and improved with prison and civil laboratory services working to these improved standards, maintenance and further quality improvement remains a priority. Without appropriate laboratory support, over-diagnosis of tuberculosis remains a possibility, resulting in unnecessary treatment and side-effects without benefit, and compounding service inefficiencies [ 13 ].

Relatively low default rates occurred with implementation of DOTS in Samara. This may be, in part, attributable to a programme of externally financed social support. This component was discontinued after external funding ceased, and it remains to be seen whether adherence rates will suffer. Of note, substance abuse, alcoholism, poverty and unemployment are common amongst patients with TB in Samara Oblast, co-factors likely to influence treatment adherence [ 22 ]. The sustainable success of DOTS in Russia is likely to be dependent on how care and support for these social and behavioural factors are integrated into TB care systems.

Effective responses in support of TB control demand political commitment and investment from local and federal budgets into non-medical support to patients and their families. However, few integrated social support systems for tuberculosis patients currently exist, and current laws and regulations have the potential to ensure that health and social care budgets remain disconnected from each other and from need [ 32 , 33 ]. Consequently, to compensate for inadequate social support systems for tuberculosis patients, providers use sophisticated practices to ensure lengthy admissions in the winter months – a response to social rather than medical need [ 32 , 33 ]. Whilst the two recent decrees on TB control issued in 2003 (#109 and #50) [ 26 , 27 ] support convergence of Russian TB control practices with WHO's DOTS strategy (with some specific differences reflecting Russia's clinical legacy), the sustainability of reforms needed to ensure cost-effective implementation such that DOTS implementation is allied to structural reform remains uncertain.

The rate of successful treatment (75.3% overall and 79.0% in civil sector) though below the 85% WHO target, was higher than reported from other several DOTS pilot regions in the former Soviet Union (68.1% according to the meta-analysis performed by Faustini et al, 2005 [ 25 ]). The zero mortality among prisoners may be misleading: several patients died after data censoring. Furthermore, policy that very severely ill patients are released from prison for treatment in the civilian sector means that deaths of these ex-prisoners are recorded as civilian deaths.

The high prevalence of drug resistance and the frequency of the Beijing strain family (previously shown to be associated with drug resistance) [ 19 ] remains a major clinical and public health challenge. Extremely high rates of drug resistance among prisoners despite significantly lower default rates in prison likely reflects on-going transmission of resistant strains. Rapid isolation of MDR TB cases, good co-ordination between the prison and civilian TB services and enhancement of infection control and treatment are needed to prevent further nosocomial and institutional spread of MDR TB and would increase the success of the current TB programme. This issue is likely to become considerably more of a problem as the emergent epidemic of HIV in Samara matures

Although the DOTS strategy does not include specific therapy for multi-drug resistant cases its effective implementation reduces the occurrence and further transmission of resistant strains [34]. However, in regions such as Samara with very high rates of MDR TB it is essential to ensure the availability of appropriate and timely diagnosis and treatment of existing cases as well as preventing the development of new ones. Rapid drug susceptibility techniques, with appropriate treatment to be tailored to circumstance may be necessary. Cost-effectiveness analysis of rapid methods in the post-Soviet context is required to inform investment and policy changes.

Abbreviations

CI – Confidence Interval

DOTS – Directly Observed Therapy Short-Course

MDR TB – multi-drug resistant tuberculosis

OR – Odds ratio

RR – Risk ratio

SRL – Supranational Reference Laboratory

TB – tuberculosis

WHO – World Health Organization

Competing interests

The author(s) declare that they have no competing interests

Authors' contributions

YB participated in the design of the study, its coordination, acquisition of data, statistical analysis and drafted the manuscript; RC participated in acquisition of funding, design of the study, its supervision and drafted the manuscript; IF participated in administration of the study, its design and revision of the manuscript; SZ participated in design and coordination of the study, data acquisition and manuscript revision; VN carried out laboratory work and revised the manuscript, RA participated in acquisition of funding, design of the study, its supervision and revision of the manuscript, FD participated in acquisition of funding, design of the study, its supervision and gave final approval of the version to be published. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Acknowledgements

The UK Department for International Development (DFID) funded this study, but the views and opinions expressed are those of the authors alone.

We would like to thank all doctors and nurses who took part in this study.

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Guest Essay

Jamie Raskin: How to Force Justices Alito and Thomas to Recuse Themselves in the Jan. 6 Cases

A white chain in the foreground, with the pillars of the Supreme Court Building in the background.

By Jamie Raskin

Mr. Raskin represents Maryland’s Eighth Congressional District in the House of Representatives. He taught constitutional law for more than 25 years and was the lead prosecutor in the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump.

Many people have gloomily accepted the conventional wisdom that because there is no binding Supreme Court ethics code, there is no way to force Associate Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas to recuse themselves from the Jan. 6 cases that are before the court.

Justices Alito and Thomas are probably making the same assumption.

But all of them are wrong.

It seems unfathomable that the two justices could get away with deciding for themselves whether they can be impartial in ruling on cases affecting Donald Trump’s liability for crimes he is accused of committing on Jan. 6. Justice Thomas’s wife, Ginni Thomas, was deeply involved in the Jan. 6 “stop the steal” movement. Above the Virginia home of Justice Alito and his wife, Martha-Ann Alito, flew an upside-down American flag — a strong political statement among the people who stormed the Capitol. Above the Alitos’ beach home in New Jersey flew another flag that has been adopted by groups opposed to President Biden.

Justices Alito and Thomas face a groundswell of appeals beseeching them not to participate in Trump v. United States , the case that will decide whether Mr. Trump enjoys absolute immunity from criminal prosecution, and Fischer v. United States , which will decide whether Jan. 6 insurrectionists — and Mr. Trump — can be charged under a statute that criminalizes “corruptly” obstructing an official proceeding. (Justice Alito said on Wednesday that he would not recuse himself from Jan. 6-related cases.)

Everyone assumes that nothing can be done about the recusal situation because the highest court in the land has the lowest ethical standards — no binding ethics code or process outside of personal reflection. Each justice decides for him- or herself whether he or she can be impartial.

Of course, Justices Alito and Thomas could choose to recuse themselves — wouldn’t that be nice? But begging them to do the right thing misses a far more effective course of action.

The U.S. Department of Justice — including the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, an appointed U.S. special counsel and the solicitor general, all of whom were involved in different ways in the criminal prosecutions underlying these cases and are opposing Mr. Trump’s constitutional and statutory claims — can petition the other seven justices to require Justices Alito and Thomas to recuse themselves not as a matter of grace but as a matter of law.

The Justice Department and Attorney General Merrick Garland can invoke two powerful textual authorities for this motion: the Constitution of the United States, specifically the due process clause, and the federal statute mandating judicial disqualification for questionable impartiality, 28 U.S.C. Section 455. The Constitution has come into play in several recent Supreme Court decisions striking down rulings by stubborn judges in lower courts whose political impartiality has been reasonably questioned but who threw caution to the wind to hear a case anyway. This statute requires potentially biased judges throughout the federal system to recuse themselves at the start of the process to avoid judicial unfairness and embarrassing controversies and reversals.

The constitutional and statutory standards apply to Supreme Court justices. The Constitution, and the federal laws under it, is the “ supreme law of the land ,” and the recusal statute explicitly treats Supreme Court justices as it does other judges: “Any justice, judge or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” The only justices in the federal judiciary are the ones on the Supreme Court.

This recusal statute, if triggered, is not a friendly suggestion. It is Congress’s command, binding on the justices, just as the due process clause is. The Supreme Court cannot disregard this law just because it directly affects one or two of its justices. Ignoring it would trespass on the constitutional separation of powers because the justices would essentially be saying that they have the power to override a congressional command.

When the arguments are properly before the court, Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, Ketanji Brown Jackson, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh and Sonia Sotomayor will have both a constitutional obligation and a statutory obligation to enforce recusal standards.

Indeed, there is even a compelling argument based on case law that Chief Justice Roberts and the other unaffected justices should raise the matter of recusal on their own, or sua sponte. Numerous circuit courts have agreed with the Eighth Circuit that this is the right course of action when members of an appellate court are aware of “ overt acts ” of a judge reflecting personal bias. Cases like this stand for the idea that appellate jurists who see something should say something instead of placing all the burden on parties in a case who would have to risk angering a judge by bringing up the awkward matter of potential bias and favoritism on the bench.

But even if no member of the court raises the issue of recusal, the urgent need to deal with it persists. Once it is raised, the court would almost surely have to find that the due process clause and Section 455 compel Justices Alito and Thomas to recuse themselves. To arrive at that substantive conclusion, the justices need only read their court’s own recusal decisions.

In one key 5-to-3 Supreme Court case from 2016, Williams v. Pennsylvania, Justice Anthony Kennedy explained why judicial bias is a defect of constitutional magnitude and offered specific objective standards for identifying it. Significantly, Justices Alito and Thomas dissented from the majority’s ruling.

The case concerned the bias of the chief justice of Pennsylvania, who had been involved as a prosecutor on the state’s side in an appellate death penalty case that was before him. Justice Kennedy found that the judge’s refusal to recuse himself when asked to do so violated due process. Justice Kennedy’s authoritative opinion on recusal illuminates three critical aspects of the current controversy.

First, Justice Kennedy found that the standard for recusal must be objective because it is impossible to rely on the affected judge’s introspection and subjective interpretations. The court’s objective standard requires recusal when the likelihood of bias on the part of the judge “is too high to be constitutionally tolerable,” citing an earlier case. “This objective risk of bias,” according to Justice Kennedy, “is reflected in the due process maxim that ‘no man can be a judge in his own case.’” A judge or justice can be convinced of his or her own impartiality but also completely missing what other people are seeing.

Second, the Williams majority endorsed the American Bar Association’s Model Code of Judicial Conduct as an appropriate articulation of the Madisonian standard that “no man can be a judge in his own cause.” Model Code Rule 2.11 on judicial disqualification says that a judge “shall disqualify himself or herself in any proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” This includes, illustratively, cases in which the judge “has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party,” a married judge knows that “the judge’s spouse” is “a person who has more than a de minimis interest that could be substantially affected by the proceeding” or the judge “has made a public statement, other than in a court proceeding, judicial decision or opinion, that commits or appears to commit the judge to reach a particular result.” These model code illustrations ring a lot of bells at this moment.

Third and most important, Justice Kennedy found for the court that the failure of an objectively biased judge to recuse him- or herself is not “harmless error” just because the biased judge’s vote is not apparently determinative in the vote of a panel of judges. A biased judge contaminates the proceeding not just by the casting and tabulation of his or her own vote but by participating in the body’s collective deliberations and affecting, even subtly, other judges’ perceptions of the case.

Justice Kennedy was emphatic on this point : “It does not matter whether the disqualified judge’s vote was necessary to the disposition of the case. The fact that the interested judge’s vote was not dispositive may mean only that the judge was successful in persuading most members of the court to accept his or her position — an outcome that does not lessen the unfairness to the affected party.”

Courts generally have found that any reasonable doubts about a judge’s partiality must be resolved in favor of recusal. A judge “shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” While recognizing that the “challenged judge enjoys a margin of discretion,” the courts have repeatedly held that “doubts ordinarily ought to be resolved in favor of recusal.” After all, the reputation of the whole tribunal and public confidence in the judiciary are both on the line.

Judge David Tatel of the D.C. Circuit emphasized this fundamental principle in 2019 when his court issued a writ of mandamus to force recusal of a military judge who blithely ignored at least the appearance of a glaring conflict of interest. He stated : “Impartial adjudicators are the cornerstone of any system of justice worthy of the label. And because ‘deference to the judgments and rulings of courts depends upon public confidence in the integrity and independence of judges,’ jurists must avoid even the appearance of partiality.” He reminded us that to perform its high function in the best way, as Justice Felix Frankfurter stated, “justice must satisfy the appearance of justice.”

The Supreme Court has been especially disposed to favor recusal when partisan politics appear to be a prejudicial factor even when the judge’s impartiality has not been questioned. In Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co. , from 2009, the court held that a state supreme court justice was constitutionally disqualified from a case in which the president of a corporation appearing before him had helped to get him elected by spending $3 million promoting his campaign. The court, through Justice Kennedy, asked whether, quoting a 1975 decision, “under a realistic appraisal of psychological tendencies and human weakness,” the judge’s obvious political alignment with a party in a case “poses such a risk of actual bias or prejudgment that the practice must be forbidden if the guarantee of due process is to be adequately implemented.”

The federal statute on disqualification, Section 455(b) , also makes recusal analysis directly applicable to bias imputed to a spouse’s interest in the case. Ms. Thomas and Mrs. Alito (who, according to Justice Alito, is the one who put up the inverted flag outside their home) meet this standard. A judge must recuse him- or herself when a spouse “is known by the judge to have an interest in a case that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding.”

At his Senate confirmation hearing, Chief Justice Roberts assured America that “judges are like umpires.”

But professional baseball would never allow an umpire to continue to officiate the World Series after learning that the pennant of one of the two teams competing was flying in the front yard of the umpire’s home. Nor would an umpire be allowed to call balls and strikes in a World Series game after the umpire’s wife tried to get the official score of a prior game in the series overthrown and canceled out to benefit the losing team. If judges are like umpires, then they should be treated like umpires, not team owners, fans or players.

Justice Barrett has said she wants to convince people “that this court is not comprised of a bunch of partisan hacks.” Justice Alito himself declared the importance of judicial objectivity in his opinion for the majority in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision overruling Roe v. Wade — a bit of self-praise that now rings especially hollow.

But the Constitution and Congress’s recusal statute provide the objective framework of analysis and remedy for cases of judicial bias that are apparent to the world, even if they may be invisible to the judges involved. This is not really optional for the justices.

I look forward to seeing seven members of the court act to defend the reputation and integrity of the institution.

Jamie Raskin, a Democrat, represents Maryland’s Eighth Congressional District in the House of Representatives. He taught constitutional law for more than 25 years and was the lead prosecutor in the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump.

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