Enhancing Personal Statements, interview performance and reference writing

For eighteen years, first at LSE and then at Imperial College London, and the past eighteen months at Optimising Futures I have devoted my time to working with hundreds of schools in the UK and in various parts of Europe. I have spoken to students, teachers and parents about different aspects of the Higher Education application process, helping sixth form students with their applications and interviews and teachers with UCAS references. Feedback is consistently excellent with many schools directly attributing the increased success of their students' applications to the work I do.

During this time, I have given practice interviews to thousands of students including Oxbridge and Russell Group applicants across the full range of subject areas. This, combined with eight years' experience as an interviewer on medicine interview panels at Imperial has made me a welcome addition to practice interview days held in many schools. Feedback from students shows that they feel much more confident and relaxed about their actual interviews once they have experienced one of my rigorous practice interviews!

So, if you would like application and interview advice for an entire year group or just a few of your high flyers, I offer lively and entertaining talks on the benefits of a degree, writing excellent Personal Statements and developing interview skills as well as practice interview sessions and Personal Statement clinics. I also offer reassuring guidance on writing effective UCAS references for teachers.

You can sign up to my Schools package and then choose the best options to suit you, your students and teachers. Everything I offer is also available online via video link.

Please click on the relevant link at the foot of the page for pricing and contact details.


I can offer you any combination of the following:

BRAND NEW for the Summer 2020!

A series of six short videos (3-5 mins each) covering every step of the Personal Statement with accompanying written resources:

  • The importance of evidence

  • Finding a punchy starter

  • Language tips

  • How to make the most of your evidence

  • The 'other 20%'

  • Effective endings

These are available for rent by schools for one month of unlimited access by you and your students - please contact me if you are interested in finding out more.

Why bother?.......and how to survive!

  • 40 minute presentation on the benefits of a degree, how to start choosing where to go and what to study and an insight into university life

  • Followed by a 20 minute Q&A session for any questions or concerns about going to university and university applications


Writing an excellent Personal Statement

  • 40 minute presentation on the dos and don’ts of Personal Statement writing, including what admissions tutors are looking for

  • Followed by a 20 minute Q&A session for any questions or concerns about Personal Statements

  • Written resource covering the main points of the talk for dissemination, emailed to you afterwards

Personal Statement workshop

  • One hour Personal Statement workshop with students in small, usually subject-specific groups – this can be run as a stand-alone activity or as a follow up to the Personal Statement talk

  • The workshop is based around a worksheet (provided) and a stimulus (article, poem, picture etc) which should be related to the course the student wishes to apply for. Each student will supply their own stimulus for discussion

  • The worksheet follows the structure of the Personal Statement talk and will enable all students to leave the session with a rough draft of their Personal Statement


Medical ethics workshop

  • One hour interactive workshop on typical ethical questions students could face either in traditional or MMI university interviews

  • After tackling the tricky question ‘Why do you want to be a doctor?’, we will look at ethical questions, scenarios and dilemmas and students will discuss the most appropriate responses using what they know about the basic principles of being a good doctor as well as their own common sense and empathy for others

  • This session can also be adapted for students applying for dentistry and veterinary medicine


Preparing for effective interviews

  • 40 minute interactive presentation on developing interview skills, including logistics, behaviour, attire and, of course, how to tackle those all-important interview questions, even the tricky ones!

  • Followed by a 20 minute Q&A session to answer any questions or concerns about interviews

  • Written resource covering the main points of the talk for dissemination, emailed to you afterwards

Practice interviews

  • Individual 30 minute appointments – including feedback and 5 minutes to write up the notes

  • Subject specific interview covering typical university interview questions, including Oxbridge and Russell Group as required, and how to tackle them

  • Constructive feedback and suggestions for enhancement throughout the interview

  • Written feedback emailed to you afterwards including any points to note, either of concern or brilliance!

Personal Statement clinic

  • Individual 20 minute appointments

  • Critical analysis of the Personal Statement

  • Constructive feedback and suggestions for enhancement

Writing effective UCAS references - for teachers

Even if teachers have been writing excellent references for years, it can be helpful to have reassurance that you've been doing the right thing and you may even pick up a few tips to further enhance what you write! For those staff who are new to the reference writing process, it can seem daunting particularly if all you have written before is a normal subject reference on a school report. This session has often been included as part of a staff INSET day and will be of relevance to all staff whatever experience you have in UCAS reference writing:

  • 40 minute presentation on writing effective UCAS references - what to include, what to leave out and what information it is vital to pass on to the universities

  • Examples of good and bad references for discussion

  • Followed by 20 minutes of Q&A to deal with any additional queries

  • Written resource covering the main points of the presentation for dissemination, emailed to you afterwards

Please click on the relevant link below for pricing and contact details:

Information for International Schools

Information for UK Independent Schools

Information for UK State Schools


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