How to write a brilliant Scholarship Essay

To write a winning scholarship essay to fund your study abroad you should focus on showing judges that you are motivated, passionate and focused about the course you are applying for. An engaging beginning, a deep understanding of the themes you are writing about, and a focus on the essay statement is crucial.

There is no set formula for writing a scholarship essay that gets you the funding you need for study abroad. Since every student-writer is unique and brings their own strengths, personalities and future aspirations to their scholarship essays, it goes without saying that there will be few similarities evident between two winning essays.

But keep in mind that when panels and financing officials are sitting down to review your essays, this uniqueness is exactly what they are looking for. What sets you apart from the next applicant? How passionate are you about the course you are seeking funding for your overseas education for? Will you bring your own individuality to the institution when you are granted a scholarship? These are some of the things that the judges are looking for, that should be evident in your scholarship essay.

Scholarships winners of the past, however, have identified certain elements of their essays that they think made theirs the winning entries. Based on their observations, here are some tips to write that winning essay.


Have a thorough understanding of the essay statement and themes

When writing a scholarship essay, you will typically be asked to respond to a specific statement. For instance, you may be asked to identify situations where you have demonstrated innovation, responsible leadership and the difference you made to your work or to your community. Read the statement over and over again and think of the relevant themes that resonate with you. For this particular scholarship essay example, you may identify 'community impact' and 'innovation' or 'leadership' as themes that you can write about.

When you do write about these themes, go deeper than the superficial. Leadership is not only about your position and the roles you played, but the actions you took and the effects they led to. While the content should be solid of course, also try to reference some of the words in the statement throughout the essay.

Engage the reader right from the start

How you start your essay is, needless to say, going to be the first test of how you impress the readers. This is often also the biggest hurdle. If you are not sure how to begin your essay, share a personal observation, quote or statement about the course you are about to begin, and tie it in with the rest of the essay eventually. When you show that you have a wide knowledge of your chosen subject, it will impress judges favourably.

Show that you believe in yourself

There are unwritten things that judges look for when they are evaluating application essays, the biggest of which is self-awareness and definite goals. When you are writing about a leadership role you played in your community for instance, talk about the following to make these clear:
  • How long did you carry out the leadership role or community activity and what did you accomplish throughout the period?
  • What was your motivation behind taking up the role?
  • What were the obstacles in your way and your ways to overcome them?
  • What learning did you come away with, and how do you think it moulded you as a leader?
  • How do you plan to move forward in the future, having learned from these events?

Overall, your essay should be about showing your self-awareness, whether you have a clear idea of your experiences and abilities, and have specific goals that you hope to achieve in the future. Use language that reflects your passion, ambition and enthusiasm and show that you believe in yourself. Most importantly, be honest, do not lie.

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