These are not strictly business documents but we do get a lot of inquiries for this topic.

To write an effective application letter, you need to understand what the course, job or programme you are applying for is about, and what it requires of you. Once you know that, you can demonstrate in your letter/ application that you can fulfil the requirements, addressing them individually in the letter or application.

Our sister website covers writing CV and cover letters in detail, and has templates for you to download

Please go to this page and read all the lessons

This page has samples and checklists for you

personal-documentsThere is usually lots of information available on the website of the institution you are applying to, so start there. If you know anyone on the course, or anyone else who does, and can put you in contact, try to speak to them. Prepare a list of questions before you do so. But listen first to what they have to tell you, before you go through your question list to check everything has been covered.

Look at all the paperwork you will be asked to complete before you start. For example if there is a standard application form that requires you to list your education and qualifications, you won’t need to list them again in your application letter. But if there is something you particularly want to draw attention to, you might mention it in your letter, and explain the significance of it.

Write in the first person “I am interested in this programme because … “

Look at the length of essay that is specified and work to that specification, even if you have to edit your first draft to get close to it.

If there is something negative in your history, and you have a good explanation for it, it may be worth mentioning and explaining. Sometimes if you can show you have learnt from a difficult experience that will count in your favour. If you are not sure whether to mention it, write it up and show it to someone whose judgement you trust –a parent, teacher, or tutor –and get their opinion on it.

Read the brief very carefully to decide what the content of the letter should be. Are they asking you to discuss your educational and career targets? Or do they want you to tell your story so far? Do they want you to focus on your past or your future? Maybe they want both, with reasons why you are interested in their programme, and want to hear what in your past has influenced you to select this route.

Take your lead from the instructions, and ensure your letter or essay has a beginning, middle and end and is written in clear language with no spelling, grammar or punctuation errors. Get someone else to proofread it for you, and check your formatting and font. Follow the submission instructions carefully.