Do you remember your A-Level exam technique?
Updated: Jul 24, 2018
You’ve downloaded the application form, seen it is full of blank spaces, has seemingly unfathomable formatting and comes with a list of instructions on how to complete it which are longer than the actual application form, welcome to the world of government grant and loan applications!
Don’t be put off, it isn’t as bad as it looks, a few quick tips below will help make it all a lot less painful to fill in.
Firstly, step away from the form, what do you want the money for, and how is that innovative to your business and the rest of the world? Once you can answer that you are ready to start.
Now I am generalising because there are many variations of these forms and each body that you apply to has a different focus on what they are looking for (more on this in future blogs) but in general you will have five main areas to write about in your form.
- The problem you are solving
- Your solution
- Project plan, deliverables and risk management
- How much money you want and how you plan to spend it
- The outcome of the project and what happens next
Each of these areas is a blog in its own right, so I will cover off the things to think about when answering the form as a whole.
Help the Assessor
Make it easy for them. If you had twenty applications to read, you’d appreciate anything anybody did to make it easier for you.
Signpost them through your answer. Look at the question and evaluation criteria for each question there will likely be a list of things that they want you to cover. Use that list to create headings in your answer so that the assessor can see which part of the question you are answering. List the headings in the same order as they appear in their documents.
Think about the assessor sat there with their evaluation criteria, they will have marks available for specific things e.g. two marks for risk management. If you have headed a section risk management, written about how you plan to manage risk and included a risk register in this section how can they fail to give you the marks. Compared to no headed section with the process and register set somewhere in a 1000 word answer which covers lots of other areas in no clear order.
Use the clues they have given you
Use the evaluation criteria and marking scheme to drive the time you spend on the form. If two questions cover 60% of the marks then focus on those, do a good job on the others but without solid scoring answers on the 60% questions you are dead in the water.
Stick to word and page limits but if possible put as much clear page in your answer as possible. Nothing turns a reader off more than a huge block of text. Space to breathe, space to think and space to enjoy reading your response rather than the sinking feeling that you get as an assessor when faced with a huge chunk of often highly technical text.
Exam technique revisited
So really it is just like the exam technique you learnt at school.
Look at the marking scheme, if there are ten marks available you need to say ten different things. Look at where the highest percentage of marks are and focus your attention on making those answers really good.
And overall take pity on the assessor and make their life as easy as possible, they will thank you for it and putting an assessor in a good mood only helps with the marks!
If you need help writing your application I’m here to help take the hard work out of it. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free chat to find out more.