Where did I go wrong on my Chevening application? Feedback from this year’s reading committees

If you weren’t selected for the 2023-24 Chevening cohort, you may be wondering where you went wrong. Here is the top feedback our reading committees had about this year’s applicants.

If you applied for a Chevening Scholarship but weren’t successful, don’t be disheartened. In the search for our 2023-24 cohort, we received more than 70,000 applications!

The standard across the board is always incredibly high, with many candidates applying multiple times before they’re selected.

To help you submit an even stronger application when the next round of applications open in September, we’ve compiled some of the most common feedback we received from our reading committees.

Top tips:

  • When providing examples, follow the STAR approach. This involves clearly explaining the situation, task, action, and result.
  • When discussing personal achievements, use ‘I’ instead of ‘we’. If it was a team effort, focus specifically on what your role was within the team.
  • Write in full sentences, rather than bullet points. This is your chance to really tell a story and convince us you have what it takes to be chosen for Chevening.
  • Make sure you proofread your work. Silly spelling mistakes don’t make for a good first impression.

Now that you have the basics, let’s delve deeper with some more specific feedback for each of the four application categories.


Leadership and influence:

Chevening is looking for individuals who will be future leaders or influencers in their home countries.

To score well on this criterion, take note of the following:

  • When demonstrating your leadership skills, try to draw on recent examples from your professional experience. Many applicants had a tendency to use examples from their academic experience, even as far back as their secondary school days.
  • Some applicants assumed that occupying a particular position or role was in itself sufficient to demonstrate leadership skills, often just listing the various responsibilities they have had over the years. Make sure you take it a step further and explain how you successfully gained and maintained influence and what the outcome was.
  • Many applicants were able to clearly define the concept of leadership but failed to provide examples of how they’ve exhibited it and how it links to both their study and post-study plans.


Chevening is looking for individuals with strong professional relationship-building skills, who will engage with the Chevening community and influence and lead others in their chosen profession.

To score well on this criterion, take note of the following:

  • Some candidates went into detail about their networking skills but didn’t actually mention any of their networks.
  • Similarly, some candidates spent time describing their ways of networking but neglected to mention what they had achieved by using their networks. Make sure you always complete the picture, paying attention to the ‘R’ (result) in STAR.
  • Don’t forget to link your answer back to Chevening. With an impressive alumni network of more than 55,000 people, you should clearly explain how you will engage with the global Chevening community to achieve your goals and effect positive change.

Studying in the UK:

If you are hoping to be chosen for Chevening, you should have a strong understanding of why you have selected your chosen courses and how they relate to your previous academic or professional experience and your plans for the future.

To score well on this criterion, take note of the following:

  • Make sure you go into detail about all three courses in your answer, clearly explaining how they relate to both your past experience and future plans. Some candidates only focussed on one course or provided sweeping statements about all three.
  • Don’t just cut and paste from university websites and avoid reliance on university and course rankings as a reason to select a course.
  • Focus on the content of the courses you have selected (modules, assessment, etc.) and how this will help you to achieve your goals. Many candidates cited local attractions and football clubs as the rationale for why they wanted to study at a particular university, but we want you to think deeper than this.

Career plan:

Chevening is looking for individuals who have a clear post-study career plan.

To score well on this criterion, take note of the following:

  • When it comes to career planning, ambition is great, but make sure you have an achievable plan of how you’ll get there. The strongest responses included specific, measurable goals.
  • Don’t forget to think about the role the Chevening network will play in helping you to achieve your career goals. What doors will it open for you?


Applications for the 2024-25 Chevening cohort are open from 12 September to 7 November 2023.
Start your application today at chevening.org/apply

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