How to write a CV when applying to study abroad?

Any standard university or college admission process is designed to give the respective institute a complete picture of the candidates applying for their study programmes. Due to this, the CV, an easy-to-complete document with considerable importance, plays a crucial role in casting the first impression about the student. The Curriculum Vitae, “course of life” in Latin, is a written summary of a person’s academic and professional qualifications, achievements, contributions, technical skills and extra-curricular activities. 

If you are a student planning to study abroad, having an excellent CV is a must. It is a document that should be designed carefully so that the construction, content and flow of the CV will reflect your objective and capabilities clearly to the reviewer. Moreover, when preparing your CV, present yourself in a manner that will make the reader want to skim through to the end of the document and have an easy time doing so.


The key components to be included in an applicant’s CV

  • Personal Details

This category contains details such as your full name, current address, email, phone number, date and place of birth, nationality, etc. These should be mentioned at the top of the CV in an easily readable format.

  • Personal Statement

Include a short statement regarding yourself, your motives and future plans.

  • Education Details

Under this section, discuss your qualifications, academic institutions, specialisations (if any), and their durations (start and end date). These will help indicate your interest in studies and the degree programme you wish to follow.


  • Work Experience

If you have any part-timeull-time or volunteer job experience related to the applied programme, list the relevant details here. Mention the employer’s name, duration, responsibilities and accomplishments within the organisation.

  • Extra-Curricular Activities

If you have participated in activities related to clubs, committees and community service, or have any project work or published papers of significance, add those information under this section. In short, you can include all additional work other than the ones in your academic or job profile here.

  • Certifications

Include details concerning the awardscertifications, professional qualifications or memberships you have achieved over the years.

  • Skills

Mention additional details relevant to your hard and soft skills in this category. They could either be your knowledge regarding subjects like IT, languages, and graphic design or personal strengths like problem-solving and communication skills.

  • Hobbies and Interests

You can mention your hobbies or interests in short, and these don’t necessarily have to align with the subject of study you have selected.

  • References

Add the names and contact details of two referees (with at least one academic referee included) who would recommend you for the programme selected.

Tips for writing a successful CV as a study abroad applicant

Keep your CV as short and concise as possible. While showcasing your achievements in detail is important, keeping a CV within two pages is ideal. 

Organise your CV properly. Presentation plays a big part in showcasing your clarity of thought. Therefore, organise your CV in a way that will make it easier to analyse the content. Most importantly, always proofread, rewrite, and edit before sending it.

Pay attention to the structure. Always include the most crucial information at the beginning of the CV and write your details in an attention-grabbing manner. 

Follow the reverse chronological order. Add your accomplishments from the latest ones to the oldest ones. 

Only include relevant details. Only mention skills and achievements that are relevant to the programme you wish to follow. Also, it is not necessary to include information from your junior or primary school years unless the achievement lasts for a prolonged period. 

Focus on the language you use. Strong vocabulary, good phrases and technical jargons are key ingredients of a great CV, but you need to ensure that it is easy to read and understand. Use active verbs and present tense in your writing while avoiding grammatical and spelling mistakes, collective words or sentences, and over-used terms. 

Do not type out entire sentences. When adding your qualifications provide keywords to focus on and use concise language. Include the details in bullet points and make each bullet point not exceed two lines. However, do not use abbreviations in instances where you can use the full form because your reviewer can be unfamiliar with it.  

Keep it simple. While a CV is not the place for modesty, it is also not appropriate to exaggerate your achievements. Ensure that you don’t embellish or downplay yourself but rather keep your accomplishments honest. 

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