Tips for writing a winning application

Here are some helpful hints and good examples of how to write and structure your responses to the different sections and criteria in your applications.

Outlined below, are examples of how to address ‘Section A’ of your application, and the criteria in ‘Section B’.

While these particular examples address the Apprentice of the Year category, please note that the style and structure of these answers can be applied across all award categories.

Section A - Overview

The key to addressing ‘Section A’ and ‘Section B’ is to:

  • talk about yourself and what makes you stand out
  • make sure you tell us about your progress and achievements (both in study and in the workplace).

In other words, we want you to ‘tell your story’.

Please note that in both the ‘Section A’ examples set out below, the writer talks about themselves and their achievements in a straightforward and clear manner. Importantly, both examples also use concise, direct sentences and the paragraphs are short and to the point. Both responses are succinct and readable - just what the judges want to see. Remember dot points (see example 2) are always good to use.

Example 1 for Apprentice of the Year

I began work experience with Hidden Valley Ford in 2009 and enrolled in Certificate III in Mechanical (Light Vehicle) in 2010. I will complete the qualification through CDU in 2011. My employer is renowned locally for delivering quality service and providing excellent incentives for hard working employees, and this is what attracted me to them.

I feel like I’ve spent every weekend since I was six years old under the bonnet of a car with my father and uncles. I’ve helped them rebuild two classic cars which were showcased at the local car meet. An apprenticeship enabled me to turn my passion for cars into a career.

(Notice how the sentences are short and to the point.)

Example 2 for Apprentice of the Year:

  • Qualification: Certificate III in Mechanical (Light Vehicle) (2010-2011)
  • Registered Training Organisation (RTO): Charles Darwin University (CDU)
  • Employer: Hidden Valley Ford (2009-current)

(Using dot points can make responses easier to read.)

Why I chose this industry and this path:

I feel like I’ve spent every weekend since I was six years old under the bonnet of a car with my father and uncles. I’ve helped them rebuild two classic cars which were successfully showcased at a local car meet. An apprenticeship enabled me to turn my passion for cars into a career.

(Your personal experiences will help you tell your story.)

Section B - The criteria

Let’s turn to some good examples of how you address the criteria. Remember, the most important thing to remember when addressing the criteria is to respond only to what is being asked. Always answer the question and organise your thoughts and write your responses in a direct and concise manner. Use short sentences, short paragraphs and lots of white space.

Here are some examples that will help with your responses to criteria across all award categories (you will notice how straightforward and clear these responses are).

Criteria 1 - Career and study achievements

Example for Apprentice of the Year

I have really enjoyed the hands-on learning and experience I’ve gotten by doing an apprenticeship.

(A short opening paragraph introducing what you are going to say is always good and easy to follow for the judges.)

(Now tell your story …)

My apprenticeship has given me the opportunity to learn how to be a mechanic while on-the-job. By literally getting my hands dirty, I have been able to see straight away what I’m good at and what areas I need to get more help in. This immediate practical feedback has made it easier for me to develop my skills.

Achievements during my apprenticeship also reflect my dedication and passion towards building my career:

  • volunteering to build and service motorbikes for the Finke Bike Race in 2008 and 2009
  • by working hard and doing well, I was the only apprentice selected by Hidden Valley Ford to get a tour of the V8 Supercar-Ford Performance Racing Team ‘pit’.

(Notice how much white space there is and how concise the response is.)

Criteria 2 - Communication, team and leadership skills

Example for Apprentice of the Year

During my apprenticeship, I have developed my oral and written communication skills by:

  • talking about my training and experiences to groups of potential apprentices during introduction nights held at Hidden Valley Ford
  • completing vehicle maintenance forms and suggesting amendments to the form to provide customers with more detailed information; these suggestions were then incorporated into the form.

As part of a team servicing one car, I participate in discussions about maintenance schedules as well as discussions on how best to solve unusual car problems or noises that a customer has reported. I love my work, so it’s easy for me to be happy when doing small or big tasks as part of the team’s servicing job.

Although I am a junior apprentice, I try to set an example of being a good worker by regularly getting to work on time and sometimes working overtime. I also find that other apprentices often ask my opinion about a job they’re working on.

(Notice how the writer is telling his story and drawing on his experiences to address the criteria.)

Criteria 3 - Ability to represent the training system at a broader level

Example for Apprentice of the Year

As I mentioned in my answer to Criterion 2, I regularly participate in introduction nights for potential apprentices that my employer, Hidden Valley Ford, runs.

I enjoy sharing my enthusiasm for apprenticeships, as I believe hands-on training for practical trades, like being a vehicle mechanic, is a good way to learn.

I feel like I spend a lot of time at family gatherings talking about my training too, and one of my younger cousins says that because of me, he’s planning on becoming a school-based apprentice so that he can get started early with his training.

I think winning this award will give me more public opportunities to share my passion for apprenticeships, while it will help me personally by showing on my CV that I am a good worker.

Criteria 4 - Other pursuits

Example for Apprentice of the Year

My passion for cars extends to motorbikes and I have been competing in moto-cross events since I was eight.

(Short opening paragraph again)

I was the Top End under-12 and under-15 champion. Since then, I’ve explored different motorsport categories and continue to attend events like the V8 Supercars and SuperBikes. As mentioned in my answer to Criterion 2, I have also worked behind the scenes in the Finke Bike Race 2008 and 2009.

As my family lives in Nightcliff, I have a daily view of the ocean and joined the local Surf Lifesaving Club last year as a way to build my fitness and meet people. I have now completed the training for a Bronze Medallion and have begun working as a volunteer on my weekends. I’m really enjoying being a part of a group that has fun while taking its role in beach safety seriously.

My pursuits with motor sports outside my apprenticeship gives me extra time to develop my knowledge of motor vehicles, and I then take this extra experience back into the workplace. Being a vehicle mechanic is very physically demanding, so my work as a Surf Lifesaver helps me stay fit for myself and for my work.


Don’t be shy about providing supporting evidence to back up your application (for example, statistics, graphs, tables, examples, photographs, testimonials).

More information

If you need more information about how to address criteria, see what Dr Ann Villiers, an expert in how to address selection criteria, has to say at

Last updated: 08 May 2019