How to squeeze in your extracurriculars

By now you should have finished your topic paragraph reflections…they should be neatly saved away in your resource list table…ready for you to write them up perfectly in Part 5.


Which means: we’ve now got our introduction in note form…our topic paragraph reflections ready to go…leaving just our extracurriculars paragraph at the end! 


And good news: this is by far the easiest paragraph to write up…


Let’s take a look at a few examples, first off a medicine applicant: 


Pause the video, give it a read yourself, then we’ll break it down…



If we break down this paragraph…it follows a very simple structure, same as what we used in our topic paragraphs.


First, the student mentions something he did “I went to Gambia on a World Challenge Expedition; for the 12 months’ planning and fundraising I was the group’s secretary” – cool, so that’s an extra-curricular activity he did…next he reflects on it,  by explaining how this improved one of his skills: “This helped to develop my organisation skills and made me a more succinct record keeper”


Next activity is exactly the same formula…”I played hockey for the Oxfordshire U14-U17 teams”…so there’s the activity he did…next: “learning how to integrate quickly with a new group of players” – and there’s his reflection, it taught him this skill of quickly integrating with new people. 


He then mentions an award he won – great way to show how seriously he takes his sport…and then lists a few other extracurriculars – this could have been improved by providing more reflection…for example, he mentions he’s House Head of Music and has organised singing competitions…but what what did that teach him? what skills did he develop? Ideally, every extra-curricular activity should be followed by a short personal reflection. Universities want to see what skills and lessons you’ve learnt from your extra-curriculars.


Finally to finish off his statement, he leaves a concluding line….


Let’s see another example: 


As Managing Director of a successful Young Enterprise (YE) company, I was able to apply microeconomic tools to practical situations, such as Porter’s five force analysis when searching for viable fundraisers. I received a Jack Petchey Award for my efforts and I have written articles on the experience for local newspapers. Tutoring at an agency, I have learnt to communicate with students of all backgrounds, and I am now developing my own private tuition network, specialising in GCSE and A-Level Maths. Taking part in the LAMDA Gold Public Speaking Course, I have improved my presenting abilities, while playing jazz piano has provided me with a creative outlet. Studying economics at university, I hope to extend my extra-curricular involvements and expand my understanding of the economic forces that shape our lives.


Pause the video, give it a read yourself, then we’ll break it down…



Once again, the student starts by listing an activity he’s done – he was managing director of a young enterprise company…


It’s then followed by a reflection – he explains how we was able to use economic tools like Porter’s Five Force analysis…showing off that he’s actually applied his subject, economics, to a real life situation.


Next he mentions an award he won – always a good idea if you have something to show for your efforts. But equally not a big deal if you don’t. 


Then our student continues to his next extra-curricular, tutoring at an agency…followed by a reflection: he’s learnt to communicate with students of all backgrounds – a useful skill for university where you’ll meet students from dozens of different cultures.


Next activity, he mentions taking part in the LAMDA Gold Public speaking course…reflects on it by mentioning how it’s improved his presenting abilities…then squeezes in jazz piano – this could have been improved with a reflection, what have you gotten out of playing the jazz piano? Perhaps an effective way to destress and deal with pressure…or perhaps it taught you self-discipline, having to commit to regular practice. 


Finally, the student wraps up with a concluding line!


We’ll see one more example before we start building our own extracurriculars paragraph!


Outside academia, I play table tennis and have represented England in the 2018 World Championships in Malta. I have also been ranked number one in the UK and won the Winner of London Youth Games 2016, and was named winner of National Team Championships twice. Training now for ten years, six times a week, three hours a day, has taught me perseverance, discipline and how to balance my studies alongside outside commitments. I have also completed the Duke of Edinburgh Gold award: I had to learn how to cook which resulted in a year-long part-time role at a Michelin starred restaurant; I volunteered as a table tennis coach, managing 15 students simultaneously; and I was responsible for planning a two-week trek through Europe’s toughest long distance trail, Corsica’s GR 20. The process taught me leadership, time management and resilience. I hope to extend these skills to my studies and extracurricular activities at university.


Pause and give it a read yourself…and we’ll analyse it once you’re done!


Once again, we see the same winning format – our student mentions she plays table tennis…she’s actually been very successful at it so goes on to list several awards…and gives specific details of how intense the training has been – this is excellent, because it shows universities how well-organised she is…she’s balancing 18 hours of week of training with 4 A Levels! Wow…


And then, as always, she reflects: this has taught me perserverance, discipline and how to balance my studies – all valuable skills for university students! 


Then she mentions her Duke of Edinburgh Gold award – just like before, she gets into real detail on what she did…she didn’t just organise a trek…she organised a two-week trek through Eruope’s toughest long distance trail – that sounds much more impressive!


And then once again, she reflects: this process taught me leadership, time management and resilience. 


Finally she wraps up with a concluding line!


So, in summary, your extracurriculars paragraph should first mention all the extra-curricular activities you’ve done…any specific details or awards…followed by a personal reflection! Where you explain what you’ve learnt and what skills you’ve developed! 


Next, you’ll learn how to compose your own extra-curricular reflections!