Competition only gets stiffer. Regardless of university or scholarship application, odds are always stacked against candidates, unless they are sufficiently prepared. To be sufficiently prepared, you need to know what your assessors are looking out for. What makes you stand out from the crowd? On 1 January 2014, more than two million Common Application forms were submitted in total for US university applications. Yes, two million. So there are about 20 US universities that Singaporeans usually apply for, including the Ivy League. Each university takes in about 1,000 undergraduates. 20,000 out of 2,000,000. 1% chance. Oh and the 1000 undergraduates consists of US citizens and PRs primarily; the admit rates of internationals hover around 10% of the entire admitted cohort. So about 100 internationals per school, 2000 out of 2,000,000. 0.1% chance. You get the picture. Competition is grim. But then again, you look around your friends and seniors who have been admitted and ask yourself “I just had lunch with that guy” or “I was studying right next to her in Physics class” and now s/he has gotten past the mind-boggling, crazy competition. How? More importantly, how do I do it? “This is a question only you can answer for yourself.” “There is no hard-and-fast rule.” “Each and every one of you is unique, so it is difficult to advise.” Sounds familiar? Well, that is what many websites, books and sources say when it comes to application advising. Yes, they are all true, but it doesn’t help, does it? Such statements add absolutely no value to your application. So this short document hopes to add some value to your application and provide a perspective on how to improve your chances in application. Directly. Then again, some skeptics will ask why in the world would I share my ‘secret knowledge’, if it even exists. Firstly, I am stating what you already know. The difference is that I remind you and put in perspective of application. Secondly, I believe in letting the best man win. I believe that everyone should know how to submit a good application, so that everyone stands a fair chance. No, I am not going to guarantee you get admitted to your Top 5 universities of choice in return for $15,000. I am simply going to tell you how to show your best, and let the universities decide if you are fit for them.