Winning isn’t everything…

Dear Readers,

As you know, we have been working on the promoting The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition, which is open to everyone under 18 living in a Commonwealth nation. The deadline is almost here, but you can still enter the competition until May 1st. The reason why we are writing this post is because we want to encourage YOU, young people, to participate in it.

Challenges are scary. When it comes to competitions, it’s common to feel a little scared and think things like “What if I’m not good enough?”

Don’t do this.

Negative thoughts are your worst enemies, and can only be controlled by you. It might sound silly, but when they say “participating is as important as winning”, it’s absolutely true. In the competitive world we live in, it looks like no one is ready to accept a loss. However, failures are part of life and sometimes a loss is beneficial to simply understand what you should do better next time. At the end of the day, every experience teaches you something, whether you win or lose. Being able to say you put in the effort, you wrote an essay using your own creativity, and you submitted it into an international competition, says a lot about your character.

Accepting challenges is good for you. You can test your abilities and explore your boundaries. Also, it just feels good to be able to see the fruits of your labour: you’ll feel proud, and start believing in yourself, allowing your confidence to grow. You will realise the value and importance of your own contribution to whatever the matter at hand is, which will greatly benefit you in the future.

It may seem easy to constantly think you won’t win and think about the competition, so don’t focus too much on the other people entering the competition or what they may be doing: just think about yourself and what you want to achieve. Sooner or later, if you work hard, you’ll be able to accept challenges readily in order to achieve your dreams. Take risks and don’t be afraid! You never know what could happen!

Whether you’re participating in the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition (we hope so!) or in any other activity, we would like to wish you the best of luck.


The RCS Digital Comms Team xxx

Top Tips for Proofreading an Essay


Once you have finished writing an essay, it is easy to never want to see it again. However, proofreading is a vital part of essay writing when entering a competition!
Your essay may be the clever, creative and interesting, however if the spelling, grammar and structure are poor, you could miss out on the prize you deserve.

As students ourselves, the digital comms team for RCS Wales have written our personal Top Tips for proofreading…

  1. Take a Break.Taking a break from your essay – maybe a few hours, maybe even a few days! – and then re-read. When your mind has had a break from an essay it is more likely to notice small errors.
  1. Use Ctrl+F.Ctrl+F is an easy way to search on a computer. Look for key things you may have missed – e.g., if you always spell a word wrong. An example would be spelling Commonwealth ‘Comonwealth‘. Using Ctrl+F, search for ‘Comonwealth‘ to find every occasion where you have spelled it wrong! It is also a good idea for search for apostrophes (‘), to ensure you have not used words like “can’t” or “don’t“.
  1. Print it out.Reading an essay printed out is a very different experience to on screen, so your eyes may notice mistakes you did not notice before. This is also a great way to access how the structure looks. Is the font strange, the size too small, or are the margins too big? Printing the essay out will ensure your entry looks best when it is being judged.
  1. Read your essay out loud.Attempting to read your essay out loud means that your mind is busier, and therefore is more likely to struggle when coming across something spelled incorrectly. While our eyes can skate past grammatical and spelling errors, trying to pronounce these is difficult, making mistakes easier to notice.
  1. Use Spellcheck.Computers offer spellcheck and grammar check, which we do not use enough! Check every word that is underlined in red, green or blue, even if you are certain it is right. Often, Microsoft Word is just suggesting that you re-order a sentence to make it read better.
  1. Ask someone else to read it.After spending so long writing, we often struggle to find our own mistakes. Asking a fresh set of eyes to assess your work will really help, and they can offer suggestions for improvement.

Once you have finished proofreading and sent your essay off, its time to relax and wait for winners to be announced!
Find out more about the international prizes here and the Welsh PKV prize here

If you are struggling with your grammar or spelling, there are some great tutorials available on YouTube – here is one of our favourites!

Our Welsh Winner!

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Although The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition is international, there is also a Welsh Winner!

We at RCS Wales run the PKV Prize, a cash reward for the best essay written by a Welsh student.

The PKV Prize is named after Mr P K Verma, the original Chairman of RCS Wales. His son, the current Chairman, Mr R Verma, set it up. He created the prize to honour his father’s memory, as Mr P K Verma was incredibly active in the Welsh voluntary and charitable community.

We had a chat with members of RCS Wales to find out more about the PKV prize!

So, how is the winner of the PKV Prize decided?

“Well, the judges read and rate all the entries from around the globe. They let us know if there are any outstanding Welsh entries, which we can then read and give the prize to. We’re hoping that this year we get both an international winner and a local winner!”

And what happens to the winner?

“We members of RCS Wales usually visit the winner’s school, and give them their certificate and prize. We take photographs, and congratulate them on their wonderful essay.”

Does only the winner get a certificate?

“No, everyone who enters does too. Just entering the competition is an accomplishment, we believe. It shows determination to write and complete your work to a timescale, and a passion for creativity, and, in this year’s case, peace.”

Do you have any final tips for entries?

“My main advice would be to take risks and write whatever you feel like writing. The competition allows real insight into the way that youth view the world, and we like the writing to be honest and passionate, what people actually feel like writing, rather than what they think we would like to read.”

The competition ends on 1st May – get your entries in to be in with a chance to win the PKV Prize!

Top Tips for a Winning Essay


Writing an essay does not come easily to everyone, so here at RCS Wales we want to help! We’ve designed some Top Tips to help you plan, write and check your essay, to ensure your entry is the best it can be. Don’t forget to check the RCS website to see further details and instructions on what your essay must involve!

  1. Ensure you understand your theme in order to begin your essay, and identify key topics to discuss.

 This year’s theme is ‘A commonwealth for peace’, and there are multiple topics to choose from – check out this blog post we made to help you pick! Make sure you understand what your topic is asking you to discuss. Next, identify the key themes and start planning the structure of your essay before beginning to write.

  1. Entice your readers with a winning first sentence.

The first sentence is the most important for the essay competition. An attractive, powerful, interesting, moving first sentence will seize the eye of judges, attract the reader’s interests, and leave a deep impression. It is a great first step to make a winning essay.

  1. Always check your essay for grammar and spelling.

An essay may have brilliant content and thought-provoking ideas, however with poor spelling and grammar it can never be a winner. If you are not great at spelling or grammar, ask a parent, teacher or friend to help you! There are also great online materials to help if you are struggling.

  1. Be creative and innovative.

For your essay to really stand out, try being creative and bringing forward new ideas. Taking a risk can really pay off! You want your entry to be unique. Past winners have even taken the term ‘essay’ loosely and written poems! Try to be the entry that sticks in the judges minds.

  1. The end should be as strong as the beginning,

Towards the end of your essay, once all your brilliant, creative ideas and written, you may just want to quickly finish the essay and submit it. STOP! The end is a vital part of your essay, and the final memory the judge will have of your entry! With careful planning, you can create an ending that summarises and concludes your thoughts, and leaves the judges wanting more.

Get your entries in by 01 May 2017!

A Brief History of the RCS

“A History in Common, a Future in Progress”


The commonwealth is one of the world’s oldest political associations. The group has grown and changed over time, allowing relationships between nation states to evolve throughout. The 52 member states are mostly former British colonies. (Click here for a list of all members).  Due to the long history of the commonwealth, the relationship is more familial than other international official organisations, rather than being an alliance or contractual arrangement. The group encompasses many faiths, and promote and support each other’s diversity. This is exemplified, we believe, by the fact that the Commonwealth Day celebration in London is the UK’s largest multi-faith service.

The partnership offered by the commonwealth means that members aid each other’s growth and development, and work together to promote global agreements on issues such as trade, debt, gender equality and terrorism.

The Royal Commonwealth Society was founded in 1868, originally as a meeting place for gentlemen wishing to discuss colonial affairs. Over time, women were allowed to join, and the organisations purpose changed to more charitable/NGO work, with the ‘Royal Commonwealth Society’ as we know it forming in 1958.

Today, the RCS is a network of individuals and organisations who are dedicated to improving the lives of commonwealth citizens around the globe. The RCS want to bring the commonwealth into the modern age, while still staying at the centre of global decision making. The RCS often celebrate individual cultures diversity across social media channels and through events – check out their Twitter or Facebook to find any local celebrations!

RCS Wales and their Cardiff University Digital Comms Team

RCS Wales is currently working with six students studying MA International Public Relations and Global Communications Management at Cardiff University!

RCS Wales has given the team the opportunity to work on a website, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and this blog in order to promote The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition.

The six of us in the team are Yla, Martina, Jiani, Lexie, Jane and Marina. We come from countries around the world and are in our early 20s, which is why we feel that we can communicate with the youth from commonwealth countries, and advise them when it comes things like The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition!
Our course involves a lot of essays, so when it comes to destressing or planning and writing essays, we know what we are talking about.

Working with RCS Wales has been exciting, as we have attended events in both Cardiff’s Manor House and Westminster Abbey. Partners of RCS Wales get great opportunities like this. At Westminster Abbey we even bumped into students from Coleg Gwent, a school RCS Wales worked with for the South Wales Youth Summit!


This photo shows Martina, Jane, Marina and Lexie working with RCS Wales at Commonwealth Day!

We thought that we could try to help people get creative when entering The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition, so we each decided to try to answer Topic 1, ‘Peace.’, by taking a letter each, and giving an answer starting with that letter…

Let’s see how we got on!

Lexie: ‘P

Pacifism. No more wars and the world would be pretty peaceful!

Jane: ‘E

E is really tricky! I supposed E could be an Easier Way Of Life? Life would 100% be easier with more peace…

Marina: ‘A

I think I have the easiest letter… for me, A could stand for A World United.

Martina: ‘C

For me, C would stand for Caring About Each Other.”

Jiani: ‘E

Equality! A peaceful world would need to be equal, for sure.”

Yla: ‘.

Of course I’ve got the only punctuation… I can’t think of a reason STARTING with a full stop, but I guess a full stop symbolises an end to something. An end to greed, cruelty and violence.”

So, you have our views on peace – what are yours??

Let us know in the comment section and consider entering
The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition!

Top Tips for Staying Focused

TOP TIPSWe all have work to do, and we all want it to be done quickly and well. However, sometimes it’s just hard to fully focus on what we’re doing and we end up wasting our time.
Do you feel the same way?
Here are 7 tips for staying focused.

1. Find a place that makes you feel more inclined to remain focused. Sometimes, your bedroom may not be the best choice. Try the library and study rooms, where there’s no noise and limited access to TV and cell phones.

2. Take everything you need with you.  Don’t leave anything in other rooms so that you won’t need to leave your workplace. If you interrupt what you’re doing, you’ll lose concentration.

3. Take some snacks to your workplace. For example, nuts, blueberries, or a chocolate bar. Take water too – avoid drinking too much coffee, high caffeine tea, or energy drinks: they’ll get you stay up all night long, and the morning after you’ll feel dead-tired and without energy to go on with your work.

4. Make sure your mobile phone and other electronic devices are turned off. We all know that we get distracted as soon as we receive phone calls, text messages or notifications from social networks. Only use your laptop when you need it: it’s always risky anyway, because the temptation to go on youtube and watch your favourite videos is so strong!

5. Create a timetable. If you have a long day/ night of work ahead of you, a timetable is necessary. Make plans, like having a 10 minute break after every hour of work. Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you’re lazy! Your brain needs breaks to recharge after processing a lot of information. Try an easy to use, online study timetable like this one.

6. Write down your goals for the day. You’ll have a clear idea of what needs to be finished by the end of the day. Every time you complete a task on your list, tick it. This will help you feel more motivated to go on and finish your work.

7. Reward yourself. Sometimes, it’s all you need to keep yourself going. Think about something that will help you relax, and why not, distract a little bit after many hours of concentration: a nice meal, a film, or some shopping with your friends.

Is it easy for you to concentrate? Do you have any other suggestions for remaining focused on what you’re doing? Leave a comment and let us know!

Winners Week: What you could do in London as a winner!

The 2016 winners of the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition were rewarded with a holiday to London, doing both educational and recreational activities. The winners were able to see many of London’s famous landmarks and attractions. We thought we could show you some of the great places you could possibly visit in London, if you were a 2017 winner!

  1. The London Eye


The London Eye is a Ferris wheel that was erected in 1999, to help London celebrate the new millennium. It is now one of London’s most famous landmarks, and is located along the River Thames. Its total height is 135 meters, making it the world’s tallest Ferris wheel at the time of its construction, a position now held by the High Roller in Las Vegas. The London Eye allows you to see a 25-mile radius around London – a view you cannot possibly get anywhere else! Book tickets online here!

  1. Tower Bridge


Tower Bridge is the first bridge in the London Thames estuary and is probably the most famous of the 15 bridges on the Thames. It was built between 1886 and 1894, however it was been updated with modern mechanics to allow the bridge to open and let boats pass more easily. If you take a tour within the bridge, you can look down through the glass flooring and watch boats pass underneath. Book a tour online here!

  1. The British Museum


The British Museum is located at the Grand Russell Square in the north of New Oxford Street in London. It was officially opened to the public in 1759 and has remained a firm favourite with locals and tourists alike. The museum houses a wide range of cultural relics and treasures from around the world, in nearly 8 million collections. Currently there are free exhibitors such as ‘Places of the mind: British watercolour landscapes 1850-1950’ and ‘Desire, love, identity: exploring LGBTQ histories’. Exhibitions you can pay for, such as ‘The American Dream: pop to the present’, are usually around £15.

  1. Buckingham Palace


Buckingham Palace is the Queen’s residence and the Royal family’s administrative headquarters. It is located in the City of Westminster and is easily accessible by using the London underground by getting off at St James’ Park, Green Park or Victoria. I would recommend coming via Green Park due to the surrounding natural beauty. Tourists love coming to Buckingham Palace for the ‘Changing of the Guard’. Check online beforehand to plan your trip, so you can see this tradition in action!

  1. Big Ben


Big Ben is a famous clock tower on the Palace of Westminster on the river Thames. Big Ben may be its most famous name, however it is officially known as Elizabeth Tower. Big Ben appears in most films or TV shows set in London, and is one of the key elements of London’s New Year’s Eve celebration.

Top Tips for Writing a Personal Statement!


April is just around the corner and the time has come to make plans for the following months…

No, unfortunately we’re not talking about your summer holidays. Rather, jobs, internships and university.

We know it’s not as appealing as talking about the coolest music festivals to go to or the most beautiful beaches in Spain, but we want to help you with the serious stuff where you may need some support.

The most important step when making applications is probably writing your personal statement. The way you present yourself can really make a difference, because if you do it right, you will get those who are considering your application to think “this is the kind of person I am looking for”.

Don’t panic: we know this stage can be stressful, but we’re here to suggest you how to write an appropriate personal statement. We can’t promise miracles, but follow these easy steps and your chances to succeed will improve!

  1. First of all, introduce yourself. Explain why you are interested in the course/internship/job you are applying to and yes, don’t be modest, tell why you think you are the right person to choose.
  2. Give an overview of your academic life and achievements.
  3. Talk about extracurricular activities that you have taken part into, for example charity work, competitions, sports, jobs etc. Concentrate on the reasons why these experiences have been significant for you, which skills you have developed, and why you think they could be relevant to what you are applying to. Remember every experience is valuable.
    (We would like to remind you that if you are aged 18 or under and have a passion for writing, you have time until May 1st to enter The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition. Your motivation to make your voice heard on such an important theme as peace will be much appreciated and stand out from the crowd!).
  4. Always be aware of your limitations. Concentrate on your strengths but don’t exaggerate them and don’t pretend to have some kind of exceptional ability you actually don’t, because sooner or later truth always comes out! Rather, focus on your motivation: this is what professors and professionals are really looking for in a candidate.
  5. Talk about your plans for the future, even if your ideas are not 100% clear yet. Determined people always make a better impression.
  6. Concerning the style, try to be creative and original: don’t just make lists that may be boring, and avoid complex sentences. Create engaging contents and remember to always maintain a formal approach.
  7. Don’t write it last minute: you want to be sure that what you have written is correct and appropriate.
  8. Let someone proofread your final statement: after writing and reading it for so long, you may not notice mistakes you may have made.

We wish you the best of luck with your applications, and don’t hesitate to get in touch with RCS Wales if you have any more questions! Contact us on this blog or try tweeting us at @walesrcs!

Need Help Picking a Topic for The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition?

At RCS Wales, we understand that often starting is the hardest part… so we’ve devised this chart to help you pick which essay topic is right for you!

Decide if you’re more of a creative type, or a history lover, a debater, or analysis fan, and we can find the right topic for you!

Once you’ve picked your topic, head over to our Top Tips section for help writing your essay!

Get your entries in by 01 May 2017!

picking your essay