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OASIS Writing Skills

Undergraduate Writing:

Undergraduate resources in the Writing Center


Once you have completed a draft of your Prior Learning Narrative, share it with a colleague, friend, family member, or the Writing Center to get an additional perspective. You can also self-edit your work by

  • comparing it to the Prior Learning Assessment rubric;
  • performing a reverse outline to ensure that the ideas flow logically;
  • reading it out loud to determine areas of repetition, choppiness, confused wording, or jumps; and
  • using the free Grammarly program to identify potential grammar or mechanical errors.

Common Problem: Just Telling

A common problem when writing a learning narrative is to focus on the experience only. The writing then sounds like I did this. Then I did that. Finally, I did another thing. If you write in this way, just focusing on the event, the reader will not be convinced that you have learned anything. That is because you have not reflected on the experience, showing how it has impacted you and resulted in learning. To avoid just telling, check in with yourself as you write, asking Have I explained and not just listed? Have I referenced the evidence?

Example 1: I started my career in banking after high school in 2000. I was hired as a junior banking associate at National Bank and then moved up to senior associate and morning supervisor. Last year, I became the branch manager.

Example 2: In my supervisory and managerial roles at National Bank, I led a team of 12 other individuals. Because the workers often complained of the lack of communication, I instituted a plan of daily 10-minute team meetings, weekly e-mail bulletins, and monthly one-on-ones. I learned how to communicate effectively as leadership, both through written and verbal methods. My portfolio evidence contains a sample bulletin I created during that time. 

After reading Example 1, the assessor does not know what kind of learning occurred, if any. The paragraph appears to just be a list of positions held within the bank. In Example 2, the learning more clearly relates to communications.

Common Problem: Too Short

To fully develop your ideas and convince the assessor of your learning, you will need to devote significant space to this project. The Prior Learning Narrative should be about 8-12 pages long. The length is dependent on how many learning outcomes you have, though, so this is only a general guideline.

What if your draft is too short?

  • Read through the narrative and circle areas that could be developed, adding more sentences.

  • Add senses to the scene, such as smell, touch, hearing, and seeing.

  • Look for the vague words mentioned in “Setting the Scene” and replace with better, more vivid and specific descriptions.

  • Return to a prewriting exercise to generate more content.

Common Problem: Too Long

What if your draft is too long?

  • Identify areas where you have repeated words, phrases, or ideas, and then condense, combine, or delete those repetitions.

  • Look for sentence constructions such as “there is/there are” and “due to the fact that.” Replace with more concise, direct wording.

  • Ask yourself, :What is most important for the reader to know?" Remove the tangential or less important ideas from your narrative.

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